Business Management Solutions For the Field Service Industry

Companies in a wide variety of industries provide customers with field services as a primary business or as part of long-term customer service and support. Field service operators may include, for instance, manufacturers who offer after-market service, mechanical contractors, and property or utility managers. Depending on the size and type of organization, field services may involve a handful of employees in a local area or thousands of staff internationally. Regardless of whether such field services represent the primary business, a secondary profit center, or a competitive differentiator, organizations with a field service component depend on efficient coordination among distant field employees, dispatch and office staff, and the organization’s collective customer and business knowledge.

Unfortunately, managing field operations accurately and effectively can be a challenge. Manual processes and uninformed decisions are the rule, not the exception. Inconsistent work practices, lack of, inadequate, or untimely visibility into field activities, and volumes of paperwork hinder efficiency and drag down both customer service and profits. Manual reporting of time and materials use requires redundant data entry, increases the likelihood of errors, and delays planning and billing. In addition, intellectual capital and know-how frequently resides in just one or two experienced people, leaving the organization at substantial risk of operational chaos and loss of intellectual capital if the unexpected occurs.

Yet even with the most experienced dispatchers, work-assignment decisions rarely take full advantage of timely data on resource availability, qualifications, service history, optimal routing, work priority, and other demands on the resources. There are simply too many shifting factors to quickly incorporate into a manual scheduling or work assignment process. This is particularly true given the competitive environments of most field service markets, wherein customers are expecting not only faster service and more accurate estimates of arrival and completion times, but also that they “get it fixed” the right way the first time.

Despite these challenges, field service operations are often the last part of an organization to capitalize on information technologies. Although many businesses enjoy the efficiencies of enterprise resource systems and supply chain automation, those systems rarely extend through the management of field operations. Moreover, the gains provided by existing business management solutions and supply chain systems are subject to the law of diminishing returns. In most organizations, however, field service operations still represent the last frontier for technological innovation. There, process integration, targeted automation, and electronic information can still dramatically enhance productivity, operational insight, and management.

You need an end-to-end field services management system that can efficiently integrate customer, business, and operational information, making that information accessible to both office and field staff as needed for maximum efficiency in work scheduling, assignment, completion, parts inventory management, equipment management, reporting, and billing. Research your area for a group that can match the appropriate field services management solution to your specific business requirements, and determine what solutions, like Microsoft Dynamics, are available to you.

A Brief History of the Courier Service Industry

Ever wondered about the history of courier service businesses and how they came about? In fact, the industry’s history goes back a very long way. If you’re a delivery driver yourself, you may well find some of it very interesting!

When Did the Idea Start?

It’s a good question but one that nobody can really definitively answer. Even in prehistory, we can be relatively sure that certain people, usually those at the top of society, would have wanted to convey goods (often gifts). Usually this would have been between rulers and probably was part of the concept of messengers, emissaries, diplomats and ambassadors. So if you’re looking at a history of courier services, it’s not easy to tease these concepts apart to begin with. By the Imperial Roman period, there was something in place called the ‘Cursus Publicus’, which was a vast network of stations, couriers and wagons, all designed to carry official communications and publications to the far-flung corners of empire – but this was restricted to official not private communications.

Private Arrangements

For thousands of years, if a private individual wanted to send some goods or communications to another, he or she would have had to make ad-hoc arrangements.

In some societies, the rich would have used courier-slaves who would make their way from the point of origin to destination. They would sometimes have also carried other goods and smaller items for friends or associates of their owner.

Anyone engaged in commercial exchanges of goods would have again made a series of arrangements, perhaps involving hiring carts and horses to take the items to the nearest port then finding a ship heading in the right direction; they may have been accompanied by an agent who would make arrangements at the destination port to get the goods to the final customer.

In some countries, there were recognisable services for getting goods or communications to a specific point, but it’s debatable whether or not they could be called courier services in any way we would understand. For a vast period of time in Europe, getting letters and goods from ‘A’ to ‘B’ was a matter of hazard. Many never arrived, as can be seen in surviving letters bemoaning the fact that goods, packages and other letters had ‘gone astray’.

Solutions Through the History of Courier Services

Over the centuries, different societies and countries adopted diverse measures to try and provide a secure way of getting things around, but on the whole, it remained an extremely risky business until the mid-19th century. The first step towards regulating things came with the Victorian Age’s improved roads and communications, as well as increased government determination to stamp out theft and robbery on the highways.

Part of this involved the creation of the UK’s Post Office and the creation of a government body that guaranteed to get mail and some parcel-sized goods to their destination. Incredible as it seems to modern readers, in London at this time there were up to eight separate mail deliveries each day!

Once a degree of regularity was introduced, though, it brought with it a degree of inflexibility. Private companies moved in to fill the breach by offering shipping and courier services point-to-point and this exploded from the mid-20th century onwards in terms of choice.

