For Business Owners

Power your business with GorillaDesk and grow your revenue.

For Admins

Improve business operations and keep customers happy.

For Technicians

Your on-the-go solution to simplify workflows and impress customers.

For Sales

Tools and insights to manage your sales process end-to-end.

Pest & Wildlife

Green

Cleaning

Contracting

Articles

Make the move from paper to digital: A step-by-step guide for field service pros

GorillaDesk Staff

Make the move from paper to digital

Do you cringe when you hear the suggestion, “you should go digital, it’s so much easier?” Maybe you’ve tried it — you bought the software only to feel overwhelmed by technicalities and give up halfway through. Or even worse, you’ve got the software all setup, but your team refuses to use it, complaining that it’s too time-consuming.

If you still use printed service schedules and handwritten invoices in your field service business, you’re not alone. With 60% of service-based companies still relying heavily on paper for their daily operations, it’s clear that the switch to digital is daunting for many business owners.

Operating on paper might seem manageable, but it can lead to a host of challenges — misplaced documents, indecipherable notes, and time-consuming manual data entry, to name a few. These inefficiencies can lead to lost revenue and frustrated customers, putting your field service business at a competitive disadvantage.

With more digital tools available these days, it is possible to find a solution that works for your business and actually makes operations simpler. When field service companies adopt digital tools like mobility software (where users can access data and services across multiple devices like smartphones or tablets while in the field), 75% experience improved employee productivity, and 25% enjoy higher customer satisfaction rates. 

In short, going digital is a smart move for field service businesses looking to scale.

4 benefits of going digital

Still not convinced that going digital is the right move for your biz? These benefits show how digital tools can transform your field service operations:

Increased efficiency

Digital tools help streamline business operations, reducing the time your team spends on administrative tasks. Imagine your office staff and technicians can access customer information, job details, and schedules with just a few clicks. No more sifting through piles of paperwork or making endless phone calls to confirm appointments. 

With so much of your admin work automated, this gives your entire team more time to focus on service delivery. In fact, one study found that 97% of companies that use field service management software experienced an improvement in business operations, with the number of jobs they could finish in a day increasing by 47%. 

Enhanced accuracy

Manual data entry often leads to errors. From misread handwriting to a mistyped number or lost documents, mistakes happen. Digital tools help improve data accuracy by automating processes and minimizing data inconsistencies. When companies start using digital agreements or contracts, for example, they see a 48% decrease in data errors.

Say a customer’s invoice total is already in the system from the digital invoice that was emailed to them; it can be automatically populated into your accounting software — helping keep your books accurate. With fewer errors and more reliable information, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions that keep your business in top shape.

Higher productivity

With digital tools handling the heavy lifting on the customer service and scheduling side, your team can complete more jobs in less time. Scheduling and route optimization features help your technicians get to job sites faster and with less hassle. Companies that start using field service management software experience a 47% increase in productivity after implementing the new tool. 

Improved profitability

Efficiency and productivity go hand-in-hand with higher profits. By reducing operational costs and minimizing errors, your bottom line starts to go up. Businesses that switch to digital solutions often see a quick return on investment fueled by significant cost savings. 

McKinsey found that businesses that use digital tools to manage information-intensive processes like processing service requests or claims can cut costs by up to 90%. Plus, 80% of businesses that have moved to digital report higher profits after the transition.

But how do you start this transition? We’re walking you through the step-by-step process of moving from paper to digital to make it a smooth transition for you and your team. 

Assess your current processes

Before you take the step into digital, make sure you know where you stand right now. Reviewing your current paper-based processes may make you cringe, but it helps to understand how things are running and pinpoint any gaps or problem areas so you know what to look for in a solution.

Start by asking yourself a few key questions:

  • How often do you or your team spend time searching for lost or misplaced documents?
  • Are errors common in your invoicing or scheduling processes?
  • How much time do you spend manually entering data?
  • Do you experience delays in communication between office staff and field technicians?
  • Have you received complaints from customers about delays or no-shows for scheduled service?

Your answers to these questions will help show you where paper is causing the most headaches in your biz. 

