When you first start your Field Service Business, your motivation is sky-rocketing. You have a shiny new UTE (or not so shiny may be), a great business name that you just got registered with and some professional-looking hi-vis workwear.
By 4:00 pm the first day, you realise that alone is not going to work. You need a way to get the word out for your business, get licenses and certificates in order, talk to suppliers, create a business bank account, get insured, get an accountant (or your wife to do the book-keeping) and when the work eventually begins pouring in you realize that one pair of hands is not enough.
You hire a few people, train them out of your own pocket and when they finally begin to work without supervision, smoko breaks or sick leaves and you stop to take a breath, its EOFY! You have not recorded vehicle depreciation or renewed worker compensation and group certificates have totally slipped your mind.
Shit. Before you find yourself nodding to all of those, you already know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The real challenge is about to begin. Here are some of the biggest problems Field Service Suppliers have been ranting about and with the current situation of the industry, we believe they can’t be any truer.
1. Difficult customers that want more for nothing
We all bump into one of those every now and then. They want a quality job done by a qualified provider at a handyman’s rate. Sorry mate, that’s not how it works.
2. Not having enough time in the day
Eye bags, a cup of coffee and late night invoices. Too many service suppliers have been there! With the skill shortage in Australia, most hi-vis guys and girls are losing their work-life balance with more work lined up than they can handle.
3. Employees taking too many sick leaves
Not to suggest that one should come to work with their eyes streaming with conjunctivitis they caught from their dog, but just because you are entitled to take sick leaves, doesn’t mean you must take them, even when you are not sick. Holdups are created on site that actually end up costing employers a lot.
4. Suppliers not turning up when promised
Nothing is more frustrating than your work stuck up as you wait for suppliers. It’s not in your hands, but who will explain this to the clients? There are few things worse than property occupants running out of patience.
5. Invoicing and chasing late payments
We hear this too often, the quicker you send your invoices the quicker they get paid. But you only have so many hours in a day and by the time you get time, they have already piled up.
What’s worse? More time wasted running after customers who don’t pay. When mechanics and hairdressers get paid instantly, why do plumbers and electricians have to wait for 2 to 3 months to get their money?
6. Constant interruption from staff and clients
Can you name anything more annoying than constantly being buzzed by the staff, suppliers and the clients when you are already in the middle of the job?
7. Stuck due to work required to be done by other technicians
Bottlenecks! Arrgg! You know when and how to schedule the team working under you, but you feel stuck when you are a plumber or an electrician and you are still waiting for the other guys to finish their job so you can start yours.
8. Customers preferring lower cost over high skills and experience
Good work is not cheap. Cheap work is not good. Full stop! Too many cowboys try to undercut your rates and fly away with a job you wanted so bad. Well mate, let me tell you something. You won’t last long.
9. Irregular work
There are times when your phone does not ring that often with your staff sitting idle and then there are times when you have too much work than you can handle.
10. Cash flow issues
Ever took a big cash job only to find out that you have no real money to pay the bills? Yes. Cash is king, especially so for Field Service Suppliers. Not invoicing property occupants, overhead expenses, not realising hidden costs, poor credit terms and the list goes on.
11. Demand by customers to respond to job requests immediately
Yes all projects are important but you need to finish what you have started before going to the next job. Property occupants expect you to drop everything and start their job straight away.
12. Sub-contractors not completing work on time
Ever hired a subby only to wish later on that you had not? Field Service employers feel they are better off dealing with the workload themselves than hiring a subby who would do a substandard job while making property occupants uncomfortable all the time.
13. Finding good apprentices/employees
If you have been ranting about the non-serious attitude of your apprentices, you are not alone. Taking too many breaks, only interested in beer o’clock, not ready to put in their blood and sweat, carelessness and an obsession of being the boss, really gets Field Service business owners.
14. Too many interruptions from spam calling
Maddening calls from people that you don’t know and don’t ever want to know either! If you have still not registered with the DNCR you are also probably taking calls thinking that it’s a potential client only to find out that it’s an annoying telemarketer!
15. Gender pay gap
Is there anything that sucks more than doing the same, or even better quality of work than your male counterpart and then watching him walk away with twice the wage than yours? Talk about being fair!
16. Unbillable hours
Nobody cares about the time spent on calls, miscommunication, quoting, client meetings, plan approvals, waiting to get supplies or going back to fix those little things that were missed the first time.
17. Time wasted due to free quoting
Who in the world created the idea of free quoting? Let’s hang him! It costs you money, time and effort to go out and quote a job, and if you don’t get it, sometimes property occupants don’t even bother to say a mere: “thank you for your time.”
Wrapping it Up
That’s pretty much the life of every tradie, day in and day out. If you can’t relate to any of the above, consider yourself lucky.
While you might not be able to sort every single one of them, fortunately there is help available to make some of these rants a thing of the past.
- Get yourself a business coach. This will help you get off the tools and work on your business growth making it a lifelong asset.
- Get yourself and your team a field management software like i4T Business and i4T Employee, to streamline workflow, manage time and resources better and deliver a service your customers will love.
- Got a bigger team? Employee management can be a challenge for most Field Service Providers. Get a HR person experienced in helping you with hiring apprentices, policy management, compensation, leaves etc.
- Talk to an accountant who can run a cloud-based accounting software like Xero or MYOB, to put an end to your cash-flow woes.
- While we recognise that a gender problem exists in the industry, some female supplier are defying the norm and it will only be a matter of time that employers realize that they are as good as their male counterparts.
Note: The article was created after discussing with over 50 tradie wives, about the biggest challenges their partners face in running their business.