Posts By: Sam Darwish

An In-Depth Look at Modern Service Software

Field service software has come a long way in the past few years. The right platform can help even small businesses improve and optimize their activities on a daily basis, managing field staff while tracking performance, and even improving customer relations.

Historically, non-enterprise businesses have been hesitant to leverage this type of software for fear of complexity and cost. Modern service software, though, can be just as beneficial for even the smallest operations as it would be for major companies with 100+ employees.

Put differently, field service management software may just be what puts your HVAC, plumbing, roofing, electrical, or appliance repair business over the top. That’s especially true in the current environment, which has caused many businesses to revamp their daily practices to remain safe while providing excellent field service. Join us for an in-depth look at what modern software has to offer, and how you can benefit from it.

What, Exactly, is Field Service Management Software?

The basic definition is simple: field service management (FSM) software describes any platform that helps this type of business optimize their business activities. That might include scheduling, quoting and billing, customer relationship management, and even performance monitoring. 

At its best, this type of software offers significant benefits in the field service industry, ranging from increased efficiency to reduced operating costs and more. There’s even a case to be made that every business needs field service software.

4 Timely Benefits of Modern Service Software

As mentioned above, we’ve discussed the general benefits of modern service software in previous articles in this space. So let’s dive deeper into the four advantages that remain true regardless of the time, but have become especially beneficial during the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting change in business operations.

1) Transition to Paperless Operations

The field service business traditionally relies heavily on the paper trail. Fliers and postcards can promote its offerings and promotions, while quotes, invoices, bills, and other printed materials drive the functional side of customer communications. The right platform, though, moves these communications to a digital alternative.

Through field service software, you can launch email-based communication plans to promote your business and reach your customers. Meanwhile, you can integrate paperless billing and scheduling that further reduces paper-based touchpoints. Through the right apps and programs, you can effectively stay in touch with your customers and send important notes without relying on printing and mailing.

That’s especially relevant in light of current COVID-19 research, which suggests that the virus may survive for a limited time on paper surfaces. Moreover, going paperless can be a significant cost-saver in a time when budgets in the service industry are becoming tighter. With the right FSM software, you can minimize risks while improving your balance sheet.

2) Engage in Contactless Payments

Naturally, service businesses have taken pains in recent months to avoid close-proximity contacts with their customers to reduce the possibility of infection on either side. Contactless payments can play a major role in reducing these close contracts and increasing safety.

Traditionally, most field service operations have accepted payment in one of two ways;

  • In-person, with cash, a check, or a credit card handed from customer to employee. This poses a major potential safety risk.
  • Remotely, with the customer providing credit card numbers that an employee on the other side of the line can add to the computer. This poses a major data security risk.

FSM software offers a third alternative: the ability to pay via email or text, keeping both information and people safe. The payment occurs and is logged in real-time, without engaging in any of the above risks.

3) Leverage Modern Collaboration Tools

The close contact conundrum mentioned above also comes into play when service personnel has to work in a customer’s house or apartment. In that case, it’s almost impossible to avoid close contact with someone else’s property, leading to significant health risks.

Now, imagine a platform in which you can use modern collaboration tools to avoid some of these concerns, without losing on your business’s customer service or efficiency. With the right FSM software, you can use platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams to communicate with customers without having to share a room.

These collaboration tools, of course, offer significant benefits beyond the current pandemic as well. Being able to video chat with your customers means potentially reducing the need for an in-person visit, solving simple problems remotely and reserving physical appointments for more dire situations.

4) Integrate Safety Checks

As mentioned above, a necessary part of the modern service business has become ensuring the safety of operations on the still-necessary visits. Even with collaboration tools like video chats, some of these visits will remain essential. Modern service software, though, allows for a more protected operation thanks to safety check opportunities.

The communication in this case is internal. Platform operators can build reminders into individual service events, reminding their technicians to stock and wear PPE gear. Other reminders can mention the need for social distancing, as well as following other best practices that the pandemic has made necessary.

How to Find the Right Field Service Management Software

All four of the above benefits are both timely and lasting. While they undeniably apply in the current conditions, they also have long-term value in a variety of situations. Of course, that’s only the case if you can find field service management software that’s optimized for your business.

Finding that software depends on your situation. You can ease the process, however, by asking a few questions that narrow down the selection:

  • What’s your budget, and can you find software within your budget range?
  • How experienced are you with running software for your service business, and how complex could the software be for an easy implementation?
  • What features are necessary, or at least desired, to improve your operations? Some research on typical features can go a long way towards answering this question.

With these three variables in mind, you can find FSM software specifically designed to improve your business, both now and in the long-term future. You’ll reap the rewards of finding a platform that helps you both modernize and optimize your operations.

How to Grow Your Business as a Service Provider

If there’s one universal truth about entrepreneurship, it’s that no success tip or strategy applies equally for all businesses. Unfortunately, most are geared towards companies that deal with tangible products. As a service-based business owner, you are likely aware that even when such ideas apply to your company, it’s somewhat different.

When it comes to generating steady revenue, the rules are different for product-based and service-based companies. A business that sells a physical product can focus on quality, branding, and aggressive marketing. However, for service businesses, that alone is not sufficient. Whereas a product-based company can easily target a global market and thrive on one-off sales, service companies rely on repeat business.

As such, developing a rapport with customers is essential. Do you run a service-based business such as an HVAC, appliance repair, or plumbing company? Read on for some insightful strategies that will help grow your business.

1. Establish Credibility

One of the key elements of scaling a business is building credibility with your audience. However, with the uniqueness of the service industry, startups often find themselves in a tough position. Compared to products where one can buy to test, it’s not the same with services.

For someone to hire a plumbing company, they want to know that the company is qualified and reliable. Therefore, it is essential to start building credibility from the onset. Here are some of the ways you can establish credibility to grow your business: 

  • Demonstrate integrity. As a service company, experience greatly influences how much people are willing to hire you. However, the easiest way to show you are reliable despite lacking experience is by being transparent. Do not shy away from your experience and be open about how your company is run and what it stands for.
  • Demonstrate your capacity. It’s one thing to say you are good at what you do, and it’s a totally different thing when your customers endorse you. As you start, focus on going above and beyond to satisfy your customers. With each client, request them to do a video testimonial recommending your business. If need be, offer them a discount on your next service. This will not only earn you a good review but also a second chance of making a good impression on them.

