The cumulative impact of inflation is staggering. Inflation reached a high of 9.1%, causing people to spend an additional $445 per month on average. So, it is no wonder your customers become frustrated with each new increase.
Unfortunately, we cannot stop inflation—now or in the future. That means every business must look for opportunities to maximize efficiency as a means to curve the impact of inflation on the costs of its products and services.
Below, we look at a few ways businesses today are overcoming rising costs in their field service operations without sacrificing their profit margins or customers.
Optimize Resource Allocation
One way businesses are optimizing their field service operations is through improved route management. Instead of sending technicians from one edge of their service territory to another, they are scheduling and dispatching strategically to minimize travel costs.
Using AI-assisted technology, you can determine whether sending your closest technician or the technician with the best-matched skill set is most profitable for each job.
When you use technology, you remove the guesswork and confidently schedule and dispatch in less time. Plus, you reduce overhead expenses on things like gas and vehicle maintenance.
Supply Supportive Technology
Once your technicians have been assigned to the right jobs, they need to come equipped with the right tools and information so that they can complete the job on their first visit.
First, you need to collect the correct information from the customer during intake.
You need to customize your intake questionnaires to include necessary details such as customer and equipment information, along with trouble-shooting data that better inform your technician about what parts to load on their vehicles.
Then, the information you collect should immediately sync with your technicians in the field so that they show up ready to go.
Today, running an efficient field service team without mobile devices is impossible. Your team needs to be able to communicate with the office and customers, receive scheduling updates, and update job records on the go.
With mobile devices and the right field service management technology, there is no reason for your field service technicians to have to go back and forth from an office or warehouse. Instead, they should be able to load the correct parts and equipment on their vehicles and service every job for at least the day, if not longer.
Improve Inventory Forecasting
A significant hurdle for field service technicians is accessing the correct equipment and parts when the customer needs them.
With the recent supply chain issues and concerns about what could happen next, it is more important than ever for businesses to forecast and plan their inventories accurately.
This means letting go of the old way of doing things and ordering when there are only one or two parts left–hoping you could have it within a day or two–is out the window.
Instead, you need accurate, easy-to-understand reporting on your inventory trends, including how often a part was used at a specific time of year so that you can make a plan for the next quarter in advance.
Utilize Third-Party Contractors
Sometimes you will encounter a gap between the amount of work you have scheduled and the number of W-2 employees you have available. This is a common issue if you are trying to expand your service territory or have a limited-time employee exodus.
When this happens, you may need to opt for onboarding third-party contractors instead of paying your current employees significant amounts of overtime to bridge the gap.
For third-party workers to be successful, they need to tap into your customer records and current workflows. That way, they know what work has already been done, what tools they need, and where to go.
If you want to overcome staffing challenges, your goal is to become technician agnostic. So, even if you must deploy third-party contractors, you know they deliver the same level of service you expect from your W-2 employees.
Boost Technician Morale and Productivity
Inflation does not only impact your customers; it impacts your technicians as well. That is why you have to focus on keeping morale high if you want to keep productivity up.
Research shows that engaged employees are more efficient and boost profitability by as much as 21%.
To keep your field service technicians engaged, you want to eliminate as much paperwork as possible. Using automation and integration, you can routinely communicate with customers, manage estimates, contracts, and invoices, and even collect recurring payments—all without adding extra tasks to your technician’s to-do list.
Maintain Strict Profit Margins
No matter the current market, businesses have to maintain a specific profit margin to stay operational. And controlling your expenses is the only way to predict your profits.
This is the time to determine which of your services are comfortably profitable and which need to be tweaked so that they can be through simple changes to your scheduling, staffing, inventory management, and fulfillment workflows.
Businesses cannot stop inflation, but they can help curve it using the strategies outlined above.
After all, now is not the time to scale back and become more distant from customers. It is time to invest in optimizing your business and customer experience so you can gain market share.
This post was inspired by Zuper FM’s Inflation’s Impact on the Field Service Industry with Michael Blumberg. Listen here now.