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March, 2017 - Smart Service

Surge To Success With An HVAC Marketing Plan

On March 30th, 2017 by

When your HVAC company relies on word-of-mouth or a simple yellow page listing to generate new business, you’ll miss out on a tremendous opportunity to expand and grow your company. A single phonebook listing no longer does enough to convince potential customers to call you, especially given the increased percentage of people who search for service businesses online. An HVAC marketing plan that targets potential customers helps increase your leads and improve your brand identity, better publicizing your services. Follow these key marketing elements when developing your HVAC marketing strategy.

What is an HVAC Marketing Plan?

An HVAC marketing plan is a comprehensive, year-round plan for advertising your HVAC business and services. If you do on-the-fly advertising or no advertising at all, you likely waste money and constantly battle to get ahead of your competition. An effective HVAC marketing plan takes into consideration the needs of your customers, seasonality, different advertising mediums, and costs. Your plan should also feature established goals. Plans can be laid out and executed monthly or even quarterly. The point and main advantage of developing a marketing plan is to prepare and plan for success.

Imagine the following scenario: In July your area experiences a record-breaking heat wave. In the HVAC industry, this equates to air conditioning units failing and needing emergency repair. If your company did not prepare ahead of the heatwave and increase demand for HVAC services, chances are you will have to scramble and pay a premium to get your name out there once it strikes. Now, imagine that your company had implemented a marketing plan well in advance of July that included advertising in the local paper, sending out direct mailers with a repair promotion, and establishing web listings that customers can easily find. Put a marketing plan in place ahead of time and there’s less need for scrambling, costs are negotiated beforehand, and your HVAC business can focus on providing excellent service.

How To Develop A Marketing Plan

Putting an actionable HVAC marketing plan into action does require some research and a dedicated budget. To start, you need to evaluate what avenues of advertisement would best suit your business and market. The most conventional advertising mediums in the HVAC industry include newspaper ads, postcards, local online listings (Yelp, Angie’s List, Google My Business, HomeAdvisor, etc.), social media, and your company website. Determine how you can reach the greatest amount of people in your market for the least amount of spend. To research what would work best, start by asking those around you how they find service companies. As you shop around for different advertising opportunities, request readership or membership numbers from publications to quantify the exposure you could receive.

Seasonality in the HVAC Industry

When developing a marketing plan, consider the seasonality of your business. Typically, HVAC companies will see bursts in service requests when the weather drastically changes. Using historical information, determine during which months this usually occurs in your area and plan for it. If winter typically brings an influx of furnace repair requests, consider promoting this service right before the start of the weather change. In Spring, offer free estimates on new systems or custom maintenance plans. Offer discounted tune-up services during periods of time when the weather remains static and temperate. Sometimes, simply promoting a service in conjunction with a new season can spur potential customers to think about the HVAC services they might need.

Determining Your HVAC Marketing Budget

Lastly, you need to dedicate a budget towards your marketing plan. Going with a percentage of sales for each season could qualify as a good way to start. Use your past revenue information to determine your sales during the busy winter, busy summer, and the slow seasons. If you have multiple years of data to work with, find out if you have experienced sales growth each season compared to the year prior. If you have, congratulations! This is a good sign of growing success. Set realistic revenue goals for upcoming seasons. If you are a relatively new company that has not had the time to mature and build a long-standing reputation, dedicating 4-6% of your sales each season towards marketing would make a good starting budget. With a budget established, all that remains is determining the marketing tactics to spend it on. Do things right, and you’ll generate new leads and new business.

Traditional Marketing Tactics for HVAC Companies

Unfortunately for HVAC company owners, there is no silver bullet in marketing. It probably won’t be immediately clear where to allocate your budget. Expanding your client base will probably involve using several tactics. Verify and test traditional marketing tactics regularly.

Door Hangers and Flyers

Flyers and door hangers are a proven marketing tactic that typically generates a positive return-on-investment (ROI) for residential HVAC companies. These items are inexpensive to mass produce and easy to distribute. By creating traditional print marketing materials with a coupon or a bonus offer unique to each neighborhood you distribute them in, you can track which sections of your city generate positive leads. Campaigns for yearly maintenance work well in the spring and summer. Consider using door hangers and flyers on these occasions.

Networking

HVAC companies can certainly take a page from the real estate agent playbook when it comes to building personal networks. In the real estate industry, one school of thought suggests your “sphere of influence” can help you grow your business.

