In our last article, we shared eight ways you can reduce overhead costs in your field services business, two of which are to consolidate software subscriptions and automate manual (especially administrative) tasks. Now, we’re going to delve further into those ideas and show you how field services management (FSM) software can allow you to do both those things, saving you money. We’ll also show you how it can increase your sales. And when you put that together, you increase profits substantially. Not bad for a single piece of software!
What is FSM software?
FSM software helps staff and business owners deliver excellent in-the-field services and efficiently manage their business. So, whether you’re an HVAC business, plumber, roofer, electrician, refrigeration business, computer service company, alarm and/or security services provider, or a business that provides any other kind of service at other people’s business premises or homes, FSM software is designed to help you:
- More easily and efficiently manage and grow your business
- Deliver awesome services to your customers
- Keep track of and care for your staff and contractors
The scope of each FSM software application varies a little depending on who it’s designed for (e.g. small businesses vs. big corporations), but, in general, good FSM software offers the following capabilities:
- Time tracking
- Employee management
- Custom reports
- Cashflow management
- Tax tools
- Accounting software integration
- Mapping and routing
- Task management
- Inventory management
- Equipment tracking
- Work order management
- CRM (customer relationship management)
- SLA (service level agreement) management
- Customer and account management
How FSM software helps businesses
It’s hard to overstate the benefits of using FSM software.
Instead of managing your business on paper — printing quotes and scheduling jobs on a whiteboard or in a job book — FSM software enables you to go completely digital. No more overflowing filing cabinets. No more lost post-it note reminders. And no more carbon copies or expensive photocopiers.
Instead of using a separate piece of software for each capability — e.g. a word processor or spreadsheet tool for quotes and receipts, timesheet software for tracking staff hours, a dedicated CRM for customer profiles, and a dispatch app for assigning staff to jobs and notifying customers when their technician is scheduled to arrive — FSM software covers it all. It’s literally a one-stop-shop for all the operational and administrative activities every field service business relies on to succeed. No need to enter the same information into multiple places or transfer details from one tool to another. No need to manage multiple software subscriptions. And no need to worry about compatibility between apps that need to work together.
And, instead of having to be intimately involved with every process, every step fo the way, FSM software will enable you to automate much of your manual tasks. Here are just a few examples of how you could use automation in your business:
- Set up FSM software with a set of common services and their prices. Then when you get a request for an estimate or quote, you can simply find your existing customer record or create a new one then select the relevant services, and the tool will generate a professional and legal estimate/quote with all your business branding. When the customer approves the estimate/quote, you mark it as approved and the tool will then schedule the job at the optimal time based on the skills required, the location of the job and the workloads and proximity of your staff. When the job’s done, your staff marks it as complete and selects any consumables used, then the software automatically generates a profession, legal, and on-brand invoice. When that’s paid, the tool automatically issues a receipt.
- Set up FSM software with information about your technicians’ capabilities, skill level, and preferred types of jobs (and on-call location, if relevant). Whenever you get a new job, FSM software will automatically add the job to your business’s schedule, adjusting it where necessary, so that the best and most appropriate staff member is assigned to the work and the job gets done within the necessary timeframe (e.g. emergencies are schedule ASAP and urgent jobs are scheduled with a high priority). The right FSM tool will automatically ensure staff do as little driving as possible, that all staff are matched with the work they’re most skilled at and which they most enjoy, and that customers get their jobs completed in a timely manner. (FSM app dispatching capabilities do a similar thing but for dispatching staff as soon as a job comes in, as opposed to scheduling future tasks.)
- Set up FSM software to automatically generate weekly, monthly, and quarterly (or any other custom frequency) reports to help you track and manage your cashflow, staff pays, expenses, business productivity, tax commitments, and more.
- Record all your customer interactions in your FSM software and you’ll have a valuable resource that will enable you to easily customize your communications with your customers, proactively meet their needs, and provide the best possible customer service, which could set you apart from your competitors and solidify your business as the go-to service provider in your area. If that sounds like a long bow to draw, check out our article about using customer service to win more sales.
What’s more, because no two field service businesses are exactly alike, good FSM software is completely customizable, so you can set it up to match your workflow. If a capability isn’t relevant to your businesses, just disable that functionality. Need a totally unique report? Good FSM software can do that too.
I’m sure you can imagine how much time and hassle this kind of functionality could save for you and your staff. If you spend your weekends sending quotes, invoices and receipts or wish there was a better and easier way to do staff scheduling, FSM software is a great solution for your business.
How does field service management software reduce costs and increase revenue?
Now, FSM software doesn’t just save time and your sanity, it also reduces costs and increases sales, both of which increase revenue. Let’s look at a few ways we’ve mentioned in previous articles.
Reduced printing costs
If you’re still using paper-based systems to manage your business, just the act of going entirely digital could drastically reduce your costs given the price of printer ink in particular. I encourage you to add up your yearly paper, ink and printer maintenance costs to see how worthwhile it would be to eliminate them.
Software subscription savings through consolidation
If you’re already using digital management systems but you’re not using FSM software, you’ll have several pieces of software that you and your team use to get work done, engage with prospects and customers, and accomplish all those administrative tasks. For those that require a paid subscription, calculate your yearly software subscription costs to see whether you could save by switching to an all-in-one solution. FSM tools can cost anywhere from $60 to $42,000 per year, so there’s a good chance there’s a tool that will meet your needs and save you money.
Automate manual tasks — especially administrative tasks and customer service
If you or any of your staff are doing significant amounts of administrative work, your business is basically burning money. Estimates, quotes, invoices, receipts, income reporting, dispatching and scheduling, contract management etc. — that can all be pretty much automatic if you use FSM software.
With FSM software, any time your technicians are currently spending on that kind of work could instead be allocated to completing work for customers. Instead of that admin time being an overhead expense, FSM software could enable you to transform it into revenue-generating time. As an example, if your team spends eight hours a week doing manual admin, that’s a whole day’s worth of client-facing, income-generating work that your business is missing out on.
Now, if you’ve instead got got dedicated administrative staff doing those kinds of tasks, don’t worry that using FSM software would mean you have to sack them. Instead of doing manual admin tasks, admin staff could easily be redeployed to do a mix of customer service and promotional roles:
- When a prospect or customer calls or emails requesting an estimate/quote, admin staff can respond almost instantly, increasing the chances of you winning the job
- Admin staff could spend a certain proportion of their day following up on previous jobs in a bid to secure repeat work (e.g. 12 months after installing a new airconditioner, your admin staff could call the customer offering to schedule in a service or recommended maintenance tasks)
- A couple of days after every job, admin staff could contact customers to check they were satisfied with the service performed, ask for testimonials (which are excellent marketing assets), and schedule any follow up services
- If your admin staff have decent writing skills, they could prepare helpful guides for customers that can be used in your marketing activities
These kinds of activities when performed routinely could help keep your pipeline full of work, increasing your revenue. Here are other ways automation can cut your costs if you want to explore this idea further.
The key to using FSM software to increase your profits
FSM software can help you:
- Minimize staff travel time and expenses by organizing their schedules so they’re not zigzagging all over town
- Maximize the time your technical staff spend on revenue-generating work, reducing your overheads and increasing your sales
- Minimize manual administration, further reducing overheads
- Free your administrative staff to focus on customer service and other activities that contribute to your bottom line
- Save money by consolidating your software subscriptions or all but eliminating your paper and printing costs
The key to successfully using FSM software to save you money, increase your sales and dramatically increase your profits, however, is to choose the right FSM tool for your business. Stay tuned for our next article which will help you choose the option that best suits your needs.