This long history of courier services has resulted in today’s modern and global industry. It’s hard to believe it all began with runners taking wax tablet messages from ancient city to ancient city – but one has to agree, it’s interesting stuff.

Computer Repair Service Industry

Atlanta, the city that is ultra urban and makes up 66% of Georgia’s economy. The city boasts of being one of America’s top cyber cities with a high profile of tech related jobs and services. One such blooming technical industry is Atlanta computer repair services. This is an industry that actually saves people from facing technical difficulties in regards to their computers. If it weren’t for computer repair services there would havoc every time a computer would crash or would get attacked by a virus. With the continuous growth of computer dependent work, computer repair business is blooming considerably.

Atlanta computer repair services are there to help you out with your computing issues and problems. Services are provided to everyone; a student, a home based worker, an office or even a large company. Banks, institutions, businesses, enterprises that rely heavily on computers and technology, also rely heavily on these repair services for fixing of computing problems.

Most of the time computers are reported to have a hardware failure, a software corruption, data loss or virus attacks. Atlanta computer repairs provide hardware upgrading services, installation of software, data recovery options and eliminating virus attacks along with providing you optimal security and protection to prevent further attacks. Not only does the company provides excellent repair services they also have a great customer service. Anytime a customer calls they analyze problems, determine if the customer needs an on the spot fixing or will have to get it done off site; sometimes they also provide customers with solutions online or on the phone. Great customer services are what make Atlanta repair services so reliable and recommended by everyone.

Repair services seemingly cover every problem that you face with computing devices. Power jack repair, laptop repair, hardware upgrade, network troubleshooting, network establishment, configuration, computer maintenance, website maintenance, keyboard replacement, mouse fixing, LCD repairs, monitor repairs, operating system installation, printer problems, cabling/wiring, server problems, server installations, server maintenance and the list goes on! One of the primary specializations of Atlanta repair services is network installation, device setup and network maintenance. Companies mostly hire Atlanta computer repair companies for installing and setting up fire walls, anti intrusion, cable installation, WAN, LAN setups, VoIP, internal databases etc.

Rest assured that you will be provided with excellent services from professionals and experts of the industry. These people are network engineers, system engineers, computer mechanics, computer geeks, IT gurus, server administrators; therefore you can feel safe with your devices in their hands. If you happen to be an expert in any of the computing fields, you too can provide part time services to these companies and earn some extra income. You can work on project basis and earn a good amount of cash for each device and each problem that you fix and solve. This industry has been a source of livelihood for thousands of people. You can easily form your own group of computer repair services and offer services in your local area thus gaining fame as well as cash; because this industry is booming and will never stop growing.

How to Collect Payment For Cleaning Business Services

Once you have decided to start up a cleaning business, one of many small considerations that you must think of will be how you are going to receive payments from clients for your cleaning services. You will have to think about the choices and decide which options you will offer your customers. There are many ways to collect payments and we have outlined some below along with their advantages and disadvantages.

1) Cash. Traditionally the most popular method of getting paid for a service like cleaning. Popular in the house cleaning sector it is common for households to leave payment in the form of cash or check on the premises to be picked up by the cleaner after the job is complete. This way is still the best if your customers will agree to it as you are paid up front and don’t risk having the account fall behind with payments. Cash also appeals to many small cleaning businesses out there as it helps them to avoid paying tax. Professional cleaning business operators however should operate honestly with the IRS and it is professional to leave a proper receipt for the customer.

2) Another option is to have your clients set up a direct debit from their bank account so that funds are paid to you automatically each week. If cleaning charges are the same and work is done on a regular basis then this arrangement can work well.

3) Credit cards are a popular way of paying for services these days and many of your customers will appreciate the convenience and like to pay by card as they are members of credit card loyalty programs. Getting set up to take credit card payments is costly and there are ongoing fees that you will incur with each transaction so this method is usually only considered by larger, more established cleaning firms. Offering this payment option will however make your services more marketable and if you feature this information in your advertising you may find that many clients are attracted to your service over other companies based solely on the fact that you accept credit cards.

4) Lastly, you can offer to leave an invoice for clients or to mail one to them. This option is not common among house cleaners but is the dominant method in the commercial sector of the cleaning industry. Invoices often offer clients more favorable payment terms with most of them requiring charges to be paid within a thirty day period. This method is very attractive to clients as they can pay in arrears but can give cleaning business owners headaches if invoices become overdue and time and money have to be wasted pursuing bad debts.

The payment options that a cleaning company offers its clients will differ depending on the industry sector and many other factors. Try to get a mix of payment options that offers your customers a healthy choice, enhancing your service yet also offers you as the business owner a simple, low risk solution. If customers have no problems paying you for your services then they will have no reason to complain and your reputation and customer relations will grow.