How to Grow Your Small Business With the Right FSM Tools

Small business field service software is designed with smaller field service operations in mind. It aims to improve and maximise key areas of a small business. Typically those with less than 10 field workers. Small business owners can benefit from multiple features offered by FSM Software. Such as real-time technician tracking and job management tools. As well as automated dispatch and scheduling and digital invoicing capabilities for faster payments.

Benefits of Field Service Management Software for Small Business

The deployment of digital field service tools applies to businesses of all sizes. FSM Software allows large organisations to maximise revenue efforts and meet KPIs. But it provides benefits for smaller operations too. Allowing small businesses to compete against larger operations. This helps to effectively level the playing field, whilst meeting growing customer demands.

Keep Field Activities Organised

A challenge that smaller field service business owners face is scattered information. 52% of field service companies use spreadsheets and whiteboards. Meaning job, work order, field worker, and customer data are stored in different areas. With field service management tools, data is centralised in one place. Helping to successfully declutter all information regarding field activities.

Sharing information is necessary for smaller operations, where staff are reasonable for multiple jobs. It shows data such as real-time tracking, work order status, and inventory supplies. A central system for data can affect different roles, including:

  • Field service managers
  • Office staff
  • Technicians and engineers
  • Field workers

Avoid Spreadsheets

Using excel spreadsheets to manage field activities can have some advantages. They’re inexpensive, easy to use, and a good short-term solution for small teams. But spreadsheets can be a breeding ground for errors. An estimated 88% of all spreadsheets include some form of mistake.

Spreadsheets also lack certain capabilities, which field service management tools provide. For instance, only one person can update a spreadsheet at one time. Meaning data can be unreliable. Errors can also go unnoticed and unchecked, impacting the delivery of service to customers. Whereas swapping spreadsheets for a digital tool, ensures no overlap between jobs and data.

Reduce Paperwork

Field service management tools are designed to digitise and store data in one place. This results in a reduction of paperwork. Allowing businesses to go paperless. Particularly in smaller businesses, paperwork can be a challenge. Not only does it take up much-needed office space, but it can also disrupt and delay activities.

Small business field service software is built to store documents and data. Meaning invoices, equipment purchases, and customer details are easy and quick to access. Whereas time is wasted having to search through physical files. FSM Software also provides accessibility to field workers who can’t access files when off-site. All they need is a mobile device, allowing them access to customer details and job information.

Track Technicians in Real-Time

An important part of organising field activities is being able to track the whereabouts of field workers. Small field service businesses can use software tools to track technicians and vehicles. Enabling managers to know where workers are located at all times. This means they have proof of when a technician arrived at a job and when the job was completed. Instead of relying on the word of a worker or the customer.

By using GPS technology, tasks such as dispatching and job management can improve. Small business owners can see what technicians are located to the next nearest job. Helping to speed up service delivery and improve customer service. This data also helps to optimise routes and reduce costs such as fuel spending.

Key FSM Features for Small Business Field Activities

Although software packages can be built to the spec of a company, they can be expensive. For smaller operations to stick within a purchasing budget, they’ll choose a standard application. Modern field service applications provide small businesses with a host of useful features.

Job Management

Job management features provide staff with greater visibility. It allows owners, managers, and field workers to see the current stage of a job. This helps to improve efficiency when it comes to completing a job on time. As well as helping to streamline job processes, by having a holistic view of what happens next.

Planning and Scheduling

Job planning and scheduling tools enable operations to run smoothly. They collect all available data regarding jobs and workers to help provide an efficient work process. Planning and scheduling tools are useful for smaller operations that tend to be disorganised when it comes to data. They factor various data, including:

  • Technician availability and location
  • Field worker expertise and qualifications
  • Equipment and inventory supply lists

Automated Dispatch

Small business field service software provides tools to automate the dispatch process. It takes into account a workers skills level and travel time to automatically assign the right technician. This helps speed up the assigning process, which can be time-consuming for smaller teams. It also improves a company’s customer satisfaction levels. By assigning the right technician, the chances of a timely first-time fix are increased.

Field service management software increases the likelihood of a better first-time fix rate for a small business

Digital Invoicing and Quotes

Digitising invoices, receipts, and quotes can help improve time efficiency for technicians. They can create recipes on the job and email them directly to a customer. As opposed to creating an invoice, taking it back to the office, and then sending it to the customer. This also means invoices are stored in one place. Making it easier for staff to find payment histories.

52% of small businesses worry about unpaid invoices. But billing a client as soon as a job is complete can speed up payment processes. Invoices can also be triggered as soon as a job completion notification is received.

