Field service: sexing up your “boring” business!

Are you ready to bring sexy back to the plumbing business? No? Good! Yes, it might have been misleading, but I just used the word sexy to grab your attention. Let’s face it, most field service businesses aren’t, but that’s ok!

Attempts to sex up “boring businesses” usually ends in disaster, and the ones that succeed in grabbing attention really only manage it through comedy (difficult!) or derision (embarrassing!). You and I know that field service businesses aren’t really boring, but when you don’t have a shiny product or exotic service, it can be a hard sell.

So why are we even talking? Well, I’m here today to tell you that helping your field service company grab your potential visitor’s attention doesn’t mean you have to resort to cheap gimmicks. Likewise, because your industry is a little more…pedestrian, it doesn’t mean that you have to be a boring business either.

I’ll let you in on a secret I’ve learned in my years in digital marketing: eye-candy is nice, but killer info is truly captivating.

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When good automation goes bad…

– or how not to let your field service automation problems bite you in the butt!

We’re big fans of automation here at Synchroteam. Just as well really, since Synchroteam is a field service automation solution (and you can try it here!). But fans as we are, even we have to admit that automation needs to be handled with care.

First things first. Always remember:

  • Automation’s not a cure all – it’s a tool
  • Automation’s not the end goal – it’s part of the process
  • Automation’s not designed to replace the human touch – it’s designed to enhance it

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Branding basics for field service providers

Are you in the area of field service? Do you dispatch technicians, manage call outs, and organize schedules? You might not believe me, but businesses like yours already have a leg up when it comes to brand strategy.

Brand strategy for field service

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Make automation easy for your field service team

Have you convinced your company that field service automation was a smart move to make? Maybe it was a hard sell, so congratulations! Maybe they were already on board. Either way, you’ve now got to repay your colleagues’ or employee’s trust by making the changeover as easy and smooth as possible.

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Fighting resistance in your quest to automate

Back in January, I showed you why field service automation is a great idea. If you’re still not using a tool like Synchroteam, though, something’s obviously gone wrong.


You’ve hit a roadblock.

This roadblock is most likely coming from somewhere else in the company. Obviously, if you’re the one reading these articles, agreeing with me, and trying to convince your co-workers to do the same, then the hold-up is coming from somewhere else. Where?

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Millennials in field service – are you ready?

Back at the end of 2014, Business Insider published a report on millennials – the generation that comes after Generation X – and it made quite the impact. Such an impact, in fact, that now, nearly 6 months after publication, people are still talking about it. And guess what? So am I.

I’ll admit it, I have an outside interest – I am one. But I’m also here to tell you that although their sometimes negative perception can seem to be at odds with field service, millennials can be just as at home in FSM as they can in any other industry, even ones that seem a whole lot more glamorous.

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May 13th release: multi-job mode and status log

Updates in this release 

Projects ( or Multi-Job mode): We have added the notion of Projects to Synchroteam. It allows you to specify a job sequence and monitor progress for the set. You can define Project Types, and each will have a default Job Sequence. For example, you can create a “Standard Project” type that requires a sequence of four jobs:  Pre-visit, Installation, Quality Control and Post-visit. Any new “Standard Project” you create will use this sequence. Once a project is created, you can decide to add or remove jobs from the sequence (this does not impact the default Multi-job sequence). Each job can be scheduled and managed independently, and can refer to differing skill sets. We also provide a progress indicator for an at-a-glance view of work advancement.

Job sequence setting

Job sequence setting


Job sequence advancement

Job sequence advancement







Technician Status Log: From the mobile application, the technician can complete his daily schedule by logging events, such as: Start of day, In transit, At the office, Lunch break, etc. This new function also allows your techs to enter periods of unavailability, like vacation or sick days.

New Connector – XERO: Automatically send invoice data to your Xero account from Synchroteam. is a provider of online accounting software.



Customer Portal: Added two-step authentication. You still share the same public link with your customer, and for added security and privacy, you can now send them a private access key that provides them access to their protected space.

Reporting: Added “Week Number” to custom report fields

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Make sure your CRM and field service management tools play nice!

Buzzwords, acronyms and abbreviations – they’re everywhere in business, right? If you work in the field service business, you might have become aware of CRM and field service tools at the same time – the time when your business is taking the step from small to something a little bigger.

What is a CRM?

