"Great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people" - Steve Jobs.
The quote from Steve Jobs perfectly sums up how we are all starting to look at our businesses as we begin to look towards the new financial year. Whilst we all need to embrace strong performance from each of our team members, that team's collective efforts will drive the most effective results for our businesses.
Against this backdrop, there is a focus on productive use of existing resources to perform Field Service work but is this the best strategy and is there a way to make things operate better for all concerned. Here we examine the key considerations for any Services leader to consider and suggest a way that delivers a clear and cohesive strategy with customer service excellence and profitability at its core.
The key considerations
Using one's technical resources
1. Using your staff improves their utilization.
Having staff on the payroll gives you an immediate call on their time and control over what tasks they focus on. With staff available but not utilized, it makes sense to send them to jobs where they can be productive, even if they are not performing inherently profitable work – having that "bench" and fixed cost of staff needs to be paid for somehow. Maybe it makes sense to consider having lower overall fixed costs, trimming that expensive resource so that the remaining resource is highly utilized and then consider using a Third-Party specialist field service partner for the lower-level stuff?
2. Using your staff can be counter-productive.
Using existing staff may prove counter-productive, especially if they are working on installing a POS terminal when there is an issue with client equipment requiring their more specialist skills. This may leave that client site exposed whilst they finish off the simple installation and then move to that site. Furthermore, suppose a skilled engineer is being deployed doing lower-level installation work. In that case, they may view this negatively, and this might, in turn, prompt them to consider alternative jobs with companies where they are not given what they may perceive are lower-level tasks.
So by putting existing in-house engineers on to these lower-level tasks may not only clients with more complex technical issues become unhappy, but it may also open the door for that skilled (and scarce resource) to consider looking for a role elsewhere.
3. Your staff can cover a limited geographic area.
The issue of geography and coverage has been more magnified given the recent pandemic. And when looking at using your staff, you can see that they provide limited geographic coverage, especially compared to the increasingly nationally spread clients. So using your team may be suitable for a small number of client sites or those that map to client locations. But for areas further afield, using your staff requires to travel (if it is not restricted) the cost of sending the staff member there. The opportunity cost of that team member not being able to work on other things.
4. Your staff come with your blueprint for customer service and customer excellence.
With customer service being one of the key differentiators for many providers, it is not difficult to see that using one's staff comes with an implied guarantee of customer service. Staff members are "imprinted" with the
Using a Field Service Partner5. Field Service resources are available and complementary
Using a Field Service partner makes sense when it comes to having access to skilled technical resources available to resolve a customer query or perform an installation in a location that you cannot cover yourself with your resources. Complimentary to existing technical resources, using a Field Service partner provides greater geographic coverage and is generally available to fix customer queries faster (and cheaper) than using your resource or sending them to a distant location and paying for travel to that location.
6. No "bench" to worry about
Having a Field Service partner act as a complementary fit – either providing complementary physical cover or a complementary set of skills coverage – makes economic sense. It simply provides your business access to skills and resources without the need to have them hired, on staff and a cost on the balance sheet. , they relieve the need for a "bench" of resources and move the team's risk from your balance sheet to the balance sheet of the Field Services partner, which makes sense.
7. Provide scale and reach to "fill in" where your staff cannot
As we have alluded to before, using the right Field Service partner can provide scale and reach whilst also having that resource available to respond to a client query on time, without the need to jump on a plane and fly staff to fix that issue. This access to scale can support widespread client engagements and act as the backbone to support the general expansion of the business to other cities, states, or regions.
8. Fixed price call-outs lock-in profitability
With the perpetual drive towards securing profitable engagements with clients, having the right Field Service partner can also lock in profitability through Fixed Price calls. Gone needs to provide services to clients with the uncertainty of pricing, length on-site and the inevitable angst when the job is done, and the bill is larger than expected. With fixed-price calls, the right Field Service partner can deliver predictability of cost, the certainty of the job completed and help lock in profitability for the partner.
The consideration of using existing internal resources versus using the resources of a Field Service partner is one that many Service leaders are wrestling with. The constant desire to use existing team members will always be present. Still, savvy Services managers use a blended approach – use existing internal resources to perform work closer to home where it makes sense and use a Field Services partner to perform work either further away and in a different geography or provide skills with a complementary fit.
This blended approach gives a new sense of control, reach, and profitability that promises to provide a powerful platform for services managers to add another layer of predictable profitability for their organizations.