In a run-down of the top issues facing businesses, Small Business Trends calls out a number of challenges directly or indirectly related to finances and money management, including cash flow. For field service companies, saving money is often synonymous with cutting down on the time spent handling jobs. Check out these seven ways you can cut down on time (and money) spent, no matter how big or small your field service operation is.
1. Stop Entering Data the Old-Fashioned Way
If you’re typing addresses, amounts, or order numbers into spreadsheets — especially more than once — you’re wasting valuable time. Today’s connectivity means you should never enter a data point more than once into your system, and even then, you may be able to import or copy/paste that information from somewhere else. Once the data is entered and verified as correct, it should appear in your system automatically wherever it’s needed.
It’s not magic; it’s technology. And it lets you save a lot of time and money by:
- Avoiding duplicate work
- Cutting down on manual data entry tasks
- Streamlining process efficiencies
- Removing opportunities for costly errors
2. Automate Reporting
If you shouldn’t manually enter data to run your business, you certainly shouldn’t do it to report on your business. Instead, turn to software that can generate on-demand reporting that lets you manage the day-to-day, wrap up the quarter with knowledgeable presentations, or pitch investors who might be able to help your company grow.
Visual Planning’s field service scheduling software includes a variety of automated reports and other features that let you get a view of what’s going on with jobs and employees. Customized reports and a variety of projections help you make the right call on business matters.
3. Use Scheduling Software to Make the Most of Tech Time
Your time isn’t the only resource that costs you by the hour. Every minute that your techs or reps spend on jobs in the field is money. While you certainly don’t want anyone to rush and perform poorly, you do want to cut down on wasted time as much as possible.
Field service scheduling software lets you discover waste-cutting opportunities and manage schedules more intelligently to reduce:
- Extra time spent because the right people weren’t sent to the job — if you have an advanced job, you don’t want to send out an entry-level tech
- Wasted time and travel to get the right tools and equipment on site if they weren’t sourced and packed for the first trip
- Lost time due to communication mishaps
- Time spent in non-revenue or customer-facing endeavors, such as entering data or figuring out what and where the next job is
4. Plan Routes to Reduce Travel Time and Fuel
Field service software can also help you cut down on time spent traveling and money spent on gas.
It’s not enough to slot in jobs based on which teams can handle them and how much time they’ll take. You should also consider geographic location — sending one team repeatedly across an entire city or metro area can waste hours each day in travel time. And with commercial cargo vans getting between 10 and 15 miles per gallon on average, unnecessary travel can add up to a large and unnecessary expense on your books.
By using intelligent software to plan jobs according to numerous factors, including location, you can cut down on this waste. Remove a single unnecessary cross-town trip and you could open up an hour or more in a team’s schedule for the day. This lets you serve more customers. So you make more money by saving it.
5. Do the Job Once Instead of Twice
Here’s another unnecessary trip you want to cut out of the schedule — the one where someone has to go back to the customer’s home or business to do the job correctly.
Field service companies should leverage training, scheduling, and other resources to ensure reps have everything they need — including the know-how — to get jobs done right the first time. When you have to go back to fix issues, it costs more than just time and money. It could cost you the customer’s goodwill, positive word-of-mouth marketing, and even the client themselves.
6. Load Balance Resources for Better Productivity
In technical applications, load balancing typically refers to driving network or other traffic across disparate resources, such as servers, so that processing speeds remain fast and consistent for every user. This concept applies in field service organizations too: You must be able to distribute the work appropriately across all your teams and processes so that no area becomes overworked or creates a bottleneck.
That means you can’t rely on a single handy tech for every difficult service call. At some point, you’ll need to train others to help with the workload. At the same time, you should distribute work to the right people to get as many jobs done properly as you can manage. Scheduling software can help you integrate considerations, such as the complexity of the task and the skill sets of your workforce, to balance the loads as well as possible.
7. Keep Track of Job Costs for Smarter Decision-Making
Finally, one of the best ways to save money is to track how you’re spending it. Use technology, reporting, and other solutions to capture as much information as you can about job costs so you can find ways to cut back on expenses without diminishing important factors, such as quality or employee morale.
For example, a look at your scheduling and cost data might show that every time you install a certain brand, the related expenses are double the average. When something like that crops up in your cost analysis, take time to talk with your teams to find out what the difference is and whether you can make work easier or reduce costs in another way.
Many of these cost-cutting tasks are made easier with the right software. Contact Visual Planning to request a demo or ask about your free trial of our field service solutions that can help you drive efficiency.
Manale is a passionate about digital marketing. She joined STILOG I.S.T in 2018.
She brings SEO & SEA expertise, email marketing and creative content marketing to create a great brand experience for Visual Planning customers.