How Field Service Companies Can Combat A Recession
Is there a recession on the horizon or has one already started? That’s a question for economists to answer. The reality for field service providers is this: inflation is pushing costs higher, supply chain shortages continue to be a problem, skilled labor remains in short supply, and consumer demand is all over the map. Whether you are thriving or just surviving, recent events have not been easy, and the future looks unpredictable to put it mildly. This certainly feels like a recession – when the stakes are high and every choice matters – even if the economy never meets the textbook definition of one.
It feels the same way to many companies and consumers. They see costs rising and volatility increasing, so they instinctively tighten their belt and either cancel or scale back field service projects they would have prioritized in a healthier economy. It is a sensible cost-cutting measure for them. For field service providers, however, it represents a major contraction in revenue. What is worse, that contraction can happen regardless of whether the recession is real. Perception is all that matters, and economic optimism fell to the lowest levels in a decade in June 2022.
Both internally and externally, recession concerns are having a turbulent impact on field service providers right now. Regardless of how you personally feel about the prospects of an economic downturn, you will feel the impacts of one until people regain their enthusiasm about the economy. Rather than waiting it out, respond to recession concerns proactively using the best tool available in the industry: field service management (FSM) software.
Raising the Bar When it Matters Most
The strategy during a recession seems obvious: minimize costs and maximize revenues. But accomplishing either, let alone both, is a lot more complicated in practice. Cost-cutting measures, for example, can hurt staff morale and result in higher turnover, or compromise service quality in ways that loyal customers notice. Likewise, chasing after revenues often results in business decisions that look advantageous over the short term but prove unsustainable over time and leave the company weaker as a result.
The important objective during a recession is not to raise or lower the numbers by a certain percent; the important objective is to get things right. Nothing keeps costs in check or keeps customers satisfied (and wanting more) like service delivery that goes exactly as planned, every single time. Furthermore, any effort to adapt service delivery based on recession concerns must begin with efficient, synchronized processes and go from there. If recessions call for greatness, it helps to be good already.
So, it is therefore essential to have FSM software. A modern field service business cannot run on clipboards and spreadsheets any longer. Analog, paper-based, disconnected processes are an obstacle during the best of times, and they become a significant limitation during a recession that puts those without FSM software at a distinct competitive disadvantage.
Alternatively, providers with strong FSM solutions in place have everything they need to streamline service delivery, drive customer engagement, and pivot with confidence thanks to the diverse and integrated toolkit at their disposal. Even if demand declines, supplies remain scarce, or costs keep climbing, providers are equipped to anticipate and adapt to these issues early.
FSM software has many advantages, but the greatest may be this: it makes you more resilient to the unexpected. What could be a greater asset in a recession?
Becoming More Recession-Proof With FSM Software
FSM software makes adopters better at everything they did already. The very best FSM products on the market go a step further to facilitate things a provider couldn’t do before. When recession concerns make it necessary to do more with less, here are some of the ways that superior FSM offerings, such as NextService, rise to the occasion and make users recession-proof.
- Enhance Technician Utilization – Technicians can complete more work in the same amount of time (or the same amount of work in less time) with the superior routing and scheduling capabilities in FSM software. Better utilization – not just of techs but also trucks, equipment, tools, and other resources – can have a significant economic impact. Imagine getting 10% more productivity from each tech.
- Raise First-Time Fix Rate – Getting a job done in one visit is important for preserving the profitability of jobs, for making the most of available time, and for keeping customers as happy as possible. FSM software immediately improves the first-time fix rate by giving schedulers and techs better insights about what a job requires before the truck rolls out, plus access to abundant resources in the field to overcome obstacles.
Being able to not just deliver, but promise a one-visit or same-day fix becomes a powerful differentiator for a provider.
- Improve Billing Accuracy – Customer invoices may not include all the billable work the tech performed in the field because it wasn’t simple to record that work or get the information into the billing system. FSM software fixes this problem by making it easy for techs to track their activities, then moving that data directly into the invoice and accounting system. No detail gets lost, and neither does any dollar of earned revenue.
- Overcome Parts Shortages – Continuing parts shortages make it harder to deliver service and forecast future capabilities. FSM software with tools to track, manage, and analyze parts inventory make it simple to track where parts are being used, forecast future usage based on past trends and scheduled work, and then place orders proactively.
- Prevent Unnecessary Mistakes – Small lapses in communication and coordination can cause a job to go sideways and, in the worst cases, alienate a previously happy customer. A recession is the worst time to make unnecessary mistakes, and FSM software is the ideal tool to prevent them by making service delivery as transparent, informed, and integrated as possible. More work gets automated to avoid human errors, and more information gets shared to stop mistakes from happening.
- Increase Upsell Success – As we wrote about in a previous blog, providers that excel at upselling can add to their bottom line while enhancing their relationships with customers. The extra revenue goes even farther in a recession. FSM software helps providers close upsell offers more often and for bigger amounts by giving technicians sales tools in the field. Service histories reveal what upsell offers a customer might be open to, and being able to handle ordering, scheduling, and payment in the field only helps to seal the deal.
- Make Data-Driven Decisions – Tough economic times can force a provider to make important but difficult decisions about things like pricing, service mix, and staff levels. Since FSM software collects data from throughout service delivery and integrates it together, providers can understand operations like never before and make any changes based on data rather than assumptions and traditions. A recession makes it vital to know, objectively, what’s working and what’s not. FSM software helps make that clear.
- Innovate and Expand – The way to survive a recession is often to be aggressive rather than conservative. Whether it’s necessary or just advantageous to expand during a recession, FSM software helps decision makers plan, execute, and manage that expansion in ways they couldn’t without software. Along the same lines, when providers need to innovate quickly yet creatively, FSM software facilitates innovative use cases while highlighting new possibilities. While other providers are struggling to stay ahead of economic forces that are out of their control, those with FSM software can confidently pivot, scale, or evolve to meet the moment head on and emerge from the recession stronger than before.
NextService – For Extra Resilience in a Recession
The two most important things to have in a recession are also the most elusive: clarity and confidence. In times of great economic uncertainty, providers need clarity to see what is happening, but the signal often gets lost in the noise. Similarly, they want to feel confident in their choices, but the urgency of a recession promotes confusion and doubt instead. That is why data is so important to have in a recession – and why NextService stands apart from other FSM software.
NextService runs on-platform with NetSuite, meaning it shares the same technical infrastructure, draws on the same databases, and works within the same ecosystem. The two products are not integrated, but more like two sides of the same coin. So not only does NextService offer a comprehensive and compelling toolkit for field service management, but it works in perfect parallel with a leading platform for all aspects of business management. The front end (service delivery) and back end (business management) of a field service business have never been so aligned as they are with NextService and NetSuite working on-platform together.
Running a field service business with one seamless software suite rather than multiple siloed or loosely integrated solutions has some important benefits during a recession. NextService combines more data from more sources and feeds it directly into NetSuite’s powerful tools for analysis and reporting to uncover insights that would have been overlooked and provide broad and deep perspectives on performance. Rich with information and ideas, NextService provides the clarity that decision makers need to act confidently and choose correctly. Nothing makes a business totally immune to a recession – but the NextService FSM software running on-platform with NetSuite comes as close as possible.
If recession concerns are on your mind, see what the solution looks like. Schedule a demo of NextService.