Some common challenges of paper-based processes

After chatting with lots of field service pros, we’ve pinpointed a number of common challenges that businesses still relying on paper run into:

  • Human error: When you’re dealing with handwritten notes, invoices, and manual data entry, mistakes are natural. Whether it’s a misspelled customer name or incorrect service details, these errors can lead to frustrated clients and costly fixes. For instance, if you have your techs scheduling their own appointments and you can’t read their handwriting on the paperwork, it could result in double-booked appointments and unhappy customers.
  • Delays in information: Paper processes often mean delays. Imagine a technician’s out in the field and needs to confirm job details for their next appointment. They can’t reach your office staff so they have to return to the office to get the info. Without real-time updates from a mobile tool, you risk slower response times and decreased customer satisfaction. 
  • Lack of real-time visibility: With your business data scattered across different reports and no central location for tracking metrics, there’s no easy way to get a real-time overview of your operations. Monitoring technician locations, job statuses, and inventory levels becomes a manual, time-consuming task — creating a lack of visibility and making it hard to make informed decisions quickly. Say a pest control company is struggling with tracking their technicians’ locations; without a planned-out route for each tech, they end up falling into inefficient routing and increasing fuel costs.
  • Inefficiencies and wasted time: We all know how manually handling paperwork goes. From filing and organizing documents to copying information across multiple forms, these tasks eat into valuable time that you could spend serving customers or drumming up new business. If you or your staff spend hours manually scheduling and routing technicians or entering invoices unto your accounting system, it may be time to switch to digital.

3 steps to assess processes

Get a clearer picture of your current situation by:

  1. Conducting a time audit: Track how much time your team spends on paper-related tasks over a week. This will help you gauge any inefficiencies.
  2. Gathering feedback: Talk to your technicians and office staff. What frustrations do they face with paper processes? Their input can highlight areas for improvement.
  3. Analyzing error rates: Review past records for errors and mistakes, especially in scheduling and invoicing. Identify patterns and whether digital tools could help eliminate these issues.

Once you’ve assessed your current processes, it’s time to dive into digital solutions.

Understand the basics of digital solutions

There’s quite a range of digital tools available for field service businesses, from customer relationship management (CRM), billing, and invoicing, to scheduling and route optimization platforms.

Field service CRM

A field service customer relationship management (CRM) system is designed for businesses that operate in the field, from pest control to landscaping. It helps you manage customer interactions, track service history, and maintain detailed customer profiles. Most field service CRM tools have a mobile app, meaning you can access customer information on the go, giving your technicians all the details they need to keep customers happy. GorillaDesk’s CRM features, for example, let you keep detailed notes on customer preferences and past appointments so you can easily personalize your service to meet their needs.

Billing and invoicing

Billing and invoicing can be a huge headache when done on paper. Digital platforms simplify this process by automating invoicing and payment collection. With these tools, you can generate professional invoices, send them to customers instantly, and even set up automated payment reminders. This saves your team time, reduces errors, and helps you get paid faster. Research shows that businesses can increase on-time payments by as much as 17% when they move from paper to digital invoices.

Scheduling

“Hey Travis, are you at the appointment yet?” … another scheduling call to update a customer. Skip these tedious phone calls with a scheduling tool. Digital scheduling tools allow you to assign jobs, manage technician availability, and update schedules in real time. Say goodbye to double bookings and missed appointments. GorillaDesk’s scheduling feature lets you drag and drop appointments, making it easy to adjust schedules as availability changes. 

Route optimization

Route optimization tools help your technicians get to job sites faster and more efficiently. By analyzing traffic patterns and using GPS data, these tools can plan the most efficient routes, saving time and reducing fuel costs. GorillaDesk’s route optimization helps businesses minimize travel time and maximize the number of jobs completed each day. 

While you could choose an individual tool for each of these capabilities, many platforms today, like GorillaDesk, combine these various features into a single system. This lets business owners reduce the total amount of tools they’re paying for and streamlines processes by keeping everything on the same system.

Select the right software

Choosing the right digital tool for your field service biz doesn’t have to be overwhelming, with a few insider tips. Here’s a guide to help you choose the right fit:

Start by assessing your business requirements, including:

  • Business size and growth: Are you a small business or an established company with plans to expand?
  • Types of services: Do you offer a range of services, like residential and commercial pest control, each with different needs?
  • Pain points: What challenges do you face with your current processes? Is it timely scheduling, customer communication, invoice follow-up, or something else? Pinpoint the areas where you need improvement.

