In this the final part of our serialisation of The Service Manager Handbook (2015 edition) published by Advanced Field Service we look at four key areas for constant consideration as you push your field service operation, and the wider business to grow and flourish…
Your business strategy
Do a regular SWOT analysis
Ring-fence time away from day-to-day firefighting to analyse your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This analysis becomes the building block of your business strategy and the foundation for your organisation’s goals.
It’s impossible to be all things to all people. Know what you do well and focus on being the very best in that field.
Challenge the norm and diversify
To remain dynamic and resilient to change, ‘think outside the box’ and look for ways to innovate.
Diversification, such as selling complementary products or services, could prove an excellent strategy to grow your business, presenting you with multiple income streams that can often fill any gaps during your low season and create opportunities to increase your top-line growth.
Develop your products and services
What do your customers value most? How could you incentivise them to buy more? Gathering regular client feedback will prove crucial in ensuring you invest your time and money in the areas that matter most.
Watch the competition
By keeping a watchful eye on your rivals you can become alert to emerging threats or spot new opportunities for your business. Do you have a strong enough proposition to stand out from the crowd?
Plan for growth
How could you increase your sales to new and existing clients? How will growth impact your business: both now, next year, and five years from now? Are your systems truly scalable and able to handle exponential growth?
Model the ideal client
It’s worth stepping back and analysing your customer base to identify clients who are already profitable and those who could become more profitable – and even consider ‘sacking’ the customers who drain your resources.
Ask for referrals
Your customers can be powerful influencers in helping to attract new, like-minded customers. If you’re doing a great job and the customer’s happy, ask if they would be happy to act as a case study or reference site.
Uncover the value you deliver
Encourage major customers to regard you as strategic partners. Make sure they understand the value that you bring to their business. Offering customers a web-based portal gives them the ability to create jobs, view history, access contract agreements and run interactive reports on their KPIs.
Regular communication will keep your customers firmly in the loop a and cement your status as a preferred service partner.
Build a high performance team
Happy engineers and call-handling staff are more likely to create a good impression with the customer. Employees are more likely to stay with an organisation if there is room for growth and advancement.
Commitment from the top is infectious. Value engineers’ on-the-ground insight into customer needs and openly recognise and reward success to motivate your team.
Help your team to thrive
Your field service team must be allowed to evolve. Look out for opportunities for members to cross-train and expand their skills.
This will also build a more resilient, adaptable workforce. Some companies worry that if they develop their employees, this will make them attractive to competitors. However, if you gain a reputation for being genuinely interested in your team, you’re more likely to retain the long-term loyalty of your employees.
Consign paperwork to the bin
Automation is absolutely crucial for any growing business that needs to scale up its customer base without increasing headcount. The latest mobile, reporting and document management software will help to eliminate manual intervention, freeing your team to do what they do best.
Mobilise your workforce
Give your field team complete visibility of every job and status change. Field service mobile solutions allow engineers to view account information, download technical documents, record time-sheets and expenses, send proactive alerts, view planned work and close jobs on site.
Turn data into insight
By regularly reviewing your KPIs over a period of time, trends and patterns should become more apparent to identify opportunities and risks. The latest business intelligence tools give organisations the power to identify new opportunities and capitalise on emerging trends.
Make cash control a priority
Employ best practice cash control practices to optimise your cash flow: release cash through better stock management, rather than locking it up in extra spares and parts ‘just in case’. Bill customers promptly and accurately to further shorten the billing cycle and address any late payment issues.