Sodexo | Roth Rolls Out New Tech for Improved Efficiency

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Coming off a year that boasted a 20% increase in business, Sodexo | Roth plans to continue that momentum this year by investing in technology that will improve its efficiency in the field.

With that increased business has come some large, national contracts, most of which is located in the company’s self-performing territory; these are areas where Sodexo Roth can dispatch its own service technicians without having to rely on a vendor, says John Schuler, director of marketing and communications.

To support those technicians, Sodexo Roth is rolling out a new platform for its Computerized Maintenance Management System, which will improve efficiency by customizing workflows for self-performing technicians in the field, Schuler says. The new system also has an artificial intelligence component that “will kind of predictively guide the account management process to understand” which technicians are in closest proximity to a customer, he says.

“We can have the right person in the right place at the right time for the most cost-effective purpose, both for the client as well as us,” Schuler says.

Custom workflows are the most important feature because each client has a different set of needs depending on their industry, geography and client portfolio, Schuler says. The new system can customize workflows and communications, as well as reporting needs to reflect exactly what the customer is looking for. “And a lot of systems you don’t have that capability,” he says.

The system will also help improve communications between the self-performing technicians in the field and the Sodexo Roth command center at its Crum Road headquarters, says Kathy Latone, executive director of mechanical operations, HVAC services. Workers will use tablets to work with the technology, she says.

“They will receive information from us as to where they’re going, what jobs they need to do, how they need to do it,” Latone says. “And they will send us back information through the system.”

The command center will be able to calculate how many minutes a technician was on a job site by using a check-in/check-out function based on the geographic location of the technician’s truck. Workers can also attach invoices and pictures from a job to the system per the customer’s request.

Command center technicians will be able to perform maintenance operations remotely to “predictively and reactively maintain equipment” without the need to dispatch a technician, Schuler says. When a technician is necessary, he’ll have a better idea of what parts are needed for a job before he leaves the home office, he adds.

“We’re coupling growth and investment in technology with the reliance on our self-performing technicians,” Schuler says, some of whom have 20 to 30 years with the company.

And the system isn’t limited to improving the efficiencies of the company’s service technicians, Schuler says. As the industry trends toward a consolidation of services, more customers require one-stop shop service providers. So a customer requiring an HVAC contractor also has need for a plumber, electrical work or roofing, for example.

To meet those needs, Sodexo Roth relies on its vendor affiliate network, he says. The new technology will help streamline the process of locating a service provider in close proximity to a customer.

“Whether it’s an HVAC repair or a roofing repair, we have the capability to appropriately source the vendor that’s going to provide the best service at the best cost in the best amount of time,” Schuler says.

Sodexo Roth looks to roll out the first phase of the new system in early April. With the increased efficiency, it will allow Sodexo to handle more jobs as needed, thus providing more opportunities for expansion.

The company’s self-performing technicians cover most of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, as well as some of Delaware, Latone says.

“We do go a little bit into the New Jersey area, as well as West Virginia when needed,” Latone says.

Most of last year’s growth for the company was in Cleveland and Columbus, she says. Historically, the company has maintained a large retail client base, but over the last decade, it’s diversified into health care and hospitals, schools, industrial and power plants, she says.

This year, Schuler expects the company to expand further, both in geography and in scope of the services offered in the geography where it already has a presence.

In 2019, the company started work on the Procter & Gamble Co. plant in Lima, says Brian Scherer, director of field services. While Procter & Gamble already has staff on-site, “they partnered up with us just to handle the HVAC component,” he says.

“We’re looking to do the same thing out in the Washington D.C. area with American Red Cross,” Scherer says.

The Red Cross has six to eight different sites in D.C. that would require both on-site and remote service from Sodexo Roth, Scherer says. The company is looking to provide the same services to prospects in Illinois and Missouri, as well as the Coca-Cola Co. plant in Columbus, he adds.

To meet the needs of expansion, Sodexo Roth is actively looking to hire two to three self-performing technicians at any given time, Schuler notes.

Last year, the company hired 46 technicians. Currently, the company has up to 40 technicians in the field at any given time, but as work ramps up in the summer months, that can increase to 55.

Pictured: Brian Scherer, director of field services, and Kathy Latone, executive director of mechanical operations, HVAC services, in the Sodexo | Roth command center.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.