Calculating Rate of Return

Calculating Required Rate of Return for Your Field Service Business

Calculating Required Rate of Return for Your Field Service Business

As 2017 is drawing to a close, we have been writing and putting together many different blog posts that contain business advice and links to articles, small books, and worksheets that can help you better manage your field service business’s finances in 2018. For example, at the bottom of this blog post, you can download a worksheet that shows you the ins and outs of calculating required rate of return for your company, and how you can save your business money by utilizing field service management software.

However, before you download the worksheet below, take a few minutes to read through this brief post on the basics of calculating required rate of return for your field service business. We want to provide you with a short introduction to the concept, and make sure that someone within your company is aware of how it works, and how to use it to save your business money and in turn, boost revenue.

What exactly is a required rate of return? In the accounting and financial world, the required rate of return is defined as, “The minimum return an investor will accept for a particular investment.” The easiest way to think about this concept in relation to field service businesses would be this example:

Your field service business buys something—e.g. a piece of shop equipment, a vehicle, or a new warehouse building.

You figure out how much money your company needs to make from this item or building in order for it to be a good investment.

*You can also think about hiring—amongst other aspects of your business—that will have an impact on your cash flow for field service.

As you read through this post, keep in mind that calculating required rate of return is different for each field service business, and is truly a subjective number. Think of it in terms of betting on a coin toss, where the odds of winning the flip are 50/50. You must ask yourself the following questions:

What would my business need in return to bet on that coin flip?

How much is my business willing to risk on this bet?

Just as everyone’s risk tolerance is different, so is every field service business’s required rate of return.

However, when it comes to calculating required rate of return for field service businesses, there are some items that are safe bets. For example, having your company invest in field service software is a sure bet when it comes to effective, worthwhile purchases that save your business money in the long run. In fact, we believe that the risk is so minimal when it comes to purchasing field service software that it is more accurate to classify the computer program as a competitive advantage that allows you to boost revenue and save money.

Although investing in field service software seems like a simple option when calculating required rate of return for your business, we understand that companies tend to hesitate before spending money where there is not a precise dollar figure that will be poured back into your business’s bank account. This is where the risk element comes into play because no field service business’s required rate of return will be the same when it comes to purchasing field service software.

Here is a quick, three-stage tutorial on calculating required rate of return when you are deciding whether or not to purchase field service management software for your business:

 

Stage 1: Calculating CAPM

The first thing you need do when calculating required rate of return for your field service business is create a capital asset pricing model (CAPM) to determine the equity cost. Here’s the formula:

 

CAPM = Risk-free rate + Beta (Market return – risk-free rate)

 

(For more about finding risk-free rate and beta, click here.)

 

CAPM is based on the assumption that buying a riskier asset like larger-than-required trucks or warehouse properties will yield a higher return, which is not always the case. This model is based on how much of a financial risk you are willing to take, as the final calculation is merely an estimate. Therefore, if you are hesitant when it comes to investing, overstate the CAPM value and compare the potential desired investment to a higher rate of return. Once, you calculate the CAPM of an asset purchase, you are halfway toward calculating required rate of return.

Stage 2: Calculating the Cost of Debt

This step is fairly easy when it comes to asset purchases. It’s simply the interest rate on the company’s debt obligations. If your field service business has two or more debt obligations, calculate the weighted average of those obligations.

 

Stage 3: WACC

The weighted average cost of capital (WACC) may be considered the same as calculating required rate of return. That being said, “How do you get WACC?”

 

Simply take the equity cost from stage one and the cost of debt from stage two, and combine them to find a weighted average. That number is the fiscal value that your project must exceed for it to qualify as a viable investment. For example, if your company invests in field service management software today, your company will be receiving benefits not only today or this year, but for years to come.  If your business calculates a WACC—which is also the rate of return—of 20%, and you spend $100.00 on the software today, your company must make $20.00 of present value money by the end of the investment for it to be worth it.

On the same note, the money you spend buying field service management software has more value today than it ever will in the future. Why? Because money in your pocket or that your business is spending today has the power to create more money in the future. Therefore, future money is not worth as much as today’s money. Today’s money needs to create value in the future at the rate of WACC for it to be a solid investment.

The Takeaway

More than likely, your field service business has been crunching different accounting and financial figures for years, and have good understanding of how monetary processes work. However, the landscape is changing, and software purchases and mobile apps are factors that must be factored into overhead costs. Field service management software is one of the most effective ways to integrate your company’s data. The worksheet below is helpful in calculating required rate of return and cost savings when it comes to purchasing field service software for your company.

Any other fiscal questions? Give us a call today—we would be glad to help.

Worksheet Savings


social media selling in field service blog

Social Media for HVAC Contractors & Field Service Companies

Social Media for HVAC Contractors & Field Service Companies

Social media is very powerful, and has changed the sales and marketing games in numerous, noticeable ways. As of this summer, the global population was around 7.5 billion people. 3.7 billion people have Internet access, and of those people, 2.3 billion are on some form of social media. The math shows us that only about 42% of the global population is on the Internet. Among that 42%, 72% percent of people are active on some form of social media.

Social media is clearly a force and something to pay attention to, now. For example, here in America, we may have just seen a national election completely shifted by social media use. Although it is a powerful medium, the problem with social media for HVAC contractors and other businesses is the same: the return on investment is hard to measure.

There are 34.6 million results on Google when you search for “social media and field service,” but the fact of the matter is this: many field service organizations are not on social media, and the ones that are tend to post sparingly and in an unfocused manner.

Why are social media posts for HVAC contractors so few and far between you ask? Well, admittedly these companies are busy with other workday tasks like serving customers and taking fix and repair calls. Along with helping clients, these businesses often run into other concerns such as:

  • Not knowing which social media networks to join
  • Being unsure of who should manage these social media platforms for the company
  • Wondering what content should be posted
  • Being concerned about how social media posts for HVAC contractors can work if the business does not have any unique content
  • Thinking, “Why should we prioritize this if it won’t help us get new customers?”
  • Simply not knowing where to begin

Another factor that causes field service businesses to shy away from using social media is the concept of social selling.

