This article will show you the best way to let everyone in your office know that a technician or employee will be unavailable during a given time. This is vitally important because you don't want anyone to schedule a dispatch for a technician that isn't going to be in that day.
To get started you must first create a customer with a name similar to.Time Off. Using a period at the beginning of the name will allow you to easily find the customer by typing just the period in any of the autofill boxes in ESC. This also works well if you do a full customer search, since ESC orders the customers alphabetically this record will be right at the top of the list. Leave all the remaining fields blank or at their default values and save the customer. This only needs to be done once.
Now to let everyone in the office know that the employee will be out of the office, create a dispatch using the new customer. To do this, go to the Dispatch Entry screen (F4) and recall the .Time Off customer. Press the tab key until you reach the Called In By field to let ESC assign the dispatch a number. Enter the reason for the time off in the Dispatch Notes field then switch to the schedule tab and select the employee you want. Change the Date Promised to the day they need the time off. Set the Time to the beginning of the time they will be out or the time they normally work (if the employee is taking the entire day off). Enter the number of hours they will be out in the Estimated Time field. If the employee will be out for multiple days use the Add Technician button to add them to the dispatch again. The date of the new entry will automatically be set to the following day at the same time. Simply add the Estimated Time and adjust the time and date if necessary, then save the dispatch.
After the dispatch has been created, you will see the time blocked off on the dispatch board for that technician. Complete the dispatch after the appointment or day off is over.
At this point you could create a no-charge invoice for the dispatch if you want. I generally don't because there are no parts or labor costs associated with it that I want to track. In addition, I know the dispatch will fall off of my list of uninvoiced dispatches in the Sales screen after 30 days. So unless you need to create an invoice for some other reason, you're done.
One of the nice side effects of using this method to track employees' time off is that you can now run reports to show how much time each technician took off during any given period. This can be accomplished by going to the Tech Hours Report (Dispatch → Reports → Tech Hours Report) and filtering it by customer, employee (Technician) and date range. I like running this report when an employee asks me for time off so I can see how much time they have already taken off during the year.
If you need more elaborate reports you can create a whole series of customers that start with a period, such as .Vacation, .Sick, etc. and create dispatches for them instead of using the generic .Time Off. This will allow you to differentiate the amount of time each employee spent on each "customer."
Until next time - happy scheduling!
Written by Eric Rausin
Featured in March 2010 Newsletter