Business efficiency is often touted as the answer to all your questions. Just increase your efficiency and you’ll see your profits soar, your employees happier, and your customers satisfied.
And it’s all true - it is a vital attribute because at its core, business efficiency refers to getting maximum value out of every process. For example, a pest control company with 25 techs can easily do as many projects as one with 50. Sounds impossible? Not with the right methods.
Digital solutions are decisive in the challenge to increase business efficiency. Which is why today we’ve asked our friends at Commusoft, a leading field service software, to tell us how the right digital methods can help you overtake the competition and upgrade your business:
It’s one of the areas people complain most about. When was the last time a memo got lost in the pile or a text message was ignored? What about an innocent scribble that came off as passive-aggressive and caused more office drama than it was worth?
Miscommunication is a big issue even in small companies or family-owned ones. And as your business grows, you’ll find that a Facebook chat just doesn’t cover it.
There are plenty of professional digital solutions, from Slack to Trello to Monday. It’s a matter of smoothing out the rough edges and keeping things business. Slack is a particularly good one (they haven’t been appraised at $5 billion for nothing) - since it features individual channels for each member as well as team channels, file exchanges, and great emojis. Never underestimate the value of a good smiley face when you want to make sure everyone knows you’re cracking a joke.
It takes the hassle out of back-and-forth emailing and encourages people to communicate better and keep each other updated on the work progress.
This means less time wasted moving around appointments because something wasn’t in the calendar, fewer hours lost going to the wrong address because your tech misheard a street name, or less overstock because people can ask each other which parts they have in their inventory. The benefits go on but you can already notice how much more efficient your business would be if you just smoothed out these small things.
The field service industry, and particularly pest control and lawn care, have often relied on traditional marketing. From fliers to letters and branded merchandise, it’s simply a requirement for staying in business.
You need your name out there. But these days, a great big mug won’t cut it anymore. We’re not saying to go and throw out all your branded keychains, but a good mix of digital and traditional marketing can take you much further. No amount of coasters will ever be as valuable as a good Google ranking.
Imagine you’re in an emergency situation (and what pest situation isn’t an emergency?). Will you start looking around for that brochure that you spilled coffee on a few weeks ago? No, you’ll just grab your phone, search “pest control company” and click one of the first page results. You might even wind up on Local Service by Google, where you'll be able to see which businesses in your area are Google Guaranteed.
Business productivity is also about how to earn more customers with less money spent on acquisition. It’s a fact that digital marketing tools have a lower entry-barrier than traditional advertising. Usually, it’s recommended to let the experts do it. But if you just want to dip your toes, you can always start with a Facebook marketing strategy, some free online management tools like HubSpot or Hootsuite, and - why not? - a blog. Then let people know about new posts with an automated MailChimp (also free!) newsletter.
Use your insider knowledge to educate your customers and build a personality around your company.
Whether you’re the experienced, family-owned company or the young underdog, people buy from people so giving your company a voice can be empowering. Did we mention that a month-long Facebook campaign can be cheaper than a single box of branded pens? That’s true business efficiency.
3. Customer experience
A Walker report showed that by 2020, experience will overtake price as the key decision factor for consumers.
You might be thinking “How does that help me? I’m not selling ice-cream.” And we agree, pest control, lawn care, plumbing and heating - it’s a bit hard to turn fixing a pipe into an experience worthy of an Instagram post. It might not even be a matter of quality since at the end of the day, mowed lawn is mowed lawn. Frustrating, it’s true, but unless you do a terrible job of it and have to respond to negative reviews, most customers won’t even be able to tell the difference.
But a great field service user experience sets you apart from the competition, allows you to charge premium prices, and creates loyalty. This is how a company with 25 techs can earn as much as one with 50. It’s all in their business productivity strategy. And the way to achieve it is to tackle each part of your customer journey and see if there’s a digital tool that can make it better.
For example, the first call. Most people hate calling these days. It even has a name: phone anxiety.
Why not have a booking portal like hotels or restaurants have? Or the service window - another pain point for most people who have to take a full day off to wait around for a technician who said they’ll arrive between 8 and 5. Offer them a tracking portal, similar to Uber or FedEx. There are many individual tools that can help you with each step or you can always go for a job management software with multiple features.
All in all, business efficiency is not necessarily about a sprawling overhaul of all your processes but an incremental, step-by-step training of your employees to identify the unproductive areas.
More often than not, it’s a lack of information that there’s a better way of working that does most companies in. So make sure that you’re up-to-date with new business strategies and get that team efficiency going!