2.  Capitalize on Word-of-Mouth Marketing

In order to increase your customer base, you must develop a marketing strategy that reaches and appeals to your target audience. Today, technology-based platforms account for the largest proportion of marketing efforts. As a startup or small business, you may not have enough funds to run a comprehensive online marketing campaign.

This, however, is not to say that you cannot market your company. You can grow your client list with good old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing, which is especially effective for service-based companies. Prepare both physical and digital business cards and brochures. Armed with these, make it a point to attend events where your ideal customers will be. These could be industry-related networking events or even community events. Interact with people and let them know the services that you offer. This is a long-term yet effective way to grow your business.

Depending on your budget, try supporting a local cause and organizing an event around it. This will be a subtle yet effective way of announcing your brand. The good thing with word-of-mouth marketing is that your happy clients and prospects who like your pitch will automatically become your marketers.

Word-of-mouth marketing may seem a little bit outdated, but the results it offers are unquestionable. According to a Nielsen report, suggestions from family and friends are more believable than adverts. With word-of-mouth marketing, all you need to do is sharpen your PR skills and take the initiative to go where your clients are.

Social media platforms can also serve as an excellent platform to cultivate high-quality referrals. As you use your pages to engage with your customers, be sure to post helpful content. If you are in the HVAC sector, you can post content highlighting some of the causes of HVAC problems. This way, your audience will slowly identify you as an industry leader.

3. Use Employee Tracking Tools

Critical to your company’s success is the productivity of your employees, which goes down to engagement levels and process efficiency. According to a Gallup report, American organizations lose up to $7 trillion annually due to productivity deficiencies. 

As a service business, your personnel will be required to travel to different locations to handle client needs. Dispatchers must assign projects in a way that enhances productivity. A task that is easier said than done when relying on manual processes.

Fortunately, there are employee tracking tools that you can rely on to help grow your business. With such tools, dispatchers will know the location of each of the teams on the ground. This will make it easier to assign tasks more efficiently, enabling on-ground personnel to serve more clients.

Other benefits of employee tracking software include:

  • Helps reduce unethical behavior
  • Easy to track employee attendance
  • Easier to issue assignments based on proficiency

Field service management software vary in capabilities. It is, therefore, essential to choose one that can adequately meet your needs. Some of the factors to consider include:

  • Tracking capabilities that also alert customers which of your staff is coming and at what time
  • Automated reminders via text and email for scheduled checkups
  • Built-in email templates for sending bulk emails
  • Ability to connect directly to technicians via call instead of going through dispatchers

4. Use Mobile Payment Technology

As other industries transition to offering remote solutions, some processes must be carried out manually in the service industry. This, however, is no excuse for not embracing technological innovations in other areas of the business. One of the solutions that your customers will appreciate is the ability to make payments digitally.

The digital payments industry is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12% till 2023 when it will be worth $6.7 trillion.  As such, offering digital payment options will soon, if not already, be a bare minimum expectation from clients. Along with the convenience you offer customers, you will also benefit from easier accounting.

Other benefits of digital payments include:

  • Saves time
  • It’s more hygienic
  • Easily traceable

5. Create a Unique Brand Personality

As a business grows, it needs to have a distinct persona that clients can relate to and is easily identifiable. It increases familiarity and demonstrates growth and reliability, boosting loyalty among your existing customers while attracting new ones. Unfortunately, this is one of the areas where businesses fail.

By presenting your brand consistently on all platforms, you can see revenue spikes of up to 23%. The key to creating a strong brand is determining what your company stands for and how you want to be perceived. Do you want your brand to be a beacon of strength and reliability or one that’s jovial and casual yet dependable? These are some of the things to consider when creating your brand, and getting them right will give you a boost as you aim to grow your business.

Your persona and the values you represent should be similar to the values your ideal customers hold. Data suggests that 89% of consumers in the US remain loyal to companies with values similar to theirs. Some of the elements that make a brand strong include uniqueness, a solid philosophy, quality, and a clear message. As you choose your brand persona, consider an appropriate color as it will play a significant role in recognition. 

Some of the benefits of a strong brand include:

  • Makes you easily recognizable even in saturated markets
  • Increases your credibility
  • Makes it easy to introduce new services
  • Increases customer loyalty
  • Attracts talent

6. Step Up Your Digital Marketing Efforts

Even with the best services in the industry, customers will not just walk in. It’s important to develop a marketing strategy that will create awareness of your services. Fortunately, with the internet, you can reach just about anyone you want.

There are different ways to promote your service business online. You can use a website, blog, social media posts, and even online ads. Each has its own unique benefits. The good thing with online marketing is that costs can be low to nonexistent, and you can increase your budget as your business grows. Additional benefits include:

  • Easy to track performance
  • Allows you to target ideal customers
  • High conversion rates with the right strategy
  • Cheaper in comparison to traditional forms of marketing

Though blogs take time before bringing tangible results, they’re arguably the most effective and reliable tools in the long run. This is because 70% of internet users prefer learning about services and products via content. As your blog grows, you can try other online marketing strategies that can bring immediate results. Good examples include:

  • Pay per click (PPC) ads
  • Paid adverts on social media

Do Not Compromise on Efficiency. Start Growing Your Business Today!

Managing (and growing) a service-based business requires a lot of work as there are many moving parts. Fortunately, there are many tools you can use to simplify such processes and allow you to focus on growth strategies. Key among them is field service management software.

ServiceDemand is a company that offers field management solutions suitable for service-based businesses. Contact us today to find out how our tools can help grow your business.

Direct Mail Marketing For Contractors

As a contractor, you may have explored a few different channels for growing your business. While email, search engine ads, social media, and other digital marketing methods are popular, it can be hard to make an impact on these already-saturated platforms. If you’re looking for a unique and effective way to reach your audience and get a leg up on your competition, direct mail marketing can help. Here is some information on what direct mail marketing is, why it’s effective, and how it can help your contracting business grow. 

