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Why Small Businesses Choose Field Service Management Software
Small businesses will typically manage their field service activities manually. Opting to use spreadsheets, whiteboards, or even pen-and-paper. Over half (59%) of decision-makers who used Comparesoft to find Field Service Management Software claimed to manage their entire field service team using only spreadsheets.
Although manual methods are cheaper in the short term, they can stunt the growth of a small business looking to expand and generate more revenue from its field service operations.
In today’s world, customers expect a more automated approach. 89% are willing to pay a premium for modern, on-demand scheduling technology when it comes to booking maintenance and repair work.
This is where a dedicated Field Service Management (FSM) Software system can help.
FSM Software empowers businesses to take control of and optimise their field services in the most efficient way possible. It helps managers to assign jobs, schedule worker dispatch, track technicians, and improve client communication.
But, modern field service tools are expensive and therefore unaffordable for small businesses – aren’t they? So, how can a small team afford to purchase one?
The good news is there are hundreds of options to choose from when it comes to finding Field Service Management Software for small businesses. Not only are the majority based in the UK, but vendors also take into account the factors that matter most to a small business; affordability, ease of use, 24/7 support, training, and integration.
So, instead of asking: How can a small business afford a field service management system? Ask: How can a small field service team utilise FSM software to compete against larger corporations?
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How Field Service Software Benefits a Small Business
The use of a digitalised system allows businesses to grasp the management of their field service activities while addressing key challenges such as meeting customer expectations and keeping up with competitors.
With access to team dashboards, shared calendars, and on-demand customer information, small service teams can operate with more efficiency and improve their delivery of services.
So much so, that choosing to operate with a field service management system instead of spreadsheets can benefit small teams in three key areas:
- The way a small business runs its field service operations
- How team leaders manage their teams
- How technicians and office staff carry out their tasks
1. Company-Wide Benefits of Field Service Management
For small businesses, money is everything. It generates income, pays the bills, is used to train staff, and helps purchase equipment. So, any unnecessary expenditure needs to be reduced. Field service management tools do just that, by helping to:
- Track equipment and reduce the likelihood of it being lost or misplaced, therefore needing replacing
- Assign skilled staff to the right jobs and avoid costly revisits
- Ensure spare parts are available for jobs to reduce delays
- Give access to real-time data and reporting to make better-informed decisions
A common challenge that small field service businesses have is using scattered information. 52% of field service companies use spreadsheets and whiteboards. Meaning job, work order, technician, and customer data are stored in different areas.
Spreadsheets can also be a breeding ground for errors. An estimated 88% of all spreadsheets include some form of mistake.
Instead, with a field service management tool, data is centralised in one place. Helping to declutter all information regarding field service activities and publish it in one easy-to-access dashboard.
2. Benefits for Small Team Managers
Tracking Technicians Off-Site
A pain point for team leaders when managing field staff is not knowing where they are. An equipped FSM system provides features such as live calendar, route optimisation, and GPS tracking to rectify this lack of visibility. This lets managers know:
- When a technician arrives at a job
- How long it took them to complete a job
- What route they’re taking when travelling off-site
- If they’re located near to a job that needs assigning
Better Team Collaboration and Communication
Small teams can be impacted by a lack of communication. Office staff, team leaders, and field workers will often communicate by phone, or wait until they’re on-site. This can be time-consuming and lead to a lack of accurate information.
Field service management tools aim to eliminate this by giving all stakeholders access to a shared dashboard. This houses all customer, job, and billing data in one place. Meaning team members can be aligned when it comes to job assignment and invoicing.
FSM tools are designed to digitalise and store data in one place. This results in a reduction in paperwork, allowing businesses to go paperless. Not only does endless paperwork take up office space, but it can also disrupt and delay activities.
Instead, invoices, work orders, and SLAs are stored in a quick and easily accessible system.
3. Benefits for Field Technicians and Office Staff
Greater Job Visibility
With a clear understanding of what the job is, field workers can become more efficient. Without this clarity, errors can occur. In 2019, 45% of mobile workers said they wasted significant time due to outdated, unavailable, and inaccurate job information.
For small businesses, providing a good level of job visibility helps to ensure there is no delay to jobs, which keeps customers happy. Before arriving at a job, a technician will know:
- What equipment is needed
- What spare parts are required for a first-time fix
- If the right spare parts are available
- Where the customer is located
- Whether the job is an installation, repair, or another service
Quicker Job Completions
Not only does this reduce the stress of collecting payments, but it also speeds up the job completion process. Once a job is completed, technicians can invoice a customer and take payment straight away. Before moving on to their next job.
Best FSM Features For Small Businesses
A 2020 report listed these as the six biggest challenges businesses have with their field service tasks:
- Meeting customer expectations
- Reduced profit margins
- Hiring technicians and drivers
- Scheduling and dispatching inefficiencies
- Pressure from competitors
- A rise in complex services
Digital FSM systems have been designed to face these challenges head-on. They provide features that allow small businesses to empower teams and enhance their field service activities.
FSM Software products cover the majority of features when it comes to selecting what is best for a small business. Our Field Service Management Software comparison tool makes this selection process as simple as possible when it comes to choosing what features you need.
Among Comparesoft’s software buyers, the most popular required features were job logging and assignment (78%) and planning and scheduling (73%). Job instructions, checklists, and procedures were also commonly required features (62%). And an asset register and service management and reporting were also popular, being requested by 50% of users.
Essentially, there are 6 key features that small businesses need to improve the management of their field service activities:
1. Job Management
Job management helps to provide greater visibility throughout the entire service process. It touches on logging, assignment, and dispatch, and allows small business owners, team leaders, field workers, and office staff to see the current stage of a job.