First, a definition:

Social selling means selling your business’s core product or service directly via social media.

Social selling for field service organizations means having one of your employees sell your business’s services or products to a contact made on a social media site such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram.

A large-scale example of social selling is as follows:

Midway through 2016, one of the biggest companies in the world, Microsoft, purchased LinkedIn for $26 billion. At that time, LinkedIn had 400 million users, but only 25% of these people used the social media service each month. Although 100 million users is still a good base from which to work, if you are trying to contact a person via LinkedIn who is (a) busy or (b) does not plan on job-hunting anytime soon, there is a strong chance that this person is not logging into his or her LinkedIn account regularly. It is not a good way to market your business’s products and services to this person due to his or her lack of time spent logging on to this social media website. People not regularly signing on to their social media accounts is one problem with social selling and social media for HVAC contractors.

We live in an era now where it is easier than ever to identify customers when using social media for HVAC contractor marketing purposes, but it is harder than ever to get in touch with them. There is a ton of noise from sales and marketing departments coming at potential customers from all different angles, so even though social selling seems like a relatively straightforward concept, it can be a full-time job for field services businesses.

Again, going back to Microsoft purchasing LinkedIn for one second: $26 billion was spent to buy this social media platform. That is a lot of money. There are a lot of smart people working on LinkedIn to get it to that valuation. Most likely, if there was a way to turn a LinkedIn message into a sale, someone would have figured it out by now. The company has an entire suite of sales products, but nothing guarantees the sale.

Tying back in to social media for HVAC contractors, that is where the rubber meets the road with social selling: it cannot exist on its own. You have to pick up the phone, take the potential client to lunch, and follow through with the sale. Social selling in the field service industry is only the first step, and you have to follow up after the initial social media post or message. Consider consulting online articles about social selling, including “How Smart People Do Social Selling” and “Social Selling Works, But Not How You Really Think” to learn more about effective social media posts for HVAC contractors.

Although social selling might be a long way off, there are certainly ways to make social media work for your field service organization. The best place to start is to understand the different networks, their purposes, their user bases, and how your field service business can benefit from being on each platform. Social media for HVAC contractors and other field service organizations is a reasonable approach to growth, retention, and customer service.

Does creating and using social media to promote your fields service business sound like something that you would be interested in? If so, we have put together an eBook that walks you through these basic social media concepts:

Selecting social media networks

What to post on your social media accounts
How to post when your company does not write its own content
How to gain customers using social media

The first steps to social media usage and success
Along with social media posts for HVAC contractors, there are a ton of different marketing mediums you could be pursuing, and some that your field service management software can help you out with. Many field service businesses are new to social media and online marketing, and it seems like a baseline understanding of where to be and what to do is a good place to start. Our eBook helps you understand the ins and outs of the online marketing and selling world in relation to field service businesses.

If you have some social media accounts but never really use them, are brand new to social media for HVAC contracting purposes, or have been kicking around the idea of using social media for marketing and selling, our eBook is a good resource for you. Download it now and, as always, contact us with any questions.

In short: are you going to replace the rest of your marketing with just social media? Probably not. However, social media for HVAC contractors is still a valuable investment that can help take your field service business into the digital age.

Social Media Marketing


Invoicing

Optsy Blog—Update to Invoice Management

Optsy Blog—Update to Invoice Management

Thinking about using field service management software?

For many years, Optsy has worked with a variety of small to mid-sized businesses in field services industries, including, but certainly not limited to, HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, and Construction Services. With our customizable field service management software, we provide solutions that streamline your company’s processes and improve your workflow. We understand that appointments can change, and jobs can run over time. Our software helps users in the office and at the jobsites manage and change schedules in real time. Our solutions help manage accounting as well as allow you to create customized reporting that’s tailored to meet the needs of your business. All of this from one central program!

Already using Optsy?

If so, then you’ve already

discovered the multitude of benefits that our customizable software solutions provide for your business. You also know Optsy’s commitment to improving our already user friendly software. You know that we are constantly striving to improve our solutions, exceeding our customer’s expectations at every turn.

Check out our latest software updates!

As part of our ongoing commitment to improve our software, we’re excited to tell you about our latest updates! These updates may seem small, but we know they’ll have a big impact on your daily tasks. For September, we’re rolling out two new updates. We’re sure you’ll love them as much as we do.

Update #1: Easy Invoicing & Automated Follow-Up

We’ve updated our Invoicing Feature to be more automated and easier to use. Before the update, invoicing was a bit more of a manual process. To

send out an invoice, you would have to find the invoice, click on the right tab, click to print the invoice, and then email it out to the customer.

Now, we’ve created a feature that automatically sends out invoices for you! For each customer, our program will automatically email an invoice that is overdue, without you having to lift a finger.

We’ve created four options for customer setup. You can have customers invoiced on either a 30 day cycle, a 45 day cycle, or a 60 day cycle. Plus, you can also choose to not send customers an automated email invoice.

So if you happen to have a particular customer who you don’t want to automatically email overdue invoices to on a 30, 45, or 60 day cycle, you don’t actually have to. Setting up this new feature is easy. All you have to do is go to your customer’s information, click on the “Edit Details” tab, and select one of the four invoicing options. That’s it! From there you don’t have to worry about those invoices anymore.

This is a huge time saver for your business. You no longer need to check to see if you have overdue invoices. You don’t have to remember if you did or didn’t email those overdue invoices to every single one of your customers. This update will make your Accounts Receivable management so much more efficient. Set it up, and forget about it. Now, you have more time to focus on all of the other important tasks that you have.

Update #2

We’ve made some changes to our employee job tracking that we know will make this feature much easier for you.

Previously, when you had an employee who was no longer active in your company, the customers that that employee worked with would all be moved from that employee to “Unassigned”. So if you had an employee who perhaps switches jobs or maybe retires, the work history for that person would then be registered as “Unassigned” instead of being registered under that person’s name.

