Helping you make the most of your new customers and giving your company an edge going forward
Congratulations! Another busy season is officially in the books, and you’ve managed to survive with your sanity intact. High fives all around. But before you come up for air and take a well-deserved break, there are some important areas of your business that might need some looking after.
How your business performed should be fresh on your mind. So, this is the best time to turn your attention to some long-term strategies and operational efficiencies to help you make the most of your new customers and give your company an edge going forward. Who knows, if you play your cards right, you just might discover the key to thriving during the inevitable slower months or figure out how to do an even better job during the next busy season.
In this guide, we’ll help you navigate through some of the most vital areas to focus on now that the dust has finally settled.
One of the most effective ways to grow your business is to keep your customers coming back for more. Indeed, there’s nothing quite like watching all that residual income stack up over time. Not only does it add value to your bottom line, but it also gives your business a strong foundation to build on in the future. That’s why It’s always a good idea to work your renewals early and often. The basic process is pretty simple:
Check the Numbers. Your first stop should be to check your metrics. Specifically, you need to know who hasn’t renewed yet and when their service agreements are set to expire. This is pretty cut and dry if you’re using some sort of field service software solution. If so, you can typically just run a report and get pretty much everything you need. Otherwise, it may take a bit of data crunching to find your answers. In any case, once you have this information, you’re ready to make your next move.
Determine a Communications Plan. Back in the old days, a simple phone call and a letter in the mail would be all it took to snag another renewal. Things are a bit more complicated now, with distractions at every turn. Telemarketers and caller ID have made it easier than ever to ignore phone calls, and an avalanche of junk mail has trained an entire generation to let mail pile up before even glancing at it. Likewise, new arrivals like email, text, and automated voice messages have provided even more convenient ways to stay in touch. That’s not to say the old-school ways are completely ineffective. In fact, they may be preferable depending on who you’re attempting to contact. That’s why it’s important to find a way to record customer preferences and take them into consideration when the time comes. Your software can be a lifesaver here if it allows you to do so. Of course, it seldom takes just one contact before the renewal. Often, you’ll need to try a few times before getting them to pay attention and decide. Choosing the right combination is key. So, it’s nice to have a few options in your arsenal and alternate methods until you find success.
Get Specific. For some people, a generic reminder is all it takes to do the trick. But when it comes to customers acquired during busy season, it might be worthwhile to gently remind them why they called you up to begin with. If you’re running a pest control business, and they originally had termite issues, for example, it might be a good idea to inform them about all the issues those critters can cause and how a simple inspection can spare them from headaches in the long run.
The end of your busy phase usually means collections season is right around the corner. While no one really looks forward to pestering customers about outstanding invoices, the sad reality is that it’s an essential duty for any growing business. After all, it doesn’t matter how much new business you just closed if you run into cash flow issues due to late payments—or worse, if you don’t ever get paid for all those jobs.
While you probably already have methods and an approach that works well, there’s nothing wrong with a little fine-tuning—especially if you’re looking to add technology into the mix. Here are a few ways you may be able to improve your process.
As with renewals, the best time to begin the collections process is right as the sale is made. Making sure customers understand what to expect—when payments are due and what will happen in the case of delinquency—is essential. It helps ensure there are no surprises and can make the entire process run a little smoother. Getting it all in writing and adding this information to your service agreement—if it’s not already there—is the way to go.
Before you get into it, you need to answer the key questions: who owes you, how much, how long have they been delinquent, and so on. This is pretty basic and fairly easy to figure out, even without the aid of a technology solution. Implementing one, however, can make sure no one slips through the cracks and may provide some additional insights such as days sales outstanding (DSO) and other handy metrics.
That DSO number is particularly interesting. It shows you the average number of days it takes to collect payments. In addition to measuring the effectiveness of your collections process, it can also help you make accurate forecasts so you can avoid running into cash flow woes during slow months. To calculate this number manually, divide the total number of accounts receivable during a given period by the total amount of sales during the same period. Then multiply that amount by the number of days in that timeframe.
