The big companies of the world likely come to mind when thinking about the role digital tools and technology play in business success. But what role do these tools play in the growth and success of small businesses? The ones that don’t have billions backing them and instead rely more on hunger, hustle and a dream.
It’s true that many small businesses get started with the bare-minimum digital tools needed to operate in the 21st-Century, like a computer and phones or maybe even tablets. But more and more small businesses are taking digital adoption a step further, and moving most of their operations online.
A recent Salesforce report on small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) found that “The majority of SMBs (83%) have at least some of their operations online” and “of those, nearly all (95%) moved a portion of their operations online in the past year.”
Many small businesses turned to digital tools, like software, to help them run their business because they had no other choice given COVID-19 lockdowns. In fact, according to the same report, “most growing SMBs (71%) say their business survived the pandemic because of digitization”.
Today, that means that small businesses that aren’t taking full advantage of digital tools and technology to manage operations are likely losing out to the competition–and on the fast track to failure, especially given the economic uncertainty that’s starting to impact markets worldwide.
The good news is that for small businesses in the trades, there are now more digital tools available than ever for managing operations more efficiently and maintaining profitability in hard times. Specifically, the key to successful field service management for small business–and survival in the face of adversity–is field service management software.
While we’re obviously a bit biased when it comes to our opinion on the best field service software for small business, there are a heap of benefits that any good field service software can, and should, offer small businesses in the trades.
Here are some of the key ones to consider.
Benefits of Implementing a Field Service Management Software in Your Business
1). Improve customer experience
Of the top five reasons small businesses moved operations online last year, a desire to serve customers safely, and cater to customer convenience, topped the list. Just as small businesses had to adapt to rapidly changing regulations and regular shutdowns, they also had to adapt to changing customer needs and expectations as a result. Fast, reliable, safe and consistent service all the way from the start of the customer journey through to the final invoice drives customer satisfaction. It’s one of the most important ways to encourage repeat business and customer loyalty, which in turn brings steady, reliable income.
From lead and quote creation to creating a job and invoicing, field service management software allows team members to deliver updates and keep customers informed every step of the way, even in real-time from the field. Staff in the field and the office can ensure updates are communicated within the job itself, with complete clarity surrounding payment terms and invoicing.
2). Boosts productivity
There’s a reason we all know the saying, “time is money.” Small businesses already deal with the challenges of a small team. Couple this with the fact that team members waste precious time on tedious manual tasks like writing and erasing schedules on whiteboards, or filling out customer details by hand via spreadsheets or notebooks, and you’ve got a recipe for inefficient field service management.
Inefficient processes not only cause mistakes and miscommunication that slow things down for the customer and the business, but they can also lead to serious burnout for the whole team. The last thing any small business needs is people quitting after feeling overworked, especially given that enduring labor shortages make it harder and harder to hire people to replace them. Even worse, pieces of paper can easily become lost, or vital information swept away in the flurry of a busy morning or afternoon.
It’s easy to avoid these issues altogether and streamline tasks for the whole team with field service management software for small business. Field service software for small business digitalizes all job and customer data so the whole team can track information accurately and access it quickly, cutting down on wasted time and increasing overall productivity. This helps the team shift focus back to completing more jobs and bringing in more revenue.
3). Streamlines work scheduling
Even scheduling a team within a small business can be time-consuming. Field service software for small business makes it faster and easier to schedule the right people for the job, taking into account the relevant equipment required, location and technician availability. How nice would it be to get back a few hours organizing these mundane tasks on paper?
Keeping track of where field staff are throughout the day becomes a walk in the park with software solutions that group them into teams and allow bulk scheduling while minimizing the amount of time spent organizing technicians and sifting through paperwork
4). Reduces operating costs
Field service software helps small businesses reduce operating costs, so they can in turn maximize profitability.Collected data from every job lets small business owners and financial managers clearly see where the company makes and loses the most money and so spending cuts are made in the right areas to compensate. This insight is valuable when it comes to making strategic decisions and boosting profitability. The right field service management software can help you identify the best value for money when purchasing materials, as well as help you examine if staff are allocating the right amount of time to a job.
