You’re in business to make money. Plain and simple. So you’re constantly looking for ways to improve your business and squeeze more profit out of it. And since profitability in the service industry is all about efficiencies, we’ve compiled a list of seven key tactics you can use to tweak your business and increase your bottom line.

1. Eliminate the Bottlenecks

You may not realize it, but the very thing that underpins your business is also holding you back: the paperwork. Having a paper trail at the core of your workflow means that only one person has visibility to a work order at any given time. It also means that there’s an inherent delay in getting a job to a service tech, getting it back to the office, and then getting it to the right person to generate the invoice or update the payment status. Not to mention that paper work orders often get lost or destroyed. Do you even know how many times that happens in your business? You may be losing revenue without even knowing it.

Ideally, your service workflow should be digitized so that when a service call comes in, it’s captured electronically, dispatched to a field tech’s smartphone, and then available for invoicing upon completion — all within one system. Your business may still require paperwork for certifications, warranties, or third party documentation, but at least your core workflow will process as quickly as possible without the unnecessary bottlenecks of a paper work order.

2. Accelerate Invoicing

If any portion of your business results in an invoice for payment, you’re floating part of your customer base. Some service companies report that they normally wait 45 days to receive invoice payments, and up to two weeks of that delay stems from the process of generating the invoices in the first place. The longer it takes to get payment for your services, the more it impacts your business by tying up your cash for the parts and payroll it took to deliver the service.

As a result, you should do everything possible to reduce the time it takes to get an invoice into the hands of your customer. That requires the information for the invoice to be in electronic form so that it can flow directly from the work order without any additional data entry. If it is, you can generate an invoice for that customer as soon as the work is complete. Doing so can eliminate any internal time lag so that you get your money as soon as possible, freeing it up to be used where it’s needed most: growing your business.

3. Simplify Scheduling

Your entire service process begins with the conversion of a service request into a job assigned to a service technician. Doesn’t it make sense to start looking for productivity gains right off the bat? Improving your ability to handle service requests efficiently has a direct impact on your bottom line. And since “stuff happens,” your service schedule will change more than you’d like. The most efficient service companies use computer-based scheduling tools to streamline the process of capturing and dispatching service requests, saving as much as 80% over the effort of a paper-based process. Electronic scheduling also provides visibility for real-time monitoring of assigned jobs and field staff availability. Additionally, centralizing the scheduling data allows all required staff to view it as needed, reducing the number of status requests your dispatcher has to fulfill.

4. True Mobility

Today’s smartphone technology gives businesses an opportunity to communicate with their mobile workforce more efficiently than ever. Smartphone applications give field techs access to powerful solutions right at their fingertips. If your company is not leveraging smartphone technology in native form, you’re missing a golden opportunity to increase your overall efficiency and drive more dollars to your bottom line. Don’t rely on a cumbersome paper-based workflow, or expensive handheld wireless devices for your field staff. Leverage technology you probably already have to drive your field-based business: smartphones and the Internet.

Today’s SaaS offerings (“Software as a Service”) provide enterprise-quality solutions without requiring you to purchase software, servers, or expensive wireless equipment for field staff.

5. Make Sure Your Customers Are Happy

The best customer is a happy customer. Because happy customers bring repeat business and referrals, two things you surely want more of. They also tend to pay on a more-timely basis. All in all, customer satisfaction is critical to your field service business because happy customers are your lifeblood. Make sure you deliver the level of service your customers are looking for by using a field service automation solution that will deliver what you need.

Your solution should be centralized so that all of your staff have access to the same customer information. It should be available 24/7 from anywhere you might be when you need it. It should include service history so that you and your field techs know the full story. And it should allow you to seamlessly track multiple contacts, locations, and assets for each customer.

6. Increase Your Average Ticket

To increase total revenue, you either need to generate more tickets, or generate bigger tickets. Or both! Increasing your average ticket is the fastest way to increase your bottom line. Particularly if those ticket increases come from existing customers or from the sale of consumables.

If your existing customers are happy, they are most likely your company’s “low hanging fruit.” Look for opportunities to up-sell additional services, service contracts, or get referrals. Ideally, your field service automation solution will prompt your field techs to identify these leads as they’re doing their normal job. Doing so could easily generate an additional 10%-15% in revenue for your business without any additional staff.

7. Mind Your Business!

In order to really maximize profitability, you must have access to the summary metrics — and underlying details — that your business generates. Without field service software to capture this information automatically in the course of business, you’re left to rely on hunches and best guesses for key business decisions.

You should be using analytical reports that can illustrate which service techs are the most time-efficient, who up-sells the most, which service requests have the highest margin, and more. Increasing your bottom line requires you to get current business metrics at a glance, while also having access to ad hoc reports that can answer the tricky questions that come up as you identify irregularities in those metrics. While it’s good to know that you’re field techs are completing  more jobs than they did last month, it’s even better to know why so you can capitalize on it.

Our thanks to FieldAware (http://www.fieldaware.com/) for passing this along.