What Is Direct Mail Marketing?

By definition, direct mail marketing is advertising sent by a business through the mail to recipients who didn’t expressly request the mail. Businesses create and send advertising materials like flyers, postcards, catalogs, coupons, or pamphlets so that potential customers can learn more about what that business does and how they help meet their customer’s needs. Mail marketing allows your business to reach out to your audience in a creative, memorable, and effective way, and raise awareness about what you can do for them. 

The process of creating a direct mail campaign includes a few steps. First, businesses start by researching their intended audience and identifying their needs and desires. From there, a business buys, builds, or rents a list of potential customers or prospects and designs and creates a piece of mail that appeals to that particular audience. Once the campaign is sent out, the business may track the results of their campaigns by using a unique URL, phone number, QR code, or promotional code. 

Any type of business in nearly any industry can use this type of marketing to their advantage. If you sell a product or a service that people want to buy, you can use a direct mail campaign. With most businesses focusing on digital marketing, starting a mail marketing campaign is one way to cut through the noise and get your business noticed without spending a lot of money.

Direct mail marketing is particularly great for contractors who want to reach a wider audience or retain current customers. You can easily create a mailing list of prospects by looking at satisfied customers whom you helped in the past and targeting their neighbors or those who meet certain demographic requirements. You can use a special offer in your direct mail piece to get people interested in using your services, or you can ask current customers to spread the word about what you offer to their friends and family. Including a call to action (i.e. “Call us today for a consultation!”) lets people know what steps to take next.   

Direct Mail Campaigns: Key Statistics for Contractors 

Direct mail marketing is effective for contractors. According to research, direct mail and email marketing campaigns get similar response rates, but a 2018 study found that direct mail campaigns can result in purchases five times larger than those of email campaigns. You can combine these two platforms for an even bigger result. And direct mail has a significantly better response rate than paid search ads, social media platforms, and email marketing.  

Direct mail marketing has a high return on investment. Recent studies point to a nearly 30% ROI, which is a similar ROI to social media. This means that for every dollar you spend on mail marketing, you’ll see more responses, more leads, and more sales. By touching base with your audience frequently, you can be sure that your services stick in their mind.

There is less competition in the mail marketing world now that so many other businesses have turned to digital advertising. This means that you have less competition when sending out your campaigns. And while older audiences remember throwing away piles of junk mail, younger audiences don’t have the same experience. Receiving mail is more novel and unexpected to the Millennial and Gen Z generations, which means that mail stands out while email will likely be ignored.  

Direct mail has a higher lifespan than other forms of marketing. For some people, when an email hits their inbox, they may choose to keep or discard it within just a few seconds, or it may get buried in a mountain of other messages. Direct mail, however, has a lifespan of 17 days. This means that people are more likely to hang onto the mail you send them, glancing at it more than once so that your message and branding sticks in their mind. 

How Contractors Can Benefit From Direct Mail Marketing

Now that you understand what direct marketing is and how effective it can be, here are a few of the biggest benefits that contractors may see when using it:

  • Direct mail marketing is highly targeted. With these types of campaigns, you can choose exactly which demographics to target. When you know your audience well, you can focus on a smaller group of prospects that are more likely to respond. 
  • Direct mail marketing can give you more reach. You can use direct mail to both retain current customers and attract new ones. Create eye-catching and attractive mail pieces to grab people’s attention.
  • Direct mail is easy to share. Even if one of the prospects doesn’t need your services right now, there’s a chance they’ll hang onto the postcard or flyer you sent. They may post it on their fridge or bulletin board, especially if you include a promo code or coupon that doesn’t expire for a while. And if one of their friends notes that they need a plumber or a painter (or whatever the service you offer is), they can easily share that piece of mail they saved. 
  • Direct mail marketing is cost-effective. Many direct mail pieces are quite inexpensive to send out to a lot of people at once. And some services that offer direct mail marketing options even offer pricing calculators so you can take the guesswork out of budgeting for your next campaign. 

Integrating Direct Mail With Other Marketing Efforts

In today’s highly digital world, you may be wondering if you should put all of your marketing efforts into digital platforms. But you’re also aware that direct mail marketing for contractors can have some serious benefits. The great news is that you don’t have to choose between one or the other. Mail marketing can seamlessly integrate with your digital marketing strategy, and they can work synergistically, giving each platform a boost.

You can include a QR code on your direct mail piece so that you can send people directly to a unique landing page on your website and count how many people visit that page. A QR code can also link to a video where you can explain your services to potential customers. Or you can send out direct mail and email at the same time so that people are getting messages from multiple channels. The more exposure people have to your brand, the more likely they are to respond!

Make sure to keep your branding and voice consistent across all channels, so your audience sees a unified message. When combined with digital channels, mail marketing can give your brand an authentic, trustworthy feel. Receiving mail feels like more of a personal experience than simply being included on an email blast, and direct mail can give your business legitimacy. 

Get Started With Direct Mail Marketing for Contractors Today!

If you’re ready to get started with mail marketing, there are a few important decisions you need to make. First, think about your audience. Who do you want to reach out to? What are their needs? What kinds of offers may entice them to reach out to you? Once you feel like you know your audience as well as you can, take some time to craft a unique piece of content. Choose colors that stick with your branding, and you may want to consider making your mail piece a unique size or shape. Include visually appealing elements like logos, photos, and big, bold print. As a contractor, you may want to include a special offer like a free quote or a discount to improve your response rate.

And don’t forget to track the results of your campaign. In the past, businesses assumed that their direct mail piece was a success if they saw a significant increase in sales, but today, we have tools that we can use to better track campaigns. Using unique phone numbers or URLs to track who is responding to your campaign can give you valuable data that you can use to hone in on your audience and improve future campaigns. 

Finally, remember to stay in touch with your audience often. It may be smart to send prospects something once a month, as doing it more often may be seen as annoying. However, it can take a few tries for someone to remember your business and become a customer. Test different elements, like frequency of mailings, different types of mailing, and different design elements to see which gets the best response. Once you have a clearer picture of what your audience responds best to, you can create a direct mail marketing formula that works for your contracting business. 

