Written by Garret Wilson – FieldBin
It’s been a whirlwind year. With the cost of goods rising, a growing labor gap and many economists predicting a recession in 2023, field service businesses—including HVAC, plumbing, electrical, landscaping, and other trade companies—will be looking for additional ways to maximize existing resources, improve customer services, and boost profits.
Many trade businesses rely on field service management (FSM) software to accomplish these objectives. Generally speaking, most cloud-based FSM applications contain similar features that reduce the hassle of back-office operations, reduce paperwork, and streamline processes. These features include work order scheduling, invoicing, inventory management, estimating and quotes, and payment processing.
Since many field services businesses are already leveraging these features, what’s new on the FMS horizon to help them face the coming year’s economic headwinds? Here’s a look at a few predictions on FSM technology and approaches that trade businesses should look out for in 2023.
Artificial intelligence (AI) will play an increasingly important role in the field service management industry in the coming year. Simulating human intelligence, AI can automate the most repetitive and time-consuming aspects of any job, enabling field service businesses to improve efficiency and increase productivity. AI technology can also automatically schedule and assign work to optimize company resources and reduce employee workload. It can also gather and analyze data in real-time to recommend courses of action and the equipment needed to complete a job.
Price Books, Data Support, and Smarter Tech
Price books are a feature that will contain more robust capabilities for calculating precise, on-site estimates and tax rates by zip code, as well as options for flat-rate pricing and invoice generation. Coupled with improved data support, price books can also enable field service technicians to collect data from the field, analyze and remedy on-the-job issues, and improve service quality and customer satisfaction.
This will also help companies deal with worker shortages by enabling them to efficiently schedule, dispatch, and assign jobs based on their size, scope, and worker availability. For example, calendars that cross-reference team assignments to move workers from one job to another can be constructed so there is no wasted time. At the same time, task management can set reminders, prioritize stops, track time, and manage workloads.
These technologies also lend to keeping track of employee scheduling, mainly if those employees are working remotely. Workers are also employing video conferencing to consult with customers and begin analyzing their issues before going on-site, which helps cut back on unnecessary travel costs. Companies, in turn, are equipping workers with better mobile devices or tablets so they can visually explain potential problems to their customers.
A La Carte Options
Customers seeking FSM software have been and will continue to move away from large, multipurpose applications to individualized services. FSM applications that offer single-purpose features guarantee customers a fully customized experience with access to the needed parts. FSM providers often provide many features in one package, which can overwhelm customers and weaken satisfaction and long-term usage. Instead, users of FSM should be able to dictate which features they want and when they want them depending on how their business moves and grows.
From the user’s point of view, all-in-one FSM applications can be intimidating, especially when technology experience is lacking. Conversely, a la carte-based FSM software is easier to understand, adopt and learn, speeding up the buying cycle and implementation.
Next-Generation Field Service Workers
Lastly, technology will attract younger workers to trade professions in the coming year. Reaching and educating Millennials and Gen Z-ers, who grew up on technology and incorporate it into virtually every facet of their lives, should be essential initiatives for FSM providers and trade businesses. The right technology and hiring tech-savvy workers are crucial to successfully navigating this tightening labor market.
For example, next-generation workers in the electrician trade are using everything from robotics and drones to wearable tech to evaluate job sights and alert them to high-voltage electricity or other potential hazards. Adopting new tech tools not only helps with hiring but also helps field service businesses keep up with transforming industries. Trade workers nearing retirement often hesitate to learn new technology, yet their on-the-job experience is invaluable. Hiring tech-savvy younger workers can make for a good knowledge-sharing relationship—and, hopefully, a more prosperous New Year for your business.
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TimeLinx delivers innovative project & service management software as a complete solution that perfects the sell-track-manage-support-bill cycle that services organizations must have to delight their customers; TimeLinx brings the cycle together in a single application that offers less frustration, better project management, complete reporting, and improved profitability – all specially designed for Infor and Sage.