Naturally, for HVAC companies who have existing customer bases and reputations, this sphere of influence doesn’t need the typical “letter of introduction” that a real estate agent would create when starting their career. Instead, focus on expanding your existing network and cultivating relationships with people who aren’t necessarily people with whom you would normally associate. Attend community events, volunteer events, and networking socials. Donate your time to organizations like Habitat for Humanity. These actions can go a long way towards building community bonds. Cultivating these relationships while gently reminding people you meet what you do for a living can help grow your business over time.

Direct Mail Campaigns

Direct mail can be one of the most effective marketing tools in your arsenal, but only if you use it correctly. The low cost, the flexibility of your sales message, and the ability to target individual lists make direct mail a very attractive option. The key to direct mail is to target the correct people. If you choose to work with a direct mail provider and purchase a mailing list, exclude apartment tenants or newly built houses. These residences will likely not need any major HVAC services.

Use your service records to develop a customer mailing list. Reach out to clients you’ve already developed a relationship with and offer them a discount for annual tune-ups. This serves as an excellent way to encourage repeat business.

Say, “Thank you.”

Sending a thank you card after a successful service call keeps your company in that customer’s memory and builds a reputation on pleasantness and professionalism. When customers experience trouble with their heating and cooling system in the future, you want to make sure they remember you. Additionally, thank you cards encourage your customers to recommend you to others who need HVAC services.

Be sure to have well-written postcards and follow-up cards. If you make basic spelling errors, your efforts to contribute to a relationship with a customer may end up making you look bad and soil your reputation.

Marketing Your HVAC Company Online

The Harris Poll suggests that more than two-thirds of all adults in the United States use the internet. It is becoming more and more important for any field service company to pay attention to their brand’s online presence and visibility.

Your HVAC Website

Many HVAC professionals don’t see the value in maintaining  a website. However, this way of thinking is quickly becoming dangerous. The yellow pages simply don’t get it done anymore. Just because you have a listing there doesn’t mean people are going to find your business or phone number. Websites are a valuable medium for displaying your work, explaining the services you provide, highlighting financing options, showing your certifications and industry credentials, and showcasing the value of your business. Did you do a new installation that was picture perfect? Take a picture and show your work to new customers! You can think of your website as a digital brochure to help you explain how your service provides value to your future clients.

Your website is also a great place to post job openings within your company. Explaining the benefits of working for your business (as opposed to your competitors) can help generate qualified applicants to your hiring pool.

Additionally, owning a domain can help you create customized email addresses for your sales and maintenance teams. The ability to reach out to “yourname@yourdomain.com” builds much more trust than does sending an email to “yournameHVAC@yahoo.com.” Email marketing can be considered a cheaper alternative to direct-mail advertising.

The most compelling reason to maintain a website, however, is to generate “organic traffic.” Organic traffic measures how many people find your website through Google or another popular search engine. With some work, your website could be the first thing that pops up in Google’s results for relevant, lead generating keywords like “local HVAC company.” You can always pay for an ad that shows up in this search result, but positioning yourself as the #1 organic result in your area makes life a whole lot easier (not to mention less expensive).

To take one example, the estimated cost per click (the cost you would pay if someone clicked on your ad) for the keyword “HVAC Houston” is $26.64. An average of 210 people per month search for this term. If you save $26.64 per potential lead to your business by appearing in organic search results instead of paid search results, you can save a significant amount.

Additionally, with a well-built website, you can start submitting your business to local service directories such as Angie’s List, Yellow Pages, and Local.com. These listings help improve your chances of generating leads without creating much additional work.

Social Media and Your HVAC Company

Pew Internet Research found that roughly 71% of adults online use Facebook. A common objection to the creation of a Facebook page for HVAC businesses is a misunderstanding of the point. Who cares how many Facebook likes we get? It’s a fair question! The quantity of Facebook likes does not equate to quality leads. Instead of focusing on the number of likes, one should instead remember social media’s power to influence individuals. Online word-of-mouth is still a form of word-of-mouth. Setting up and regularly updating a local Facebook business page enables users to tag your business when discussing local HVAC contractors.

Writing good posts for social media can make for a challenge. Strike a balance between posting serious/likable/helpful content, making sure to respond to people’s comments or questions on your page, and scheduling posts ahead of time so that your page will update itself without the need for daily maintenance.

The social media outlets you use should depend on the kind of customer you want to target and the niche you serve. If you only work on large industrial systems (as opposed to home HVAC systems), consider using LinkedIn to target other business owners with HVAC needs.

