What happens when field service expectations don’t match reality? What can you expect if you’ve been working in the same company, year after year? How do you deal with the disappointment of a job that was supposed to last forever?
Entrepreneurs who start their own field service companies usually have two goals in mind. First, they want to earn enough money to survive. Second, they want to work for a company they believe in. However, one thing that we noticed consistently was the expectation versus reality gap. They often found themselves disappointed by their experience and left feeling let down by their own company. In some cases, this led them to leave the industry altogether. So, how did we see this happen? How could we help our clients identify what is really going to happen within their organizations? It’s easy; we look closely at your schedule, your environment, and your mindset. It’s important to know what you are really getting into when running a field service company. This will help you to understand why things don’t always go as planned when starting up a business or taking over a business. We hope that through our experience others can learn from what lessons we’ve learned.
Expectation 1: You will be able to make some money doing the work every day.
In truth, there are many days where you won’t make any money at all. The hours of actual work per week depend on your schedule. This is why people get frustrated with their jobs because they have expectations of making lots of money at once in one week. We didn’t expect to do more than we could afford, but that was the idea behind the business. We thought there would still be enough money left for us after paying expenses so we had time to spend the rest of the week relaxing. However, our expectations were way off.
It’s important to look realistically at your potential income. Don’t wait until you’re desperate before starting out. Start small. Build your earnings slowly until you find something that works for you. If you want a steady flow of dollars, try advertising instead of spending most of your time cleaning people’s properties.
Expectation 2: You’ll be able to quit your full-time job easily and start working part-time while running the field service business.
The best thing about field servicing is that it allows you to earn extra money without having to give up your current salary. So you can start up the business and work half-days with no problem. However, don’t count on being able to quit your job right away. In fact, you should plan for several years before quitting. There’s a reason companies like UPS take 3-5 years before they let new drivers start. They know that some people will succeed right away and others won’t for a long time. Just because you’re getting by right now doesn’t mean you’ll do well in another 5 years.
Expectation 3: You can depend on the fact that you can count on having regular hours.
This one is true to an extent. You probably shouldn’t plan to go to bed every night at 7 PM unless you’ve planned ahead of time. And yes, you should plan ahead so that you can have some freedom to enjoy your other interests. However, you must also realize that sometimes things come up unexpectedly, such as needing to change plans due to a client canceling or changing orders, delays in delivery, unexpected phone calls and emails, etc. If you know this stuff is going to happen and plan for it, then it’s no big deal.
If you’re used to following set schedules, then you may feel discouraged when these events occur. The good news is that you can adjust your expectations and learn to better manage your time. For example, when you’re planning a day, rather than thinking that you’ll only have two hours free, try looking at the situation differently. Perhaps you’re going to wake up early, check email, prepare food for the day, and work on your computer. From there, you can determine what tasks require your attention and how much time you actually have available each day.
Expectation 4: Your customers will come back to you without skipping to competitors.
The worst thing you can do is treat your clientele poorly. In our experience, once you start giving value, you’ll inevitably get feedback from your customers that indicates their loyalty to you. If they feel they’ve received poor services, then they won’t hesitate to give negative feedback. Even if you provide poor service, you may only lose a few clients, and most importantly, those clients will probably spread negativity around to the friends and family members of your clients. They may even ask them why they did business with you. By treating your customers well, you create a positive reputation that will ultimately lead to more new customers.
In terms of competition, think about the reason people choose your products over others. Usually, it’s because you deliver superior customer service. Sometimes people buy tools because of features, price, etc., but more often than not, they purchase due to the good services they can provide. So while it’s true that there may be competition out there that offers similar products and/or cheaper prices, I’d bet money that most people would choose to shop with someone who treats them right.
Expectation 5: You will always be growing — even if you don’t feel like it.
This isn’t true at all. Some days you’ll do very little, other days you’ll have a lot of money coming in. Even though we didn’t have much success the first few weeks, we realized that if we didn’t stick it out, then we’d never learn anything from the experience. Sometimes it feels as though there’s almost nothing you can do to improve your sales results. And yet, sometimes a simple change can bring you a significant improvement.
You must realize that your ultimate goal is to grow. You shouldn’t just be looking for ways to sell more stuff or make more money. Instead, try to figure out where your business could expand into areas that will lead to exponential growth. For example, if you decide to start offering house painting services, you might eventually decide to offer window washing too. Once you begin exploring ways to expand, you’ll find yourself expanding naturally. That’s oftentimes the fastest path towards success.
Expectation 6: You will become rich!!!
It takes time. Building a successful business takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. Most people enter businesses expecting to make a quick buck. You must understand that this simply isn’t possible. Sure, some people manage to build big-time companies quickly, but many times these companies fail shortly afterward. As long as you stay consistent and keep pushing forward, you’ll eventually reach your goals.
Many companies are struggling financially, and many times this has led them to lay off employees or cut costs. Field technicians are usually some of the last ones to go when a company starts cutting expenses. I’m constantly amazed by the number of small businesses that continue to operate despite the economy. It seems as though these companies are able to survive and turn things around by using their existing team of field techs. It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to quit your current job to take advantage of the field service industry. Many people use the side work they already earn to supplement their field service income.
There’s a lot of things you expect to happen when starting a field service business, and I hope you can see how unrealistic those expectations actually are. If you weren’t expecting any of these things, then you probably won’t achieve big results. The truth is, however, that all of these can happen and probably do. Whether you’re a newbie or experienced, you have a chance to succeed–and hopefully, you exceed your expectations! You must put in a lot of hard work to make it successful. Once you’ve done all of this, you should be prepared to exceed your initial expectations.
I’m Shannon Walsh. I run an award-winning landscaping business with my husband in Massachusetts. I created ezbz.app because I wanted a simple, mobile way to make and manage work orders. Like many owner-operated companies, I used to spend my days landscaping, meeting with customers, managing the crews, and would still have to make sure the next day’s work orders were ready to go. I have saved so much time with ezbz.app that I started a second business. I love dogs, sleep, and the beach. Visit my LinkedIn to learn more about me.