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30 June 2020

Embracing technology in field service businesses

Business Advice | 4 minute read
Jon Mailer

Author: Jon Mailer

Jon Mailer is one of the leading authorities on growing and managing a field service business. He is CEO of PROTRADE United, the leading provider of business advisory and mentoring services to the trades industry. He has spent the past 15 years and over 15,000 hours researching and advising over 850 trade business owners and their teams. He speaks from street-smart practical experience, dissecting the complex and offering simple steps to create the business and personal life you choose.

By Jon Mailer, PROTRADE United CEO

There is no doubt that the radical shift in the way we have communicated through this crisis will set the standard for the future ahead. There will be no going back, at least to the ‘old normal’. Instead, we will need to embrace a ‘new normal’. Even those who are resisting the change will reach a point where they cannot deny that the virtual way of connecting can be equally, if not, more effective than holding meetings in person.

Highly successful global companies had already embraced this virtual meeting concept for over a decade and used it effectively to reduce travel time, speed up communication, build trust and demonstrate that they were innovators in this space. Now other businesses are starting to see such benefits. One PROTRADE United client has estimated that he can save 10 hours a week avoiding the travel that he would once have made for site and client meetings. That’s 400-500 hours a year! What could you do with that extra time?

Yet even with these benefits, many people are saying, ‘I can't wait for things to get back to normal so I can go about my business the way I used to’. If you share these sentiments, that comment has already positioned you as living in the past.

As we move out of this crisis, will face to face, person to person meetings be possible? Absolutely! But, they will also be seen as an almost outdated method of conducting business.

This lack of trust and hesitance to embrace the ‘new normal’ is not surprising. When ATMs and EFTPOS were introduced in the ’80s, there was resistance and lack of trust in the process. However, today no one would look forward to queuing in line for 10 minutes to withdraw cash for their weekly spending.

When email and mobile phones were introduced, and even purchasing products online, there was initially a lack of trust in the process. And now even using a landline, writing letters, or spending hours in retail shopping centres are things of the past for many people.

As a field service business, you now have the opportunity to embrace a variety of ways to connect with clients, customers, suppliers and your team using technology and virtual meetings. Imagine the hours that can be saved and inefficiencies that can be avoided. With technology you can reduce travel time, conduct virtual site and client meetings and even hold supplier or job scoping meetings online.

Below are some suggestions for how you can embrace technology and be a leader in utilising virtual ways of connecting.

  • Turn physical brochures into easy to read PDFs.
  • Create online, digital proposals, allowing customers to read, watch, comment and sign.
  • Create diagrams for the proposed scope of works.
  • Set up your office for powerful and professional virtual meetings.
  • Present yourself online just as you would be talking to clients in person. That means being prompt, polite, punctual and professional.
  • Learn how to use your technology so there are no gaps when meeting online. Be up to date in how to present and share your screens - to show plans, ideas and concepts, and have people excited about what is possible.
  • Prepare and support your clients to use the technology by leading them through the innovation.
  • Educate your team on courteous behaviour with online technology. New skills will be required for online sales and meetings compared to face to face meetings.

I suggest that you embrace the change and use this challenge as an opportunity to set yourself up for the years ahead. Be one of the few that are proactive and on the front foot, ready to challenge the status quo once there is a resemblance of normality back in our lives. You get to choose which way you go, backwards or forwards. However, I recommend that when you look back on this time in 2020, you see it as a turning point in the way you run your business, rather than wishing to get back to the way it was.

Visit the PROTRADE United website for more useful resources from the PROTRADE team.

Looking for more opportunities to future proof your business? Contact simPRO to find out how a cloud-based solution could streamline your business.

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