3 Ways Small Businesses Handle Growing Pains with FSM

It’s a mostly well-known fact that about half of small businesses fail within the first five years. (In some industries, like restaurants, that number is significantly higher.) Small businesses encounter any number of growing pains, from ‘ineffective ability to scale’ to ‘maintaining their company culture from two employees to twenty.’

Field service is no different. At Optsy, we work with hundreds of small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) in the industry, and as a result, we see hundreds of different challenges. They vary by what specific service line you work on, and what your area of focus is (plumbing, HVAC, IT, etc.) But amazingly, you can solve a good deal of field service SMB growing pains with field service management tools and software. Here are three key areas you can improve upon with Field Service Management software.

Integration of core operations
Typically, this refers to:

Scheduling
Dispatch
Inventory
Billing/Invoicing

… although it can incorporate other practices as well, depending upon your business model.

The concept here is tied to customer journey. If a customer or client has a field service need, you want this person to go onto your website or app (or call you) and be able to schedule the appointment at a good time for him or her. On your end, this scheduling of an appointment should be ‘speaking’ directly to dispatch — knowing where techs are and what their days and weeks look like. This also needs to be ‘speaking’ to inventory, so that you can identify what parts are needed for this newly-scheduled job — and then make sure the technician will have access to those parts. The final component is billing and invoicing; the tech needs customer data loaded into his or her phone so that billing can take place on-site.

All these elements need to be integrated to (a) assure a good customer journey and experience through the process and (b) improve your first-time fix rate, which will also keep customers coming back.

The simplest way to integrate them is through a software program where all the different variables can ‘speak’ to one another and be seen holistically. If you try to integrate core operations without FSM software, it can become painstaking and tedious and silo mentality can take over, whereby dispatch doesn’t communicate properly with inventory, and the end customer is disappointed.

The big data movement
Most companies these days are trying to compete on some form of data, with the underlying question being “What can data tell us that will make our processes more effective and profitable?”

Many companies think the core concept is having the data, which is actually flawed — data doesn’t mean anything unless it can drive decision-making in some way. For data to drive decision-making, you need two things to happen:

The data has to be easy to access and see holistically
The data needs to be analyzed and contextualized

This is especially true in how executives tend to approach data. Those are often the busiest people in your organization, so they don’t necessarily have time to cull through data sets or pockets of information. They want to know, rather quickly, what the data says and how that impacts future business.

With Field Service Management software, all your core business data — from customer information to technician metrics — can be housed in one place. It’s comparatively easy to pull different elements together and provide context on the results. These broken-down chunks of information can then be presented to decision-makers with different options.

In short: doing data right is about way more than just having data, and it all begins with ease of access to the data. FSM software helps you there.

Process improvement
This is often overlooked, but it’s very important. We don’t necessarily mean standard process improvement here — we covered that above in terms of integrating different processes and operations to drive your business.

What we mean here is that FSM software can usually (and needs to, to be successful) integrate with your existing processes, i.e. your e-mail or other platforms your company has been using.

If the software solution seems like a brand new object that doesn’t connect to any existing processes, people will be slow to use it — because they’re comfortable with how things have been going, as most human beings are. Remember: change is hard for a reason.

FSM software, when done right, is customizable and can work within existing workflows and processes that a field service SMB already uses. This will drastically increase the rate of adoption.

What other SMB challenges have you seen in field service? We’d love to hear and see how we could help you. And as you’re on this page, consider downloading a free eBook on paths to revenue-generation in field service for SMBs. We go through different steps and ideologies to consider in an effort to begin really making some money from service offerings. And yes, FSM software is a key aspect of that. Enjoy, and contact us with any questions.

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