Over the last few years, I’ve had the chance to observe the day-to-day operations of more field service companies than most people sniff in a lifetime. While every organization is different or special in its own way, some accounting mistakes seem to pop up across the board. To a business owner, the points below constitute the stuff of nightmares. So, read on… if you dare!
Not billing for work
Well, here’s an important one. It might seem obvious, but in the service industry, following through and billing for a job isn’t as much of a given as you might think. Every job starts out with a nice pristine work order. But between the time the technician leaves the office in the morning and returns at the end of the day, a lot of horrible things can happen to that little slip of paper. I’ve heard business owners complain about everything from bad handwriting and ketchup stains to torn forms and water damage. And that’s if the work order comes back at all! Nothing compares to the thousand-yard stare that creeps onto a service professional’s face when the spectre of lost paperwork is invoked.
Poor time tracking
Many service companies bill for work (or handle their payroll) on an hourly basis. For these companies, time tracking is absolutely critical. Unfortunately, service technicians are not always the best at keeping accurate records of their own time. Often, they’ll arrive at a jobsite, begin work, and not realize that they failed to record the time of their arrival until hours have passed. At this point, selecting a start time for billing purposes is as arbitrary as it is unprofessional.
Forgetting sales tax
Cash registers and online stores automate tax inclusions, but when a service technician tallies a bill by hand, they’ll occasionally forget that taxes enter into the equation. Doing so can awaken a pretty scary federal regulatory agency… ever hear of the IRS?
Manually tracking recurrence patterns
A lot of companies use an accounting software system (e.g. QuickBooks, Sage, FreshBooks) for managing their finances, but a problem arises when it comes time to draw up a service schedule from these applications. Why? Because they can’t do it! Many service companies lose business simply because they don’t have a mechanism to note that their customers have requested a recurring service.
Failure to track vehicle-based inventory
As if tracking the items stored in a warehouse weren’t difficult enough, many service companies must contend with managing separate inventories on each of their many service vehicles. With no reliable way to monitor the parts technicians use on a given job, it’s difficult to make sure every part and service gets billed properly.
What can you do?
If you own a service business, chances are you read this article while nodding grimly. You might have even shed a single tear representing the lost revenue from one or more of the above points. But what can you do about it? After all, you didn’t get into this field to juggle paperwork and agonize over spreadsheets. You got into it to go out into the world, move your body, and exercise your head and hands at the same time. So, is there any hope?
Of course there is! With the right field service software, you can turn your nightmares into the sweetest of dreams. A plethora of software options exist to help automate your billing, time tracking, invoicing, scheduling, and inventory management needs. If you need help determining which product best fits the needs of your team, well, guess what? You’re already in the perfect place! Simply head to the Field Service Management Software directory and start filtering the options there until you find the product that perfectly addresses your needs.
Benjamin Yackshaw handles everything marketing for the field service software Smart Service. When not producing commercials or blogging for Smart Service, Benjamin can be found dunking basketballs or directing short films.