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


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


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.


FSM Software Savings

Worksheet For Calculating Field Service Software Savings

Worksheet For Calculating Field Service Software Savings

We talk about dozens of different field service topics on this blog, ranging from wearable devices to marketing approaches to having more cash flow on hand. All are noble (if we do say so ourselves) and all have a place in running a field service shop in 2016 — er, almost 2017.

But ultimately, a lot of this comes back to money and cost. We sell field service management (FSM) software, and it helps us if you buy into that software. But we also work with a lot of small businesses and, for them, cost is a potentially restrictive factor. We’ve gotten dozens — hundreds? — of our own leads over the years where people talk to us forever about buying FSM software, and then ultimately does not. In most of these cases, the problem is cost. These leads are afraid the cost to buy the software will outstrip the savings from the software. They want to know the actual savings from field service software.

So, we decided to take action. (** Cue Rocky theme song. **)

We put together a savings eBook. You need to know some core numbers about your business to complete this, but that shouldn’t be very hard. Here, you get:

A worksheet for calculating the savings associated with using FSM software
A step-by-step guide to filling out that worksheet
Ideas about comparing pre- and post-FSM software implementation to best calculate ROI (not just for field service software, but any future investments)

If you walk through the steps and instructions and plug in the numbers, you can begin to see your potential savings — and you can see how some of your core metrics (completed vs. invoiced jobs, for example, or first-time fix rate) will improve by implementing FSM software.

The best part? Armed with this knowledge, you have the ability to see if you’re actually saving money by using field service software. That’s power, my friends.

We won’t bore you with any more lead-in now. If you think a cost/savings calculator would be valuable for your 2017 decision-making processes, grab it now. As always, reach out with any questions.

Worksheet Savings


KIckstart Marketing

Kickstart Your Marketing With Field Service Software

Kickstart Your Marketing With Field Service Software

One of the bigger challenges of being a small business field service shop is marketing yourself. Most (not all) small businesses tend to operate within a specific region, and there may be “major players” (i.e. big or enterprise-level businesses) within that same sector. As a smaller company, how do you compete? Enterprise-level businesses can afford to spend (potentially) millions on marketing and getting their name out, and you might not be able to. Are there other, more cost-effective approaches to improving your brand’s visibility and thus, booking more clients?

Yep. There are.

But if you’re smaller, you have less. Less of everything, really — including:

Staff
Resources
Cash on hand

When you have less, your decision-making has to be rooted in more.

That might not seem to make sense, so let us explain. See, when you have less resources or access, your decision-making needs to be better, smarter, sharper, and faster than anyone you may be competing with who has more. That’s the yin and yang of any business, but especially field service (electricians, plumbing, HVAC, etc.) Smaller companies rise up and big companies fall down, and while money is an important aspect of who has the power, it isn’t the only aspect. You can beat someone with more resources if you’re smarter about how you organize and decide things within your business. We’ve seen the underdog narrative for generations.

So what’s the path to being an effective small business FSO?

It’s all about organization, integration, decision-making, and making sure that all those elements are pointed towards happier customers.

The easiest path through that is a field service management (FSM) software program, because it will give you integrated capabilities around:

A CRM system
Invoicing and QuickBooks
Inventory management
Technician scheduling and routing
Mobile-first approaches

The overall concept with any field service software program is that it allows you to integrate all the different parts of your service business and then see if what you’re doing is actually working. Now scheduling, inventory, customer information, and QuickBooks all reside within the same system. This helps with information transparency (more people on your team know what’s happening and when), and it allows the different aspects you need to run your business to “speak” to each other, essentially. It’s crucial to be on-point when pushing out messages to potential customers, and it’s crucial to have everything together so that you’re organized and getting that first-time fix (and quick invoicing for cash flow) when you deal with customers.

If you’d like to learn a little bit more about how FSM software works in terms of driving marketing/growth but also internal organization of resources, check out our eBook below.

Kickstart Marketing


Optimize Cashflow

Optimize Cash Flow with Field Service Software in HVAC

Optimize Cash Flow with Field Service Software in HVAC

Let’s start with a quick, basic definition of cash flow: generally this is the amount of money being transferred into and out of a business, especially with regard to liquidity. It’s important to remember that “cash flow” statements conceptually are different from P&L, or profit and loss, statements. Accounting best practices determine P&L statements, which don’t necessarily monitor the amount of cash moving through your business.

Cash flow tends to be affected by these factors, especially in small business HVAC operations:

Accounts receivable
Inventory
Accounts payable
Capital expenditures
Borrowings and debt services
Timing differences

Here’s a quick example, from that Inc Magazine article linked above. It relates directly to field service. The author worked for a small business field service manager, who didn’t understand why he made money in a quarter — but lacked the cash to pay his bills. The explanation:

In this case, the difference between his net income and his cash flow was primarily a result of the purchase of a truck for cash, sales made during the period that were not collected (accounts receivable), estimated tax payments made in an amount different than tax expense for the period, increased inventory levels in preparation for the coming selling season, distributions to the owner, and principal payments on a bank loan.