5). Increases operational efficiencies
Making sure processes run smoothly is key to improving business efficiency as well as reducing costs. Field service management for small business often relies on spreadsheets and while it’s an inexpensive method, spreadsheets are prone to discrepancies. In fact, it’s estimated that around 88% of spreadsheets include a mistake or two. Automating processes with field service management software reduces the need for paperwork, giving the whole team back countless hours spent previously doing manual tasks. Staff can efficiently monitor what is required for jobs, minimizing the risk of delays to both the customer and the small business.
6). Provides faster invoicing
Field service software uses invoicing software to help small businesses save time collecting payment when a job is finished. It allows for automatic invoicing for recurring jobs and can even auto-populate invoices to extract cost information from a document and integrate with your accounting software to ensure accurate financial data . Some field service software even gives technicians the power to create and send invoices while on-site. A process like this will not only save staff time, but it will also ensure invoices are sent to customers as soon as possible, which in turn helps speed up payment.
7). Allows live tracking of field service technicians
Using a tablet or mobile device, field staff can keep track of their schedules as well as detail subsequent updates right from the job site. No need to worry about back and forth phone calls to track down field staff or reams of paperwork for the office team to keep a hold of. It’s a win-win!
In addition, staff in the field can update their job progress throughout the day while on-site. Progress variables get fed straight back to the office in a matter of minutes. Since most workers have cell phones–Forrester reported that at least six out of ten employees have access to a smartphone–this couldn’t be easier. Add to that the inclusion of a mobile app designed around each nfield staff’s day-to-day and you can sit back and watch productivity increase.
8). Stores client history
Field service software for small business centralizes all customer information in one accessible platform. A comprehensive list of your customer base provides better visibility, where it’s easy to look into any updates or changes that have been made and see when and who made them. This could be information relating to special pricing, contact details and addresses among other things. Removing the paper trail with customer data and cataloging it digitally instead also reduces the risk of human error.
What to Consider When Choosing Field Service Software for Small Business
With varying factors between unique small business workflows and software features, it’s important to conduct research on different field service software in the market before committing to a solution. Here are some tips to help:
- Look for software that will complement small business workflows. To determine if the software will complement the workflows in your business, identify any key processes and find software that offers features to streamline those processes.
- Identify if the software provides an end-to-end solution that can help manage everything from customer data, to quoting to scheduling and reporting. This ensures that as the business grows, there’s no need to change your processes or software on an ongoing basis. It will also help streamline individual job workflows and provide visibility to manage multiple jobs at once.
- Talk to other small businesses that are using job management software. This provides a unique perspective on the real-world capabilities of how the software can work for your business. Be sure to also read case studies about field service software under consideration. If it’s not possible to speak to other small businesses that use software to manage operations, visit review sites and look up ratings and reviews for any products on the shortlist. These reviews are a great way to uncover new perspectives from other small business owners, which can help influence your decision-making process in a positive way.
- Learn about implementation and support options. Bringing on any new piece of technology can be challenging. New software can be especially challenging to bring on without careful planning, change management and the right training and support to ensure the whole team makes the most of the new tool. The best field service management software for small business should offer specific training for the team on every aspect of the software, and there should be multiple ways to reach support easily when needed. Like we said before, we’re biased but, we’re proud to offer 24/6* support run by real human beings (not bots) and full implementation training to our customers.
There are many different options when it comes to field service management software for small business. The important piece is that these solutions can help small businesses make the most of their existing resources, and in some cases–do more with less. While it can be daunting to reinvent business processes and bring on new technology, there’s no doubt the time-saving, productivity-enhancing benefits of this digital tool are well worth it. It will help any small business continue to thrive no matter what new challenges come—pandemics, recessions and all.