With this new update, we’ve changed that process. Instead of moving from the inactive employee’s name to “Unassigned”, all of that history transfers to read only mode. Even though the employee is no longer active, you can still access all of the history that under that employee’s name. This makes it much easier to find that specific information that you need without searching through a whole list of unassigned employee history.

Why are these updates so important?

How many hats do you wear at your business? For most small to mid-sized businesses, you’re overseeing a lot of the daily management yourself. Not only are you managing employee schedules, you’re also handling all of the accounting too. Plus, you’re taking care of all of the unexpected issues that pop up, like sudden schedule changes, unforeseen issues with customers, jobs that take longer than you thought they would, and all of the other things that are part of running a business.

Optsy’s field management software streamlines your day, eliminating a lot of the tedious tasks that take up your time. This frees you up to focus on everything else. Not only do our customizable solutions make your business more efficient, they give you peace of mind. You know that you aren’t forgetting important tasks because Optsy is automatically taking care of those tasks for you. You can be confident that you’re managing your business effectively. You can be assured that you have the time to provide the best customer service possible.

For more information about Optsy’s field services management software interface programs, check out our website, call us directly at (888)-996-7609. We’re always happy to help you decide what features are right for your business.

Additionally, we appreciate all customer feedback as it allows us to improve and evolve based on the needs of our customers. Do you have questions or comments? We want to hear from you!

6 Steps


HVAC

Boosting Sales in the Slow Season for HVAC Companies

Boosting Sales in the Slow Season for HVAC Companies

Autumn is upon us, which can only mean one thing: the slow season for HVAC companies has arrived. Traditionally, the hotter summer months and the colder winter months bring about a much greater need for HVAC service due to the extreme temperatures associated with both seasons. However, during the spring and fall, business owners often wonder what service an HVAC company can sell during the slow season.

Just because there’s seasonal downtime doesn’t mean that bills stop coming in, and that employees stop wanting a weekly paycheck. Boosting sales and driving growth during the HVAC slow season is important. But how can you do it? We’ve come up with four solutions that can help your field service company thrive during the slow season for HVAC.

Focus on preventative maintenance
It’s a general rule of thumb in the HVAC and field service business world that around 90 percent of customers only call when they have urgent problems that require immediate fixes. Although it makes sense to only call when there’s an emergency, it’s not good for your small- or medium-sized business’s year-round bill-paying and business-growing activities.

What can you do to fix this problem that occurs during the HVAC slow season? You can upsell preventative maintenance during the fall and spring months, which can help your company’s bottom line.

Pushing preventative maintenance during the slow season for HVAC businesses is also good for building relationships with your customers. Since you’re visiting these customers on-site when there’s not an emergency call or specific problem to fix, you’re gaining their confidence, being helpful, providing them value, and learning more about what HVAC services are important to them. Along with this, you can use fall and spring for preventative services to clear the deck for more urgent winter and summer service calls.

Preventative maintenance during the slow season for HVAC ties into connected field service as well. Just in case you aren’t familiar, connected field service is powered by the Internet of Things, or IoT. Connected devices—which are expected to be greater than 80 billion strong by 2025—are capable of sending HVAC performance information to a service shop’s headquarters, which allows your HVAC business to consistently participate in preventative maintenance—even during the winter and summer busy seasons.

In short, you are able to monitor HVAC units, and know when a machine is ready to break down. This technology helps during the HVAC slow season because you can call your client and say, “We need to come out to your site soon for a repair.” It builds a relationship with your customer, and keeps this person’s HVAC unit running smoothly. It’s a win-win. However, connected field service is still far off for some small businesses due to the costs involved with acquiring new technology and investing in infrastructure, but, given how quickly technology is advancing, it will arrive at scale sooner than you think.

Focus on Marketing
The winter and summer seasons are often madhouses when it comes to HVAC client needs, so focus on your marketing efforts during the fall and spring. While in the midst of the HVAC slow season you can:

Attend trade shows.
Send direct mailers and mass emails.
Have your technicians perform the preventative maintenance measures described above.
Bring a brochure or a one-page flyer about other services you offer when on these preventative service calls.
Consider Google PPC campaigns, or local Facebook ads to attract more attention during the HVAC slow season.
Search LinkedIn and Google News for ideas about new companies opening in or relocating to your business’s area of service. These companies may need large-scale SLAs to make sure that their buildings are heated and air-conditioned properly.

Consider sending rebate coupons to existing customers. For example, if a current customer refers a new customer, you give the referring client money back, or take a certain dollar amount off of his or her service contract.
There are numerous creative approaches to marketing and selling for HVAC companies, and the slow season for HVAC companies—particularly the fall—is a perfect time to research and explore these options.

Offer System Upgrades
Manufacturers tend to slash prices during the slow season for HVAC companies in order to close out inventory before the winter year-end mark. Although your company might make slightly less money on an HVAC system upgrade during the fall in comparison to the early summer, it can be a steady revenue stream during the HVAC down season.

Offer Home Performance Services
The rising costs of oil, natural gas, and electricity used to heat homes and business offices alike makes your customers eager when it comes to making sure that their HVAC systems are performing at optimal levels in order to keep utility costs down. Along with this, the cultural shift focused around the emergence of “smart homes” is driving customers to check their HVAC systems’ efficiency levels more often.

One way to drive your business’s bottom line is by offering these services in the fall during the heart of the HVAC slow season. Performance services are a bit like preventative maintenance services because you visit a client who doesn’t have an urgent need, and check on the HVAC system’s overall performance. However, your company can make a slightly larger profit from these jobs by adding in an “overall performance fee” to the preventative maintenance process. The slow season for HVAC companies is the perfect time to put that HVAC CRM to use, and figure out what existing clients could benefit from based on past orders and services.