Overall, this is the takeaway: You want to have positive cash flow in a business because it helps make everything else run smoother. Some of the most successful companies in the world — Google (Alphabet) and Apple — are thought of that way in large part because of their positive cash flow status. Now, if you run a small business HVAC shop in your primary geographic area, let’s be realistic: You will not have as much cash on hand as Google does. But there are ways you can improve your cash flow!

Most of positive cash flow in small businesses comes from effective tracking/monitoring of different aspects of your business, and that usually comes from integrated systems. In the case of an HVAC company, FSM software is usually the best bet. FSM software helps you integrate:

Inventory
Customer information
Scheduling and dispatch
Sales and marketing
Anything else you want to integrate (document storage, email, etc.)

Typically, the primary benefit of FSM software is that it allows for better communication and more transparency so that different silos within your business all can arrive at the same page. This usually makes your decision-making and data analysis more effective.

But in a cash flow context, FSM software tends to shorten the cash flow cycle for businesses — which is really useful in an SMB context. Better invoicing and billing (which happens with FSM software) leads to shortened billing cycles and more accrual of revenue; you can also use a metric within your FSM software, such as “Completed Jobs vs. Invoiced Jobs,” to showcase how your cash flow is moving relative to jobs you’ve billed out for.

Positive cash flow is all a part of getting the most out of your FSM software. How do you do that? And how can FSM software lead to increased profitability? We prepared a guide for you, which you can easily download now.

 

Cash flow tends to be affected by these factors, especially in small business HVAC operations:

 

  • Accounts receivable
  • Inventory
  • Accounts payable
  • Capital expenditures
  • Borrowings and debt services
  • Timing differences

 

Here’s a quick example, from that Inc Magazine article linked above. It relates directly to field service. The author worked for a small business field service manager, who didn’t understand why he made money in a quarter — but lacked the cash to pay his bills. The explanation:

 

In this case, the difference between his net income and his cash flow was primarily a result of the purchase of a truck for cash, sales made during the period that were not collected (accounts receivable), estimated tax payments made in an amount different than tax expense for the period, increased inventory levels in preparation for the coming selling season, distributions to the owner, and principal payments on a bank loan.

 

  1. Overall, this is the takeaway: You want to have positive cash flow in a business because it helps make everything else run smoother. Some of the most successful companies in the world — Google (Alphabet) and Apple — are thought of that way in large part because of their positive cash flow status. Now, if you run a small business HVAC shop in your primary geographic area, let’s be realistic: You will not have as much cash on hand as Google does. But there are ways you can improve your cash flow!

 

Most of positive cash flow in small businesses comes from effective tracking/monitoring of different aspects of your business, and that usually comes from integrated systems. In the case of an HVAC company, FSM software is usually the best bet. FSM software helps you integrate:

 

  • Inventory
  • Customer information
  • Scheduling and dispatch
  • Sales and marketing
  • Anything else you want to integrate (document storage, email, etc.)

 

Typically, the primary benefit of FSM software is that it allows for better communication and more transparency so that different silos within your business all can arrive at the same page. This usually makes your decision-making and data analysis more effective.

 

But in a cash flow context, FSM software tends to shorten the cash flow cycle for businesses — which is really useful in an SMB context. Better invoicing and billing (which happens with FSM software) leads to shortened billing cycles and more accrual of revenue; you can also use a metric within your FSM software, such as “Completed Jobs vs. Invoiced Jobs,” to showcase how your cash flow is moving relative to jobs you’ve billed out for.

 

Positive cash flow is all a part of getting the most out of your FSM software. How do you do that? And how can FSM software lead to increased profitability? We prepared a guide for you, which you can easily download now.

FSM Software


FSM Software

How Field Service Software Pays for Itself

How Field Service Software Pays for Itself

If you’re a small business field service operation, let’s be honest: Many decisions are made on cost, and money, plus the opportunity for profit, is important. You want to deliver great service and get referrals and positive customer feedback but, at the end of the day, you need to make money. A part of making money, obviously, is keeping costs down.

There’s research saying that about 37 percent of small business service businesses — so about 3 in 8 — are still operating according to paper-based models around scheduling, inventory, finances, and more. Even if that number is close to 25-30 percent, that still means about 1 in 4 small service businesses have not moved over to field service management software, also known as FSM software, programs.

FSM programs basically allow you to integrate different areas of your business, so that they “talk” to one another. That way, if a technician needs to go across town for a specific customer, inventory will know he or she needs to pick up something for his or her truck — and all of this happens within the software, without the necessity of human prompt (usually). It’s a big timesaver.

So if field service software saves time and makes your technicians more effective, why don’t more small businesses use it?

The answer seems pretty logical: cost. People are afraid of the cost, or — probably more specifically — people are afraid that the cost won’t lead to a justifiable return.

