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7 Field Service Management Essential Features for Successful Solar Installations

Published:
June 5, 2024

Table of Contents

You’ve just landed a big contract to install solar panels on 100 homes in your area. Congrats! But before you break out the bubbly, you need to make sure your field service management is ready to handle the increased workload. Trust me, the last thing you want is missed appointments, unhappy customers, and panels gathering dust in your warehouse while you scramble to schedule installations.

Okay, but what is the solution? You may have seen your competitors use different software to optimize their service operations. But, with so many options out there, how do you choose? Evaluate different software that can help your business in many ways. Let’s take a look at the top seven essential field service management features explicitly designed for solar companies like yours to avoid major hiccups.

Schedule solar installation jobs

To keep your solar installation business running smoothly, you need a solution with AI-assisted scheduling and dispatching capabilities. The field service management (FSM) platform comes up with appointment scheduling allows you to book jobs, assign time slots, and avoid double-booking field technicians. With such an efficient scheduling system, you can provide customers with an estimated arrival window for their service appointment and keep them up-to-date on any changes.

You need to optimize routes and minimize travel time between appointments for dispatching. The FSM software uses algorithms to determine the most efficient order of stops for each technician based on their location, skills, and availability. It’s also helpful to automatically re-order and re-schedule on the fly if appointments run long or emergencies arise.

FSM software with integrated maps and real-time GPS tracking gives you visibility into where all your field technicians are at any given time. You can know exactly when they’ve arrived on site, when the job is complete, and when they’re en route to the next call. You can get insights on field service which helps eliminate guesswork and allows for data-driven decisions about scheduling and staffing.

 

To keep customers happy, you may provide accurate appointment windows and updates if anything changes. FSM software that syncs scheduling and dispatching with your customer relationship management (CRM) system enables you to send customers appointment reminders, updates, and notifications automatically. With a streamlined system to book calls, plan routes, track resources, and keep customers informed, your business can complete more jobs and satisfy clients.

Empower field technicians with mobile work order access

Provide your solar technicians with a mobile app for critical job details to ensure they can work as efficiently as possible in the field. The last thing you want is for technicians to show up on-site only to find out they’re missing the necessary equipment or information to complete the installation. With an FSM solution, you can dispatch work orders directly to your technicians’ mobile devices so they have everything they need at their fingertips.

View project details on the go

Technicians can view detailed work orders that outline all the tasks, materials, and safety requirements for each installation. They can know exactly what solar panels, inverters, racking systems, and other equipment they must bring and any site-specific installation requirements. Through this, you can minimize the risk of delays from missing materials or equipment and ensure all work is done properly according to the plan.

Access customer information

Your technicians can also access full customer details, such as contact information, site specifics, and notes from previous service calls. With an FSM mobile app, they can be well-equipped to provide great customer service by showing up prepared to answer any questions. Technicians can also easily contact the office for any additional information they need or report issues immediately.

Update work orders in real-time

Technicians can update work orders on their mobile devices as they complete tasks, adding details like materials, serial numbers, photos, and any challenges encountered. The back-office team will have visibility into the live status and progress of all solar installations to better support technicians in the field. It also provides an accurate as-built record of all work for future reference.

Go paperless with digital forms

Mobile work orders eliminate the need for paper forms—which is faster and more accurate. Technicians can fill out and submit digital forms on their devices to capture critical job details, customer signatures, and safety checklists electronically. With the mobile app, your solar technicians will have everything they need to work efficiently and provide the best experience for your customers. The mobile app serves as a field office, empowering technicians to complete high-quality installations on schedule and report on progress in real-time.

Create detailed work orders for every solar panel job

To ensure efficient and successful solar installations, you must create comprehensive work orders for each job. A good work order will outline all the details the installation team needs to complete the project on time and to the customer’s satisfaction.

Provide a full scope of work

List each step of the installation process in the work order, from the initial site survey through final inspection and cleanup. Be very specific about the number of solar panels installed, the panel types and sizes, mounting equipment needed, and any custom details for the site. The more detail you provide upfront, the fewer surprises your team will encounter on the job site.

Note special safety requirements

Solar panel installations often require additional safety precautions to protect technicians working on rooftops or with live electrical components. Note any specific personal protective equipment (PPE) required, precautions for roof access, and lockout/tagout procedures for electrical work. Technician safety should be a top priority for any work order.

List required tools and inventory

The work order should specify the exact inventory required for the job, including the number and type of solar panels, racking equipment, wiring, inverters, and any other components. Double-check that all materials are in stock before dispatching technicians to the site. Running out of critical parts halfway through an installation will frustrate your customers and damage your reputation.

Provide customer and site details

Include the customer’s full name and contact information, the installation site address, and any access instructions. Note the specific areas of the roof or property approved for solar panels. The more information you provide about the customer and site, the better prepared your technicians will be to provide great service.

Track job progress and completion

Use the work order to log each installation task’s start and end times. Have technicians note any issues encountered and how they were resolved. Once the job is done, record the final inspection results and have the customer sign off that the work is complete. Thorough work order tracking and documentation will help ensure quality and allow you to review and improve your processes.

Detailed work orders are essential for keeping your solar installations running smoothly and your customers happy. Provide your team with all the information they need upfront, and use work orders to track progress and quality every step of the way. With comprehensive work order management, you can gain insights to optimize your business and enhance customer satisfaction.

Optimize inventory management for faster installations

To complete solar installations as efficiently as possible, you must have the right materials when technicians arrive at a job site. An FSM solution with inventory management features allows you to track stock levels in real-time and identify what needs to be reordered. You can also set minimum stock levels to ensure you never run out of critical components like solar panels or mounting equipment.

