Before the Coronavirus pandemic, the field service industry was slowly, but surely, adopting new technologies. Field service management software with features like digital payment, dispatching, product presentations, Etc. was quickly gaining popularity, but there were still numerous companies only using a few of these new tools or none at all.
That is likely to change even after the COVID-19 shut-downs and quarantines end. According to an article from Axios on the effects of the Coronavirus, “Many of the changes to the world order that have been slowly creeping in will now be accelerated,” and it’s all but certain that these changes will also impact the field service industry.
The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Affected Nearly Every Industry Worldwide
The Coronavirus has closed entire cities across the U.S., and businesses that remain open have had to drastically change their business models. Many companies have switched to remote operations. Some restaurants and local shops have all turned to online or phone orders to continue operating, and big online retailers have increased hiring to keep up with demand as global supply lines and manufacturing slows or breaks down completely.
According to The Economist, “…the firms that survive will have to master a new environment…” The author goes onto say that the trend of adopting new technologies will only be accelerated.
While essential businesses such as plumbers, HVAC and electricians have been spared from the shutdown, many companies have already started feeling the effect of these changes.
Field Service Companies Can Adapt to Overcome the COVID-19 Shutdown
Google ‘plumbers,’ and you’ll likely find at least one article reporting increased calls for plumbing businesses. However, I’ve read industry forums with plumbers saying their calls have slowed down. HVAC companies have nearly all listed decreased sales, and across the industry, nearly everyone is interested in the government’s PPP Loans. This is all evidence that essential businesses are also feeling the effects of the pandemic.
Despite this, some field service businesses have adapted to meet the challenge, and just like other industries, they’ve changed their business models to accommodate customers. In one forum post, I read of a company not requiring signatures “to minimize touched surfaces.” Some wrote of requiring their technicians to wear PPE, and one emphasized offering value to customers “…in a way that shows an ability to protect the family.”
Just as in every industry, customers’ expectations are evolving. In order to make customers feel safe, plumbers, HVAC and electrical companies will need to interact as remotely as possible with clients, and this will require adapting to new technologies and solutions. These expectations are sure to linger with customers for years to come if not indefinitely even after the pandemic ends.
3 Field Service Management Solutions to Adapt to the Pandemic
One solution is accepting digital payment remotely. One columnist in Forbes writes, “Stores around the world, including some supermarket and grocery store chains, have opted to go card only, refusing cash. It’s a change they say is only during the coronavirus crisis but seems unlikely to ever go back to how it was before.” If they aren’t already, field service businesses need to start remotely collecting payment, and this one step can go a long way in helping customers and technicians feel safer on a service call. It’s also a convenience that customers will likely expect even after the city-wide lockdowns end.
Secondly, plumbers, HVAC techs and electricians can invest in tools like field service management software for greater efficiency and contact-free service calls. With features that show returns on digital ads, optimized drive times, driving stats from trucks and more, managers and owners can make decisions based on real data instead of the anxiety we all feel. These features can also empower techs to remotely discover customer’s unmet needs, remotely present options and remotely receive approval for work. Techs and customers feel safer, and businesses are adding value via convenience.
Lastly, remote work is possible even for plumbers, HVAC and electricians with the right tools. CSR’s, dispatchers, bookkeepers and managers can all work from home with a sales system that allows for customizable call forwarding, and the benefits to remote work go beyond the pandemic. A smaller office means less overhead during the upcoming recovery and for every economic season.
Position Your Business for Success Now and in the Future
It’s not too late to position your company for success during the Coronavirus pandemic and for the years to come. Because of our work with a multitude of service companies, Zip Solutions has a unique vantage point in the industry, and we’d be happy to share some of our insights on how to discover more peace of mind in managing your business. Feel free to give us a call at 636-222-2222 if you’re interested in adapting your business for future growth. Sign up for a demo to see how Zip Solutions offers the tools needed to succeed in this and future markets.