*USING TECHNOLOGY AT WORK
Lee Company Case Study
Using Technology to Bridge the Skilled Labor Gap & Improve Efficiency
Lee Company is a Franklin, Tennessee-based facility and home services company with more than 1,000 employees. As the largest mechanical contractor in Tennessee, Lee Company has served businesses and families in the region for over seventy years.
Their experienced HVAC repair technicians, electricians and plumbers serve residential customers while their professional engineers, certified construction and facilities managers lead field personnel in serving commercial customers. As a growing enterprise, Lee Company is always looking for ways to expand their business and improve their quality of service. That’s what led them to XOEye.
Lee Company, along with HVAC contractors nationwide, is struggling to locate and hire qualified technicians. According to the US Department of Labor, there were 800,000 unfilled skilled trades jobs last year — a number that some predict to rise to 31 million by 2020.
The demand is only increasing and there is not enough time in the day for existing skilled labor to answer the need. There is also a generational gap: 40 percent of the country’s skilled trades labor is eligible to retire within the next 10 years. Lee Company needed a way to train younger and less experienced technicians to take over the growing number of jobs.
Additionally, there were inefficiencies within Lee Company’s workflow that leadership wanted to solve. They wanted to reduce the amount of system outage time that customers experienced when a junior technician needed support to complete a repair. They also wanted to improve client communication. In an industry like HVAC service and repair, where a bulk of the work is done in places like roofs and basements, bringing the customer to the problem isn’t always a viable option. Lee Company needed a compelling way to provide supporting documentation to customers that would help them make decisions and justify repairs.
As Lee Company’s leadership team discussed these problems, the company began researching ways to use technology to empower growth and improved customer relations despite the technician shortage. In the summer of 2015, Lee Company began piloting XOEye’s wearable technology platform. Eight months later, over 300 devices are in use by Lee Company technicians, making it one of the largest roll-outs of wearable technology across an enterprise.
The company turned to XOEye’s wearable technology solutions — including Vision, its cloud-based software platform — to empower less experienced technicians on the team to communicate with experts in real-time, providing better on-site service and valuable training opportunities. After evaluating Lee Company’s needs, XOEye identified opportunities to optimize their workflow and developed a custom strategy that would ensure a successful enterprise deployment, training, and adoption.
Lee Company outfitted each of its commercial field technicians with smart glasses to make video calls to the office for support, quickly address and communicate about problems on the job site, and record videos for customers. When a field technician needs guidance or help, he contacts the triage center at headquarters with the click of a button. Using hands-free video, he can show the triage technician exactly what he sees and get instant advice on how to solve the problem.
Not only did this create opportunities for technicians who could no longer climb ladders or spend long periods of time on building roofs, but it also helped to improve customer satisfaction. With XOEye, technicians are able to get systems up and running faster, answer more calls per day, and attach video from the work site to help customers understand what was done to solve a problem in a location they cannot go to physically. The data gathered using XOEye’s technology has been valuable in supporting repair proposals for customers that need buy-in from a boss or board.
XOEye’s technology allows Lee Co. to leverage skilled labor and scale expertise through efficient knowledge transfer and accurate documentation. This technology enables timely and transparent workforce interaction, eliminates callbacks and errors through remote inspection, and ensures high-quality service — no matter who answers the call. By bringing visibility to the solution with XOEye systems, Lee Company is able to gain customer trust and demonstrate value in a tangible way.
For any organization, the most challenging part about implementing a new technology solution is the possibility of disruption.
“We knew the XOEye platform brought great value and efficiency, but you’re always a little wary: it’s a unique space, with unique personalities,” said Lee Company CEO Richard Perko. “But the team at XOEye gets that. They approached our deployment as if it was theirs, a designed plan, a manageable process, and an approach from day one that made sense for our teams and our business.”
Support from the XOEye team in developing workflows, providing training and field support, and their understanding of the HVAC service industry has been incredibly valuable to Lee Company as they integrate the new technology and train their technicians on how to use it. XOEye continues to provide Lee Company with ongoing support throughout the adoption and deployment process for optimal results.
With XOEye, Lee Company can handle more service calls, offer better support to field technicians, retain experienced personnel who wanted to retire from the physical demands of onsite work, and provide better customer service. Since implementing XOEye solutions, Lee Company has experienced less down time for their customers and an increase in new business sales, as well as significant cost savings from not having to send a second person to a job site to resolve a problem. Additionally, as news of Lee Co.’s innovative stance in the industry has grown, new employment applications have increased.
According to Lee Co. leadership, the platform pays for itself. They have seen $20 ROI per $1 invested in XOEye’s technology (per 100 technicians), $500 saved via telepresence per month per tech average on things like travel and labor costs, and an average $2,500 incremental sale per month per tech by increasing customer visibility and transparency. They also saw a decrease in the number of calls from customers seeking additional details. For new work, technicians can now talk a customer through what the repair process will be while providing a visual of the work site. Lee Company is enthusiastic about the benefits and is confident the platform will produce an even greater ROI in the long term.
“Five years ago we were like most companies: we had paper tickets, were dispatching like everybody else, and sent support when somebody got stumped on a job,” said Steve Scott, VP of Facilities Solutions. “When we’re looking at ways to grow or expand the business, you either need to be more efficient — or you can use technology to close that gap.”
Long term, XOEye’s technology will enable Lee Company to operate efficiently, continue to differentiate themselves by providing increased value to their customers, and to grow the business with technology that allows them to perform more service to more customers in spite of the drastically declining skilled labor availability.
“When you ask a team to come in and help transform your business — a business that has been operating the same way for decades — you better trust them,” said Perko. “We’ve not only seen our business grow and become more profitable through XOEye Technologies, but we’ve gained a trusted business partner in the process.”