You proudly show off your newly bought, outsized iPhone 7 Plus...and a friend whips out his iPhone 8 that’s bigger than a bedsheet. You purchase an app and then have to deal with daily pop-ups reminding you to update. You spend big bucks on a new PC, and a year later it’s completely bricked.
So when it comes to your field service business, you decide you’d rather stick with good old pen and paper rather than investing the time and money on new technology.
We get it—but we also get that despite the downsides, investing in the right technology for your business can speed up processes, boost your customer service rankings, help you earn more, and save you money. Not only that, but winter is coming, and tech tools can help you make the most of this busy season.
We can hear you now saying, ‘Yeah, but...’ as you ready your rebuttal. That’s why we’re here to bust the most common excuses for not spending on new technology.
Excuse #1: Our old tech is fine. Why switch?
Busted: You’re right, it is fine...if you don’t mind sacrificing speed, communication, productivity, and your business brand.
Yes, your 10-year-old laptops, outdated smart phones, and so-old-they’re-no-longer-supported apps may still work, but they likely don’t work well. For example, according to full-service technology firm Managed Solution, if your computer or web browser are outdated, you can waste precious minutes every day waiting for important files to upload and download. Ever hear the expression ‘time is money’? That goes double here.
Then there’s the question of communication: When you’re managing a team of engineers out on the field and communicating with customers, speed counts. The faster you can respond to a customer call, respond when your engineers have questions, and send out customer follow-ups, the more productive your field service company will be. Here’s an equation to remember: old tech = inefficient communications.
Finally, the tech you use impacts how others see your business brand. If you were checking out dentists to take care of a painful toothache, who would you trust your time and money to: The dentist who boasts state-of-the-art equipment, lets you schedule online, and texts you appointment reminders...or the one who doesn’t have a website, pulls your file out of a wood-look filing cabinet, and bills you by mail? The second dentist may be just as skilled as the first, but the impression you get from their outdated (and nonexistent) tech may lead you to choose the dentist who’s more technologically with-it.
The same goes for your business. Branding is especially important in an industry where it can be difficult to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Don’t let outdated technology give your customers the wrong impression.
Excuse #2: We need to cut costs on technology...it’s just too expensive.
Busted: Think about it in terms of cost per hour, not cost per item.
Savvy business owners are always looking for a good bargain, but when you opt for deep-discount technology, you (literally) pay the price. Consider how many hours you and your employees use those tech tools and figure out the cost per hour of use versus the cost to your business of slower communications, lost productivity, and employees who are demotivated because they’re burdened with cheap tools.
For example, say you invest in a £2,000 desktop computer for your office manager instead of a £400 PC. Let’s assume that employee will be sitting at the keyboard seven hours a day, five days a week (minus holidays), for three years—which, it so happens, is the length of the computer’s warranty. That’s 5,250 hours over three years, which comes out to just 38p per hour for your office manager to use the best, fastest, most efficient computer you can buy...and this doesn’t count the savings you’ll enjoy due to higher productivity.
Of course, you’ll hopefully get more than three years’ use out of that pricy computer, as long as you keep it updated—so your price per hour falls even more while the rise in productivity stays the same.
Try this calculation with any new technology you’re considering, from apps to tablets, and you’ll likely discover that the higher quality options end up cheaper in the long run.
Excuse #3: Our engineers use their own devices, so we don’t need to spend more on tech.
Busted: Yeah, but what’s running on those devices?
The Bring Your Own Device approach lets your engineers use their own phones and tablets, which has many benefits. However, that doesn’t let you off the hook, because your employees’ devices will still need to be running updated, compatible software and apps.
‘Most companies license cloud-based technology to interact with clients, support their website, do marketing, or just do email’, says tech expert Mary Juetten, founder and CEO of Traklight, a software platform that helps businesses assess business risk and create custom intellectual property strategy. ‘This is licensed to the company and will run on all these devices, so your team will need good software to communicate and be productive, regardless of hardware’.
Excuse #4: Technology changes too quickly. We’re overwhelmed and we can’t keep up!
Busted: Make tech updates just another part of your business process.
You’ve got customers ringing you incessantly with broken boilers. You’re short-staffed because two of your engineers are sick. And you’re behind in sending out purchase orders. As a field service company owner or office manager, the last thing you want to worry about is what technology to invest in, how to support it, and how to keep it updated. There are too many options, the technology changes too fast, and you’re already overloaded with other work.
Tech is supposed to make your life easier, not harder. Keep in mind that staying up-to-date with technology works the same way as any other part of your field service business: Learn, plan, implement, review.
Set aside time to consider what your business needs, learn about the options, prioritise the tech tools that will work for you, and make a plan. (Luckily we have this thing called the internet that makes much of this fairly quick and painless.) Once you have the tech solutions you need in place, make time every so often to review how well they’re working, whether you need support to get the full functionality, and whether anything needs updating or upgrading.
Excuse #5: We’re too small to need all this new technology. The old way’s good enough for us.
Busted: Your customers expect you to use high-tech solutions, and they don’t care how small you are. (Bonus: It will make you look bigger than you are!)
In 2016, more people searched for information online with mobile devices than with desktop computers—which shows that customers want information and solutions to be even faster and more convenient than ever before.
You might be cool with the old fashioned way of doing things, but according to Customer Experience Insight, your customers are looking for fast communication, quick fixes to their problems, web self-service, personalization, and the ability to reach you 24/7. Kind of hard to do that with ye olde pen and paper.
In Excuse #1, we talked about how the technology you use impacts the way customers see your field service business and experience your brand. You may be a small company, but being up on the latest tech can make your five employees look like 50.
Excuse #6: We just don’t have the money. Try busting that excuse!
Busted: You’ll save more than you spend on the right technology.
We won’t deny that keeping up with technology can be pricy—but investing in tech will help you make the most of your limited funds. ‘When I started my business, I would look at the software in terms of hours that I could save in terms of my own time or avoiding a hire’, says Juetten. ‘For example, having a cloud-based answering service avoids the cost of a phone system plus an administrative person dedicated to answering the phone. The software purchases we made always either freed me up to do higher value work or saved us money in terms of hiring someone.’
In fact, in a small business survey by Brother International Corporation in 2014, 72% of small business owners said new technologies will offer a bigger ROI than new employees. Technology has only gotten more sophisticated (and sometimes cheaper) since then, so the effect should be even more impactful now.
Don’t let outdated technology make your field service company look smaller, react more slowly, and work less efficiently. Give your business a tech makeover and watch your productivity—and profits—soar.
Speaking of technology, we have some you might be interested in! Commusoft creates workflow management solutions that can help your field service business become more productive, efficient, and customer-friendly. Take a tour and request a demo today.