By Alok Chanani
When they’re properly managed, customer maintenance agreements can help commercial contractors establish a real market advantage in their service area. The gains in revenue, efficiency and customer loyalty that service agreements can bring in are significant enough that maintenance programs should be considered a fundamental part of the business.
Unfortunately, managing a maintenance program can be expensive, time-consuming and frustrating for many business owners. Whether they’re using pen and paper, spreadsheets or a service agreement software platform that’s not designed specifically for them, the headaches that accompany them can make maintenance plans feel like more trouble than they’re worth.
In today’s hypercompetitive environment, however, maintenance agreements can be a critical differentiator. Business owners who are able to build a successful service program can establish a predictable flow of income and exponentially increase their opportunities for repair and installation work without the expense and effort of chasing new business. What’s more, modern field service technology solutions used the right way empower teams to streamline the process, minimize friction and make the most of maintenance agreements.
Why has it traditionally been so hard to manage customer service agreements?
Some of the features that make them so valuable also contribute to the complex logistics of managing them.
● Scheduling: It may seem as simple as scheduling a couple of maintenance calls a year for each customer, but service agreements are often much more complicated than that. Many commercial operations have multiple locations, for instance, so a single customer might be attached to several different calls throughout the year. A contractor with a large customer base could offer tiered service agreements with additional maintenance calls or emergency service. Tracking all the possible scenarios for all your customers on outdated office software would give anyone a headache.
● Billing and renewing: This is where things get especially tricky. Manually monitoring each membership might require an ongoing cycle of notices, phone calls, invoices and accounting entries. This massive oversight doesn’t just take up valuable time, it introduces multiple opportunities for errors that can be hard to detect and incredibly time-consuming to correct once they’re identified.
● Service and experience: When scheduling and billing are off track, it’s impossible to deliver high-quality service, and customer experience suffers.
Those persistent challenges have convinced many commercial contractors to deprioritize maintenance plans or abandon them altogether. That may seem like the most efficient response to an unwieldy, hard to manage process that can end up costing money.
But true efficiency—like the solutions offered by the leading field service software platforms—gives contractors and their teams tools for mastering this process.
With the automated scheduling and billing functions afforded by today’s top field service technology, it’s easy for contractors to create a variety of options to meet a range of customer needs.
The right system sets you up to tackle any job on the books with a range of features and functionality, including:
● Automated billing and renewal.
● Automated pricing.
● Lightning-fast scheduling.
● Profitability metrics by customer, technician and job.
Customers can pay monthly, quarterly or annually—and auto-recurring subscriptions mean more customers continue their agreements. Invoicing can be directly integrated with existing accounting platforms.
And once a membership is set up, even customized schedules can run automatically. Users can see when all visits are scheduled or filter the view by month or location.
In addition, advanced data capabilities provide unrivaled insights based on a range of metrics so contractors can see the benefits of modern automated maintenance agreement management. Individualized data sets coordinated by multiple KPI options give users the ability to quickly sort and analyze customer, tech and equipment information for an immediate vision of what’s working for their membership program—and what’s not.
Finally, the right field service maintenance agreement platform gives techs an essential tool for effectively selling service plans. Along with adequate ongoing training, a field service software solution provides transparent, easy to access information for techs and customers; marketing resources; training material; and a simple, easy to navigate onboarding process that streamlines the transaction for techs and customers.
Together, all these elements add up to a fully integrated all-in-one system for managing almost every aspect of a service business. And that’s critical during an unpredictable economic climate.
Alok Chanani is an entrepreneur who spent nearly a decade as the Founder/CEO of USA Commercial, a development/construction company that built apartment buildings, hotels, and large scale commercial projects in Los Angeles, Austin, Detroit, and Seattle. During this time, Alok realized how innovative technology could change the lives of the specialty contractors he was working with and inspired him to launch an incredibly modern, robust software solution. A former U.S. Army Captain, Alok served as an infantry platoon leader, combat engineer, and Unit Commander in Baghdad—spending a year moving hundreds of millions of USD in cash around Iraq. Alok has a BS from Cornell University, and an MBA in real estate from the Wharton School.