Why Your Business Needs Field Management Software

What do you want when your service professionals—full-time, part-time, preferred contractor, general contractor—go into the field to serve a customer? Here at ServiceDemand, we have devoted a lot of hours to build a top-of-the-line field management software that addresses your answers to that question. We think that your answers might be something like this:

  • To be confident that our customer, from the first contact to invoice payment, will feel the job is completely under control—and that the results show it.
  • To be confident that our service professionals have the best job planning, tools, and support every time they go out, and the entire time they are out.
  • To be confident that we are not only on top of each service visit but aware of our whole team and operation all day.
  • To deliver the best service and meet our highest standards, even while we reduce costs through efficient management of everything from scheduling, to project planning, to on-the-job back-up, to parts management.

These are some cardinal goals and functional targets that have driven our creation of a state-of-the-art field management platform. This cloud-based system enables business owners or managers to plan, schedule, and execute the delivery of services to clients. The goal is the delivery of services that are uniform, repeatable, and professional while driving cost benefits through better labor management.

It can be useful to view ServiceDemand as a platform technology, which has been called the fourth computer revolution. Platform technology is not conceived in terms of performing specific functions, however many, complex, and useful they may be. Platform technology mediates an end-to-end process that empowers and improves the experiences of customers, employees, contractors, and managers. Data intake, machine learning, and an analytical engine are just a few core tools that are integrated to achieve the goals of management empowerment, productivity, and satisfaction of all users. Platform technology is an entirely new operating model for business that catalyzes a changing mindset, organization, and operating methodology. 

Features of ServiceDemand Field Management Software 

Our field management software enables service organizations of every kind and size to integrate these core interconnected tasks in real-time:

Customer Management

From the first contact to sales follow-up, ServiceDemand supports the management of your relationship with every customer through invoicing, a follow-up to monitor satisfaction, and a repeat customer relationship. 

Whether you’re in HVAC, plumbing, or other service business, you are on top of every job as it develops and moves through to completion. You can complete and send job estimates in minutes with products and services already line items on the form. And then, the job estimate becomes the initial outline of the job itself. 

And how about managing your workforce, scheduling service visits, and assigning jobs with estimated compensation, if appropriate? For your customer seeking an estimate to compare several options, or to compare repair with replacement, you can usually generate an estimate with a few clicks, including options within these estimates. Our field management software also allows you to recreate or store options, apply options to one or more jobs, and help to create custom proposals, even multi-document proposals.

Schedule & Dispatch

Customer management is supported by schedule and dispatch on ServiceDemand to make the most efficient use of every service professional’s day and manage your across-the-company logistics. The customer gets the service when promised and workers’ travel time is reduced for the greatest productivity. You can view the schedule of your full-time and part-time workers as well as that of preferred and general contractors over all relevant periods.

Real-Time Communication

The support that you want your workers on the job to enjoy—so that problems are solved on the spot—is facilitated by real-time communication among employees across the organization. Our field management software comes with all necessary apps to link your system with every mobile device out in the field all day long. The expertise of all your employees is potentially available to empower every individual employee so your organization can deliver the best service uniformly, repeatably, and reliably. Our field service management software enables service professionals to receive and manage jobs on their smartphones or tablets wherever they are. This reduces paperwork and also minimizes the need for field works to visit the home office.

Job Planning

Job planning features that call upon ServiceDemand’s analytical capabilities are available to set up major jobs for success by defining required time, steps and stages, personnel, and other assets. Problems are anticipated and the entire team is informed. Then, you stay on top of the job—and every job—in real-time. When it comes to single or consolidated multiple jobs that need to be converted to invoices and translated into check, cash, or credit card payment, a single click handles it with your built-in payment gateway.

Parts Management

Just as you want the required plans and personnel on the job when scheduled, you want no delays caused by missing parts or waiting for parts delivery—needs that workforce management software helps you to anticipate with order control, delivery control, and inventory control. Like every feature of ServiceDemand, parts management brings it all together to reduce waste and boost productivity. Costs and pricing are recorded as part of the across-the-board monitoring of your operation that ServiceDemand enables.

Contractor Management

The contractors you use, including suppliers, have what they need through ServiceDemand to fit seamlessly in your company’s project design plans, scheduling, project timetables, quality control procedures, reporting, and billing—to name just a few. Contractors are used with optimal efficiency where they are needed and when they are needed. You track their time on the job, billing, and performance record.

A platform for the life of every company

The power and potential for increased profitability of these features are available to your company whatever your industry and your field service management challenges. ServiceDemand is ready out-of-box to begin to bring your entire field operation under enhanced control. Because ServiceDemand is completely scalable, it works with any size company from a small local service outfit seeking maximum productivity to a nationwide multi-site operation with hundreds of employees, contractors, and customers that is ready for the next gains in efficiency, cost control and profits, customer satisfaction, and staff motivation and performance. There is no such thing as a service company too small to benefit from ServiceDemand—but as you grow, the platform readily scales up with you.

Because ServiceDemand is hosted by the Heroku cloud platform as a service (PaaS) with scalability supported by Amazon Web Services (AWS), your company needs no special servers or other hardware. If you have internet access, ServiceDemand is ready to get online right now.

For example, you don’t have to integrate our software with CRMs, ERPs, or ticketing platforms because ServiceDemand is a web-hosted SaaS platform. You do have the option of integrating with other systems, but ServiceDemand is fully functional on its own.

Why? Consider a few additional capabilities of ServiceDemand:

  • Job Photo Upload right from your job site using any mobile device connected with ServiceDemand. And then archive these photos from the job site to be available to customers or your own technicians as needed.   
  • Fleet Tracking around the clock on ServiceDemand shows you where your vehicles are at all times. Monitoring can even help to influence better driving by your employees and make a record of trip history. The GPS feature of ServiceDamand makes it all obvious on your screen.  
  • Payment Processing is efficient and easy on ServiceDemand with an all-in-one payment platform designed specifically for service contractors. It enables you to manage your finances and cash flow, for example, in a unified system. The same functionality can handle monitoring of daily office activity, the hours your staff has worked, and, of course, your workforce in the field. Checking in and out and filling out time-based payroll reports is automatic.  
  • Programming your email makes effective communication with customers possible. Send the emails needed at the right time by the right people. You can segment your email list to reach customers who need the same communication at the same time.  
  • Uploading, sharing, and organizing your paperwork (documents) combines the functionality of your files and cloud content to let your team upload, share, and organize documents and folders relevant to their needs.