Streamline Marketing With HVAC Software

When adding marketing to your HVAC operations, try to find ways to utilize assets you already own to supplement your efforts. If you use HVAC software to maintain your customer records, consider utilizing some of your existing data to develop marketing strategies. For instance, use your HVAC software to record client anniversaries and send promotional coupons to reward a customer’s loyalty. If you have this information stored in an electronic database, you could save time by sending out these postcards or emails in batches. If your field service software allows you to create custom fields in your customer database, take advantage of this feature by adding fields for marketing-related purposes. Some good custom fields to start with include client anniversaries, how they found you, follow up feedback, and the nature of any repeated service calls. Storing this information in an easy-to-reference format allows you to spot trends across your customers that could better inform your marketing efforts. Another important way to utilize your HVAC software is to follow up with customers for feedback after work is completed. While this doesn’t seem like marketing, it can provide insight into how to approach new potential clients and ways to improve your service.

Assessing Your HVAC Marketing Plan

When implementing an HVAC marketing plan, ensure you regularly analyze, assess, and adjust your plan using data. You need to have a plan in place to determine if a particular strategy was worthwhile and if you should try the same thing again. Some important metrics to calculate when determining your marketing plan’s success include the number of new customers gained, your cost per acquisition of those new customers, and the return on advertising spend (ROAS). Going back to your allocated marketing budget, divide what you spent for the period of time by the number of new customers obtained. The result will be your cost per acquisition, which should be well below the revenue brought in by the service provided to the customer. To determine your ROAS, take the total amount of revenue driven by new customers for the period of time and divide it by the total amount spent on advertising. Convert the result to a percentage, and that will be your ROAS. The higher the percentage, the more effective the marketing strategy.

Taking the time to assess your HVAC marketing plan can help you adapt in the future and avoid wasted spend on ineffective tactics. By testing out different marketing strategies and evaluating their effectiveness regularly, you will stay ahead of the game and continually grow the success of your HVAC company.


Field Service Metrics and KPI for Measuring Success

On March 28th, 2017 by

In any industry, key metrics help define the pathway to success, providing a snapshot of the success of your business. With many indicators to monitor, you must keep track of crucial figures, especially those based on customer satisfaction. In the field service industry, it’s also prudent to know how well your techs perform when out at remote job sites. Because you cannot possibly watch and observe technicians all the time, you must monitor the metrics that speak to their effort. Monitoring the right numbers closely will ensure your customers remain happy and that work occurs with the proper diligence.

Not sure where to start or what numbers will give you the best information? Read on to learn more about nine crucial metrics relevant to any field service company.

  • Contract Leakage
  • First-Time Fix Rate
  • Productivity
  • Service-to-Cash Flow
  • Response Time
  • Total Service Cost
  • Ratio of Service Revenue to Total Revenue
  • Service Revenue Per Field Technician
  • Customer Satisfaction

Contract Leakage

One key indicator to monitor is contract leakage. When technicians are unaware of the length of the job or the specific duties proscribed, they often provide more service than the project outlines. This is known as contract leakage. Essentially, it occurs when a customer receives anything for free that could have been scheduled as a job in and of itself. Contract leakage causes revenue to drop and makes the number of jobs a tech completes fall. This, in turn, affects multiple percentage rates, including first-time fix rates.

To determine if your company has regular contract leakage, you should monitor work orders that come in. Does the amount billed match up to the work performed? Did the time the technician spent at the location match the tasks that were outlined on the work order? Do your technicians update work orders if a new task comes up at the job site? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” you have contract leakage. Moving to a field service software solution and a mobile field service app could help streamline the intake, execution, invoicing, and tracking of work orders, helping you prevent leakage that costs your company revenue.

First-Time Fix Rate

Another key performance indicator (KPI) to monitor in any field service company is the first-time fix rate. This important piece of data can help assess many aspects of a business. This metric states how many times a technician resolves a specific job on the first visit. Customer satisfaction will rise when needs are met on an initial visit. If multiple technicians go out to a job, this could suggest that one of the technicians may need specific training to help them make up for a blindspot in their expertise.

Productivity

Another metric that is often overlooked, but necessary to include in your data, is employee productivity. Within the field service industry, it is important to monitor schedules and productivity because the length of the job is crucial. Shorter average job lengths means more work gets finished each day. Try to ensure that customers get their needs met as soon as they arise and that the maximum possible revenue comes in each day.

Service-to-Cash Flow

A critical statistic to monitor and keep low, the “service-to-cash” gap refers to the time between the moment of service and the moment the final payment is received. Set a goal to keep this gap to a minimum. Invoices are an excellent way to track who is billed and for what service, but it is equally important to keep track of the date the actual payment is received. To prevent bottlenecks within your company, note the time services are completed, the time invoices are created, and the day payment is received. Often, technicians wait too long to create invoices, causing issues. Field service management software automates the billing process and helps isolate the source of bottlenecks when payment lag occurs. The service-to-cash flow performance indicator should be monitored regularly.

