In recent articles we’ve outlined how you can make your business more competitive, so you can win more sales, by providing excellent-quality field services, great value for money and exceptional customer service, and we detailed five ways you can improve your customer service. But we realised you might think it’s too expensive to implement those recommendations. So, in this article I’m laying out how you can improve your customer service to increase your sales while actually cutting your costs. Yes you read that right, I’m going to tell you some secrets about how to cut business costs that can actually increase your revenue at the same time.
Automate manual tasks — this is how to get rid of admin
When most business owners see the word ‘automate’ they also see lots of dollar signs. But while it’s true you will need to spend some money to automate tasks, if you do it right, it’ll actually save you money overall. And automation can absolutely make you more money too.
Let’s look at some examples.
1. Estimating and quoting
When a potential customer rings up asking how much it’ll cost to have a new reverse cycle system installed, what’s your process? Maybe you have a technician answer the phone, take some handwritten notes and then promise to get back to them with an estimate. Then the tech gives someone, maybe you, the info and a quote is manually calculated and issued.
And what’s your process when someone fills in a form on your site or sends you an email asking how much it’ll cost to install safety switches? Maybe you put the request in a folder and go through every request you’ve received at the end of the day, manually calculating the costs and emailing the quotes.
Or may you ‘eyeball’ each quote request on the spot and just give a number without recording any info in your files.
Now, let me ask you this — how often does a potential customer choose someone else because they responded with a quote more quickly? And how long does it take someone to prepare all the estimates and schedule the approved quotes?
Let’s say it takes about 5 hours a week for someone to calculate and send estimates, or for someone to eyeball costs and then schedule the approved jobs. What if I told you it’s possible to cut that down to 30 mins a week and that you could use the 4.5 hours you saved to complete extra work orders?
That kind of time saving is easy to achieve when you automate your estimating and quote. And the income from completing additional jobs easily pays for the software.
All you have to do is enter a list of prices into good estimates software, then whenever someone asks for a quote, you click a few buttons to select the costs involved and the software will instantly give you a professional and accurate quote you can email to the potential customer or read out over the phone on the spot. And any member of your staff can do that, whether they’re a technician with no admin training, or a receptionist with no technical skills.
Pretty easy, right?
Scheduling is another manual task you can automate, as I hinted at above. Once your new customer has approved your quote, what’s your process? Do you pull up your calendar and find the first available time slot?
That’s what most small field services businesses do. But the problem is, that often means technicians zigzag across the map, completing jobs for the day in the order they were booked.
But did you know, scheduling software can take your customer’s information along with their work order and automatically rearrange your chosen day’s schedule so customers still get their work done promptly while your technicians can complete jobs in the most efficient order. That often frees up enough time to add in an extra job or for staff to complete other tasks that normally have to be done by an extra person.
And if your scheduling software is integrated with your estimating software, all you have to do to make that happen is click ‘approved’ on the estimate.
If your business is more reactive and needs to dispatch staff rather than schedule them, then dispatching software is a real treat. As soon as a call comes in about an urgent job, your dispatching software will tell you which appropriately skilled staff are, or will soon be, available and you can automatically add the work to their schedule, notify them and give them the most efficient directions to the job site, all with just one click of a button. Plus the software can automatically notify your customers when their technician is en-route. Talk about good customer service!
Following on from scheduling, billing is another excellent candidate for automation. Not only can you automate invoicing, you can also streamline payments in the field.
If you’re using Excel and/or Word to generate invoices, you’ll love automated billing software, especially if it’s integrated with your estimates software. Just have your technician make each job as complete and automated billing software will instantly generate and even send a professional invoice based on the approved quote.
Did the job involve unexpected time and supplies? No problem. Just add the extra items with a few clicks and the software will make sure your invoice is completely accurate.
And because the process is so simple that technicians can do it at the end of every job, you no longer have to spend your weekends creating bills. Plus, your customers receive and can pay their invoices much sooner, which means better cashflow for your business.
If you choose software that includes mobile payments, you can also offer the option for customers to pay by card on the stop, eliminating late payments and improving your cashflow even more.