CRM stands for customer relationship management – in other words, a system to manage and maximise the information you have about your customers. These days, it’s a very hard job to do by hand, so most businesses resort to a piece of software to do it for them. It manages contacts, customers, sales, leads information, and is invaluable when it comes to making your customers feel like they’re genuinely important to your business. You probably already use one: some of the most popular are Capsule CRM, Sugar CRM, Salesforce and Zoho CRM. If you’re one of the relatively few business owners who doesn’t own a CRM, take heart – our friends at GetApp have written the perfect article for you!

old fashioned management

Old-fashioned customer management has to go!

So, what’s an FSM?

Now that we have the concept of a CRM system out of the way, it’s time look at the other side – the FSM. FSM stands for field service management, or scheduling software to manage the appointments and call-outs of your field service technicians, the kind you’d traditionally find in the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) industries, but increasingly in other areas, like telecoms, medical and security. You know a great example of an FSM tool? Synchroteam! You can try it for free right here! If you need even more convincing about the benefits of using a field management app, I gave you lots of reasons a while back in my article “What can a field service management tool do for me?“.

So here’s the big question…

Why do my CRM and field service tool need to work in perfect harmony?

They need to work in perfect harmony because both tools manage different – but essential – aspects of your clients’ needs. And it’s only by efficiently managing your clients’ needs that you can keep those clients happy – and loyal. The CRM will ensure that you have all the information you need about your clients’ in order – where they are, what they do, who you need to talk to, your work history, special notes, contact records, etc., while the FSM will ensure that you correctly and efficiently manage all the jobs you do for these beautifully-managed clients. If they’re not working together efficiently, you’ll miss out on opportunities, growth and scope for streamlining processes.

How can Synchroteam help?

Synchroteam knows that for clients to be happy, you need to anticipate their every need, and fast. That’s why we’ve integrated it with the major CRMs: Capsule CRM, Sugar CRM, Salesforce and Zoho. Importantly, these integrations aren’t flimsy add-ons or plug-ins: they’re built right into the code of the app, so it all works flawlessly, without any extra effort required from you.

In real terms, this means you’ll have all the information you could possibly want about a client and the job you’re doing for them, right in the same interface. This will save you, and your technicians time, effort and money, and will win brownie points with your totally-satisfied clients.


Just some of Synchroteam’s Connectors

In later articles, we’ll take a look of each of Synchroteam’s CRM integrations in more depth, and show you how to get the most from them together. Until then, try out Synchroteam and let us know what you think!

Header image thanks to MGEARTWORKS and filing cabinet image thanks to redjar

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Is field service ready for drones – or wearables?

Would you rather a toolbox in the back of your van, or a drone? I read an interesting article the other day about drones in field service, and it really got me thinking. In fact, I was still thinking about it a few days later when Apple announced Apple Watch, and the two ideas couldn’t help but fuse together in the process!

Field service drones

Image thanks to Trotaparamos

While the little boy in me loves the idea of drones on the field, I don’t think field service is ready for the jump. Sure, imagination and innovation is what GE Ventures is famous for, but as things stand, I don’t think field service is ready to take to the air. Why not? Well, for a start, aerial work is pretty niche.

Most work is at ground level

Some field service work is carried out at a height, that’s true, but the majority of it is a little closer to the ground – and it needs a technician there right at the coalface. Until they start making drone/mini-chopper hybrids (I’m exaggerating here, but a small part of me thinks that would be pretty awesome), a drone by itself isn’t going to be much use in most situations. It could definitely come in useful if a technician needed to simply check (and not work on) a high-up location, but that’s a pretty small part of most technician’s jobs, and not one I think your everyday field service job is going to require.

It’s a pity, because as industries go, well…much as I hate to admit it, field service and route planning isn’t really the sexiest sector around. Field service drones would bring some much-needed excitement to the area, so I can see how GE – and the rest of us – jump on opportunities to investigate something new and interesting. As someone who makes a field service tool, however, I have to keep reminding myself what it’s really about – helping field service companies, not making life more difficult. As much as I like the idea of field service drones, I don’t think Synchroteam will be jumping on the bandwagon any time soon!

Fraught with problems

Why more difficult? Well, there are several problems. The biggest, and most significant, I think, are the legal implications. Some countries have very strict laws about who, where and when you can use a drone (I’m looking at you, UK!), and by flouting them, you’re committing a criminal offence. Then there’s the skill needed to pilot a drone – sure, flying up and down a pretty coastline to take a video looks simple enough, but manoeuvring and precisely approaching complex and often delicate machinery and installations are completely another. Correctly flying and professionally using a drone will take effort and training.