Mobile App

Small field service operations can benefit greatly from using a mobile field service app. It helps to improve team collaboration between on-site staff and field workers. As well as increase productivity. With cloud-based field service software for small businesses, all workers need is a mobile device. This allows them to access, update, edit, and create data from anywhere. For instance, with mobile access, a technician can:

  • Update and view warehouse stock reports
  • Transfer equipment between locations
  • Access customer contact details
  • Update job status
  • Contact office-based staff

Small business field service software with mobile features

Inventory Management

An aim for small businesses implementing Field Service Management Software is to reduce costs. One key factor of spending is the purchase of lost or stolen assets. Such as field assets, vehicles, tools, and equipment. An inventory management feature provides managers with the ability to track assets in real-time. Allowing staff to see the exact location of equipment and past users. It also ensures the right spare parts are available for jobs to help avoid work order delays.

Typical Challenges Faced by Small Field Service Operations

When it comes to field service activities, small businesses may wonder if a digital tool is needed. After all, spreadsheets and whiteboards are free and easy to use. Although, small business FSM Software can also be cost-effective and accessible.

To help business owners understand the need for field service tools, they need to identify challenges.

Lack of Control Over Field Workers

For smaller businesses to have more control over their field workers, they need monitoring tools. These allow managers to know the exact location of technicians. As well as hours spent at job sites and work orders performed. Overall increasing visibility of their workforce. Without an automated way to track workers, small businesses rely on the word of workers.

Dispatch and Scheduling Conflicts

Without an automated tracking system, errors can creep into specific data sets. An area that small businesses struggle with is the manual dispatch of technicians. Often, assignment data isn’t updated on spreadsheets. Resulting in either missed appointments or double bookings. Meaning more than one technician turns up on-site.

Scattered Data

Using spreadsheets for field service processes can mean that data is spread out. Instead of being in one centralised system. Small businesses use spreadsheets for job management, work order processes, and customer data. This results in unreliable data with multiple staff having access to the same spreadsheet. It’s also a time-consuming process when assigning and tracking jobs.

Communication and Collaboration

Small field service operations can be impacted by a lack of communication between teams. Office staff and field workers will often communicate by phone, or wait until they’re in one place. Instead of having a central dashboard where all communication is logged. This can be time-consuming, especially when it comes to invoicing protocols.

Asset Tracking

As well as field workers, businesses need to keep track of their assets. Especially expensive assets that are crucial for completing jobs and avoiding delays. With equipment and tools scattered in warehouses and vehicles, tracking assets can be difficult. To avoid replacement costs, small businesses need to have visibility of their field assets.

Small Businesses that Benefit From Automating Field Activities

Several industries benefit from Field Service Management Software designed for small businesses. Each industry will have its own requirements when it comes to choosing a field service tool. But, when budgets are limited, small business requirements can fall into the same group. Small businesses that can benefit from FSM Software include:

  • Self-employed contractors
  • Electrical installations/Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Pest control services
  • Landscaping
  • HVAC repairs
  • Cleaning services
  • Handyman
  • Mechanical contractors
  • Automotive
  • Engineering/Machinery repairs

Key Considerations for Small Field Service Business Owners

When it comes to choosing the best small business field service software, there are multiple factors to consider. As well as capabilities and training, business owners should think about allocated budgets. Along with staff training and ease of implementation.

How Much Does Small Business Field Service Software Cost?

When it comes to spending, small business owners tend to do whatever it takes to conserve money. This is why a lot of small field service operations use free tools such as spreadsheets. But, as spreadsheets are prone to errors, they could be costing businesses more in the long term.

To help grow, business owners should consider investing in tools such as field service software. Most FSM tools are affordable and geared towards businesses with a smaller upfront budget. SaaS applications can be purchased on a monthly subscription ranging from just £20 a month. Field service vendors also provide small businesses with different payment methods. Such as charging a fee per user per month.

What Type of Software Does a Small Business Need?

There are several types of Field Service Software, each one delivered in a different package. Common applications include on-premise, open-source, and cloud-based. For small businesses, cloud-based software is the prefered choice for improving field operations. Cloud-based applications provide multiple benefits for small businesses, including:

  • No hardware, up-front, or set-up costs
  • Fast deployment
  • Support from IT professionals
  • Automated security updates

Cloud-based software is a relatively inexpensive system to deploy. As a vendor hosts tools on their servers. Allowing businesses to rent the product from the vendor on a monthly or yearly fee.

Can Automated Tools Help Small Operations Scale?

Small business field service management tools are key to scaling and growth. Especially in terms of generating revenue. Automated FSM tools allow business owners to improve most of their field service activities. Including assigning, dispatching, tracking, and reporting. This increases the chances of hitting KPIs, such as first-time fix rate (FTFR). Subsequently improving the delivery and service experience for customers.