One of the easiest things you can do to ensure prompt payment is to simply send out invoices in a timely manner. Sounds basic, and it is. But ask anyone who’s had the pleasure of mailing thousands of paper invoices, sending countless emails, or making individual phone calls, and they’ll tell you that it’s a time-consuming and grueling process. Automating things can save tons of time.
With modern field service technology—like FieldRoutesTM—you can automatically send customized emails, texts, or voicemail messages to delinquent customers. What’s more, you can set it up so they go out according to your policies or based on whatever criteria works best for you. In addition to adding hours to your day, this also ensures consistency in your communications process. With all that extra time on your hands, your team will be able to focus more on those problem customers who need a more personal touch.
If this is a particular pain point for your team, there’s nothing wrong with getting some assistance from some experts. Your customers do it all the time when they enlist your team to help them take care of their issues. Bringing on a consultant or even outsourcing collections activities can alleviate some of the pressure from your team and improve your process.
If you haven’t already done so, you may want to check out our integrated partners, A.R.M. Solutions, at www.armsolutions.com. They offer a wide range of services and solutions intended to help companies of all sizes reduce delinquencies and make things easier.
If outsourcing isn’t your thing, it’s important to do what you’re doing right now and seek out blogs, Eguides, and other online information resources to generate some new ideas. Likewise, it’s a good idea to talk to your operator friends and see what they’re having success with.
Payment processing isn’t something most business owners think about every day. Yet, it’s a bit of an unsung hero when it comes to your collections efforts. Integrating your processor of choice with your software can give you access to key data and reports that can be critical to your success. It can also add some handy functionality, including a customer payment portal.
As you already know, one of the best ways to get paid is to make the process easy and convenient for your customers. So, if you don’t already have some sort of online payment portal where your customers can check their accounts and make a quick payment, then there’s no better time to implement one. Another crucial feature that can make a difference is autopay—where customers can set up and make automatic payments to settle things up.
Using all these abilities together can transform your collections efforts. If you’re a FieldRoutes client, then you’re good to go on this front. You have access to all of this and more by taking advantage of our in-house, integrated payment processing services. Clients of our payment processing services are also first in line to enjoy all the latest features as they’re developed, like our recently released automatic Account Updater, where lost, stolen, and expired credit card information is automatically updated.
1/3 OF CARDS ARE REISSUED each year (1)
Merchants have to CONTACT CUSTOMERS 2-3X to update their card details before services are cancelled (3)
OVER $5,000 IN LOST REVENUE each year due to outdated payment card information (2)
Which takes on average 12 MINUTES PER 3 CUSTOMER 12 (3)
OVER 50 CANCELLATIONS on average each year due to outdated payment card information (2)
And COSTS ON AVERAGE $50 to update a customer account (3)
U.S. statistics, cited in study by Auriemma Consulting Group – Automatic and Recurring Card Payments, Cardbeat US, Issue 5 2016
Internal 12-month study of FieldRoutes clients not using Account Updater
U.S. statistics, cited in Credential-on-file Pain Point Research conducted by Engine Group, Inc., June 2018
Busy season can be stressful for you and your team. During crunch time, your team must deal with a ton of new customers, extra paperwork, extreme heat, long hours on the road, and more. It can raise the blood pressure of even the most dedicated employee. But before everyone starts planning their hard-earned vacation, it’s important to take some time to huddle up to see what worked out, what didn’t work at all, and what you can do better next year.
It’s easy to take things for granted when things work out well. That’s why you hired your team to begin with, after all. But taking care of business during busy times is more challenging than when things are going smooth, and it’s not uncommon to have a handful of employees step up to the plate and go the extra mile. What better time is there to recognize these rock stars?
Acknowledging a job well done shows everyone that you genuinely appreciate their contributions and can motivate your team to do even better. There are a number of ways to go about this. For example, you can hand out a physical award, give them gift cards or pay bonuses, extra paid time off, a cushy parking spot, and so on. You may even decide to reward the whole team with some sort of party, group outing, or company dinner. You know your team better than anyone else, so it’s entirely up to you.