See Our Field Management Software in Action

Some of the world’s most successful companies use ServiceDemand to manage their thriving, active field services. Our staff would be pleased to demonstrate our field service management software’s features, ease of use, and exciting potential at any time. Just get in touch with us to schedule your free personal demonstration of the proven capabilities of ServiceDemand. We guarantee you an eye-opening experience in the innovative application of our platform to meet the challenging demands of a service company like yours. The first step is to reach out. So let our team give you a detailed tutorial of ServiceDemand’s features and capabilities.

Be sure to check back here on the ServicesDemand blog regularly for information, insights, and updates on the challenges of field management. We’ll also keep you posted on new features of our software to keep supporting our customers and future customers.

5 Reasons Why You Need Field Service Software

From the earliest days of business computing, software has made the way we work more efficient. Companies who adopt these new software tools gain a competitive advantage over those who don’t. We are far removed from the days when simple spreadsheets revolutionized the way we work, but software is still giving early adopters an advantage over the competition. Today’s field service environment is no exception. Businesses in the field service industry now have powerful software at their disposal that will allow their entire operation to run more transparently and efficiently than before. Adopting a field service management solution will allow your business to remain competitive as such software becomes more commonplace. Let’s take a look at what field service software is and what it can do for you.

What Does Field Service Software Do?

There are many moving parts to a modern field service operation. From creating the initial estimates to assigning workers and tracking their progress, through to invoicing the customer and accepting payment, field service management software takes control of these moving parts. By becoming an all-in-one solution for the unique needs of the field service industry, and by combining modern technologies and algorithms, field service software can improve the efficiency of your operation and provide you with actionable insights about how your business functions.

In the same way that accounting software became like an extra employee, helping to automate and make sense of a business’s finances, field service management (FSM) software is like an extra employee doing all the hard work of managing your field service operations. It automates complex decisions and unifies all the relevant information about your business into one convenient platform. Good FSM software will also integrate nicely with existing CRMS, ERPs, or other software tools a business may use in order to make further automation possible.

5 Reasons Your Business Needs Field Service Software

Now that you have a general overview of FSM software is, let’s take a look at some reasons you need to incorporate it into the technology stack at your business. 

1. Optimize workforce utilization

The traveling salesman problem is a well-known optimization question designed to find the quickest route between a set of cities. When calculated by humans, it serves little purpose in the field service industry. Unlike the cities in the traveling salesman problem, you don’t know the places your workforce will need to travel to ahead of time. Instead, you must adapt on the fly and dispatch your workforce to incoming jobs as best you can. Just as computers can calculate the traveling salesman problem nearly instantly, FSM software can find the optimal workforce scheduling and dispatch orders so your employees spend more time helping customers and less time traveling. These workforce optimizations mean more money in your business’s bank account at the end of the day.

2. Increase bottom line

A more properly utilized workforce isn’t the only way FSM software will help keep money in your bank account. Managing a field service company spans across a wide range of disciplines, and FSM tools are there to help with all of them. With a quality FSM solution, you’ll be able to more effectively manage inventory on parts, keep your assets properly maintained and running at peak performance, recommend high-performing upsells to customers, and benefit from automation across every aspect of your company that will lead to a more productive workforce.

Aside from problems that are specific to field service, good FSM solutions also cover state-of-the-art business intelligence tools that will make it easier for your management team to understand how the business is operating and which areas need to be improved.

3. Standardize the customer experience

For branding purposes, it is best if every customer has the same experience, or close to the same experience as possible. You don’t want some reviews praising you for doing one thing and others complaining that you didn’t do that thing. With every field service agent drawing from the same mobile software, driven by the powerful analytics of an FSM system, they’ll know exactly which products should be recommended, which maintenance plans are available for each customer, and which procedures should be followed when talking to the customer. Field service software takes the guesswork out of being a field service worker so your employees can focus on what they do best: solving customer problems.

4. Provide contactless customer care

Contactless care is a requirement during a pandemic, but even beyond that, it is a more efficient way to work with customers. When everyone can deal with paperwork on their own time, nobody is inconvenienced. With contactless customer care powered by your FSM software, you’ll be able to send quotes to a customer’s device. From there, they’ll be able to accept the quote and even sign off on completed work and complete a post-job survey all without having to deal with an in-person employee. Perhaps more importantly to the customer experience, the tools will tell them exactly what to expect when their field service worker arrives and who that worker will be. This is of great benefit to both the customer and your workers, as everyone will be on the same page when it is time for the work to begin.

5. Centralize information

Having a single software solution that brings together previously disparate parts of your operation has the added benefit of bringing all your information into one centralized location. This means more information for data-hungry machine learning algorithms that power today’s business software. It also means that you’ll be able to generate reports with more information and do so much quicker than you could before. Perhaps the greatest benefit of having all your information in one place is that it makes getting an overview of your operation much easier. The dashboards of your field service management software will give you information on all aspects of your business, aiding in greater transparency and more informed business decisions. 

The software will also let you know how long each employee takes to perform a given task and give you other meaningful analytics that will provide transparency into your business. To give one example, you may discover that one employee routinely takes two hours to do something that everyone else finishes in one. This could mean that the employee needs further training on that task. Getting them that training will help improve their efficiency and increase the productivity of your team as a whole.

ServiceDemand’s Field Service Solution

As an exploding industry, there are now many field service management solutions on the market. As industries around the world adapt to the fourth industrial revolution, brought about by the power of big data and machine learning, field service professionals are looking to do the same. ServiceDemand is a high-quality FSM solution that will give you the powerful features you need to streamline your field service business and increase revenue. Let’s take at just a few of the things ServiceDemand can do for you:

Customer management — Customer relations are a big part of a business’s success. ServiceDemand will be there from the initial contact to the payment of the invoice. You’ll always be able to see at a glance where in the process a customer is and have complete control over everything you need to ensure that customer’s satisfaction right from within the dashboard.