This aims to improve efficiency when it comes to completing a job on time. As well as helping to streamline certain processes, by having a holistic view of what happens next.
2. Planning & Scheduling
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:
- Technician availability and location
- Fieldworker expertise and qualifications
- Equipment and inventory supply lists
3. Work Order Management
Long gone are the days of office staff receiving handwritten notes from field workers detailing a job’s completion. Instead, a work order management feature allows all job details, customer data, and billing information to be saved in one document.
Most importantly, access to a digitalised work order form impacts the success rate of a technician. This helps to increase first-time fix rate (FTFR), which is an important KPI for small field service operations. A recent study showed that companies with an FTFR of over 70% achieved customer retention rates of 86%.
4. Asset & Inventory Management
One main objective for small businesses is to keep costs low. A key factor of spending is the re-purchase of lost or stolen field assets such as vehicles, tools, mobile devices, and equipment.
An inventory management feature provides managers and technicians with the ability to track assets in real-time. This allows them to see the exact location of equipment and their past users.
It also ensures the right spare parts are available for jobs to help avoid delays.
5. Invoicing and Quoting
A paint point for small businesses is collecting payment from customers. Common issues with payments include a rise in DSO, payments taking too long to complete, and errors with the billing process.
Having a feature dedicated to digitalising payments and enabling off-site payment collection gives peace of mind to small business owners. Technicians can create quotes, invoices, and receipts on the job.
A digitalised payment system also means invoices are stored in one place. Making it easier to search and find payment records.
6. Remote Support Tools
Post-2020, the use of remote support tools has increased dramatically in the field service environment. This is largely due to social distancing and remote-working policies that were initiated during the COVID-19 pandemic. 78% of FSOs completely stopped deploying technicians to customer sites during the height of COVID-19.
To keep up with competitors and compete in an evolving industry, small business owners need to consider remote support tools for their field service teams. This includes video calling features with customers and integrations with AI and VR apps.
Now, remote support capabilities are so heavily used in field service activities that they can help solve customer issues up to five days earlier.
Considerations for Small Business Owners When Purchasing FSM Software
So, you’ve identified the need for a field service management system – what next?
The next step is to choose the tool that suits your requirements. To do this, there are considerations that a decision-maker must become aware of. And, like with any business looking to purchase software, there are several factors to consider.
However, there are areas of consideration that matter more to a small business owner, such as:
- How much will it cost?
- Who can use it?
- How easy is it to use?
- Can it be integrated with existing tools?
- What support is available?
- How secure is it?
How Much Does Small Business Field Service Software Cost?
The average cost of Field Service Management Software for a small business is £20 a month. Although products and vendors vary in pricing, this is typically what a small business owner will pay for a basic service management system. However, final prices will depend on:
- The number of users
- Hardware required
- What type of product it is (cloud-based, on-premise, etc.)
- The amount of support and training needed
Most FSM tools are affordable and geared toward businesses with a smaller upfront budget. Field service vendors also provide small businesses with different payment methods, such as charging a fee per user per month.
A 2019 survey showed the average software spend of SMBs was between $10000 and $49000. 22% thought they were spending too much, while 44% felt it was the right amount to be spending on technology.
Software fees can be charged at varying amounts that include monthly fees, one-time fees, and installation costs. Product costs can then vary on the number of users and the company size – small (2-25 users), medium (26-99 users), or large (100+ users).
Who Can Use It?
FSM tools are created for the large majority of small field service operations ranging from industries such as telecommunications and healthcare to facilities management and utilities.
15% of FSM buyers at Comparesoft come from engineering, operations, and construction.
Small businesses that see the most success from using Field Service Management Software include:
- Self-employed contractors
- Pest control services
- HVAC repairs
- Cleaning services
- Maintenance contractors
- Machinery engineers
How Easy Is It For a Small Field Service Team to Use?
As all those involved in a business’s field service operations will access this tool, it must be easy to use and somewhat familiar. In 2021, 75% of technicians said products had become more complex and more technical knowledge was needed to perform their jobs.
Small field service operations can’t afford to send their workers on intensive training courses for days on end. However, it’s most likely a new product will require some form of training. So be sure to allocate time effectively, so that it isn’t disruptive to your services.
What Tech Support Is Available?
Small businesses don’t have large tech support teams. Instead, they must rely on the software vendor to provide the support they need. Key questions to ask when it comes to querying a vendor’s support options are:
- Is there 24/7 support?
- Is there a direct support line for major incidents?
- Will there be a dedicated support agent?
- Is there an online knowledge base for general enquiries?
How Long Will It Take to Deploy?
An implementation timescale will always be a key consideration for business owners. Deployment can depend on the size of the product, the amount of data needed, and the training involved.
45% of Comparesoft users look for an FSM system to be implemented within one to three months. But most users (69%) required a faster implementation.
The majority of Field Service Management Software for small businesses is made available straight away. This is generally because it is a cloud-based system designed for 10-20 users.
How to Find the Best Field Service Management Software for Small Business
The software purchasing process can take anywhere between 3 months to a year, from initial research to implementation. Focusing on several areas of a company at once, small business owners have limited time when looking for the right field service system.
That’s where Comparesoft can help.
Using our comparison tool, you can find the best small business field service management system in as little as two minutes.
This tool is complete with detailed questions designed to narrow your search and show products that match your requirements, budget, and desired timescale. These include:
- Desired features
- Assets you own
- Services you provide
- Number of jobs completed each month
- Existing systems
- Number of users
- The industry you operate in
Start your search today and find the best Field Service Management Software for your small business.