Installation Scheduling

ZandarKoad

ZandarKoad

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Amish Satellite Technician
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Apr 13, 2005
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Nashville, TN
I know I'm crazy by many standards, but hear me out. Wouldn't it be possible to create an interactive scheduling database that allows installers/retailers to insert the days/hours they are available in advance? The customers could then choose an available time slot out of all the manhours alloted for a given day/week/month. Even if their is no time slot available (say, on Sundays) they could put in a REQUEST for an install, then wait to see if an installer accepts it... It is entirely possible to build a database with that functionality... heck, I could and would do it for free if I knew it would be used.

It would do the customers a WORLD of good. I hear so often that there is "no available installation dates until 3 weeks.... blah blah blah" when an installer (myself) is sitting at home posting on a forum because he has nothing else to do. The customers would have access to the installers ACTUAL SCHEDUAL, and wouldn't even have to do a 8-12 or 12-5 deal. They could set it up for a SPECIFIC TIME (give or take 30 min). Heck, they could even do SAME DAY ordering/installing with this method. I don't know how dishnetwork determines isntallation scheduals now, but I KNOW it doesn't make as much sense as my method. Dishnetwork sure as heck doesn't ask me what my schedual is. Right now, the customer is waiting for an install 2 weeks from now while I'm waiting 2 weeks to do the install.

It also would do the installers a WORLD of good. They could take vacation days almost on a whim (so long as they have no installs scheduled for that day) with no negative side effects to Dish or the customers. And they wouldn't have to SIT AROUND, just HOPING for jobs that they only find out about the night before... It's terribly frustrating putting your life on hold for a part time job.

Edit: Customers could even leave feedback on how an install went, and future customers could PICK OUT high 'ranking' installers based on that feedback... Customer satisfaction would go THROUGH THE ROOF! oooh man, I'm getting myself all worked up now.

Seriously, how do they do it now? :confused:
 
S

satqas

Well-Known SatelliteGuys Member
Feb 4, 2005
26
0
Chisholm, MN
The current system works something like this...

Each job is assigned a set number of units ie: points, and an average number of completion hours based on the points/units. For instance a trouble call is given 12 points and two hours.

Each State is broken down into management areas, and assigned a set number of available points per day. This is based on the number of available installers in that management area. Once the available amount of points in that management area are used then that date is no longer available.

I like your idea but see a few flaws in it, allowing the customers to pick a time frame give or take 30 minutes would cause problems. Each job takes a certain amount of time on average, but we've all been to jobs that took longer than the average due to various reasons, whether it be the layout/size of the house, customer request for something above and beyond the basic install, or the fact that you set at the house waiting for the customer to arrive.

This is just a basic breakdown of how the current system works, but like I said I like your idea.
 
SimpleSimon

SimpleSimon

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Feb 29, 2004
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Florissant, CO
I'm assuming you guys are talking about DNSC installs.

The idea is good - but you gotta remember that the 2 guys at E* that can spell computer have their hands full keeping the birds from running into each other.
 
ZandarKoad

ZandarKoad

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To SimpleSimon:
True, but who says E* or D* has to run the database? I have enough financial incentive to keep the thing up and running, and I know at least one other computer guru who could develop it with me for free. And if it ever gets so large that we need more developers, I'm certain others would come forward or D* might even see it's potential. I don't know about other independent contractors, but If I could work 8-10 hour days, 5-6 days a week, I'd be grossing six figures. Right now the main thing I see proventing me from getting more work is D*'s jacked up job scheduling procedures. It would also be a fantastic advertising tool once it became the standard, and everyone who was scheduling could see my "feedback" rating on previous installs.

To Satqas: I just suggested that time frame because typically thats how accurate my time estimations are. True, I'd probably be better off saying + or - an hour. If you're running behind, no big deal: just give the customer a call. But the important thing is you could significantly cut down on the amount of time the customer needs to set aside for the installation. Right now the best thing I can do for the customer is call them all right when I get my work orders in the morning and let them know an ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival). But they still probably took the whole DAY off of work... they wouldn't have to do that with my system.

Any other reasons why this wouldn't work? Otherwise, I'm going to start development soon.
 
