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Tips for Bottom-line Protection from Coronavirus

Feb. 28, 2020
Service professionals will need to make necessary adjustments to pricing, inventory management, and customer relations.

By Adi “Didi” Azaria, CEO of Workiz

From manufacturing shutdowns to the fluctuations of the stock market, coronavirus isn’t just a public health emergency. It’s also exacting a heavy economic toll, with analysts projecting the outbreak could eventually wipe $1 trillion from the global economy.

For field service professionals, this harsh reality is creating stressful new business challenges. As scarcity of resources disrupts the global supply chains, service professionals will need to make necessary adjustments to pricing, inventory management, and customer relations.

Amid mounting uncertainty about the duration and full impact of the coronavirus outbreak, it’s essential that service professionals act now to soften the economic blow. Here are five tips to help them do just that.

1. Buy now

Supply chain disturbances aren’t a potential impact of a spiraling coronavirus crisis; they’re already a reality for most businesses. According to a recent report by Fortune, 94 percent of companies on the Fortune 1000 list have seen supply chain disruptions.

As the virus spreads globally, the problem is bound to get worse before it gets better. That’s why field service professionals must buy necessary inventory now. Waiting until their stock levels are in short supply will mean higher prices and ultimately a hit to their bottom line. Additionally, repairing supplies that may otherwise have been purchased new can also cut down on costs.

2. Stock more inventory than usual

Given the uncertainty surrounding the outbreak, service professionals should prepare themselves by stocking more inventory than they would under normal circumstances.

With enough inventory to prepare for at least three months in advance, field service professionals can better contain the supply-chain fallout and protect their bottom lines.

3. Diversify your suppliers

As the U.S.-China trade war intensified last year, more and more businesses began exploring how they could diversify their supply chains, with an eye toward minimizing the damage of a drawn-out trade war.

While trade tensions have cooled since then, the coronavirus outbreak still threatens to do significant harm to global trade over the next several months. For field service professionals heavily reliant on American suppliers who source inventory from China or Chinese suppliers, the “China plus one” supplier strategy that many businesses adopted during the escalation of the trade war offers an instructive model for navigating the current corona crisis.

Relying on only one distributor can prove a fatal mistake. Field service professionals should instead research additional suppliers—a move that will pay off well after the coronavirus outbreak subsides, as the end of the outbreak won’t signal the end of global economic uncertainty.

4. Look into inventory management solutions

While it’s vital at all times, the coronavirus crisis and the resulting supply chain disruptions have underscored the need to intelligently manage inventory.

The good news is that field service professionals can achieve this by using a field service software that includes inventory management in addition to scheduling, dispatching, team tracking, and customer payments. Inventory management allows service businesses to track their inventory in real time, down to the container level and receive alerts when stock is running low. This will allow service businesses to do their due diligence, ascertain stock levels, and buy inventory for at least three months in advance in order to weather out the corona crisis.

Implementing a field service management software that includes inventory tracking can help see businesses through the coronavirus outbreak and position them for success not only now, but well beyond. 

5. Keep demand – not just supply – top of mind

With a field service software platform, businesses can effectively manage both supply and demand – and it’s essential for service professionals to prepare for how coronavirus will affect the latter.

Professionals should be prepared to explain to clients that supply chain changes will likely mean higher prices. That will hardly deter demand in key sectors, however. Plumbing and HVAC professionals, for example, can expect a healthy increase in demand for service as consumers grow increasingly worried about the cleanness and freshness of the water and air in their homes and businesses. 

As businesses of all types grapple with the impact of coronavirus, proper planning is critical. The field service industry can meet the challenge head-on with smart strategies for supply chain and inventory management and customer relations – important ingredients for business success always, but especially crucial in the current climate.

Adi “Didi” Azaria is the CEO of Workiz, a San Diego-based field service management and scheduling software. Workiz lets service businesses easily manage every aspect of their business including: scheduling and dispatching, getting paid in the field, and sending automatic customer notifications. Adi is also the co-founder of Sisense, a leading Business Intelligence solution, as well as a startup mentor at The Lisbon Challenge and the Junction (by Genesis Partners).