Winter is right around the corner, and that means a field service business like yours faces another season of change.
Maybe you’re gearing up for a busy season, or it’s a slowdown where you need to cut costs and focus on customer retention. Either way, there are plenty of things you can do to protect and even grow your business as we move into 2018. Here are five of the most important things to consider as you strive to meet customer demands and grow your business through the Winter.
Lots of changes come with Winter, including the services your customers request and the equipment it takes to facilitate these services. While it’s most common in HVAC and similar industries, there’s also plenty of additional gear to consider for other industries.
Breakdown the equipment-related needs based on everything that’s involved. Check what gear your employees need to wear, additional equipment for trucks (like snow chains), parts and equipment for Winter-related jobs, and anything you might be able to add on as a service.
It’s not just about your trucks. You need to take time to prep the people inside of them too.
When field service business priorities and activities shift, make sure your team is ready. Training can cover the new services and add-on sale opportunities discussed above as well as reminders about wintry weather safety. The policies that you have in place to keep everyone safe during storms, snows, and long travel are the right place to start.
Don’t forget the small, secondary services that you offer. If you’re managing equipment for a client — even something as simple as resetting gear that’s on their site — discuss how this changes in freezing weather.
And for your marketing teams, it’s time for a refresher on what’s happening in your area. Are local utilities offering home and business owners rebates for upgrading to solar power next year? Are zoning laws or construction requirements changing? What’s in demand for next year?
This type of workforce management planning allows you to get your field team ready for what’s on the ground now, but don’t neglect the forward-looking folks who can prep you for what’s on the ground tomorrow.
The holidays mean lots of time off for you and your customers. Unfortunately, that often leads to increased accidents in the workplace and more service calls. Emergencies are going to happen, especially when we get combinations of severe weather and your customer’s third-string team being the only ones in the office.
Set and review your vacation policies with your field teams, including when they could be called into work in emergency situations. If you offer pay bumps or other incentives for this kind of support, mention that too.
Ready for the golden secret?
Thank your field service business team for the help beforehand. Show that you appreciate each employee and their willingness to do this if needed and you cut out a lot of grumbling before it can start.
The end of the year often comes with reflection and reviews of your team’s performance. Take this a step behind field service management and look at the broader success of your company.
Identify the big wins. Reach out to those companies and see if they’ll write a review or be part of a case study for your business. Diversity in company and project size is a terrific way to expand marketing reach for field service businesses like yours.
Now for the hard part. Identify the big failures too. Reach out to these customers and ask for an honest assessment of what happened. Don’t try to change a customer’s mind about what went wrong, just aim for information so that you can see how to improve in the coming year.
Almost every field service business has an offseason. If the year-end is yours, make sure you keep up with offseason best practices. Don’t let the normal year-end stuff take up all your time.
There are plenty of words of wisdom for your business out there, so we’ll just touch on two of the more important things to do when you slow down: create goals and reach out to customers.
Goal creation is a best practice you should be using every month — we like the S.M.A.R.T. goal system — and slowdowns give you a chance to think about where you want to be next month and next year. Look for goals that can be easily achieved and ones you have to work hard to meet. Setting attainable and reach-goals will keep your team happy so they not only meet some expectations and but find opportunities to try a little harder next year.
And finally, take a few minutes to reach out to your customers. You can announce news about our new name or make it part of a testimonial or customer service review process if you’re already doing that from above. Or, just touch base with a quick email.
The goal isn’t to solicit a sale. Ask them about your performance to keep your business fresh in their minds. Also, consider providing a piece of content or a blog post about what they can do to keep their business protected during your offseason. Simple, helpful reminders go a long way to ensuring you’re the name they think of when it comes to needing your service next year.
Ready to learn more about how your business can grow during any season? Request a demo to see how AgileField’s robust field service management tools can help in the New Year.