Let’s keep this fairly simple: field service software does pay for itself. There are dozens of reasons. We can start with four:

Cuts operating costs: This is a huge advantage of FSM software. You drastically cut the costs of operating job management functions and other logistical tasks.
Enhances productivity: In the most general sense, enhanced productivity usually leads to increased profitability. With FSM software, you create better lines of communication between front office, management, and technicians. This creates less clutter and confusion around tasks and necessity, which leads to more effective priority management at all levels.
Eliminates ‘dead time:’ Dead time is when technicians have to return to the main office between two jobs to grab something (a part, customer information, etc.) If you have a FSM with mobile integration and connection to customer data/inventory, these dead-time trips are no longer necessary. Time is money, after all.
Grows revenue on-site: With less time necessary for logistical tasks, technicians have more time on client work. More time on client work means more customer billing, and sooner as opposed to later.

If you’d like to understand more ways that field service management software both (a) pays for itself and (b) sets you on the path to profitability, download our eBook now. There are more reasons within it, including some tied to data and metrics — which is becoming increasingly important for small service businesses.

FSM Profitable


FSM Work Order

Why Use Your Work Order Software for Mobile Technician Tracking

Why Use Your Work Order Software for Mobile Technician Tracking

In field service businesses, work order software is typically used as a way to track appointments, revenue, and customer information. Some even use the metric of completed jobs vs. invoiced jobs, which can speak to how effective your billing processes are. (You don’t want to have a lot of completed jobs that haven’t been invoiced yet.)

There’s another aspect to work order software that’s important, however: It can teach you a lot about your technicians.

Let’s run through this quickly.

By looking at work order software data, there are numerous points of information about your technicians that you can determine. This starts with the basics, such as:

How many work orders are they completing per day?
How long does it seem to be taking them to close out an appointment?
What revenue are they generating per week?

This can lead you to a deeper question, such as:

If the number of appointments per day is low, does this have something to do with drive time, inventory issues, or the basic skill sets of the technicians?

Field service management software, or FSM software, is continually evolving. We just had a new release of our own software, and one of the major developments we put in was route optimization and scheduling functions. If you manage time properly — especially technician time, as those are the people in front of the customers — it’s easier to grow your business. We understand that, so we want to make sure anyone using our particular FSM software has that benefit.

In the coming years, you’ll see more FSOs — including small business FSOs — move toward this idea of “resource scheduling optimization,” or RSO.

The goal in RSO typically is to minimize driving time. Technicians need to be in front of customers working on their issues in order for the FSO to make money. The goal of the scheduling team — and in reality, the goal of the organization as a whole — is to fit in as many appointments per day as possible. That constitutes additional revenue.

Typically, RSO software will design the best daily schedule for each of your technicians. This could be based on a number of factors like:

Geography
Driving distance
Customer priority
Customer preferences

In the process of optimized scheduling through field service software, the pain points revealed by your work order management software can resolve themselves.

Most FSOs still aren’t at a place where they can work with more complicated RSO software, though. In fact, to understand exactly how work order management software — a more basic way of tracking different schedules — works, you need to understand the entire mobile ecosystem taking hold in FSOs right now. Why should you be mobile-first? How can you maximize your business that way? How does it play into fsm integration? And what will mobile-first fsm (field service management) give you in terms of data about your technicians?

We have put together an eBook on exactly this topic, which you can download now. Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Mobility eBook Download


Prepare 2017

Prepare for 2017 in Field Service

Prepare for 2017 in Field Service

At the end of 2015, MIT’s Sloan School of Management did some research on organizational priorities. The research covers 11,000 senior executives at 400+ companies, including many service businesses. One of the most astounding facts was that 67 percent — 2 in 3! — of the senior managers could not name one or more of the company’s main priorities. Microsoft has done research, presented in an article called “The Paradox of Workplace Productivity,” that shows similar lack of priority in many different types of companies.

So, the first thing you need to be doing for 2017 is determining what exactly your goals and priorities are. For most service businesses, it looks like this:

Retain existing clients and service-level agreements
Grow new clients through referrals and other means
Keep costs down
Drive revenues up

Those are four basic areas that many service businesses define as goals. The individual items will vary based on what specific type of field service you provide — but regardless of whether you’re an electrician or have an HVAC company, you need to be growing and keeping costs down. Those are universal goals for FSO business.

But it goes beyond that. For example, how much are you thinking about business metrics?

Business metrics are KPIs that actually show how your business is growing (or stalling). They are elements that you track that really help explain your business. An example might be revenue per technician, or invoiced jobs vs. completed jobs.

Now, the specific KPIs you track will be relative to your business model, but some solid field service examples include:

First-time fix rate
Extra quotes or orders by technician
Percentage of billable hours
Number of work requests
Number of overtime hours
Customer retention

If you’re struggling to measure KPI’s, that’s another issue. You may need fsm integration with field service software.

There’s also the issue of connected devices. There should be 80 billion connected devices in the world by 2025, if not sooner. Connected devices will radically change field service because now the devices themselves can send performance data to an FSO. Instead of the client calling you and saying, “This machine is broken,” you’ll already know. The shift will be toward predictive or preventative maintenance, which right now only happens in down-seasons.

In short: Field service is changing rapidly. You need a guide to some 2017 considerations, and that’s what we’ve put together for you. You can download it now. As always, feel free to ask any questions.

Prepare for 2017