Here’s a bonus idea:

This bonus idea is for you to try during the slow season for HVAC. It’s less about directly driving revenue, but it will help you grow your company’s bottom line in the future. If you have downtime in the fall or spring, you can use it to restructure some of the inefficient areas of your field service shop.

No, no, we don’t mean firing people on a whim in order to save your company money by reducing employee wages. What we mean is to think about your business’s operating processes, the products you sell, service contracts terms, and getting everything organized within the shop and office so that you can hit the ground running when the busy winter and summer HVAC seasons strike. A good place to start organizing your HVAC business during the slow season is our Field Service Management software. You can download our guide right here, and contact us if you are ready to get your field service business ready for the busy season!

We put together an eBook on various aspects of service level agreements — a good example of something you can reorganize during the fall. To learn more, download it now.


Trending Service Tech

HVAC Technician Uniforms and What's Trending

HVAC Technician Uniforms and What’s Trending

Let’s be honest here. For most of the last 20-30 years, HVAC technician uniforms—along with the attire of other branches across numerous field service industries—have looked something like this:

Now, while Jason here—we’re not exactly sure if that’s his real name, but he looks like a “Jason” to us—could perhaps be wearing more specific clothing like a shirt with a name-brand logo across his chest, the key point is this: nobody is confusing Jason with:

HVAC service technician uniforms have never been fashionable or trendy, and would certainly not be “Blue-Steel-approved.” The hard hats, the steel-toed boots, and the generic t-shirts worn by field service technicians are meant to be suited to the tasks at hand. The goal is function, not fashion. However, we have noticed that certain companies are improving upon the fashionable aspects of the traditional HVAC technician uniforms, and it has us wondering: could HVAC service technician uniforms be evolving into a new market sector for fashion retailers?

It might be. For example, back in the summer of 2013, Wrangler released a new “construction pant.” Along with Wrangler’s new pants, Carhartt created a “high-visibility, zip-front, Class 3, thermal-lined sweatshirt” for HVAC and other field service industry technicians—and it’s only about $90. There’s also this piece of apparel from Scotchlite:

Talk about pops of color! Sturdy pants! This is a man with all the answers.

All joking aside, the HVAC service technician uniform and apparel sector of the field service industry is big business. As another example, Gartner has predicted that wearable technology such as mounted headsets or Google Glass eyewear could save the field service industry $1 billion by 2017—and surely even more by 2018. The real-time, on-site data gathered by some of these devices like this wrist-mounted computer —

— can be shared across different departments in your field service organization for more effective marketing and forecasting. Ultimately, the goal to utilizing wearable technology as part of your business’s HVAC technician uniforms is to achieve an increased first-time fix rate, better reviews, and increased revenue generation. And we all know this stitch of wisdom to be true: it doesn’t hurt to look good while you’re doing all of these tasks.

The rise of wearable technology in the workplace, and incorporating these wearables into your HVAC technician uniforms is inevitable and logical. HVAC and other field service technicians spend all day at jobsites with customers, and are oftentimes in conditions that make it critical to have the right type of clothing in order to complete a job safely and in a timely manner. When Wrangler released the construction pant that is displayed in the link above, the company noted that, “A workman’s clothing is one of the most important tools he depends on during demanding hours on the job.” This statement is indeed quite true.

In today’s working environment, one of the trendiest “accessories” that pairs well with HVAC service technician uniforms is of course:

No, that’s not a “murse” (man-purse.) It’s an iPad/Surface/tablet. For decades, field service technicians didn’t carry or utilize a lot of technology-driven devices. They mainly carried tools, jobsite materials, and inventory items to customer locations.

That’s drastically changed. As field service companies begin to rapidly adopt mobile devices and field service management software—like the product we develop—more integration and connectivity has been realized in HVAC and other field service industry businesses. The principles of interconnectedness even extend to technicians in the field.

Our mobile software has FSM integration with all of your other business practices so that everything is automatically updated as it is happening—both on the desktop version and on technicians’ mobile apps. There’s even offline mobile work tracking that syncs with your desktop versions as soon as the mobile device reconnects.

Although we wouldn’t necessarily recommend a loose-fitting t-shirt in the field at most jobsites, we would encourage you to sport this number:

What are the implications of making this your companies go-to HVAC technician uniform? There are two things that can happen when you wear that shirt:

The customer laughs, and a customer relationship begins to be established.
The customer is not pleased—meaning you really shouldn’t have worn that shirt.

Simply because we worry that your customers would react in the way option (2) describes, we recommend not making that t-shirt part of your HVAC service technicians’ uniforms. However, while we’re on the topic of clothes you probably should not wear to a customer jobsite, here’s one more look for your viewing pleasure:

Finally, here is one last fun fact for the road: If you do a Google Images search for “service technician attire,” one of your top image hits is this:

Admittedly, we don’t know Victoria Beckham’s (Posh Spice) full résumé, but we would bet that she never worked as a field service tech.

That connection to the world of high fashion aside, field service clothing—including HVAC service technician uniforms—is likely to remain more functional than fabulous for several generations. It’s much more about getting the work done in an efficient manner than the client commenting on the pops of color on your techs’ t-shirts, and the trendy flare on their work pants. Accessorizing HVAC technician uniforms is more likely to be tablet and mobile based than hard hat and tool belt driven in the coming years. (Although, in reality, your hard hat and tool belt won’t be going anywhere.)

This shift to field techs being constantly surrounded by—and utilizing new—technology is one of a host of changes taking place in field service industries today. To understand more about the workplace and jobsite environment of these industries—and consider how to embrace the change management practices that get your team aligned and comfortable with changing technology toward—download our eBook about getting ready for 2018 now.

Prepare for 2017


Wearable Tech

Benefits of Wearable Technology for Field Service Businesses

Benefits of Wearable Technology for Field Service Businesses

‘Wearables’ are any kind electronic technologies that can be incorporated into clothing and other accessories and comfortably worn on the body. These wearables are essentially miniature computers that go wherever your techs go, measuring many different types of data that impact jobs performed by your field service industry business.

