There is plenty of work out there but are you profitable?

Martin port

By Martin Port

7 October 2021

“Turnover is vanity. Profit is sanity.” Most entrepreneurs will have heard these words at some point in their careers. It’s a cliché but, here’s the thing about clichés, they are usually right.

When you run a mobile workforce, as we do, and all our customers too, there are so many variables in play, which affect your profitability. From the cost of hiring new talent to the availability of parts, fuel prices to job scheduling efficiencies, it’s a delicate balancing act.

This is why BigChange has just conducted a major piece of research into the field service industry. We are obsessed with helping our customers to grow, and grow more efficiently and profitably than before, so it made sense to go out and ask people across the sector (not our customers; the pollsters Opinium found more than 500 business leaders outside of our network) about the things that are hampering their growth, reducing margins, or causing them sleepless nights.

The results are absolutely fascinating.

The report, “State of the Field Service Sector” found that these businesses are in the grip of a post-pandemic boom. Workloads are up 70% on last year, according to the leaders we polled. And prices are rising too, because of this demand, increasing 47% on average since July 2020. Yet, here’s the kicker. Fewer than half of the companies in this industry turn a profit. How can this be?

Many accrued significant debts during the repeated lockdowns of 2020. Some may have been hit by higher costs that they were unable or unwilling to pass on to customers. Others have been forced to increase wages to hold on to staff as the post-Brexit talent shortage continues to bite.

All of this means one thing: that while a significant proportion of field service businesses are growing, they are not growing sustainably. In fact, according to our research, one in eight is likely to go bankrupt within a year.

What can be done to support this vital sector, and prevent losses from spiralling out of control?

Call me biased, but I know that technology is the answer. Automation is absolutely key to modern enterprise. It not only helps to reduce the time is takes to complete jobs, it also helps engineers deliver a better service, and provides actionable insight into what is driving the value of your business.

Our report has found that customer experience is now the ultimate source of competitive advantage. Most leaders said good service now requires same-working-day fixes for reactive jobs (68%) and that customers be kept fully informed digitally (65%) – both must-haves can be achieved through smarter tech.

It is my heartfelt belief that an investment in the technologies that increases profitability is a no-brainer. There is no better way to spend your money. At a time when many business owners have cut spending – and some may even be sitting on significant cash piles – the opportunity to drive efficiency and optimisation like never before is now in reach. Cash in the bank earns zero interest. Investments in stocks and shares are highly volatile. Business leaders should back themselves and back their businesses through futureproofing technologies that really deliver.

I’m not trying to give you a sales pitch. Well, maybe I am. But it’s because I truly believe in the revolutionary power of technology to help Britain’s field service companies to thrive. So, tell me, would you like to be more profitable?

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