A Glimpse of Progress and Success

Every service field has unique, specialized indicators to monitor, but these five serve as a good starting point for most field service industries. Monitor metrics for your company to give you a snapshot of overall performance, anticipate needs, and solve problems before they form. When you know your key figures, you won’t get caught off-guard by revenue fluctuations. Keep an eye on your key metrics, and you’ll develop successful business practices and ultimately grow as a company.

Response Time

Your field service business’ ability to quickly respond to new service calls is a big indicator of your efficiency and reach. By studying your response time, you may learn that your technicians out in the field are not being managed efficiently or you may be trying to service areas outside of your reach. Monitor your response times and make constant efforts to decrease it and you will see increases in revenue and improved customer satisfaction, one of the most important KPI for any field service company.

Total Service Cost

Anytime your business provides a service, it is critical that you understand the true cost of providing this service to your customers. Without knowing the true cost of providing your services, it is simply impossible to know what you must charge to maintain your expected profit margins. Once you have an efficient system in place for determining the total service cost of any and all services your company provides, you can look for ways to reduce this cost much more easily.

Service Revenue Ratios

Any field service business needs to pay close attention its service revenue ratio, often expressed as a ratio of income generated by services provided to total revenue. You may be shocked to realize that an alarming amount of your field service business revenue is coming from add on products as opposed to services. While any field service company should most certainly strive for add on sales, if the majority of your revenue isn’t coming from provided services it may be time to re-think your business model.

Service Revenue per Field Technician

Any well-run field service company should have an understanding of how much service revenue each field tech provides. You will want to know the average revenue per field tech across your workforce, but also per each individual field tech. Understanding your service revenue on a per technician basis can help understand when its time to hire additional techs. It can also make it clear which of your field techs are underperforming and may need to be better managed.

Overall Customer Satisfaction

The last metric to keep in mind might be the most obvious, but it should not be forgotten when looking at your company analytics. Customer satisfaction rate is crucial to business growth and customer retention. Customers who are satisfied with your services are not only more likely to refer your business to someone else, but they will call you back as soon as a new need arises. Regular customers create lasting relationships with a company, which often keeps businesses open and thriving. One efficient way to monitor satisfaction is through a survey asking for customer input. Upon completion of a service/job, the customer follow-up is crucial. Ensure the job was completed to the customer’s satisfaction and ask if they require anything else. Comments or reviews provide a great way to monitor your technician’s acumen, and if customer needs are regularly satisfied.


Grow Your Field Service Company’s Revenue With These Simple Steps

On March 22nd, 2017 by

In business, there’s always room for growth. Your field service company makes no exception. Seemingly small adjustments to your work approach can have a significant impact on your bottom line. If you hope to grow your field service company’s revenue this year, consider the following tips and strategies.

Hire the Best

You have to hire the best to be the best. Hiring the right people forms the foundation for your business, especially in the service industry. You need to ensure that the people hired come equipped with technical knowledge while doing everything they can to represent your company’s culture and dedication to your customers. The people you bring on board as field service workers become the face of your business and ultimately dictate whether or not a client will use your services again.

When hiring, keep in mind these 7 C’s for finding the best employees: competency, capability, compatibility, commitment, character, culture, and compensation. Keeping these words in mind will help you make hiring decisions that fit your company. Sometimes the hiring process can drag on, but bear in mind that at the core you need to find the right person to compliment your company culture and work standards.

Invest in Your Team

While it’s certainly true that you must hire the best, another important point to remember is that you have to treat your team like they’re the best. With a skills gap crisis looming on the field service industry, how you treat your current employees will become more crucial than ever. In the coming five to ten years, 70% of service organizations may face a skills gap due to retired workers leaving the workforce.

Skilled workers leaving the industry for retirement means that business owners must create a new line of succession. One way to do this is to implement a mentoring program. A mentoring program ensures that the skills from the retiring workforce will not get lost in the transition. If a majority of your field service workers are approaching retirement age, now is the time to consider setting up a mentorship program.

For a mentorship program to succeed, you must communicate with your retiring workforce the importance of passing on their skills and expertise. Bring new employees on board with the intent of providing them shadowing opportunities to learn the business from experienced workers. Your seasoned employees will feel valued passing on their skills, your new workers will learn from your field service veterans, and your clients will feel a seamless transition in the face of a retiring workforce. Everyone wins!

Improve Company Communication

Poor communication is one of the biggest problems companies face. Luckily, it’s also a fixable one. Miscommunication causes undue frustration internally, hurts the quality of service your customers receive, creates billing mistakes, and costs the company money.

