For several years now, companies have been trying to turn their field services from cost centers into profit centers. Of course, making that shift is easier said than done, and most of those companies spend years trying—and failing—to realize a profit from their field services.
Most often, the reason businesses struggle to turn their field service organizations into profit centers stems from a combination of grandiose ideas combined with flawed execution. These companies make drastic shifts in their operational models, asking more and more of their workforce without considering the larger strategic significance of these changes.
But in reality, the answer is surprisingly simple: focus on providing the best field services you can, and the profit will follow.
When you emphasize better, more consistent service performance, you end up with more satisfied customers. Those customers are then more likely to develop a deeper partnership with your organization. Those close relationships are where profit lies.
In this article, we’ll look at the three steps you can take to turn your field service organization into a profit center. You can turn a profit not just by cutting losses, but by making field services an integral part of your business model.
1. Align Your Field Service with Your Overall Business Goals
The first and most important step is to ensure that the company’s leadership is willing and able to align field services with the organization’s overall business goals.
No matter how energized the staff may be, without leadership on board to make improving field services a priority, there is no way to secure the resources necessary to make the transition to a profitable center.
As with most parts of a business, the goals for your field services organization should be to minimize inefficiencies while maximizing profit-generating activities. Inefficiencies can rise from a wide range of sources, and you need to reconsider every aspect of your operations to find those pain points.
For instance, consider reports. When new reports are created, it’s important to be acutely aware of what those reports are measuring. Are you capturing critical metrics? Are you missing information that could help improve performance? Does this report overlap with other reports?
You also need to make sure each report is getting into the right hands and getting read.
Profit, on the other hand, requires a focus on the customers—but remember, not all customers are created equal. Just like in sales, it’s critical to identify the most valuable customers and contacts and to prioritize those accounts as a service provider.
2. Invest in a Modern Field Services Platform
Maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of your field services organization is a key factor in enhancing productivity and profit.
Here are some of the factors that the most effective companies have adopted:
Technician-Centric Mobile Design
These companies provide their technicians easy access to mission-critical data, like customer histories and warranty information. But this also accelerates task completion and keeps work progressing smoothly by automating as much as possible and simplifying user interactions.
Best of all, you can track your workforce in real-time, providing ample opportunity for comprehensive analysis and improved forecasting.
A Holistic Approach to AI
While most business executives believe that AI is key to achieving their growth objectives, the vast majority of these organizations struggle to scale AI effectively throughout their operations.
The biggest challenge is balancing generic AI cases, like picture quality detection or OCR, with point-source AI intended to address very specific issues.
Ideally, companies should employ AI use cases built around common field service solutions, like scheduling and dispatching. These tools optimize workflow but can be prebuilt. Leaders can then learn from specific use cases at each facility, making AI-based solutions quicker to deploy, easier to manage, and simpler to scale company-wide.
While each company’s field services organization will have its own nuances, most work is focused on a relatively small set of routine tasks. The best service platform for your organization should automate most of these routine tasks out of the box, plugging directly into your existing workflows to optimize everything from technician utilization to tracking inventory.
While off-the-shelf capabilities are important, the ability to build, test, and deploy custom workflows will be a critical part of a company’s success. You should be able to complete step-by-step workflows that can guide technicians, even with limited or nonexistent connectivity.
Make sure you also have the ability to modify the workflow to adapt to changes or improve efficiency as needed.
3. Focus Your Front Lines on Customer Service, Not Just Field Service
It’s easy to forget that technicians are customer-facing employees. But the relationship field technicians establish with customers is a valuable commodity for your company, and you need to leverage those relationships to grow your business.
Of course, technicians may not be comfortable in this role. But with training and a sense of empowerment, you can build these relationships to new levels, which can go a long way towards improving the way that customers regard your entire organization.
Making your field service organization profitable for your company isn’t something that happens overnight. But with some concerted effort and a commitment from leadership, you can generate a greater return on investment.
If your organization would like to learn more about our field service software solutions, get in touch with us today.