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch

I was still thinking about the glittering lights of GE Ventures when Apple announced their watch. As I watched the news, I thought “Now THERE is an idea that field service can get behind!”. Field service wearables – perfect! Lots of potential to genuinely help thousands of field service workers do their job more easily, efficiently and quickly. It turns out that I’m not the only person who decided that wearable field service tools would be an awesome idea. I saw other articles spring up, each of them convincing me even more that wearable field service tech is the way to go.

Field service wearables would be perfect!

Field service workers are practical, hands-on people. Even when dealing with high-tech services, the work they are doing requires them to touch and physically interact with machinery and equipment. So imagine this: a device, not necessarily a device as smooth as an Apple Watch, but in the same realm, that allowed them to easily see information that helped them with their job – without having to lift their hand from whatever they are working on. This field service wearable could provide them with all kinds of extra information, from practical details about their schedule, updated information from the office, or even extra or urgent information about the job they’re currently working on.

Field service wearables – ripe for the picking

Like Suzie over at GetApp comments, not all industries are going to benefit from wearables to the same degree, but luckily for us, field services is one of the industries that could. In fact, we’re so convinced of the fact, we’re already working on incorporating more wearable technology into our research here at Synchroteam. When we’ve got something solid to share with you, you’ll be the first to know!

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Real time workforce management will revolutionize your field service

Do your field service operatives have mobile device access? Great! But are they really getting the most from it? Mobile is good, but genuine, real time connectivity and workforce management is better. Does your field service tool make the grade?

Let’s try to imagine our dream FSM tool. In terms of real time workforce management, it’s going to need:

  • A mobile app
  • Real time connectivity with the office
  • GPS tracking
  • User-friendliness
  • Two-way communications
  • Feature-rich options

A mobile app

Real-time workforce management - manage jobs on the goThis goes without saying, but it’s important to remember. What devices do your employees usually use? If they are company-supplied, you might be able to introduce a single model for everyone, but if they are expected to use their personal devices, you’ll have to pick a tool that provides apps for…well, whatever they’ve decided is the brand for them! Luckily, most people now use Android or iOS devices; anything else (in North America and Europe, at least) is unusual. Even so, check before proceeding.




See what your operative has on their schedule at any time

User-friendliness is a vague, hard-to-define concept, but the bottom line is this – if it’s awkward, uncomfortable, unintuitive or just plain ugly, your employees will have no incentive to play nice, and even less so on the move or in the middle of a complicated job. Most real time workforce management tools worth their salt offer a free, no strings attached trial period – take advantage of this and make sure to spend time using the tool via a mobile device, or recruit a trustworthy operative to give it a trial run and report back.

Two-way communication

Real-time workforce management - up-to-date info always available Two-way communication is another point that seems obvious, but doesn’t always play out in the way you’d expect. Of course mobile devices work both ways – but does your FSM tool allow your employees to feed it information in the same way as it keeps them clued-in? If operatives can’t file reports, add notes, reschedule jobs and make new appointments, then you’re missing out on a whole world of useful – and time-saving – features.

Feature-rich options

Real-time workforce management - communication should be two-way

Feature-rich options are the natural follow-on from user-friendliness. The more jobs, options, tasks and requirements your field service management app allows employees to take care of on the road, the more time, money and administrative headaches it will save your company. If you haven’t looked into the area before, you’d be amazed a what a real time workforce management tool can offer you. Check out Synchroteam’s options here – we’re particularly proud of our job reporting options and the ability to remain fully functional even when network coverage is lost.

GPS tracking

The more features, the betterGPS tracking is a hugely valuable tool. Sure, some naysayers might grumble about Big Brother, but when you look at the bigger picture – the efficient organisation of your employees, jobs and resources – there’s not much of an argument. Even so, you’re not stuck with it 24/7 – many tools allow for it to be enabled and disabled at the employee’s discretion. This is great for converting the dubious, but it’s a good idea to establish the ground rules early as to when this is – and isn’t – acceptable.

Real-time connectivity

Real-time workforce management - operative-added reports save timeToday, we’ve definitely saved the best for last. Real time connectivity just isn’t optional any more – it’s essential. If you can’t inform your operatives of changes, and they can’t inform you – other than making a call or sending an email – you’re stuck firmly in the last century. If you can’t make changes to the information they’re seeing, and they can’t update you with changes from their end – problems, notes, rescheduling, requests for help, for example – you’re losing huge amounts of time and efficiency. And as we know, in business terms, that’s the equivalent of throwing money down the drain.

Hopefully, we’ve made our case. Real time field service management is the best, simplest and most efficient way of managing your mobile operatives. If you haven’t given Synchroteam a trial run already, what are you waiting for? Your bottom line will thank you!

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