First, identify areas of communication that plague your office. Are your field service workers always unsure about their routes and the work expected of them? If so, then you have a communication issue between office workers and field workers.

Are your workers unsure who to report to when an issue arises? If so, then you can work on improving your managerial communication.

Some potential ways to improve communication in your office and among your workers include providing an anonymous suggestion box, creating an open door policy with employees, and sending out monthly newsletters to keep employees informed of major company news. Working on improving your communication in the office will help boost productivity, potentially reduce turnover rates, and ultimately enhance your customer’s experience.

Research Your Target Customers

Researching your customers will help all your departments focus on your customer base. If you haven’t started researching your target audience, now makes a good time to do so.

Set up a simple email survey and send it either with your customers’ bills or a couple of days after you’ve received payment. Some valuable questions you should ask include how customers heard about your services, how they feel about the work completed, would they refer a friend, and ways your business could improve.

These survey questions provide valuable information to your field service workers, administrative team, marketing team, and everyone else at your company. Take your client’s suggestions and start making your business better serve your target audience.

Say Goodbye to Paper

Paperwork slows any company down. How often do you have to wait to print or scan important paperwork? Or worse, how often do you lose crucial documents altogether? Not only does paper waste money, it also wastes time when you have to look for misplaced documents.

Many field service companies opt to use field service software to replace paper. Not only does software replace the need for paper, it also helps with the billing and scheduling processes. Consider a solution that doubles as both field service scheduling software and field service dispatch software to get the best advantages and benefits from your investment. Help make your team more efficient and give them more time to work on expanding your business. Keeping customer records on software (compared to paper) can make important information more accessible to everyone on your team.

Start Growing Your Revenue Today

Whether your company could benefit from better hiring, a mentoring program, better communication, more targeted marketing, or a field service software solution, the sooner you address your business’ needs, the sooner you can start making more revenue.


How To Be The Appliance Repair Business That People Want To Hire

On March 21st, 2017 by

The appliance repair industry faces external competition in ways other small businesses can’t really understand. As per capita disposable income grows (per the trend in the recent decade) Americans return to purchasing new appliances rather than repairing them.

It is therefore absolutely essential to put your own appliance repair business in as good a position as possible to be the appliance repair company that gets the call when something breaks down. Here are some steps you can take:

Know Your Competition

We’ll assume you have some local and regional competition that scoops up potential clientele before you even have the chance to reach them. If you want to make yourself a viable option that people can turn to, you must get to know the competition. Ask these questions:

  • Who are the top businesses?
  • How did you find out about them?
  • What price do they charge for their services?
  • How do their testimonials look?
  • How do your testimonials compare?
  • What can you do to differentiate yourself?

Spending a few hours researching your competition online can uncover strategies for gaining a competitive advantage in ways you’d have never otherwise considered. Find all of the places that they are listed and consider getting listed there yourself if it makes sense to do so. If your testimonials or reviews are not as good, then you need to reach out to your existing customers and ask them for some new content. Whatever you find appealing in your competition, there is a good chance that potential customers find it appealing as well.

Provide Excellent Customer Support

Potential clientele are going to be wary to trust you at first. Can you blame them? Upon first meeting, they will ask probing questions to gauge your competence. Treat these situations very seriously because they set the tone for your relationship moving forward.

Assure them of your competence by going over the potential issues that may exist at the root of their problem, explaining these in layman’s terms they will understand. If you can, recall a past client who had a similar issue and explain how you solved their problem. If you have a testimonial from a past client relevant to their case, make sure you share it. Letting your client know that you hear and understand their concerns sets a good tone for the course of your business relationship. Take note of what these concerns are and be sure to look into problem areas the next time you’re there as well!

Make Your Brand a Part of Your Identity

This point goes hand in hand with tip #2. Over the course of a service call, there are countless opportunities to win over new loyal customers if you keep in mind that your actions are representative of your brand.

To be frank, people don’t want to think about you or your business often. When appliance problems pop up, customers just want things fixed quickly, cost-effectively, and with minimal effort. People generally don’t want to spend hours researching appliance repair companies every time something breaks. Prove you are reliable on the first service call, and they will likely come back every time. Go the extra mile, and this can almost be assured. From your friendly assessment at the beginning of the service call to the handshake you give upon completing the job, every moment can be the moment that your customer makes the decision, subconscious or not, that you are their “go-to” business for appliance repair. These are the customers that will become the cornerstone of your client base for years to come.

