When more of your engineers resolve more issues, first time, call out costs are reduced and business downtime is minimised. As a result, customers are happier, companies run more efficiently and are more profitable. Sounds easy. How do you make it happen?
What is a first time fix rate (FTFR)?
First time fix rate (FTFR) is defined as the percentage of times an engineer is able to fix an issue on their first visit to a site following a callout.
Why is FTFR so important?
Put simply, the higher the FTF percentage is, the better your engineers or contractors are performing.
If an engineer solves a problem without having to make a return visit with additional expertise, information, or parts - it minimises disruption to the business and saves everyone time and money.
On the other hand, if engineers are unprepared, fixes are ineffective and return visits are necessary, customers get frustrated and costs escalate.
FTFR is, for many organisations, the ultimate key performance indicator (KPI), it’s an indispensable index of:
- Levels of customer satisfaction
- Levels of engineer competence/efficiency
- Where time and money is being wasted
- Where there are problems with assets/performance to investigate
FTFR can form part of internal and external SLAs that reflect the priorities of companies and enable them to manage and reward team performance more effectively. An agreed FTFR level in a SLA can form the basis of fines and other sanctions imposed on FM teams.
What’s a great time first time fix rate?
The FTFR of the average company is 80%, but high performing companies record rates in excess of 90%
Obviously, the level of First Time Fixes will vary depending on the type of business you’re operating and the complexity of the typical engineering challenges you deal with. But this study from the Aberdeen Group concluded that the average FTFR for a business was around 80%.
Interestingly, that study saw a strong correlation between commercial success and FTFR. Businesses who performed the best financially managed to resolve 98% of their engineering problems in a single call out. Meanwhile, poorly performing businesses typically saw FTFRs of less than 70%.
The lesson is this - really successful businesses are on top of their first time fix rate.
What causes a poor first time fix rate?
The AG study broke down the causes of low FTFRs as follows:
92% of the time, it seems, the problems are down to poor communication rather than anything else - either the right engineer has not been sent, the correct information has not been given to them, or they weren’t able to gain access to the site in the first place.
10 ways to increase your FTFR
1. Send the right people
Pretty obvious, but an easy mistake to make. If you don’t send the right engineer to the job they’ll not be able to fix the problem. When a work request comes into your helpdesk, can you instantly determine the discipline(s) required? Can you easily select an engineer who’s best suited to carry out that work e.g. by location, skills and experience? Without digital tools to help you triage and automate work requests it’s not easy to match suitable and available engineers to jobs as they come in.
2. Give engineers the right information
Turning up without the right part or tool is a major problem for your FTFR. Maybe the exact nature of the job hasn’t been described properly in the work request. Maybe the engineer just couldn’t tell what tools or parts they’d need from the information given. The more information that can be contained in a work request, including asset information, photos and videos, the better. Access to the complete service history of the asset will also help engineers prepare for the job, identify common failures and cut down on the need for return visits.
3. Keep teams communicating
Engineers often need to clarify what’s required of them. They need to be able to ask questions about the job before they get there and report back to HQ if there’s a problem. A three way conversation between end user, helpdesk and engineer in a single stream (rather than spread across different communication platforms) will cut down on misunderstandings and keep everyone on the same page.
4. Keep customers notified
If a third of call outs end in a repeat visit because the customer can’t be reached to give the engineer access to the asset - this points to a massive communication problem. FMs need the digital tools that can notify and remind customers when an engineer will arrive to fix their problem and inform them if they’re late.
5. Organise time efficiently
Engineer scheduling can directly impact your FTFR, if the order of jobs and the distance between them aren’t effectively managed, engineers can easily run out of time and have to come back at a later date to complete a job. Organising engineer diaries just using Excel or Outlook is a complex task. It’s practically impossible to do efficiently without integrated digital tools.
6. Make sure your engineers are playing ball
Contractors and engineers need the tools to easily log their time, to record when and why they’ve had to leave a job unfinished. If they’re not doing this - you’re not going to have accurate data to analyse.
7. Gain visibility through data
FTFR data is vital business intelligence. Where it’s available in charts and tables, broken down by engineer and site, you’ll be able to quickly spot trends and take steps to solve problems.
The data should show you:
- Which engineers are performing the best and worst
- Compare engineers against each other and SLAs
- If particular locations or buildings have recurring asset problems
8. Use data to optimise performance
A poor FTFR can indicate real problems with specific engineer performance that are impacting organisational goals - or it can suggest that engineers just aren’t being well enough prepared for jobs and you need to improve your admin and communication.
At the same time, localised low FTFR and high recalls can suggest assets are coming to the end of their working lives or in need of more complete overhauls.
When you have visibility of this data you can make the changes that will make a commercial difference. You can begin to streamline your supply chain. You can direct more work to high performance contractors and have the oversight to make the strategic decisions that will improve your KPIs and meet SLA requirements more effectively.
Of course, when you have the data at your fingertips all this is straightforward, but most FMs don’t.
9. Choose a CAFM
Busy FM teams without centralised digital tools, working across multiple sites with multiple contractors face particular problems gathering data and working with teams to deliver better FTFRs.
Those using multiple platforms, email, mobile and spreadsheets to manage engineers often find it impossible to capture the right data to track first time fix rates, let alone keep it up to date. But those using dedicated FM software often don’t have much more luck.
So much contractor management software is clunky and difficult to operate that it’s often ignored or abandoned by teams asked to adopt it. FMs who need to persuade contractors and engineers to use the solution and track their own performance often face an uphill struggle when the tools themselves are so difficult to use (and particularly when they’re not mobile optimised.)
10. Choose a CAFM wisely
The right CAFM system can help you start rapidly improving your FTF rate.
But it’s all about choosing a user experience that makes it simple to capture, understand AND optimise the FTFR in real time.
If you’re choosing a CAFM - make sure you ask these questions to ensure teams are fixing problems, first time every time:
- Is it easy for end users to log issues in your system - does it streamline data capture?
- Can users add information to work requests e.g. upload photos and video via mobile?
- Is the system automated to reduce user error and improve flow?
- Can teams communicate easily through one portal - so no detail is missed?
- Are users notified when engineers are ‘on their way’?
- Does the contractor portal make it easy for engineers to log their time?
- Can the captured FTFR data be viewed and analysed easily by FMs?
- Can FMs make supplier decisions on the fly based on that data?