Mistakes happen. That’s an unfortunate reality for every business, regardless of how prepared, organized, or well-intentioned you are. But how you choose to deal with those issues can make all the difference. A measured, focused approach is usually the smart way to go, especially when evaluating your team.
It’s important to understand that sometimes good employees have bad days. It happens to the best of us, especially when the pressure is on. If you had any employees who consistently slipped up, this is a good time to address things before they get out of hand. The solution could be as simple as providing additional training or finding new ways to keep them motivated. Whatever you decide, be sure to give them a roadmap to improve and let them know it’s okay to ask for help if needed.
Regardless of how well things went during busy season, it’s important to recognize that there’s always room for improvement. As things slow down, it’s a good idea to get some feedback from your team—those who were in the thick of it during the busy times—to get their ideas as well. You never know where that next great idea for innovation might come from, and it’s always a good idea to look from multiple perspectives.
Your technology affects nearly every part of your business. So, it has the most potential to impact your operations and future growth. Get it right, and you’re set up for years of success. Get it wrong, and you could be looking at some frustrating times ahead. Thankfully, there’s nothing like busy season to push your software to its limits. So, this is a great time to take a look at how well your solutions performed and find any room for improvement.
You may have bagged all the business you could handle and then some during the busy months, but did your software hold up its end of the bargain? Did your team routinely struggle to keep tabs on new prospects? Did they have a hard time managing the pipeline or entering and retrieving information due to a clunky app or missing functionality? Now’s the time to evaluate things and find out.
Did you have to fight tooth and nail for every new sales lead, or did they come to you on a silver platter? If it was an uphill battle during busy season, just imagine how hard it’ll be when things slow down. Even if everything went great, this is a good time to look at your marketing efforts and adjust as needed. When you do, pay special attention to your website and look for ways to use it to capture more leads and drive your sales process.
When things are going nice and easy, the scheduling process may seem like a walk in the park. Not so when things heat up. Inefficiencies here can mean missed stops, overbooked technicians, and more time spent on the road. If your software can automatically schedule new leads or drag and drop them into your technician’s schedules, you’re probably fine. If not, you may want to look at a solution that can help you here.
How many stops per day did your technicians average? How much time did they spend on the road? What about fuel costs? If those numbers seem a bit high, then perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your routing process. Thankfully, software has come a long way in recent years, taking all kinds of variables into consideration to keep your team’s windshield time down. If your current solution isn’t helping you, it may be time to consider switching things up.
Getting paid may seem fairly routine, but there are a number of things to consider. Do you automatically send invoices after appointments, or are you still doing things the oldfashioned way? Do you have a payment portal where customers can check their accounts and make online payments? Do you automate followups and collection reminders? If not, this is a good time to consider your options and leverage some time-saving technology.
You can have the best tools ever made, but they don’t mean anything if you and your team don’t know how to take full advantage of them. When business slows down, it’s a great time to review your software’s abilities and functionality. Who knows, you may find some new and improved ways to take care of business. This is also a great time to bone up on your software and train your staff.
New customers mean more appointment reminders, collection notices, and marketing follow-ups. If you aren’t using your software to automate this process, then your team is wasting countless hours that would be better spent elsewhere. If you’re already taking advantage of this functionality, it can’t hurt to review your process and look for ways to further improve your messaging.
It’s kind of hard to manage your business when you’re flying blind without any data to guide you. In fact, it’s impossible to answer any of the key questions outlined here, which means you’ll have your work cut out for you when trying to figure out how to improve. Likewise, all that data is useless if you need a master’s degree to decipher it or if it’s days old. Instead, look for a solution that provides an easy way to access and review your information in real-time.
If you notice deficiencies or opportunities to do better in any of these areas, consider giving us a call. With our forward thinking software and fully-integrated marketing solutions, we have everything a growing field service business needs to modernize operations and improve efficiencies across the board.
We hope this guide has been helpful. Whether you’re looking to add efficiencies, make things easier for your employees, improve your customer experience, increase sales, or anything in between, FieldRoutes is committed to helping your business reach its full potential.
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