Whether they’re providing repair, maintenance or aftermarket services, field service technicians are all too often considered only as a cost center when they can also contribute to profits. Although managing field service technicians can be a complex task, it can also be cost-effective. In fact, every service call is an opportunity to generate additional revenue for your company.
Here are 5 practical tips that will change the way you see your field operations and your technicians. By taking these simple steps and using the right tools, you can quickly transform field service from a cost center to a source of profits for your company.
What are you waiting for?
Tip #1: Stop giving gifts to your customers
No free service! Every service call must be billed or included in a contract. Selling a service contract is not complicated. On the other hand, the contract and its timelines must be followed. If a maintenance contract has expired, renew it before the technician goes to the site. There should be no question of working for free.
This is where the move to paperless operations make sense. Paper contracts can be easily lost at the bottom of a filing cabinet. In contrast, electronic contracts can be quickly and easily accessed by anyone – technicians, supervisors, billing staff, sales people, even customers.
With a database that includes all customer contracts, you can prevent technicians from providing free services to customers. If you want to start making money on technicians’ service calls, eliminate paper and go digital.
Tip #2: Optimize technicians’ schedules
The move to profitable field service starts when you plan your technicians’ journeys. Schedules must be accurate and logical.
The first objective is for your technicians to spend as much time as possible on the service activity and as little time as possible in their vehicle. This helps to maximize their billable rate.
The second objective is punctuality. Customers should not have to wait for technicians to arrive on-site.
To fulfill both of these objectives, you have to draw lines between service calls to create schedules. Doing this manually is very complicated, especially if you have to coordinate numerous service calls.
Use field service management software
Providing your dispatchers and technicians with access to field service management software gives them a useful and effective tool that will quickly create real business benefits. You can increase first-time-fix rates, optimize service calls and technicians’ working hours and, ultimately, improve customer satisfaction.
Tip #3: Get better control over spare parts
At Praxedo, we talk to many companies that complain they are not able to track their use of spare parts. Technicians are using bolts, seals, valves and other parts, but all too often, they forget to include those details in their service reports. But those parts weren’t free. The company purchased them and they must be billed to the customer. Otherwise, year-end losses can be high. And this is a dead loss for the company.
You must be able to accurately track spare parts. Again, this is much easier to achieve with field service management software rather than paper forms.
Tip #4: Train your technicians to sell services
Create attractive packages of service offerings and rates. Then, to increase profits, use every point of contact you have with customers to make the most of cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.
Who better to do this than your technicians? After all, they’re the ones on the front line, in direct contact with your customers.
Turn technicians into salespeople
A study published in 2015 by the American research institute, Aberdeen Group, indicates that the right strategy for developing the field services business is to train your technicians to sell services so they can take advantage of opportunities when they arise and to motivate them to sell by offering a commission on any sales they make.
Technicians also need the ability to instantly and spontaneously make sales using, for example, a mobile field service management application that allows them to customize quotes and accept electronic signatures. Do not underestimate the commercial capabilities of your technicians.
Tip #5: Equip technicians with a mobile app
This is a perfect transition from the previous point about mobile apps. To keep up with your competitors and make field service profitable, think mobile. The field services industry is, by definition, mobile, so mobile solutions are an obvious choice.
From smartphones and tablets to business software that lets you adopt paperless processes, there are any number of specialized hardware and software solutions to help your technicians achieve their goals at customer sites.
A business application that increases profitability
Give your technicians a business app on their mobile device. Now they can access traffic information in real time, use geolocation information to quickly respond to emergency service requests, collaborate and share expertise with team members and access service history. They can also customize quotes and invoices and send them back to the office in real time to accelerate billing.