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Should I Invest in Mobile Devices for My Team?

Investing in smartphones and tablets is a big decision, so it’s important to consider if it’s necessary, and how it will help your team get work done.

As a business owner providing field services, your plate is full—maybe even overflowing. From dealing with vehicle and equipment breakdowns to ensuring that employees arrive at their jobs on time, communication is essential to keep everyone in the loop and get scheduled work done.

At a certain point in your company’s growth, you may start to wonder if it’s time to start budgeting for smartphones and tablets for your team so that you’re connected to your employees at all times. After all, the easier it is for your team to address questions and concerns, the faster the work can get done.

The Overall Picture

If you’re just starting a small field service business, you most likely employ a few professionals to handle a low to medium volume workload. At this point, you can hold off on investing in devices for your field staff. You’re probably out in the field yourself communicating directly with the handful of professionals on your team, and your employees carry smartphones and have their own data plans when they need to make the odd call or look something up. If you have a tablet or iPad you’re probably bringing it to each work site.

Things may change when your business starts to grow and you can’t stay on top of every project and connect with the employees working at each job.

At that point, the next 3 questions might cross your mind.

Do I Purchase Data Plans for Employees?

This is the trickiest question of the three to answer. As mentioned before, many of your employees may have some type of data plan, but the more you rely on them to use their personal data, the more important this question becomes. Mixing personal and business use on phones isn’t always ideal when you consider the cost of data overages, so considering the next two questions first could answer this question by default.

Do I Buy Phones for Field Service Employees?

Often buying phones for employees represents a sound technology investment. When you achieve a high volume of jobs, you need to keep track of the status of each job through a text, call, or  software (like Jobber) that allows employees to check in and mark jobs as complete.

You must also be able to reach your employees immediately to service customers properly when a question, concern or service change comes up. In the Internet era, customers expect quick resolutions to problems and an employee that has a business phone can get your take in a matter of seconds.

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In the Internet era, customers expect quick resolutions to problems and an employee that has a business phone can get your take in a matter of seconds.

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Phones for employees also allow your team to communicate and receive advice from other team members. Finally, when you buy phones for employees you can establish an on-call system that often times is a critical component to running a field service business.

Do I Need Tablets or iPads for my teams in the field?

If you don’t want to purchase phones for individual staff members, another option is to purchase tablets or iPads and assign them to specific crews or fleet vehicles. This option still gives your team access to a device to complete tasks, but takes away the need for you to deal with multiple phone plans and devices.

The key is to carefully consider if your investment will help boost your employees’ productivity by putting more information at their fingertips, or if it will boost your productivity by allowing you to delegate some of the work on your plate.

Devise a Plan that Works for You

You can’t walk into an electronics store and expect to walk away with all of your communication technology needs. In fact, you should first devise a budget and prioritize. Look at the different options available when it comes to hardware and data plans. Searching for bulk discounted communication technology products can also save you money.

If your budget is small to begin with, a good interim solution and answer to ‘Do I Purchase Data Plans for Employees?’ may be to spend the money on data plans for crew leaders, not the entire team.

The vast number of communication technology options boggles the mind. Avoid the temptation to purchase products that do nothing for increasing productivity. If you’re not an expert in technology, then reach out to your team and see if someone else is. As a field service business operator of a growing business it’s important to identify key tasks and responsibilities that you should delegate to those with expertise.

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