Contractor management — Part of running an efficient operation that keeps customers happy is dealing with contractors. ServiceDemand provides the same level of management for dealing with contractors that it does for dealing with customers. You can find everything you need to build and maintain successful relationships with your contractors is all in one place. 

Parts and asset management — Your field workers can’t be effective without the parts and tools they need to do their jobs. ServiceDemand keeps the parts you need in stock, without the needless expense of overstocking, with automated control over orders, inventory, and deliveries. Any tools or assets that need servicing are tracked, and reminders are sent so there’s no avoidable downtime. 

Automated scheduling and dispatch — With field workers traveling around your area on jobs that take various amounts of time, it isn’t always easy to know the best employee to dispatch to a job. ServiceDemand will use advanced algorithms to maximize the efficiency of each of your field workers on an individual level and better manage logistics company-wide.

Complex job planning — From creating the first proposal to receiving the final invoice, a lot of planning goes into doing a job right. Regardless of how complex a job is, ServiceDemand will help you break it down into manageable chunks and then track it as each stage progresses. Throughout the job, powerful analytics will aid you in making decisions and automate tedious processes for you so you can spend more time wowing your customers.

Mobile device support — With all your employees connected to the system and able to interact with it through mobile devices while they are out in the field, you’ll cut down on paperwork and give everyone in the company the ability to instantly communicate needs and problems with anyone else. All this in real-time using a platform that empowers you to meet those needs and solve those problems.

6 Key Benefits of Field Service Management Software

Let’s face it. 

Only a few companies can remain competitive in today’s field service environment without proper management of costs, resources, and time.

Despite this fact, a whopping 52% of service-centric companies still coordinate tasks and manage functions manually. 

Up until this moment, your business might have survived with manual paperwork, processes, and calling every other on-site employee when you need a task done ASAP. However, today’s picky and tech-savvy customers want more—they expect their jobs done quicker and with minimal hassle.

A field service management software (aka workforce management tool) can help automate your business for superior customer service, greater operation efficiency, and of course, more profitability.

But First… What Is Field Service Management Software?

Field service management (FSM) software is, by definition, a tool that makes it easy for service-centric enterprises to supercharge their productivity and achieve their project goals.

It does this by delivering exceptional on-site service through personnel management, request tracking, and enabling total visibility of the service delivery cycle.

Typical features of a workforce management tool include:

  • Work order management
  • Smart routing
  • Inventory control
  • Real-time analytics and reporting
  • Scheduling and dispatch
  • Fleet tracking

Are you still lost in the maze of FSM? Picture this… 

Every morning your technicians report to work and collect the day’s schedule. They check the inventory for the tools and parts needed, receive them, and fill the necessary paperwork before getting on the road. This, of course, translates to hours of manual coordination.

What about the data they need when they are on-site? Are they still carrying around bulky files for each customer they serve? Your technicians are also liable for most of the tools being used—and you want to keep track of them as well. You want total oversight on what job is being handled, how long it takes, where it is happening, and the materials being utilized. 

Juggling all this through countless spreadsheets, ticking off the inventory, and updating time logs can be incredibly painstaking. 

Luckily, field service management software comes in to streamline things—from invoicing and inventory control to routing and scheduling—all on one, multifaceted platform.

By adopting this software, SMBs (HVAC, roofers, locksmiths, electricians, appliance repair, etc.) can reap multiple benefits. Below are six of the most important benefits of a workforce management tool.

Outstanding Benefits of Using Field Service Management Software

1. Faster Completion of Tasks

As a stakeholder in the field service industry, you know that every minute counts. For instance, the less time your technicians spend looking for optimal routes, the more invoiceable hours they’ll have on hand to complete more jobs. 

Just how long does it take your business to schedule operations or map out preferred routes? A lot of time, right? Field management software like ServiceDemand modernizes your administrative tasks so your team can complete tasks quicker and more efficiently. 

The best part? When all of your business data is connected and housed in one location, the time it takes to fulfill jobs involving that data is lowered significantly. This translates to improved efficiency, as customers will have their needs sorted out promptly. 

2. Reduces Operating Costs

From reducing hardcopy paperwork to managing work orders and optimizing routes, FSM software like ServiceDemand can help you save money across the board. 

Think about all the cash your on-field workers spend on paper and printing along with scanning, storage, and filing—all things related to document organization. Simply shifting to a fully automated system for your field service operations can help save you a good chunk of change. 

On top of that, a workforce management tool helps cut down on travel expenses. With well-defined routes and fewer return trips to the head office as a result of smart scheduling, you’ll save on fuel and servicing for your fleet.

Outreach and sales expenses will also be trimmed since technicians will find it easier to communicate with clients, typically while still on-site, regarding things such as satisfaction, billing, and appointments. 

3. Remote Operation of the System

Like any other management solution, FSM software can be operated remotely. This means employees, contractors, partners, and admins can operate it anywhere and in real-time. 

Gone are the days when field days were characterized by repeat trips to the HQ, canceled appointments, and unsatisfied customers. With an FSM solution, your technicians will have easy and timely access to vital data regarding customers and tasks wherever they are. Plus, they can operate the software from any mobile device. 

ServiceDemand takes things a notch higher in this regard; all stakeholders in the service cycle will have their work cut out for them. They will be able to operate the system quite easily, using the browser as if they were in the office. They’ll no longer need to access it through a private network or a VPN. They’ll only need their browser—on whichever device—and an internet connection. Talk about convenience!

4. Brings Teams, Customer, and the Project Together

In any field service business, employees and customers are both parts of a common project. Though both exist independently, they contribute to the same organization goal—that of growing the bottom-line. In our case, the FSM software is the glue that holds them together.

It isn’t easy to succeed in any service project without meeting customer expectations fully. In the same vein, it is difficult for teams to meet customer expectations without the right tools. 

Thankfully, a field management software like ServiceDemand brings every aspect of the project under one location. This allows teams to harness only the information they need to fulfill service appointments on the get-go. Fast turnaround times, in turn, ensures that customers are satisfied at every stage of the project. As you well know, happy clients translate to a happy team and a successful project in the long haul.

