What are fast-growth field service businesses focussing on in 2022?
2021 was a challenging year for businesses running field-based teams. These firms saw costs and demand for their services rocket, but shortages in supplies, skilled workers and fuel played havoc on operations and made it difficult to maintain excellent customer service.
The State of the Field Service Sector, published by BigChange, asked business leaders how they dealt with these challenges in the 12 months to July 2021. It identified five key areas that businesses are focussing on to grow stronger in 2022.
Firms have performed significantly better across the field service sector since the end of the first strict lockdown in July 2020. Turnover was up by 79 per cent on average, compared to the previous 12 months, and a third of businesses saw profits increase by at least 50 per cent.
However, less that half (48 per cent) of leaders reported their companies were profitable during this period, and 70 per cent said their margins were under continued pressure from the rising cost of materials, fuel and labour.
In addition to increasing the profitability of every job, firms are focusing on freeing-up cash for growth. Practical steps to support this goal include instant invoicing with proof of service or delivery and offering a wider range of convenient payment options.
Most firms expect to be busier in 2022, with nearly one-in-five (17 per cent) anticipating workloads to double in the next 12 months. Growth expectations are highest among building maintenance, facilities management, cleaning and waste management firms.
However, businesses are starting to feel the effects of a skills shortage, limiting their ability to complete this work. 56 per cent of field service leaders reported difficulty in retaining frontline operators.
The best companies are taking measures to meet this issue head-on. We see firms using intelligent scheduling to increase the number of jobs teams complete each day and improving first time fix rates by ensuring the right stock, equipment and parts are available when and where field service operatives need them.
The ban on the sale of fossil fuel vehicles by 2030 will have a massive impact on field service businesses. It’s a change that leaders need to be ready for. However, the smartest firms are already aware of the impact running large field-based teams has on the planet (as well as their bottom line), and are taking incremental steps to improve their sustainability.
Using smart scheduling to plan routes and jobs more efficiently can have a dramatic effect on both fuel efficiency and the amount of time spent on the road. Individual field service operatives at organisations adopting our job management platform typically achieve a 10% reduction in fuel usage and spend 10 fewer hours on the road each month than they did before using BigChange.
With more significant safety regulations brought about through the pandemic, compliance remains a crucial concern for field service businesses. And it’s one that many are struggling to stay on top of. More than half (53 per cent) reportedly breached industry regulations in the last 12 months.
For ambitious companies, compliance problems can present a real challenge to growth. Of the reported breaches, 19 per cent resulted in a loss of reputation. Nearly one-quarter (24 per cent) of firms said rules and regulations were currently stopping their business from working as efficiently as they would like.
Business leaders we speak to recognise that meeting compliance requirements at scale requires oversight of all parts of their operations in real-time, as well as method statements and documented ways of working that can be followed easily in the field.
#5 Customer Experience
Limited opportunities to offer ‘competitive prices’ has meant more firms are turning customer experience into a new source of competitive advantage. More than two-thirds of leaders (68 per cent) said ‘good service’ now requires same-working-day fixes for reactive jobs, and companies are optimising their operations to be able to deliver that more consistently.
Another area we see field service businesses focusing on to improve customer experience is the use of digital tools. More and more are introducing online booking as part of digital experiences that keep clients fully informed on things like arrival times and job progress.
BigChange is the complete Job Management Platform that’s helping field service businesses across the UK to win more work, take control of their operations and deliver winning customer experiences.
Discover how BigChange field service management software can make your business grow stronger here and arrange a free demo today.
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