By Jason Smith, Vice President, ISV Business Development
It certainly stands to reason that, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with the vast majority of people confined to their homes, the field services industry experienced a corresponding boom. As homeowners, in greater numbers than ever before, looked to upgrade their personal spaces with projects like window installations or putting in a new pool, business owners across the industry saw a major uptick in activity. This is also a trend that’s likely to persist after the pandemic, due to contributing factors like a housing market boom and hybrid remote work set to become the new normal for many post-pandemic. Furthermore, COVID also built on an existing trend that started with recent rise of the gig economy, with more people starting their own side businesses, as a window repairman or locksmith, for instance.
As the field services industry saw a surge, it also found itself facing operational challenges in managing this expansion. Many field services companies still rely on physical checks, cash, and in-person payment methods, which not only made it difficult for customers to make payments during lockdowns, but also created challenges for businesses in processing payments, keeping up-to-date records, and accounting for payment flow while they were experiencing an unprecedented uptick in activity.
That’s where integrated digital payments – which can be plugged in directly into the existing account management software of a business – showed their long-term value potential for the field services space. By giving businesses and their customers the ability to make and process payments in real time, as well as the ability to access this information in real time, businesses were able to not only maintain their operations, but also support their growth and make the payments process easier for both themselves and their customers.
Indeed, a major component of the value of integrated payments for field services companies is simplification. In essence, integrated payments allow these companies to reduce the time from invoice to acceptance of payment, making it easier and quicker to collect and process revenue. At Paya, that’s something we’ve heard from a number of our clients, including construction software company Vertical Market Software (VMS) – which noted that their own customer demand increased on a daily basis as they became familiar with the benefits, like competitive rates and real-time analytics, that integrated payments technology provides.
While digital payments have long been a need of the field services industry, integrated payments take their benefits one step further by creating a universal system that can be incorporated directly into the existing software used by a company, and allows payments to be quickly collected, processed, and tracked all one in place.
Additionally, this technology offers them the ability to seamlessly incorporate features like recurring or scheduled payments, making it simpler for regular customers to make on-time payments. Furthermore, many integrated payments services offer flexibility and customization – which can be particularly important for field services business owners who don’t have a strong level of familiarity with payments technology. In short, this upgrade allowed them to drastically increase efficiency, while not creating technical roadblocks for them and for their customers. For companies making the shift from manually collecting cash or checks, to implementing a digital payments service that reconciles and accounts for payments in real time, the difference proved to be tangible and significant in short order.
For businesses like pool cleaning and repair, locksmiths, and window installation services, the pandemic amplified an existing need for real-time digital payments processing and accounting. Integrated payments met this need for many field services companies by providing not only a much more efficient way of collecting and reconciling payments, but also doing so in a user-friendly way. As the world reopens, integrated payments are here to stay in the field services space. Though lockdowns showed the value of this technology in a highly visible way, the efficiency, ease of use, and flexibility that integrated payments offer to field services companies have rendered them a necessity in the long term.