W

wobbie

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jul 22, 2004
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Zandarkoad, if I may ask if you have the computor knowledge and financial incentive to work such a program, why are you install DirecTV systems? Just my oppinion but I would like to see E refer the customers to a local retailer when the call in, that would eliminate the install scheduling problem.
 
D

Dish Dude

SatelliteGuys Pro
Mar 11, 2005
354
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I see many flaws in your system, one not everyone lives in a metropolitan area, if you have to drive 3+ hours to a job, the time frame couldn't really change, 2 management areas aren't always very strategically formed. If you are a retailer or sub who accepts either sub or referrall work you can always call the customer and setup a different date that fits both your needs. Nobody else I know in this type of industry give specific times even within a half an hour for each job throughout the day. I can give customers 2 things 1st stop and last stop, you just don't know what the weather will do, road construction, time a job takes, etc. too many variables
 
ZandarKoad

ZandarKoad

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Stargazer said:
It makes too much sense therefore it will never happen.

Hahaha! To close to the truth... But really, the only way it won't happen is if I don't get enough encouragement here on these forums. :p

To Dish Dude: The installer/customer location issue will be a difficult one to overcome. But it's far from impossible. Remember: Every address has been digitally stored, and can be linked to every other address via existing roads (plus an estimated travel time). In fact, from a theoretical standpoint, that part has already been done (see www.mapquest.com ). Each installer can define their own working area, and accept jobs in that area.

I still think despite all the time variables, it would still be a huge improvement over making a customer wait 5 hours without a clue as to when I'll show up. Unless you really think that making a customer wait that long is the best we can do in this industry... I would disagree however. :)
 
Mike4HDTV

Mike4HDTV

SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 14, 2005
238
1
Danbury, CT
They need to change the installation timeframes. I had an appt. scheduled for Monday from 12 - 5 PM. I took the day off from work and waited for the installer to come. At 12 PM, the tech was not here, 1 PM - still not here, 2 PM - still not here. You get the point. I get a call from Dish around 3:30 PM that the tech will show up but is running behind. It's 5 PM, the tech is still not here. Around 5:35, the tech finally arrives.

The installer does an excellent job installing the Dish and setting up the 942 receiver. He was very neat and professional and cleaned up after himself. The installer spent about 3 hours at my house installing everything.

So what's the point to my story. Dish needs to get better time frames for installations such as from 12 - 2, 2 - 4, or 4 - 6 or call a person about 30 minutes before the installer/tech will arrive at your house so you can be home and not have to waste a day waiting.

I feel as if I did not need to take a full off of work for an installer to arrive at 5:35 at my house.
 
C

CroDaddy

New Member
Apr 15, 2005
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0
at my computer
I agree with satqas when he said:
"I like your idea but see a few flaws in it, allowing the customers to pick a time frame give or take 30 minutes would cause problems. Each job takes a certain amount of time on average, but we've all been to jobs that took longer than the average due to various reasons, whether it be the layout/size of the house, customer request for something above and beyond the basic install, or the fact that you set at the house waiting for the customer to arrive."

Many DN RSP's get thier work orders from DN and then schedule each installer 2 AM(8-12:00) jobs and 2 PM(12:00-6:00) jobs, if they can't get them done....NO BIG DEAL, RESCHEDULE, and also....if they get these done, and have time for more, then they pick up more work. This works well if the dispatchers and the people that assign the jobs to the installers ask questions when they call to confirm the appointments such as "Do you have a finished basement? , or , what is your roof pitch?, or do you have trees in your yard? etc..." That way they can add that info to the work orders, and it may give a better idea of what the installers are in for.
 
J

Jared Twomey

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Mar 7, 2005
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Tacoma, WA
I just wanted to let you know, on the retailer level, there are programs like that available..