Two of the more prominent, mainstream examples of wearables in recent years are Google Glass and the Apple Watch, and in some ways both of these products have been viewed as failures. There is a genuine concern felt within the field service industry business world that wearable technology in the workplace is merely a trendy, experimental phase, and may not be able to generate any revenue growth in the long run.

However, the benefits of wearable technology in the field service industry are numerous—disproving the commonly held belief that wearable technology in the workplace is an ineffective, wasted investment. We talk a lot on this blog about the benefits of field service management software, so it is only natural that we should mention and explain other emerging technologies that can help increase your field service business’s bottom line.

As you read through this article, consider these possible applications that showcase the benefits of wearable technology for field service technicians:

Glasses or contact lenses: A field technician can use these state-of-the-art glasses or contact lenses to see customer data, warranty information, and/or manuals as he or she repairs a machine at a customer jobsite. Here is an example of a technician pulling up some information via Microsoft’s HoloLens—an augmented reality platform that involves wearing glasses:

If you ignore the potential blue of Facebook along the top of that photo and truly believe this man is hard at work, you can get a good idea of the benefits of wearable technology in the workplace and on jobsites. As NBC News recently noted: Smart glasses might be “dead” to consumers, but they’re thriving on factory floors.

Voice and gesture control: Using voice activation and gesture resignation technologies, an employee in your business’s back office could call up a series of invoices or a particular daily schedule hands-free. This is one benefit of wearable technology in the workplace: your employee can multitask, and focus on typing information into a work order without having to dive four to five clicks deep into another scheduling program to find the information for which he or she is looking. The picture below showcases hands-free, voice and movement recognition, and provides an example of what gesture control looks like—admittedly this image is not from a field service context, but it might give you a better idea:

For additional context, there’s always this:

Health monitors: The mainstream way to think about this type of wearable technology is in terms of a FitBit or the ‘Health’ area of an iPhone. However, these wearables could monitor breathing, heart rates, and other vital health data pertaining to technicians in working dangerous or enclosed environments. This is another benefit of wearable technology in the workplace: it allows help to arrive sooner in the case of emergencies, and gives these emergency personnel access to health information that could save an employee’s life. In this example, a field tech is wearing both glasses (from above) and a health monitor sensor contained within the glove:

And from a pop culture context, well …

Smart clothing: Similar to other wearable technology in the workplace like health monitors, smart clothing could signal if a driver is experiencing fatigue during a long day of jobsite appointments, or these garments could determine if employees are moving heavy items using incorrect form. (Not bending at the knees?) Here’s an example from Gadget Review:

This picture shows what is called a Flexi Freeze Ice Vest, and this wearable is just what you want if the air-conditioning system is broken! It comes with three removable, reusable ice panels that keep you cool and comfortable for a couple of hours—or until the ice melts. Field service technicians can reap the benefits of this wearable technology in the workplace and on jobsites when the temperatures are soaring above average, and they have to be exposed to the sun and extreme temperatures. We should also note that there are many pieces of smart clothing that trap heat for the opposite effect should your technicians be exposed to the elements during the winter.

Haptics: Haptics is the science of applying tactile sensation to human interaction with computers. When you type on your smartphone, haptics play a roll when the small vibrations from your fingertips touch your devices screen, and your device registers that you have typed a letter. The benefits of wearable technology in terms of haptics in the field service industry is best seen in products called ‘data gloves.’ Technicians can wear such gloves when fixing machines, and then the machines can provide feedback when the parts have been properly adjusted. Using haptics in the form of data gloves can increase first-time fix rates. Below is a basic illustration of what haptics looks like:

And while admittedly this is underwater (where only a small percentage of field service techs end up working), this is what a haptics get-up looks like on a person:

One of the more complicated set-ups you may ever feast your eyes upon:

Why does all this matter? These wearable technology developments are already big deals in some field service settings, especially in a training and development context. Utilizing wearables in the workplace allows your company to have access to data pertaining to how your technicians are performing in the field with clients—i.e. whether they are being effective at the various motions that make up any appointment. When you combine some of these wearables with concepts like augmented reality (placing a virtual world on top of the existing world you see) or virtual reality (creating a new world from scratch), the implications for training or scheduling are massive.

You can send a less-experienced tech to a big client job and a more experienced technician can guide them remotely through the steps required to complete the job using wearables and augmented reality. This is a major benefit of wearable technology: it reduces the scheduling pressure on your best techs, and makes it much easier to run your business in an efficient manner.

A lot of these concepts not only involve the idea of changing technology, but also mobility. Another benefit of wearable technology is that field service technicians on jobsites can be easily connected to office and customers via mobile. In fact, people agree that mobile is the biggest game-changer in the field service industry over the last few years—even more so than the Cloud. To learn more about the importance of FSM integration, mobile, and why you should invest in mobile-first solutions, check out the eBook below.

Mobility eBook Download


HVAC Growth Ideas

HVAC Marketing Ideas and Small Business Growth Ideas

HVAC Marketing Ideas and Small Business Growth Ideas

Do you manage a small- to medium- sized HVAC installation and repair business? Do you own a family business that has been operating for years, but is needing to increase sales? If you are searching for HVAC marketing ideas and wondering how to grow your HVAC business and drive profitability, you have probably been searching for innovative approaches that optimize your company’s performance and increase workplace efficiency to drive your business’s bottom line.

Although we are nearing the beginning of seasonal downtime in the HVAC industry, here are six HVAC marketing ideas and strategies that you should consider implementing in order to take your business to the next level. Fostering personal relationships
Larger companies in your product or service market are usually unable to focus on the personal touch element to the same extent as small businesses. Due to these large-scale companies’ numerous employees, technicians, accounts, data, and transactional work, sometimes customers get lost in the mix, creating an impersonal experience among the clients, technicians, and office personnel. These bigger HVAC companies tend to widen appointment windows, or have billing issues because they are handling and managing mass amounts of data.