Launch a Strategic Email Blast

Do you see a rise in demand for your services during certain times of the year? Do your competitors seem to run promotional advertisements during the same holiday weekends? Get a handle on the industry-wide busy season and create a strategy to make yourselves especially visible during these periods. If your services are most in-demand in the fall, it might be a good idea to preemptively send out an email blast to your previous customers early on in August. If you can offer some incentive, such as a promotional discount, all the better. A variety of tools help send effective email blasts. Give MailChimp a try.

Acquire Positive Reviews/Testimonials

Keeping a large number of high-quality positive reviews readily available online can have game-changing effects for your business. When deciding whether or not your business provides competent service, a common first step for potential clients will be to seek out testimonials. If you’ve got them, a researching customer will find them online. If you don’t have them, potential customers will be more wary to trust you, at least until you have the opportunity to change their mind with your excellent service. Avoid this uphill climb by covering your bases and soliciting online reviews.

One of the first things you need to do is claim your business on Google. Also, set up your Facebook and/or LinkedIn profile to display reviews. If you don’t use these social media channels, start now, if only to serve as a point of contact for customers to find your business hours, phone number, and of course, testimonials. Have an email ready to send out after a successful repair call and don’t be afraid to solicit a review if your job was completed to satisfaction. A satisfied customer will likely furnish a quick positive review if they feel you’ve done a good job. If you need to ramp up the amount of testimonials you have to display, consider offering a small incentive (such as a promotion or discount) to clients who complete a review.

Use an Appliance Repair Software

A major pain point for many businesses in the industry has to do with effectively scheduling and coordinating your repair technicians in the field. Poorly done, this will drain valuable resources and lead to frustration from your customers. Problems such as double booking technicians and inadequately informing technicians about rescheduled dates or cancellations can lead to larger issues you could have easily avoided. Consider investing in an appliance repair software that will give you the tools to schedule your technicians effectively, communicate with them easily in the field, and prevent wasted time and resources.

Improve your Availability

Does your competition offer 24/7 emergency service? Is this essential if you want to compete as a legitimate appliance repair service option in your region? The answer is not necessarily yes, but this and similar questions should be addressed. If your major competitors significantly outperform you when it comes to availability and reliability, you will have a hard time competing.

There are no sure-fire strategies that will work 100% of the time for every appliance repair business. However, the points described above are applicable in a wide range of situations. Taking steps to improve your brand identity can strengthen the quality of your client base. Awareness of the regional competitive landscape in the appliance repair industry will help uncover strategies that you would have never otherwise considered. By taking simple steps, you can turn one successful service call into a loyal customer who will turn to you every time they need your services.


How Good Customer Records Can Enhance Customer Service

On March 6th, 2017 by

When running the office side of a service company, customer records seldom occupy your attention. Between juggling work order requests, handling emergencies, scheduling technicians, and making sure that everything runs smoothly, what office dispatcher has time to worry about pristine customer files? It may seem like a low priority, but maintaining good customer records makes a vital difference. Unique and thorough information on your clients could positively impact many areas of your operations, especially in the field service industry. Consider the following tips on how to accurately use your customer information. Discover what information can help provide better service.

Ask The Right Questions

The first rule of thumb; ask for more information when customers call in. Find out anything and everything you can about their request pertinent to solving their issue. This can include asking what equipment is malfunctioning, what are the symptoms of the issue, what all is impacted, how long the issue has been going on, and what has already been done to try and fix the issue. If your company hasn’t serviced the customer in a while, ask if they have made any changes to the system since the last time your technician visited. For new customers, ask if there is a particular door the technician should enter when you ask them for the address. Above all, don’t simply ask about the issue and end the conversation. Look at scheduling a new job as an opportunity to analyze customer needs and ensure issues get properly assessed and solved in one trip.

Standardize How Customer Information is Recorded

While it may be easy for one person to change how they collect and record customer information, standardizing your format for customer records across the company can help ensure that the right information is always collected and used. No one wants to have to call a customer back because the information collected from them the first time was incomplete or inaccurate. If you haven’t moved to a field service management software for maintaining customer records and instead keep paper files, consider creating a customer overview template that covers name, address, serviced equipment, and dates of service. You will also want to update your work order template to include customer notes. With a digital customer database, you can streamline much of this extra work. You just need to make sure that you keep it up-to-date.

Work With What You Have

Using the information you’ve collected from your customers in the past also proves vital in providing exceptional and fast service. If you spent the time collecting and recording information once, do not let that time go to waste by failing to utilize the same information in the future. Develop and implement a system to give your technicians access to customer information before they arrive to the job. Putting notes about equipment, customer needs, and route information in their hands ahead of time will give your technicians exactly what they need to do their job efficiently.