If you shuddered mentally when you read that word you’ll love this one. Billing software is often integrated with popular accounting programs, meaning you can save heaps of time when doing your accounting and preparing your tax return. Simply marking invoices as paid in your billing software will automatically create line items in your accounting software for that income and associated costs, including labour and supplies. (Or if you’re using accruals accounting, issuing an invoice will do the same thing.)
It might seem like it doesn’t take you that long to manually complete your spreadsheet or add items to your accounting software, but every minute ads up and integrated accounting and billing software easily pays for itself in time saved that you can use to complete income-generating work.
How long does it take you to go through your employee’s timesheets and pay their wages each month? According to Score 28% of businesses spend 6-10+ hours per month just doing monthly pays. A tool that can automatically calculate how much to pay your staff based on the hours they spend at each job and on all the other bits and pieces they do, could save you a lot of time each month!
Consolidate business administration tools to cut costs
Now, you might already have some software tools that accomplish those tasks. You might even have a tool for each one. (If you do have several tools, hopefully they’re fully integrated, so you don’t have to input the same piece of information more than once!) If that’s you, I want you to calculate how much you spend per month on all the pieces of software.
Go on, I’ll wait.
Now, what would you say if I told you it’s possible to slash that total monthly cost just by switching to a single piece of software that does every one of those tasks and more? Even better, what if I told you there’s software that does all that and was specifically designed for small field services business just like yours?
It’s called ‘field services management software’ (FSM software) and it’s one of the best ways to cut business costs. There are a few choices available, so here’s what you might want to consider when investigating your options:
- Mobile-friendly — FSM software is most useful when you and your staff can use it in the office and on job sites. (You don’t want to have to wait till staff get back to the office to mark jobs as complete.) So, look for an option that can either operate from any browser or which has a good mobile app that operates on the hardware your team uses (Mac, Android, Windows or a mix).
- Offline sync — While mobile usability is a must, there may be times when an area’s mobile signal goes down or your staff need to visit a job site doesn’t get mobile reception. Having the option of still being able to use the software offline and then having everything sync seamlessly and automatically when back online is vital in these circumstances.
- All inclusive — You’ll want to make sure the software option you choose includes all the bits and pieces you’ll need. If you want to be able to manage every part of your business, from quoting to billing, then you’ll want a software solution that includes all those capabilities. It’s a bit pointless to try to consolidate your business admin tools into a single piece of software if you still have to integrate it with several other tools!
- Customizable — Your business is unique, so your software should be flexible enough to fit your unique needs. From logos and color palettes to bespoke layouts and designs, every aspect of the software should be customizable. It’s also great if you can turn off modules that you don’t need to keep your software uncluttered and easy to use.
- Easy to use — If you’re like most businesses, you and your staff don’t have time to learn how to use a complicated new tool. So, software that’s easy to use will be a bonus.
- Cost effective — Given the topic of this article, this is pretty obvious, but I felt I still had to say it — I recommend you look for something that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Yes FSM software will save you time and angst and should enable you to win more sales, but if the cost outweighs those benefits, it’s not a great solution. Many FSM options are designed for big enterprises and have price tags to match. So you’re better off looking for an option that’s specifically designed for small businesses. The price will suit your budget and the features will be a better fit for your needs.
- Good service — If you choose easy to use software you shouldn’t need much help from customer support once you’re set up. But every new tool has a learning curve, so it’s helpful to choose software from a brand that offers great customer support. As an example, if you choose the Optsy FSM software, our team will help you set up and customize our software to your exact needs. And if you’re using another FSM tool or several other tools that accomplish bits and pieces of what our tool does, we’ll migrate your data across for you as well.
Cut business costs by improving customer service and automating your admin
By now you understand how important and valuable it is to deliver great customer service. And I’ve now shown you how automation can help you improve your customer service and cut costs for your business. Soon I’ll be sharing some templates with you to help you automate your admin and present a really professional image to your clients and prospective customers. I’ll also walk you through exactly how Optsy FSM software can help you improve your customer service and increase your revenue.
Or if you’re ready to have a one-on-one chat with one of my team members about everything Optsy can do for you, fill in the form below to schedule a demo at a time that suits you.