This is where customer service comes into play when trying to grow your smaller HVAC business. If your business is consistently delivering an efficient, client-oriented experience that makes it easy for the customer to understand not only the services being performed, but the reasoning behind the material and labor prices on his or her bill, you are gaining an advantage over large HVAC companies.

Smaller companies’ HVAC marketing ideas should place a special emphasis on obtaining clients within the community, setting the stage for relationship building among your business and these new or prospective customers. How many times have you seen social media used to recommend services and gather opinions about who to hire to complete certain jobs within a designated mile radius? Your friends post on Facebook about their AC being broken and ask something to the effect of, “Does anyone know a good repair guy?” Remember, that the majority of local business traffic comes in the form of current customer referrals, and the key to gathering these referrals is consistent, quality customer experiences.

Learn more about maximizing—and measuring—that personal touch from a managerial perspective here.

Competitive pricing

It’s hard to avoid discussing cost issues when it comes to maximizing your small HVAC business’s growth. Potential customers—and even current clients—often make decisions on which company to hire based on the price of services or products that are offered. In other words: people are always searching for a bargain, or at least the lowest price among similar goods and services.

The best HVAC marketing idea is to implement competitive pricing. You certainly do not want to undercut the market in your area to the point where your business cannot turn a profit; however, you should reasonably price your company’s field services according to the area in which you operate. Fair and transparent pricing attracts many potential customers, and is the catalyst for successful business relationships.

Ideally, your business should integrate some form of FSM software in order to track costs and pricing, making setting your company’s prices simpler and more effective. There are countless moving parts in an industry such as HVAC repair and installation, and it is imperative that your company accounts for each element that goes into making a successful business—specifically, using FSM software to ease the burden of tracking components that affect the your business’s bottom line.

Diverse product knowledge

Having an in-depth knowledge of your market sector is crucial for success as a small HVAC business. The mid-size and larger HVAC service market generally sells customers on brand-name, mid-quality equipment. However, if your smaller company can offer better, longer-lasting solutions at reasonable prices, you can easily gain new clients.

The key is knowing your market and the customers in that market by analyzing existing client information, and researching industry-specific data such as pricing and sales trends. After gaining more insight into your company’s particular market sector, you should have an idea of what to pitch to your potential and existing customers for the best business results.

For example, some people do not value or even place stock in brand-name products and services, while others are loyal brand-name consumers. The same theory of diverse customer opinions and buying styles is consistent across other platforms like cost, quality, warranty, duration, etc. Your goal: expand your product knowledge to better serve your customers in order to drive sales and gain new business.

Customer outreach and employee representation

Larger field service industry companies tend to budget and spend more capital on marketing campaigns for their products and services—sometimes up to 20% of their yearly revenue! Marketing tactics to grow your smaller HVAC business does not need to be this complicated or costly.

There are numerous avenues with which your business can reach people, including:

  • Having an email database to send customers and prospective clients helpful updates about heating and cooling systems.
  • Setting up automation prompts to send promotional emails to people on their birthdays.
  • Actively monitoring your Yelp page along with other service ratings sites.
  • Creating and implementing Google AdWords for “[name of city] heating and cooling” to draw in local business.
  • Be yourself, and DO NOT break the bank. (We know some agencies that help HVAC companies thrive, if you would like a referral.)

When growing your small HVAC business, much of your HVAC marketing ideascare geared toward improving local perception. Every time a service representative goes into the field, they are going to be marketing your small business through his or her worksite efficiency, knowledgeability, and attitude. Make sure that your technicians realize that they are representatives for your small business’s brand.

Participate locally

Get involved in your business’s community! Create a Make-A-Wish group, or sponsor a local little league softball team. The best HVAC marketing idea and strategy is to get your business’s name out there.

We know a plumbing company (not HVAC, but with a similar business model) who sponsored a little league team in Texas, and ended up getting every set of parents as a customer—as well as many of their friends. By simply providing uniforms and equipment, this business gained 30+ new customers. That’s a huge return-on-investment, and a great example of how to grow your HVAC business.

HVAC eBook


HVAC Puns

Best HVAC Service Business Puns, HVAC Humor and How to Sneak Them in

Best HVAC Service Business Puns, HVAC Humor and How to Sneak Them in

Working in the HVAC industry is serious business, and it can oftentimes lead an HVAC technician into some highly stressful situations–leaving little time for hvac humor. Let’s say that you have a client and his or her cooling system breaks down during a long week complete with sunny skies and ninety-degree weather—oh, and let’s add that this client lives in the middle of a Nevada desert, for good measure. You can imagine that your client will already be unhappy at best due to his or her misfortune.
Now, if you send one of your HVAC technicians to this particular client’s location, and said technician lacks the right parts on the truck –which means that he or she has to drive to one of your company’s warehouses, or back to headquarters to procure the necessary materials to finish the job—your client will be even more unhappy.

If you replace “cooling system” with “heating system,” “summer” with “winter,” and “Nevada desert” with “Montana mountains,” the same problem results: a disgruntled customer who may or may not be tempted to throw any unattached object at your technician in his or her Hulk-like fury.

What’s the best way to deal with this worst-case-scenario? Believe it or not, there are two avenues you can take when faced with an upset customer.

Option #1:

Provide the highest quality of service possible within a reasonable time frame.
This option is essential to owning and operating an HVAC business. Delivering on your company’s standards for high performance is the essence of how you’ll grow your HVAC business. More on that in a few moments.

Option #2:

Hire HVAC technicians who know how to diffuse a tough situation with humor because, let’s face it: who can really resist laughing at a bad pun (or HVAC humor) when it’s delivered with conviction?

Not everyone chooses the second track when faced with an unhappy client because, again, HVAC installations and repairs require serious thought and labor. However, laughter is essential to life, so why not attempt to brighten dismal circumstances with some quality—or not-so-quality—HVAC humor?