Keep Customer Records Readily Accessible

While collecting thorough customer data represents one part of maintaining good customer records, creating a system that allows for easy access to such records represents another. You must keep this information in one central customer database. No one wants to rifle through multiple drawers and filing cabinets while on the phone with a customer (especially if that customer has an emergency). Keeping data in one primary location not only keeps it organized, but allows you to reference it instantly and manage customer calls quickly and with ease. The faster you can pull up a customer file and record the information for the new job, the faster you can get your technicians en-route to help your customer.

Become More Efficient In Using Customer Data

While many arguments support the benefits of keeping thorough and up-to-date customer records, maintaining and housing all of this data can quickly become overwhelming. Finding ways to become more efficient in the collection and storing of this data can save you headaches and allow you to scale your database as your customer list grows. Make templates or scripts for new customer calls to help ensure that anyone who answers the phone asks the right questions the first time. Add fields to your work orders to accommodate adding important customer information—either by yourself when writing up the work order or by the technician when they hit the job site. Going digital can alleviate a lot of inefficiencies as well. Using a field service software solution can allow you to input information quickly, store all of your customer data in one location instead of multiple filing cabinets, update records faster, and allow you to utilize other digital solutions like a field service mobile app to instantly send information to your techs while they are out in the field.

Take The Time Now To Save Time Later

There is always an opportunity to increase customer satisfaction and enhance a customer’s experience. With a streamlined and organized approach to collecting and using customer information, you can lessen customer wait times and anticipate needs before they arise. If your customer file system lacks information that could help your company better service customers, consider these tips the next time a new customer calls. While taking the time to record more information in the beginning of a customer relationship can seem like a waste, the time savings later on will make the the effort worthwhile.


What is Field Service Software?

On March 2nd, 2017 by

Deciding whether your business needs field service software or dispatch software in order to run more efficiently is a complex process. Part of this complexity involves familiarizing yourself with all of the relevant terminology concerning these softwares. Fortunately, the Smart Service team can help make things simple! Use the definitions we’ve prepared below to learn the language and terminology of field service software. Do this, and you will be more prepared to decide if your business needs some!

So let’s dive right in and take a look at the most important terminology you need to know when considering your options for field service software, dispatch software, and other overall improvements to your business.

Field Service Software Terms

Accounts Payable – The total amount of money owed by the business to creditors or vendors.

Accounts Receivable – The total amount of money owed to the business by customers.

Appliance Repair Software – Software specifically tailored to businesses in the appliance repair industry. This type of service software can be used to track customer records, repair history, replaced parts, and more.

Chimney Sweep Software – Software specifically tailored to businesses in the chimney sweep industry. This software is often used to keep track of service dates, customer history, scheduled cleanings, and more.

Construction Software – Software specifically tailored to the construction industry.

CRM Software – A category of software tailored for customer relationship management (CRM). CRM Software helps to manage customer data, interactions, business information, and more.

Dispatch Software – Software designed to help keep field technicians on track and working optimally. This type of software helps field technicians manage their day to day business.

Electrician Software – A category of software that is tailored specifically to aid electrician business owners. Electrician software can greatly aid your business in a number of ways, including storing work orders, customer history, and service records.

Field Service Software – Software designed to aid in field service management – maintaining an eye on the status of installations, service calls, repair jobs, and more.

HVAC Software – A category of software that is tailored specifically to aid HVAC business owners. HVAC Software can be used to handle scheduling, create invoices, and manage dispatch.

Inventory Management Software – A type of software that helps to track inventory levels, placed orders, sales, deliveries, and any other inventory related events.

Over Billing – Refers to billing in excess of work performed – money collected for planned work that has not actually been completed. This is also often referred to as Billing in Excess of Work.

Plumbing Software – A type of software that is custom tailored to the plumbing industry. Plumbing Software is used to store customer history and work orders, manage dispatch and routing, and create invoices.

QuickBooks – An industry standard software designed to help handle all financial aspects of a business – including payroll, inventory, sales, merchant services, and more.

Routing Software – Software designed to help create the most ideal, efficient, and effective routes for field technicians.

Scheduling Software – Software designed to help automate the process of creating and maintaining employee schedules. These softwares help to coordinate and manage employee tasks, and can also be utilized for payroll purposes.

Service Technician Software – Software designed to make service technicians better equipped and more prepared in the field. Designed to help with work orders, upsells, job details, and more.

Under Billing – Refers to work that has been completed without being billed. If a contract has been completed, but the customer has only paid for 50% of the contracted amount, the job has been under billed (this is also sometimes referred to as Work in Excess of Billing).

Work Order – An order for products or services. Work orders are received or created by a business for customers or clients.

