The rise of digital tools has permeated every industry in the last decade. Ordering food, booking a holiday, even communicating with other people, it’s all been changed by some software or another. So keeping up with the trends is not about being ahead of the curve anymore, it’s about staying afloat. If your construction business — or any field service business, for that matter — wants to survive, it’s got to make good use of digital tools and make a point of working with partners that are on the same page.
- Hire for digital.
- Choose your partners with digital in mind.
- Transparency and accountability.
- Focus on small changes with big impacts.
- Construction financing technology.
1. Hire for digital.
Recruitment and retainment is a challenge in general for the field service industry. The construction job market is evolving as well, and those seeking jobs have a much wider range of options. This means that if your construction company wants to stand out as a great employment opportunity, it needs to have a comprehensive offering. Most managers assume this simply means higher wages but it rarely comes down only to that. Retainment is often much cheaper than recruitment and depends on a variety of factors, such as positive power structure, equal opportunities, and trustworthy management.
However, the main reason cited by 70% of millennial respondents to a Gallup study on boosting retainment was learning opportunities. Even employees with seniority value self-improvement more than other motivators. Therefore, construction companies should be aware of their workforce’s expectations and offer them opportunities to develop their skills. This shows the level of involvement the employer has in an employee’s future and can easily attract new talent looking for long-term opportunities.
2. Choose your partners with digital in mind.
Field service companies depend on their partners and construction businesses are no exception. Whether it’s vendors, agencies, or clients, you’ll want to make it a point of targeting those who share your digital mindset. Good news is that they’ll be doing the same, so make sure to advertise the effort your company puts into staying up to date, whether it’s in a proposal or in a contract.
Partners, like the people you buy your machinery from, the electricians you recommend to come on the job later, the facilities managers you choose to work with, should also employ software tools, specifically those flexible enough to work well with your own system. In the construction industry, communication is paramount, therefore if they have the right field service management software, all parties can rest assured that work is not only getting done, but getting done well. Which leads to the next trend:
3. Transparency and accountability.
As mentioned during the previous point, transparency plays a big role in ensuring accurate communication, but accountability is just as important. It also gains more value as you start tendering for bigger contracts. Digital tools that track users’ actions and record who does what can protect you against lawsuits and unfair accusations in an extreme scenario. But even when it comes to daily activities, having a history of every work order and every job, a comprehensive list of who signed what off, and the option to compile this data into a report means you can analyze and find ways to improve current processes.
In 2020, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. It’s as simple as that. The trend towards perfecting every aspect of your business will continue and, as competitors catch up, you’ll need all the advantages you can gain to stand out. If you can prove to prospective clients that you can keep a close eye on every activity and improve as you go, then report on the effect of said improvements, then winning contracts won’t be a hassle at all.
4. Focus on small changes with big impacts.
There’s no denying that the past few years have had their ups and downs from an industry point of view. So it’s no wonder that construction companies are more apprehensive about investing large amounts of money in changes where the return on investment isn’t certain. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t innovate at all in 2020, but rather do it strategically and focus on smaller changes (and if you paid attention to the previous point, changes that you can measure!).
Digital tools like intelligent scheduling software or connecting GPS data from your fleet tracking solution to your customer database are not difficult nor expensive to implement if your employees are open and eager to make the best of them, but they can have definitely make a difference. Simply being able to fit one extra job per day thanks to organizing your schedule better can add up at the end of the month, compensating for the money you spend on the tool itself.
5. Construction financing technology
Speaking of investments and the market, although 2020 is as good a time as any to grow your construction company, a savvy businessman will be aware of the risks as well as the opportunities. It’s hard to grow and compete with national construction businesses when you can’t afford to invest in digital tools, but construction financing tech can be a solution. From managing unpaid invoices to covering materials, it can keep your cash flow stable and save you from leaking money everywhere due to disorganization.
You know that there’s no one-and-done solution to managing cash flow; it’s always an ongoing task (hence, the flow part). But as much as that might sound like common sense, it’s often the case that construction businesses struggle in this area, and this year won’t make things any easier. Growing fast always seems like a good thing, but it can easily lead to messy finances and outstanding bills. This is why construction financing can act as a safety net and get you out of these tight situations where you’ve ordered parts, used them, but the client hasn’t gotten around to that invoice you’ve sent a couple of weeks ago, so there’s no money to pay the vendors.
All in all, 2020 is already shaping up to be an exciting time for the field service industry. More and more tools are being released to help managers and owners weather market changes and workforce challenges, as well as keep up with increased demands and client expectations. People will always find reasons not to innovate because change is difficult. But in a competitive industry, following trends and perfecting your business model is what will keep you on top of said competition.
Not everything that shines is gold, however, so make sure you select the trends and tools that are relevant to you and solve a problem you’ve been struggling with. The opposite of refusing to innovate is foregoing an overall strategy and simply throwing money at issues, hoping they’ll disappear. But unfortunately, that rarely brings in positive results. So, sit down, analyze your processes, then go to work and see which of these 5 trends will boost your business!
This is a guest post by Cristina Maria. She is a Marketing Executive at Commusoft, a job management software company, where she helps field service businesses discover the potential of digital solutions.