By JR Weber – Director of Sales
Since the beginning of RFMA in 2005, General Parts has been an active participant at the annual conference. Each year we are excited to meet new people, reconnect with industry partners, and offer solutions to facility managers from all over the country. RFMA 2021 had a different feel to it. Although attendance was down about 50% due to continued travel restrictions by many organizations, the energy, and excitement to get out and reconnect face to face created an environment that truly set the stage for the annual conference this year. We walked away from RFMA 2021 with plenty of new opportunities and strengthened existing partnerships, but there were two key takeaways that the General Parts team took from the conference.
The first takeaway is that we are not the only ones dealing with a labor shortage. The labor shortage is impacting the entire industry from line cooks, field service technicians and is the inverse of the increased demand we are all seeing. The general thought is that the labor shortage with certainly continues into early fall, but will it continue into late fall and winter?
The second takeaway is that the demand for quality equipment service has grown quicker than expected. Some segments in the market experienced much stronger quarantines such as schools, hospitals, and care facilities. The restaurant segment experienced its own challenges due to dining restrictions and those restriction levels varied from state to state. Now that quarantine restrictions and have started to relax, we are seeing an increase in demand for quality service.
The increased demand combined with a labor shortage is creating a challenging environment for service providers around the country. Response times to customers are getting extended and the price of labor is going up due to increased costs on the service provider side as we are having to pay more for experienced technicians. This new environment causes operators to demand more of their service providers to provide higher quality service and puts an increased focus on data-back, first-time fix programs that will surely be a significant measurement for all industry partners for the foreseeable future.
General Parts is working every day to help our partners find solutions to the challenges our customers face. We are aggressively looking to increase our field service staff to ensure that we can provide quick, reliable service to those that need it. We have implemented a Dedicated Technician program that will ensure that we have trained technicians that carry the proper inventory to ensure high first-time fix rates that will maximize equipment uptime and lastly, we are in the process of constructing our 5th training center in Portland, OR. These initiatives were in place in an effort to further enhance our commitment to providing Service Excellence!