Workforce Tracking Software – A category of software designed to track and record employee time and attendance, scheduling, payroll and benefit administration, training programs, performance monitoring and more.

Demo Smart Service For Free

Hopefully this list has helped you decide whether a field service software will help your business. If you wish to learn more and get a hands-on feel with field service software, you can demo Smart Service for free today by clicking here.


Better Advertise Your Field Service Company With Email Marketing

On March 1st, 2017 by

Field service businesses are always looking for new and innovative strategies to better market themselves. Your business may have tried direct mailers, advertising in a local newspaper, buying ad space in coupon magazines, creating radio ads, and other traditional forms of advertising to attract new customers. While many of these marketing channels can work effectively, sometimes each can consume a lot of time and effort—especially for a field service business.

These days, more and more successful field service companies utilize email marketing to reach new and existing customers in an efficient and effective way. As someone working in a field service company, you probably already have enough on your plate. It may seem like a daunting task to setup and manage email campaigns. However, with several email marketing programs readily available to help design, run, and monitor your campaigns, the process has gotten much, much easier. Commonly used programs include MailChimp and Constant Contact. In order to save on time and resources, look for a program that allows you to easily design emails, add your existing and new customers, and see reports for the emails you send.

How Field Service Companies Can Use Email Marketing Campaigns

If you keep thorough customer records, you can utilize that information to send personalized emails to your existing customers. For many field service industries including plumbing, HVAC, and appliance repair, your customers may only seek you out a handful of times a year. Effective email marketing campaigns could help your company stay higher on your customer’s radar than your competitors. You can send friendly maintenance reminders or email customers about seasonal promotions to encourage repeat business. If your business utilizes a field service management software, you can make customer email lists right away using your existing data and send multiple emails at once, saving you even more time. Make sure that email address becomes a datapoint you collect from every customer and that you enter it safely into your customer database.

If your field service company has a website, you could also use an email automation program to make the most of online visitors. Streamline your email marketing process with personalized emails that trigger based on user engagement signals, such as clicks on certain pages, email opens, and purchase history. This will more than likely take a bit of technical work to integrate with your website, but if used properly it could become a powerful and effective tool for getting more leads.

Creating Effective Emails

Harnessing the power of email marketing can change the trajectory of any field service business when executed correctly. In creating emails to send to your customers, consider the following tips.

Be Purposeful with the Subject Line

Nail that subject line, as it is the first thing a customer sees in any email. Aim for a casual, personal, and concise opening line. 60-65 characters serves as an agreed-upon “sweet spot” for subject lines. With many email programs, you can pull a customer’s first name into the subject line for an added personal touch.

Send Promotions

Letting your customers know about a promotion marks the first step to making that promotion successful. Consider running promotions for seasonal work and send a blast to your customers to encourage them to take advantage. You can also consider automatically sending out birthday coupons to your existing customers as a special surprise!

Make Emails Personal

Maintain a personal and conversational tone in your emails. Personalizing your email campaigns increases your open and click-through rates.

Send A Welcome Email

Welcoming new customers to your company email list helps build a strong inter-company relationship from the beginning. Feature a warm introductory message thanking new customers for their business.

Add A Subscribe Button to Your Website

A “Subscribe” button or section on your website’s homepage can be important for potential new customers who might be attracted to promotions or exclusive discounts.

Utilize Data After Emails Are Sent

With many email marketing programs, you will get statistics on your success after emails go out. The most common and most important statistics include email opens and email click throughs. Over time, you could see if a certain day of the week works better for your customers than any other. Tuesday is oftentimes considered the most popular day, but the optimum spot could be different for your business. Try sending out your emails on different days and and at different times to see if these stats change for better or worse. You can also try sending emails more than once a week to see if they get opened more the first time or second time.

As mentioned, time of day could also be tinkered with to find out what works best for your customers. Several studies concluded that the best time to send emails is between 9 AM and 11 AM. You might also find success sending out business-related emails later in the day, as people check out of work mode and start looking for distractions. 53% of emails received during a workday get opened between 9 AM and 5 PM.

Add Call to Action Phrases

Make sure you make it clear in your emails what you want the recipient to do after reading. Check out these great field service repair company email call-to-action phrases: “Schedule your appointment today,” “Subscribe here,” “Refer a friend.” Create a sense of urgency by limiting supply, and demand will encourage readers to act sooner.

Take Control by Doing it Yourself

Email marketing can become a valuable tool in growing customer relationships and sales for your service company. If you have already taken your customer database digital with field service software, consider taking your marketing digital as well. Use the two tools hand-in-hand to promote your field service business more effectively and efficiently.



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