With an integrated inventory system, technicians can quickly check material availability on mobile devices before heading out for an installation. They are now able to know right away if anything is out of stock and can pick up additional supplies on the way or reschedule the appointment if needed.

You need to set up item categories in your FSM software for the different types of equipment and components used in solar maintenance. Then, you can get an overview of your inventory levels at a glance. For example, you may have categories for:

  • Solar panels (by wattage/model)
  • Rails and mounting hardware
  • Inverters
  • Wiring and electrical components
  • Safety gear and tools

As items are assigned to work orders and used in the field, your inventory levels will automatically update in real-time. You can then reorder supplies as needed to avoid excess waste or shortages. Some FSM solutions even integrate with supply chain and procurement software to streamline reordering.

Maintaining tight control and visibility over your inventory is key to efficiency and profitability for solar installers. With an FSM platform handling scheduling, dispatching, work order management, and inventory in one place, you have everything you need to optimize technician time, minimize costs, and scale your operations. Keeping the right parts in stock and ensuring they get to the right job sites is necessary for faster, more productive installations.

Improve the customer service experience with CRM integration

Integrating your FSM software with your customer relationship management (CRM) system improves the customer experience during the solar installation process. With integration, customer information flows between the two systems, giving your technicians a complete view of each customer in one place.

Seamless communication

When technicians access the work order on their mobile devices, they can see details like the customer’s name, contact info, project specifics, and communication history. So technicians can have more personalized, meaningful conversations with the customer during the installation. They can have context if any issues come up that require follow-up.

Faster response times

With an integrated CRM, technicians and office staff have the same access to customer data. If a customer calls with a question or concern, either team member can quickly view project details and recent communications to provide an accurate response. In this way, you can speed up resolution times and give customers confidence in your service.

Post-installation support

After the installation is complete, the customer relationship continues. An integrated CRM makes it easy to log and track any follow-up communications or service requests from the customer. All team members will have visibility into the complete history of that customer, enabling quick, customized support. Otherwise, you can also make use of customer portals in which your customers are able to send and manage all requests at one place.

Actionable insights

Integrating FSM and CRM software provides valuable data on your customers and installations. You can analyze details like the most common service requests, customer renewal rates, and factors driving positive reviews. Use these insights to refine your processes and exceed customer expectations on every installation.

While FSM software has many essential features for solar businesses, CRM integration should be at the top of the list. A seamless flow of information between teams and systems leads to a seamless customer experience—that will keep your customers coming back and singing your praises. Focusing on the customer journey at each step, from first contact through installation and beyond, builds the foundation for success.

Leverage reporting and analytics to boost solar performance

Track project metrics

As a solar installation company, data is your friend. By tracking key metrics for each project, you gain valuable insight into how to improve operational efficiency and the customer experience. Within your FSM software, monitor stats like:

  • Average time to complete an installation from start to finish
  • Time technician spends on-site for a standard residential or commercial installation
  • Number of follow-up service calls within the first 3-6 months of operation
  • Customer satisfaction scores and reviews

Analyzing this data over time helps you set benchmarks and uncover patterns to optimize your processes.

Identify areas for improvement

Maybe you notice residential installations taking 10-15% longer than average to complete or that a higher number of service maintenance calls are coming from installations completed by a particular technician. These are signals that further investigation or corrective action may be needed.

Discuss the trends with your installation and maintenance teams to get their input. Additional training may be required, equipment needs updating, or safety protocols need refinement. Don’t be afraid to change to address issues—your customers and business will benefit.

Forecast workload and revenue

Historical data from your FSM solution can also help predict future workload and sales. For example, if residential solar installations spike in the spring and fall each year, you can anticipate and prepare for those busy seasons. Or if commercial projects average a 20% increase year over year, you can factor anticipated growth into your revenue forecasting.

Using reporting and analytics proactively helps ensure your solar company is ready to meet customer demand efficiently and profitably. Continually monitoring, optimizing, and improving your operations based on data-driven insights is key to success and sustainability in this competitive industry. While it may seem an arduous task, the rewards of enhanced customer satisfaction and business performance make it time very well spent.

Integrate systems for an optimized solar workflow

To streamline the operations, integrate your field service management software with the other tools you use. Linking your FSM system to your customer relationship management (CRM) platform allows you to automatically create work orders from new sales and service requests in your CRM. Your technicians will have all the customer details at their fingertips when they arrive on site.

Connecting your FSM and accounting software eliminates the need for duplicate data entry. Information like work orders, invoices, and payments can flow between the two systems—which saves time and reduces errors.

Pairing your FSM solution with your solar design software enables a seamless handoff from the design phase to the installation phase. The specifications from the design software can automatically populate the details in the work order so your technicians know exactly what components are needed and how the system should be set up.


Integrating these platforms provides complete visibility into your operations from one place. You can get an end-to-end view of each solar project from initial contact to final inspection and sign-off. With these insights, you can optimize your processes to improve productivity and customer satisfaction.

With the right integrations in place, your FSM software becomes the hub for managing your solar business. You gain efficiency through automation and a centralized view of schedules, inventory, work orders, and customer accounts. Your technicians will have a streamlined workflow and spend less time on paperwork and more time installing high-quality solar systems for your clients.

Final thoughts

With these seven field service management features in your back pocket, you are ready to take your solar installation business to the next level. Don’t forget that, at the end of the day, it’s all about delivering top-notch customer service. Focus on the capabilities that really matter for your needs. Make the investment in a tool that will support the growth and success of your organization for years to come. The returns can be huge.

Author

Shyamala Gowri
Shyamala Gowri
Shyamala is all about content-based marketing. Whether discussing customer service, strategies, or service management solutions, she’s in! She loves creating content that simplifies complex tech and highlights its real-world benefits.

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