5. Allows a Deeper Understanding of the Business

Up to this moment, you might still be in the dark on what is happening in every phase of your service delivery. 

How many tasks were scheduled for the day? How many were fulfilled? Are there open times? Are there any return appointments? How much time was spent on moving from one location to the other? 

Understanding loopholes allows you to respond quickly, solve the weaknesses, and improve the service process.

Decisions like these can only be made right and on a timely basis if you have a holistic view of the business, and that is exactly what an FSM software enables you to do.

6. Makes the Most of GPS Tracking

Many FSM tools can track your technicians’ routes through cutting-edge GPS signals. This is particularly beneficial if you have a technician who is en route to a customer, is not where they ought to be, or simply lost. This technology can alert the HQ when a technician has arrived at or left a job site.

Moreover, if you have an emergency request and need a technician to re-route, your workforce management system can display the locations of all your technicians, so it’s easy to choose the most convenient technician for the new request.

Rethinking Field Service Management

The FSM market is growing at a dizzying rate. It is currently worth around $3.5 billion and is expected to hit the $5.9 billion mark by 2024. 

It’s pretty clear why there’s a sudden and widespread interest in Field Service Management solutions. After all, technology is advancing, and field service businesses are scrambling to gain a foothold on this incredible software. Which entrepreneur doesn’t love the idea of optimizing the available resources while ensuring customer satisfaction and generating profits? None.

The truth is, modern field service apps eliminate the bottlenecks that often derail businesses. They unleash new communications and management capabilities that business owners have long yearned for. Now more than ever, technology breaks down data and operational barriers between teams, all while improving customer service and general efficiency. So, it makes perfect sense why the field service management sector is growing at breakneck speed.

Perhaps it’s time to automate your field service business? We all know that there are so many software solutions to help with service automation—whether partial or full. 

A brilliant example is ServiceDemand, which helps manage your technicians, partners, and contractors seamlessly. From a computer or the palm of your hand, you can gain complete oversight over your entire service cycle. Not only does ServiceDemand help you streamline end-to-end work order management but it also provides options for one-touch routing and scheduling, all in an easy to use dashboard. 

The Key Takeaway

It’s becoming increasingly important for SMBs to adopt workforce management software. With every sector pivoting towards automation, your business cannot afford to rest on its laurels.

Data-driven and efficient service delivery through an FSM solution can prove the difference between you and your competitors.

The field service management software is no longer an optional add-on but a must-have tool for you to thrive in the fiercely competitive market. 

Want to learn how your business can reap these benefits? Contact us today, and let us be part of your success story!

DAVACO Case Study

Challenge

DAVACO is the North American leader in the management and execution of high-volume remodels, resets, rollouts, surveys, technology deployments, with supporting supply-chain management and logistics for global brands. DAVACO previously utilized spreadsheets and other antiquated programs to organize their project management but lacked the real time information their clients desired.

Goals

Implementing ServiceDemand for DAVACO had the following goals:

  • Streamline invoicing post job completion
  • Manage workforce utilization by being able to view hours assigned for a task vs actual hours worked
  • Provide DAVACO and their Clients the ability to see when an asset was deployed, serviced, and quantify asset lifecycle cost
  • Build a mobile friendly platform that could be used by all field members
  • Contractor Management to ensure contractors have access to work instruction, materials, and provide updates on projects in real time

Solution

DAVACO was able to deploy ServiceDemand to all of its Project Managers, Field Management, and Field staff. Once integrated into its accounting and travel systems, work was assigned quickly and efficiently. Many of DAVACO’s Clients who manufacture OEM products are leveraging it to understand the failure rates of those products.

Results

DAVACO started offering Break/Fix services, extending services to existing Clients and adding new services for additional revenue. By being able to schedule more work for their teams locally through the implementation of ServiceDemand, DAVACO reduced their employee travel costs by 18%.

Quote/Commentary

“Having implemented the technology successfully, we are now extending its value to DAVACO’s clients,” adds Paul Hamer, Executive Vice President Business Development of DAVACO. “Many of DAVACO’s Clients manage complex programs utilizing multiple vendors and would see great benefit from on-demand technology, consolidating vendors and efficiently scheduling their field workforce. Its asset management capabilities would also provide further insight into identifying the root cause of any break/fix issues.”


“In addition to its automated work force management, our solution provides business intelligence features that provide insight into asset utilization,” adds Keith Winters, CEO of DAVACO. “This cutting-edge technology allows us to record an asset, why it required repair and how the issue was resolved, in real time. In this way, we can provide a clear picture of any reoccurring issues that our clients may be facing at their businesses,” he adds.

Deciding Whether or Not to Invest in Field Service Management Software

Trying to decide if field service management software is worth implementing into your contractor business? A recent 2019 survey of EC&M, Contracting Business and contractor subscribers breaks it down.

There are many benefits to using field service management software. For starters, to measure the safety of employees, vehicles, and other mobile assets being used in the field. Second, managing productivity. 49% of those surveyed said they already use field service management software for real-time information about the location of their vehicles, 46% also use this software for real-time information about their field employees, such as location and status, as stated by an article about the survey on contractor.com. Having this information allows business owners a real-time view of their productivity which can lead to lower capital and operating expenses as well as preserving a positive brand recognition with clients and employees. Each of these benefits brings a competitive edge and enables greater market differentiation.

Time

Smart field service management software can give you up to date information on the location of your vehicles, equipment, or field employees. Having this ability allows management to evaluate allotted times given for specific tasks and gives dispatchers the ability to provide accurate ETAs to customers. Imagine trying to retask employees and assets to other job sites without this information available at the click of a button. Long are the days of waiting for a callback or a text message to come through from an employee in the field before a decision can be made. Twenty-six percent of participants in the aforementioned survey said it can sometimes take one hour to get a response from the field. Field service management solutions eliminate that waiting period saving fleet managers countless minutes. Custom software creates an interface to deliver the information straight to their mobile phone, tablet, or desktop computer. In addition to saving precious time, real-time updates can reveal scheduling conflicts and inefficiencies. As many as nineteen percent identified scheduling inefficiencies as their top business challenge when answering the survey on contactor.com.

