5 things to save your field service business in the Coronavirus crisis

5 things to save your field service business in the Coronavirus crisis – Wake-up and get to work!

Aside form the health issues, if you are anything like us – and I suspect you are, the coronavirus has taken you by surprise with the speed it has taken a wrecking ball to your business. Our customers are telling us the emails have stopped and the phones are dead. Of course, this is very worrying but this is the panic phase and people are battening down the hatches. Everyone is scared, no-one is sure what is going to happen and how long it will last and if things will ever be the same again.

They probably won’t.

The government has made the right noises about making the banks step in to provide loans to see us through the the pandemic and get us to the other side. Time will tell whether this works. My experience of banks is that they a bureaucratic nightmare and it will be very difficult to get the money from the in any meaningful time frame. But the customers will come back one day and I suspect they will start calling  when the panic has subsided and they are bored of sitting at home at start to make plans. So, it’s up to us. We must stay in business long enough to receive the loan or get through the other side without it.

So how do we do it?

Field service businesses by their very nature involve travelling to see potential clients for quotes and estimates and then if successful to go and actually perform the job or project at some location. It seems that we cannot guarantee how long we will be able to travel should a quarantine be enacted and enforced. So even if we can’t do the job quite yet, we need to get the client a quote or estimate stage remotely to keep us in the game and have some jobs to do when we can move. Luckily we have some new technology in the form of Whatsapp to help us do that. And a willing population to make this feasible. More on this later.

But here is what you need to do right now

Slash fixed monthly overheads

Right now go through your overheads and monthly outgoings and slash and burn.

  1. If you can get out of your broadband contract for the office and switch to 4G on your phone – do it.
  2. If you lease a warehouse to keep your materials in from Safestore or someone like that, clear the junk right away and get a smaller space. Better still get a cheap marquee, move them and store them in your garden.
  3. For the next month at least look very carefully at the spend on your Google adwords. It’s hard to gauge but are people going to be looking to purchase field services during the crisis and in quarantine? A leak? They might have to get this done. A new floor? Maybe not. A garden landscaping project – hard to call – the guys are outside and you an watch them from the window. But keep your eye on this. Any advertising other than the immediate effect you might get from adwords can be stopped right away.
  4. Look at your credit payment terms from your suppliers. Don’t pay for goods now if you have credit terms, leave it as long as you can.
  5. Staff levels. If the government dishes those loans out and pays the wages as they say they will, then the pressure is off, so re-deploy everyone on getting those jobs done you have never got around to. Because they are technically still working.

Take a long look at your business

If you now have some time on your hands there has never been a better time to really take a good, long, hard look at your business. I will write another article on this but a good start is getting some Field Service Management Software. Good FSM software will allow you to slash your staff overheads. We are talking about reductions of £1000 a month even in a very small business. You really need to get on this. Obviously we recommend Flobot, but joking aside, for the small business there are some really good offerings and they all have their strengths and weaknesses – it is about finding the right fit for your business

Here are the ones that for under 10 people in your company that I rate most highly (I think I am a pretty good judge here!). They are not in any particular order.

  1. Jobber
  2. Okappy 
  3. Vonigo
  4. Kickserv
  5. mHelpDesk

And the remote estimates?

Well, we have built a Whatsapp module right into Flobot that allows you to communicate with the client very easily and most importantly makes it easy for them to send you images and videos that you need to create an estimate from the comfort of your bedroom or living room and get it to the customer very quickly. And in most cases if you have spent the right amount of time setting things up nicely with your templates, terms and conditions and discalimers, you can get this out to them in less than 10 minutes.

There is a nice page on how to do that with a video here: Flobot Software Automation.