As a retailer, we use a program called Sattracks, it is all online so it allows the installers to log in from home, schedule their own time off, set what hours they will work, which counties they will do installs in, ect...
also it allows the admin to rank the particular installers so that the best installers show up first on the schedule...

then, when the sales reps are putting in the appointments, when they pull up the schedule for the day it blocks out all days that the installers have scheduled off... it works out great, also the installers can go on line every night and see what work they have for the next day and they can click a button and get a map for the jobs that they have off of mapquest, also if they click another button they can print all of their work orders, contracts, ect....
 
bcshields

bcshields

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Nov 28, 2003
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CroDaddy said:
This works well if the dispatchers and the people that assign the jobs to the installers ask questions when they call to confirm the appointments such as "Do you have a finished basement? , or , what is your roof pitch?, or do you have trees in your yard? etc..." That way they can add that info to the work orders, and it may give a better idea of what the installers are in for.

Shoot.. we ask people if there are trees in the south end of their yard.. and about half go "I dunno where south is"

I had a couple who didn't know how to give directions to a place they've lived at for a solid year.. I had to go to the post office and ask.

Sometimes installers run into unexpected problems that will throw kinks into your system. That's why the AM/PM appts are they way they are. Hell, Verizon makes you wait 8am-5pm around here. Every installer hates it when their install turns into a trouble call because some piece of equipment is broke or a new wire run had a broken conductor in it. A few days ago I had a 4 hour No Line Of Sight because my inclinometer broke and was reading 10 degrees off. Stuff Happens.
 
D

Dish Dude

SatelliteGuys Pro
Mar 11, 2005
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Exactly my point up where I am at you can have 4 installs and 400 miles of driving you can't give a 12-2 window it won't work. It can work in larger populated areas. You call the customer the before and give an estimate of when you will be there. I have one stop here and it should take longer so I should be there around, etc. I have never had complaints as long as the customer is told this stuff they know an estimated time of arrival. You get the customer's cell # so you can call if you are going to be early or later than predicted. Mapquest doesn't help you much when there is 400 miles involved a regular map is just fine
 
ZandarKoad

ZandarKoad

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Amish Satellite Technician
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Nashville, TN
birddoggy said:
I just wanted to let you know, on the retailer level, there are programs like that available..

As a retailer, we use a program called Sattracks, it is all online so it allows the installers to log in from home, schedule their own time off, set what hours they will work, which counties they will do installs in, ect...
also it allows the admin to rank the particular installers so that the best installers show up first on the schedule...

then, when the sales reps are putting in the appointments, when they pull up the schedule for the day it blocks out all days that the installers have scheduled off... it works out great, also the installers can go on line every night and see what work they have for the next day and they can click a button and get a map for the jobs that they have off of mapquest, also if they click another button they can print all of their work orders, contracts, ect....


AHA!!! So I'm NOT crazy. Their website is at:
https://www.sattracks.com/home/index.asp
Sounds like a real good system, but unfortunately it probably won't ever get implemented by retailing office. I'm sure there is a hefty cost involved.

Edit: Woah, the pricing seems down right CHEAP to me. I talked to my retail store manager, and she said they have heard good things about Sattracks. Of course... even if my retailing office DOES decide to go with Sattracks, less than 2% of the jobs I do are sales through my retailer. Nearly every job I work on is sent from Dish, so unless Sattracks can get inside DISH and work with them directly, it probably won't improve my life much.

I heard Dish just bought out Voom... why couldn't Dish buy out Sattracks? :(
 
SimpleSimon

SimpleSimon

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Feb 29, 2004
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Florissant, CO
ZandarKoad said:
can get inside DISH and work with them directly, it probably won't improve my life much
And you've just discovered why it ain't gonna happen.

The computer work is NOT the hard part - not at all. The politics, empire building, and other corporate BS is why it will never fly.
 
J

Jared Twomey

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Mar 7, 2005
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Tacoma, WA
Although the program isn't owned by dish, Sattracks is a pretty neat program for retailers. As far as the sales part goes, it is intergrated to work into the Dish retailer site, so when you click a button it logs into the retail site, runs the claim, builds the account, and then shoots you the contract back...
from an inventory point of view it works well depending on whoyour distributor is.. Our distributor that we use is in on Sattracks also, so they automatically put in our inventory when they ship stuff, they put in all disconnects, ect...

it was a little bit to get it all setup, and probably mostly because we had to pay a setup fee, to have all the information from the last 10 years or so that we have been dealing with this distributor, put into the system..
but well worth the investment, at least in my opinion.
 

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