In a recent Forbes study pertaining to stress at work, survey respondents rated their home-life stress at a ‘5’ on a 1-10 scale. These same people’s amounts of perceived stress while at work? A whopping ‘6.4’ on the same 1-10 scale. That data leads us to believe that your technicians will enter into a lot of stressful jobsite situations, and having a plan to implement some HVAC humor when field work gets tense is always a good strategy to cope with the occasional dissatisfied customer.

In an attempt to help your technicians add some more HVAC jokes to their repertoires, we are offering you a few service business puns to try out the next time a jobsite repair goes awry. Although HVAC puns aren’t always funny—which is actually most of the time, but I digress—, they can certainly help diffuse a potentially stressful situation.

Drum roll, please…

The “Going Out” HVAC Pun

Target audience: The fresh twenty-one-year-old crowd all the way through those in their mid-thirties.

Technician: “When did your AC go out?”

Client: “Last night.”

Technician: “Well, I hope it had a good time.”

** clangs cymbals **

The “Ducts” Pun

Target audience: Those clients who are older than thirty, or work in the finance or insurance industries.

“Well you know,” a technician says to a client, “HVAC technicians are more effective because we always have all of our ducts in a row.”

** gong sound **

The “Invention” Pun

Target audience: Customers who are young enough to question your technician expertise.

Turn to a client and nonchalantly say, “We were working on AC before it was cool.”

** sad trumpet noise **

The “Flip Around” Pun

Target audience: Anyone and everyone who appears to understand sarcasm.

The technician says to the client, “Well, your furnace has a few problems, but it could be worse.”

The client is relieved! “Oh, that’s good,” she says.

Technician: “Yeah! It could be my furnace instead of yours. That’d be worse!”

** Krusty the Clown screeching sound **

The “Three Little Pigs” HVAC Joke

Target audience: Customers in their forties who still understand the childhood story reference.

Setup: “Why did the Three Little Pigs buy an electric furnace instead of a gas one?”

Knock it down: “The neighbors didn’t want to be near a swine flue.”

** car horn **

The Classic “Cross the Road” Technician Joke

Target audience: EVERYONE! Here’s an all-timer! Ready?

“Why did the AC repairman cross the road?”

(intense pause for dramatic effect)

“He opened the unit and found a wasp’s nest in it.”

** Ed McMahon yelling ‘Hey’ sound **

A Few Onsite Gags

A quick note of caution here: Never resort to this level of HVAC humor with your company’s newer customers. Only break out these tried-and-true onsite jokes on customers with whom you have experience and rapport. Here is a brief compilation of a few of our greatest gags:

Place a fake truck door that appears to fall off when you open it over the top of your vehicle’s real door.
Show up with singed eyebrows—you know, from that furnace repair that left you a little crispy earlier in the day.
Roll up to the block, and walk up to five other houses before knocking on your client’s door.

Let’s Get Back to the Serious Matters.

These HVAC jokes are great ways to secure some laughs from your customers, and calm a potentially stressful situation, which is wonderful. However, as we mentioned earlier in this post, the real key to growing your HVAC business is by making sure your technicians complete onsite jobs in efficient, timely manners.

One of the easiest ways to help optimize your technicians’ jobsite success is to integrate your business with CRM scheduling software, which is typically called field service management (FSM) software. This FSM software is an investment worth considering in order prepare for the latter half of 2017, and to start 2018 on the right foot. What other programs should you be considering for your HVAC business? We’ve got you covered with this eBook.

Prepare for 2017


Warehouse Lookup

Warehouse Management System & Work Order Updates to Maximize Production

Warehouse Management System & Work Order Updates to Maximize Production

Here at Optsy, our customized software program can act as a warehouse management system for construction companies, HVAC companies and more. Our software can also help you run your business more efficiently by organizing and tracking your field service jobs in one place.

We currently serve customers who own or operate businesses in:

Construction
Electrical
HVAC
Landscaping
Plumbing
And other field service industries!
If you are looking for top-of-line management software or a management system for any small- or medium-sized field services business, Optsy has options to help you optimize your company’s performance in the field.

Familiar with Optsy software? Already use it daily?

If so, we are excited to tell you about the updates to our software interface we have made to create a more user-friendly experience in the communication portion of our program. This is just one of the ways we strive toward meeting our customers’ expectations associated with our management systems. Recently, we have noticed a need for better inventory tracking in the software we distribute and customize for our clients.

Along with a more advanced warehouse management system for construction and HVAC companies, managers and owners of small- to medium-sized businesses who purchase and utilize Optsy software have mentioned the need for better communication in work orders given to technicians in the field.

Both issues are addressed in our newest software interface update.

Warehouse Lookup Update

As those of you who are familiar with Optsy’s field service management software program may recognize, there is a new icon located underneath the “Lookup Manager” tab.

New: This icon, titled “Warehouse Lookup” is one of Optsy’s newest features created to enhance your business’s performance in relation to inventory tracking.

Old: The older versions of our software provided our customers with a basic inventory tracking system and warehouse management system, but a common suggestion that we received was for Optsy to establish a more accessible, fluid stock item system that could help business owners, managers, and technicians in the field see exactly where each specific inventory item is located within the company.

Our new “Warehouse” screen gives the user(s) a more functional understanding of where stock items are being kept within the company.

How does the Warehouse Lookup Update Improve Company Productivity?

Perhaps your company has multiple warehouses that contain inventory items and tools required by your technicians, but your field services management software program or warehouse management sytem only displays a complete inventory list without location specifics. Maybe your technicians are supposed to keep certain tools in their trucks that go with them to jobsites, but there is no way of telling which tools are in which vehicle, leaving your technicians without the proper equipment needed to complete orders. This could cost your business in the long run. You may have disgruntled customers if your technicians have to make numerous trips back and forth from customer jobsites to your company’s warehouse(s) to procure the proper tools necessary to complete a specific job.

This time-and-inventory management issue could potentially hurt your profit margin in the long run, which is why Optsy has integrated the new “Warehouse Lookup” update into its software interface.

