Small Field Service Businesses Need to Grasp Automation

What is the difference between large enterprise field service management organizations and small and medium businesses? There are the obvious answers of course:

  • Number of technicians
  • Number of service calls
  • Amount of revenue earned

But it’s the not so obvious ones that are perhaps the most important, such as the difference in response times, travel times, fix times and how many visits a technician can make in a single shift. All those times and numbers are important when discussing field service management at the enterprise level and the small and medium business (SMB) level.

What the obvious and not so obvious differences have in common is that they can all be affected by field service automation. However, large enterprises are taking advantage of automation tools, while SMBs are falling behind. According to Technology Services Industry Association, only 60 percent of SMBs are using any kind of field service automation, compared to 88% of larger enterprises.

Field Service Automation Impacts Key Operations

There isn’t an area of field service management that automation can’t have an impact on. Regardless of the number of technicians you have, automation can be the difference in you taking more service calls and earning more revenue. This is accomplished by lowering response, travel and fix times, increasing first time fix rates, and getting your technicians to make more visits per shift.

Every time some form of automation happens, someone is saving time. That time can be returned to dispatchers to input more work orders into a technician’s schedule. More appointments are more revenue, and it’s how you grow your SMB. Just because you don’t have the same number of technicians, doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to enhance their ability to complete work faster. Field service automation is the tool large enterprises are using to stay ahead, but SMBs can use it as well to become an efficient field service organization.

Automate Your Service Delivery with Mobility

Dispatchers using a field service management software have a tool-set that is based in real-time. Dispatching and scheduling is done in real-time, so the business software they use should be real-time as well. Dispatchers must factor in everything from:

  • Traffic conditions
  • Technician availability
  • Technician skill-sets
  • Parts and inventory location and availability
  • Where other appointments are located
  • Where technicians are now and where they will be in a few hours

It’s not a simple decision to just schedule a technician in an available time slot and sign off on the work order. There are plenty of real-time decisions that need to be made to fit in more service calls. Field service automation and resource routing tools give dispatchers real-time information, such as the routes their technicians will take, traffic conditions, and location of appointments. Field service management software will help reduce drive times by optimizing the routes technicians take. With technicians following work orders on their field service mobile app, work orders can be altered in real-time to continue optimizing routes throughout the day. Technicians save time driving to their next appointment. They get routing tools on their smart device to get them to the site faster. Field service automation pushes work orders to their mobile device, removing trips back to the office. This adds valuable time back into their schedule which can be used to schedule additional visits.

Field Service Automation Can Solve SMB Challenges

Smaller field service businesses can service a widespread customer base with fewer technicians. In many cases, hiring subcontractors can be an option, but it requires the same field service automation to make it a viable solution. Hiring a subcontractor can be very labor intensive, especially to get them work orders to begin work, and get work orders and expenses returned so you can pay them quickly. With field service automation and the same mobile field service app, subcontractors can be hired, on-boarded, have their quotes approved, work orders sent and returned, and payment vouchers created quickly.

When subcontractor outsource isn’t an option, however, dispatchers have to make do with what they have. With a smaller technician pool, sending the wrong technician is a possible scenario. That can negatively affect the bottom line if a technician is scheduled where they can’t be. That makes skill-sets in SMBs valuable, as sending the right technician with the right skills and certifications is imperative to a success first-time visit and solution.

Dispatchers can automate this process with skill set searches, and automatically get the right technician for the job. This reduces expenses they will pay in fuel costs and labor time when sending the wrong technician. It keeps customers happy and helps retain them in the future. It’s important to tailor the job to the technician and having all the information to do that is the difference between a successful dispatch or having to send another technician.

Embrace Field Service Management Software Automation for SMBs

Just because you’re an SMB in the field service industry, doesn’t mean you can’t have access to the new and cool technology of the large enterprises. In fact, these technologies can be the difference in leveling the playing field with your competitors. You face the same challenges they do, but at the SMB level, the impacts are felt much more. With a cloud-based field service management software, even the smallest tasks like searching for a work order in a filing cabinet are a thing of the past. It’s all at your fingertips, saving your office staff or technicians in the field time looking for service history.

It’s also an investment in your company’s future, as technicians want to see that you are investing in them. Save them the stress of dealing with paper-based work orders and forms and replace it with a field service mobile app. Don’t put the onus on them to return these paper copies to the office, let automation do it for you. Would you rather them be a courier of work orders or an extension of your sales team? With automation, they can up-sell with automation and quoting tools, with a focus on customer service, as opposed to worrying about getting work orders and quotes back to the office.

SMBs should grasp field service automation today, keeping them in the competition tomorrow. Don’t let the large enterprises run away with all the contracts, use the same field service management software they use, but built for your specific needs, and automate your business processes today.

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