3 Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Service Business

Which kinds of companies have the worst rate of success after their fifth year? Restaurants? Mobile gaming? Nope. The biggest losers, according to Statistic Brain, appear to be plumbing, heating and air conditioning (HVAC) companies. Single-family housing construction companies came in a close-second.

Considering the field service business marketplace as a whole is growing so quickly, to over $5 billion in 2020, why are so many businesses failing? Simple: the best companies know how to manage growth, innovate on customer service delivery and promote their services better than other new upstarts.

Here are the 3 mistakes that could ruin your service business (and how to avoid them):

Not Managing Business Growth with Technology

You need skilled people, physical workspace, a fleet of vehicles to get to jobsites – but you also need something intangible behind the scenes: efficient business processes.

Handling bookings, managing work orders, quotes and billing, vehicle route planning, organizing a call center and more are administrative hassles for growing businesses. These activities are cost centers. It’s also stressful and time-consuming.

Poor managers will simply assign these activities out to administrative personnel without giving them the technology they need. It’s not uncommon for administrators in this position to adopt solutions ad hoc, mashing up apps like Google Calendar, Skype, Excel spreadsheets and others, where the data can’t ‘talk’ between the different programs. Many don’t know that integrating these activities with sales and marketing data in a single field services software platform is even possible.

Companies struggle with this, but they don’t have to.  The tech solution is there for the taking.

For instance, ServiceMaster by Reid, a fire and water restoration company uses many of Vonigo’s features to streamline the administrative processes for their growing business. Technicians are able check their work orders, provide estimates and invoices using their mobile devices while still on their jobsite. “It’s a lot more efficient with customers booking online,” says Owner and Operator Scott Reid. “It’s like the customers are creating the invoice for you. The service technician can just show up and focus on the job at hand.”

Not Adapting Customer Service Processes

Many field service companies take pride in the quality of their customer service. Certainly, the best companies realize that delivering a positive experience can be a key differentiator in a competitive field services marketplace.

But it may also be the case that companies aren’t quite as good at this as they think they are: according to one recent study of this sector, just 55 percent of customers said the overall service visit had a directly positive effect on their opinion of the company. The rest were either ambivalent or dissatisfied.

This suggests companies could do more to improve on how they deliver customer service. The first step? Recognizing there’s a problem. One easy way to do that is by looking through the social mentions and online reviews. Instead of reflexively looking on negative reviews as a marketing problem, use them proactively. As Wade L. from Square Cow Movers put it, “Drop that defensive attitude that so many business owners want to have when they’re dealing with a challenging client.” Instead, use negative reviews relating to customer service as a teachable moment for your staff.

What if you don’t have any negative reviews to guide you? That’s not necessarily an indication there’s no problem. Your marketing person can run surveys directly through your email newsletter with built-in tools on Mailchimp to ask customers for frank feedback (in return for a promotional giveaway or raffle incentive). That way, you get a real impression from a customer that they might not have been willing to share with your field service technician directly. Use that feedback to change whatever needs changing to improve customer satisfaction.

Not Saying What Makes Their Company Special

“We care about our customers.” “Service you can trust.” “Working hard for you.” “Quality is job one.” Slogans like these say nothing about your company because so many other companies use variations on these. The supposedly safe, unimaginative, generic approach to describing a company is actually the riskiest strategy of all. A company that doesn’t stand out won’t get customers.

Far better for companies to adopt a more specialized, memorable approach in all of their promotional outlets, from their website to social media and elevator pitches at trade shows. Tell a story. One great example: when Modern PURAIR tweeted: “Removed 16,204 lbs of dust from residential homes in 2014! Help us beat that for 2015!” That little factoid helped explain the value of their business in under 140 characters, while showing off their enthusiasm for the work.”

Even better: start gathering glowing testimonials from your customers. For many customers, positive testimonials are what gets them to make a call to a company they’ve never dealt with before.

Many companies try to do this, but then they don’t put their best foot forward. They put the testimonials below the fold on their website, or on a page that’s hard to find without clicking three or four times. They copy and paste testimonials from survey responses or emails, without bothering to fix obvious spelling mistakes. Or they just list these blurbs from clients willy-nilly, not checking to ensure that the best ones are the most prominent (and leaving off mixed reviews altogether). A little editorial oversight can go a long way to helping actually reach customers in a crowded marketplace.

This article was guest written by an author from Vonigo, a business management platform that helps streamline operations and increase sales of mobile service companies.

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