When you click on the “Warehouse Lookup” tab on the left-hand side of your Optsy FieldOne Systems screen, a list of your business’s warehouses and company vehicles that have been entered into the program display themselves in list format. The columns listed across the top of the screen provide the user(s) with more information about each warehouse or company vehicle on the list including its location, employees assigned to the warehouse or vehicle, phone number, email address, and company identification number.

Instead of having one lengthy inventory list, Optsy users can now enter inventory into specific warehouses and company vehicles, making for more efficient inventory tracking from the office and the jobsite.

All owners, managers, and technicians need to do is click on the desired warehouse or vehicle name on the list, and the inventory kept in each unit will be displayed. Along with more fluid and accessible parts listings for inventory tracking purposes, technicians and small-to-mid-sized business owners alike will also benefit from this new software interface update in relation to profits stemming from better time management practices.

4,000 Character Text Update

Not only does the latest version of our Optsy FieldOne Systems software interface include a more navigable warehouse management system, but it also features a new 4,000-character text area for custom sales within work orders called “Custom Field 30.”

To access and utilize this updated feature on our field management services software follow the below steps.

Click on the “Work Order Lookup” tab located on the left-hand side of the program screen underneath the “Lookup Manager” icon.
Then, you will select your desired work order from the list that you have entered into your Optsy program.
Click on the tab labeled “General.
Following this, scroll down and click on the “Custom Fields” label.
Select the tab that reads “Custom Field 30.
A text box will pop up that will allow you to type specific instructions for the desired work order that can be viewed by your technicians in the field.

This maximizes office-to-jobsite communication in order to meet and exceed your customer’s expectations. These real-time work order instruction updates can be the difference between having a one-time customer or having a repeat client.

For more information on Optsy’s field services management software interface programs or a warehouse management system, contact us or read through our website, and contact us directly at (201)-490-4309 with any inquiries about our software.


Field Services

Field Services Management Software Offers Essential Job Work Order Updates

Field Services Management Software Offers Essential Job Work Order Updates

Here at Optsy we are excited to announce the release of two critical updates to the Optsy FieldOne Systems software interface. Job work order attachments are now easier to find, and previous agreements and service contracts from jobs can now be copied and duplicated.

Do you own an HVAC, electric or plumbing business?

If you are unfamiliar with our industry-specific, customizable software programs, Opsty FieldOne Systems is the go-to management program for companies participating in service industries that send technicians and other employees to jobsites. We have been improving communication between small-to-mid-sized business offices and employees in the field since 2001.

Already familiar with Optsy?

Perhaps your field services company has been optimizing jobsite efficiency and productivity with Opsty FieldOne Systems for a while now. If so, you have probably spoken or typed the words, “It’s hard for me to find my attachments.”

Opsty has resolved this issue with a recent software interface update that organizes your attachments by work order number.

Slot Attachment Update

New: Business owners, managers, and technicians in the field can now view uploaded pictures, videos, and documents with ease for their job work orders. All one has to do is click on the “Work Order Lookup” icon located under the “Lookup Manager” tab on the left-hand side of the program screen. Simply type in and select the desired work order number, and click on the “Schedule” tab. Then, click the “Show Attachment” button next to the specific date that the attachment was uploaded to pull up pictures of equipment, contracts, job-site progress, and the like.

Old: Remember how difficult it was to search for attachments for your job work order? In previous versions of our Optsy FieldOne Systems interface, users had to go to the schedule board feature, select a certain date on which the desired job work order was performed, and then weed through mass amounts of data to find the attachment you wanted to view.

Optsy has improved its field services management software functionality by allowing you to group attachments, like JPEG images, by work order instead of by date—saving you time by increasing efficiency.

Copy Agreement Update

The newest update to Optsy FieldOne Systems software interface allows you to renew your annual customer agreements with ease.

New: Say “goodbye” to typing and retyping duplicate service agreements. You can now copy a service agreement through the “Actions” tab, which essentially creates a “one-size-fits-all” template for similar job types across multiple platforms.

All you need to do is click on “Agreement Lookup,” type in the agreement identification number that you would like to copy in the search bar, and select that agreement from the screen. Then, follow these simple steps:

Click on the “Actions” tab located near the bottom of the main screen.
Under the “General” tab, click on the “Copy Info” icon.
Select “Copy Agreement Details
After you have completed these steps, search for the new agreement number that you have created for this duplicate service contract, paste the copied content into the new agreement number, and click “Okay.”

Old: Service field industry companies—specifically HVAC and plumbing businesses—use and reuse basic templates for annual or bi-annual service contract renewals. The older version of Optsy FieldOne Systems did not contain the newly updated “Copy Agreement Details” feature, which meant that each service contract had to be drafted from scratch. An office-based employee could spend extra unnecessary hours retyping generic contract information instead of moving on to other necessary workday projects.

The time and opportunity costs incurred by lack of fluidity in the older version of Optsy FieldOne Systems—which are key figures in your company’s overall profit margin—have been made obsolete due to the updated software interface’s efficient copy agreement feature.

How Can These Updates Positively Affect My Business?

Your field service industry company can be well-served by downloading the latest updates to your customized Optsy FieldOne Systems management software program. An efficient management system where technicians and managers in the office can communicate between one another with ease and clarity is essential to creating and maintaining a profitable enterprise.

Why you should update your Optsy FieldOne System:

Lessen office employee and service technician time expenditure by grouping all job work order attachments under the designated work order number
Find specific job work order attachments by clicking on the new “Show Attachment” icon located in the “Work Order” screen
Save office workers and managers time by using the “Copy Agreement Details” feature
instead of retyping a generic service order agreement from scratch for each new similar work order

Here at Optsy, we have been proudly creating management software programs for small-to medium-sized businesses for upwards of fifteen years. Whether you are a current Optsy customer, or are interested in purchasing a customized field service management program, we encourage you to view our website for product updates, or call us with any questions at (201)-490-4309.