How Investing in Field Technology Makes Work Crews More Profitable

July 28, 2022

Equipment represents a major investment in irrigation, landscaping and lawncare businesses, and most owners budget for those expenses. When it comes to equipping crews with computers, however, owners may view the investment as a “nice to have.” Putting technology in the hands of your foremen, service techs and sales reps, however, can create efficiencies that save time across all departments, increasing profitability.

In weighing the cost of investing in field devices against the benefits, owners must look beyond the hard expenses and include indirect costs. During a normal business day, paperwork can be lost, misplaced or misinterpreted at many points:

• While being organized for the tech/foreman

• By the tech/foreman

• When inventory on trucks needs to be replenished

• During transition to billing

• During the filing process

Mismanaging paper can result in time loss due to extra steps or rework, such as double entering quotes or invoices. Handwritten information must be retyped into bookkeeping and scheduling systems. Notes on work orders can be illegible due to dirt, water, damage or bad handwriting. Follow up issues can get lost in the paper shuffle. And billing runs at least two days in arrears waiting for paper processes to be completed.

Each of these equals hours a day lost due to simple inefficient processes and delays in getting invoices out for payment.

When companies use an operations system like EServ, laptops, tablets and other devices can empower field employees to complete tasks and processes faster and in real time. EServ enables field employees to:

• See their schedule

• Change the appointment status (on the way, in progress, completed, etc.)

• Eliminate checking in with HQ throughout the day, as office staff can see where they

• Enter part usage for restocking and invoicing

• See notes/comments, pictures, and documents provided by the office or from previous appointments

• Attach new pictures from the appointment

• Create/send estimates

• Accept deposits

• Order parts from the main warehouse

• Look up appointment history from any customer or address, since properties can change ownership

• Submit repair request for their vehicle or equipment

Because technology is an investment, owners often question the ongoing cost of maintenance, repair and replacement. When Millard Sprinkler deployed EServ, employees who received devices signed an agreement acknowledging that should a device be lost, damaged or destroyed, they could be held financially responsible for repair or replacement.

In the first two years of field employees having phones and tablets, Millard Sprinkler repaired or replaced a total of five devices. In year three, that number rose to 11. To date in year four, the company is back on pace with its average and has made only one repair.

Should owners consider insurance for portable electronic devices assigned to employees? With insurance averaging about $5 per device, a company deploying 80 devices would pay $400 a month or almost $5,000 per year for coverage. For Millard Sprinkler, even with replacing 11 devices in its third year of deployment, the cost ended up being less than the insurance premium would have been. In most cases, employees bore all or part of the repair/replacement cost because they had not followed company policies to protect equipment—including one instance in which a device was buried in one of many holes.

Having employees use company-owned devices rather than personal computers or phones ensures they have reliable technology for work. It also allows companies to secure the devices with tracking and locking, or even remotely wiping a device to protect company and customer information.

Owners should never ask employees to use personal devices for work. Company information on employee personal devices can become compromised if the employee leaves the company, becomes disgruntled, doesn’t maintain proper security, or the device is lost or stolen. Having customer confidential data become compromised in such situations can do irreparable damage to relationships with current and future customers, costing owners more in the end than would providing company-owned devices.

Equipping field employees with portable technology shouldn’t be viewed as a sunk cost. Instead, owners should look at the many efficiencies to be gained using a single small business operations system that to connect crews and HQ in real time.

From initial customer contact to invoicing, inventory and incentivizing workers, EServ provides paperless processes that give small- and mid-sized businesses greater efficiency and higher revenue. You don’t need to be a technology wizard to implement EServ—our team works with you every step of the way to ensure successful implementation across all your office and field devices.

If you’re interested in being part of the EServ Evolution, please complete our contact form and a member of our team will be in touch.

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