The Year in Review: Field Service

Posted by David Alazraki

Mon, Dec 17, 2012

Field Service

2012 has been a fast paced year for the field service industry. There were some challenges that definitely impacted field service operations on many levels. Also there were some positive improvements that positively affected the industry. How did your business fare in 2012?

Below are some of the events and issues that occurred in this past 12 month period that could have had some influence on your business:

  • Fuel prices remained at high levels but did appear to stabilize around mid-year. The high fuel costs have a significant impact on the field service industry, shrinking profitability substantially. Some field service businesses compensated for this additional expense by adding fuel surcharges for jobs that were beyond a certain travel range. Others looked for ways to save fuel by optimizing travel routes and assignments.

  • Cellular networks greatly expanded their service areas in 2012 as competition continues to be high for the cell industry. This is a benefit for field service businesses because where they once were not able to receive cell reception many remote areas now have it. This improved communications infrastructure helps field service techs to communicate more easily with the main office.

  • Cloud based software application services continue to grow, which allows companies to securely access their business software from anywhere that has an internet enabled connection. For the field service industry this provides a productivity boost to help field techs update work orders electronically and receive routing instructions automatically for the next job. Cloud services are more stable and secure than they have been in the past, which gives companies the dependability that they need in order to conduct business.

  • Remote support versus field dispatch continues to be a battle for service companies. Remote services can reduce overall operating expenses and allow the customers more power to self-correct their problems. But with complex technologies such as HVAC, home theater electronics, plumbing and electrical even today field service appears to be the optimum solution in most cases. As consumers become more tech-savvy and systems have greater self-correcting capabilities, the use of remote support could potentially surpass on-site service calls.

  • The shortage of certified and experienced technicians is of grave concern for the field service industry. The Manpower Group reported that skilled trades are among the top 10 hardest jobs to fill. There is a great demand for skilled technicians in the traditional areas of HVAC, electrical and plumbing – but there is a growing need for service techs in other areas such as alarm systems, wind turbines, solar panel repair, home theater, construction, computer and other areas. As education expenses rise, employers have considered ways to encourage new technicians by covering training costs as part of hiring agreements. Experienced techs are retiring at record levels and new technicians are desperately needed to fill the void.

The past year has held many opportunities as well as challenges for the field service industry. The future remains to be seen, but it appears that the field service industry will continue to see modest growth opportunities and have the opportunity to expand into new markets. Like so many others, field service continues to survive even during the toughest of times.

Tags: Dispatch Software, Field service management software, Field Service Management for Enterprise, Field Service Management for Small Business, Developments in Field Service Management