This column is for those of you out there in the SMB category that might be reading some of the articles I’ve written on companies like Vivint, ServiceMaster, or BUNN thinking, “that’s nice, but not practical for me.” You’ve got that wrong! In the decade I’ve been covering the field service space, there has always been a trickle-down effect at play. The largest service companies are early adopters of a trend, shift, or technology – they lead the charge on embracing change and adopting new business processes and tools. Then that change trickles down through tier after tier of service organization, to even some of the smallest. Just because you’re running a small service business doesn’t mean you can’t – or shouldn’t – be innovative.
In fact, research illustrates the degree to which SMBs will embrace technology in the coming years. IDC reports that by 2021, SMBs are expected to spend an estimated $676 billion on IT, with business services and software spend growing the most rapidly from 2017 to 2021. This means that now is the time for you to be really looking at how you can use the innovation that’s occurring in the field service space to your advantage. Let me give you three compelling reasons why you should be embracing field service transformation now:
#1: The Technology Is Attainable
It used to be a valid concern that SMBs couldn’t have access to the same types of technologies to positively impact their businesses that a large company could. But present day, this just isn’t true. Software has moved to the cloud and there are a number of solutions geared specifically toward SMBs that provide real business value without breaking the bank. And unless your field service operation occurs in a rugged environment, you can use said software on an iPhone or Android phone with a protective case. Even more advanced technologies like IoT, AR, and AI are becoming more attainable for SMBs.
#2: The Business Case Is Clear
If you’re still running a paper-based service business, the ROI on automation is incredible. From efficiency and productivity gains to a much more professional presentation to your customers, it’s a bulletproof business case. If you’ve gone electronic but your system is aging or not overly effective, think about researching what else is out there – the software industry has come a long way even in the last two years. You have more options at your fingertips than ever before. Keep in mind, too, that as this trickle-down effect occurs, more and more businesses your size will be adopting the technologies available. This means that acting now could give you a leg up on your competition.
#3: You Have The Benefit Of Learning From Those That Have Gone Before You
If you have a team of 15 field technicians, you’re not going to have as involved of a transformation as ServiceMaster did – but that doesn’t mean that the advice Jamie Smith had to offer in this article isn’t applicable to some degree. There’s a lot of valuable insight to glean from the experiences of those larger, leading service organizations even if their businesses aren’t the same industry, size, or scope as yours. Read up on their strategies, methods, and lessons learned and choose what you think could be useful for your situation. It’s important to keep in mind that the real transformation that’s happening in field service reaches farther than just investing in or upgrading your software – it’s more of a business process transformation that typically involves revisiting how you deliver service and making improvements, training up and re-energizing your people, as well as investing in new tools.
In summary, the message here is that further innovation of service as a whole is inevitable – so it behooves you to embrace that fact and start determining how, as a small business, you can make changes to stay on pace.