DAVACO is a Dallas based company that manages and executes high-volume remodels, rollouts, surveys, and technology deployments across the globe. They needed a way to manage workforce utilization by showing the hours assigned to a task vs. the hours actually worked on the task. They also wanted to be able to provide their clients with real-time updates when one of their assets was deployed or serviced to quantify the asset’s lifecycle cost. By implementing a custom project and field service management software unique to their needs, DAVACO was able to decrease travel costs by 18% and even acquire more jobs locally. Often their clients manage complex programs utilizing multiple vendors and the benefit of on-demand service technology allowed for consolidating vendors and efficiently scheduling their field workforce.

Another example is with Samsung SDS needing to increase the speed and accuracy of collecting data in the field before installations (done by third-party contractors) as well as create a mobile interface for survey scheduling and resource management. After implementing a field service management solution software they were able to achieve more consistent data capture and instant reporting, saving their surveyors up to 60% of their time in the field, while the centralized web portals allow the home office to view and manage the captured data efficiently at the site or portfolio level. Samsung was able to reduce install times by 25% using their field management software to plan the installs. Having a better understanding of the scope of work ensured their teams were prepared before being onsite.

Safety

Ask any service-oriented business and they will likely tell you that safety is their number one concern when it comes to their employees. Employee safety is especially crucial for businesses that employ those with trade skills. These people are particularly hard to replace when one of them is injured and could be out for weeks or months. A lot of times field workers are on remote sites and even working alone, which makes up to date location information imperative to their safety in the event of an accident. Especially with the number of ‘delivery’ style services we see today, there is an increased chance of injuries to workers while in transit. A field service management solution cannot decrease those risks but can certainly make the process easier to handle.

Speaking of driving, some field service management software can even give weekly reports or alerts on field employees’ driving habits. Sure it may sound like micro-managing but when a company accumulates yearly damages in the $1 million, adjustments need to be made. Not only can you decrease the cost of damages by coaching specific employees with poor driving habits but fewer damages also equal lower insurance premiums and less wear and tear on vehicles and other equipment. All of these overhead costs should be considered when deciding whether to invest in a field service management solution.

Gig Economy

The landscape of our business economy has changed drastically over the last decade and even more so in the last few months. After millions of layoffs and many brick and mortar establishments at risk of bankruptcy, it might be time to shift our focus to what lies ahead. People across the globe are asking themselves where they fit in and businesses are sure to follow suit.

Those who once believed they would work with the same company or industry for the entirety of their career now have the opportunity to reevaluate. What we know is, automation is coming. One might ask themself what they can offer that cannot be automated. While no one ever wants to find themself unemployed or on the verge of closing shop, both parties can decide, moving forward, what they have to offer in this new wave of economic shifts.

Part of the shift we will see is the growth of what some are calling a ‘gig economy’. A gig is defined as a short or long-term job that lasts until the task or project is complete. It’s not permanent employment, its contract work. This new employment model is redefining how companies engage with both employees and customers.

This model brings with it an endless opportunity with new platforms popping up left and right seeking people to engage in freelance work on many different levels. These people can choose to do it as little or as often as suits their needs and even treat it like a full-time job, filling their schedules with a few hours of work from different companies. Think of companies like Uber and Lyft where a person can work for both on the same day; earning their money once individual transports are completed. Gad Allon, the director of the Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology at the University of Pennsylvania, estimates this economy to grow to $2.7 trillion by 2025.

Previously the employment model looked like this: Constant employment where you interview for a job, get hired, show up, and work as they laid out in their expectations. This is contract work in extended form. But as we stated before, the traditional models are shifting. We are all familiar with companies like Uber, Lyft, and GrubHub. When consumers use these companies they are essentially renting assets owned by the contractor. They pay for a one time service and the contractor gets paid for the task.

This new model of employment covers many kinds of jobs, from plumbing to mechanical work to babysitting. People with specific skill sets may find themselves working for multiple company’s at the same time and these companies don’t have to pay employees benefits like health insurance. Furthermore, as we move toward a world where more things are becoming automated, businesses will be seeking those who can do what computers cannot; without needing to employ them full-time.

Just how big will this shift to a gig-economy really be? It’s hard to say. Matthew Bidwell, a Wharton management professor recently stated in a New York Times article, “The future is likely to be somewhat different to how it is now, but there is no clear trend at the moment that I think tells us how work will play out in the future…I don’t think that the gig economy is the future of work,” Bidwell adds. “It is a vibrant niche in the economy and will likely continue to be one but I believe it will not grow to dominate the economy. Most companies need some stability in their workforce. There is value to having the same people show up every day, who know each other, know the company, and how to do the work. Many employees also value the stability of a regular, full-time job.”

It’s probably safe to assume that the future of work will be a mixture of both models of employment; permanent and contract. The good news is, any increase in the gig economy also impacts earning potential for so many people who have recently found themselves unemployed during this economic standstill. “The gig economy can be a great thing for giving people more flexibility and options to make money,” notes Bidwell.

And in fact, we already see many businesses are using a hybrid model; where they have their full-time ‘permanent’ employees and utilize contractors simultaneously with more and more businesses moving towards the contact model. Because of this, they will likely start looking for updated ways to manage these types of employees.

Let’s paint a picture. Everyone relies on the services of some kind. Now, more than ever those services are often delivered in the field (aka, brought to our home). When you order something from Whole Foods, the person delivering the groceries is not likely a Whole Foods employee. You would also be safe to assume that even the software used to place and manage that order is not part of Whole Foods infrastructure. It’s likely a third party supplying the software and another separate entity making the physical delivery.

As more and more companies shift to this type of operation, they will want to ensure customer satisfaction and overhead costs are not sacrificed. One way to do this is by building their own software to manage things like field service productivity, asset and project management, preferred contractors, etc. Companies like ServiceDemand offer cloud-based software that helps companies link team members, customers, and projects together. With custom dashboards to optimize workforce, ServiceDemand assists in automation to sell more goods and services as well as to measure success.

An ability to monitor and streamline so many moving parts will be imperative to the survival of their infrastructure and efficiency. Watch carefully as the economy shifts this direction, we can expect to see an increase in automated Field Service Management as well.