Now it’s time to narrow the playing field based on your must-have features, which may include:

  • User-friendliness: The best software is easy to use for your entire team. If it’s too complicated, your technicians might resist using it — defeating the purpose of going digital in the first place. Look for solutions that offer a simple, clean design with clear instructions. 
  • Scalability: Can the software grow with your business? As you add more customers and expand your services, you’ll need a tool that can handle increased demand. With scalable software, you won’t have to switch systems as your business grows.
  • Mobile accessibility: Mobile accessibility is a must with technicians who are always on the move. Look for software that offers a robust mobile app where team members can access schedules, customer information, and job details from anywhere.
  • Integration capabilities: Look for software that connects with your existing systems, like accounting software, payment processors, and communication tools — to help create a more cohesive workflow.

Evaluating your software options

Now it’s time to put the tools to the test. Start by:

  1. Reading reviews and case studies: Look for reviews from other field service businesses similar to yours — especially any negative feedback — to get a balanced view.
  2. Requesting demos: Most software today offers demos or free trials. Take the time to see how the software works in real-world scenarios. Make sure to involve your team in the demo process to get their input.
  3. Comparing pricing: Needless to say, the software needs to fit within your budget. Consider both the upfront costs and any ongoing fees. 
  4. Checking customer support: Responsive customer support is critical during the initial setup and transition period. Look for providers that offer comprehensive support options, including training materials, live chat, and phone support.

Execute the transition

With a clear plan and the right tool, transitioning from paper to digital can be smooth and help your business become even more successful:

1) Prepare for your transition.

Set clear goals and a timeline for your transition. Identify the key areas you want to digitize first — whether it’s scheduling, billing, or customer management. The more detailed your plan, the easier it will be to keep everyone on track and make sure nothing is overlooked.

2) Data migration

Begin by organizing your existing paper records. Then transfer important documents and data to your new system, always working from the most accurate and up-to-date records. Most field service software offers data import tools to help with a smooth transfer of information. 

3) Set up the system

Configure your new software to match your business processes. Start by:

  • Setting up user accounts
  • Defining roles and permissions
  • Customizing templates for invoices and reports 
  • Syncing your other tools

This setup phase helps align the software with your workflow and the requirements of your biz.

4) Train your team

Training is key for a successful transition. Organize training sessions to get your team up to speed with the new system. Make sure employees have access to step-by-step guides and videos, and provide hands-on practice to build confidence. Don’t forget to build the new software training into your employee onboarding processes, too. 

5) Pilot the system

Start with a pilot phase by using the new system for a small segment of your operations. This helps identify any issues so you can make adjustments before a full rollout. Gather feedback from your team and make any needed tweaks to improve the process.

6) Full rollout

Once you’ve smoothed out any kinks from the pilot, implement the system across your entire operation. Keep close tabs on the transition and provide additional support where needed. Make sure to encourage team members to share feedback and report any challenges they run into.

Tips for getting buy-in and overcoming resistance

“Nah, the new software is too complicated. I’m not gonna use it,” your field tech says — a business owner’s worst nightmare. Avoid this reaction and get your team on board by:

  • Communicating the benefits: Clearly explain the advantages of going digital to your team. Highlight how it will make their jobs easier, save them time, and reduce costly errors. 
  • Involving key stakeholders: Engage key team members early in the process. By involving them in planning and decision-making, you’ll help build ownership and reduce resistance. Consider involving your lead technicians in the software selection process, thus making them champions of the new system.
  • Offering incentives: Recognize and reward team members who quickly embrace the new system and help others get on board. Offer some sort of incentive to encourage adoption — whether that’s a monetary bonus, catered lunch, or something else. 

There are a few other things to have on your radar during this transition and as you look ahead:

  • Ongoing support: Set up a support system to help team members troubleshoot any issues after the transition. This could include a dedicated support team, helpdesk, or online resources. Continuous support helps resolve issues quickly and maintains momentum.
  • Measure and celebrate success: Track key performance metrics to measure progress following the transition. Celebrating milestones and successes with your team helps them stay motivated and shows them the positive outcomes of their efforts. This could involve tracking improvements in things like: 
    • Job completion rates
    • Customer satisfaction scores
    • Reduced time spent on administrative tasks 
    • Number of jobs completed each day

Dive into digital

Making the move from paper to digital can help streamline your operations and position your business for long-term success. Whether you’re in pest control, lawn care, pool maintenance, or any other field service industry, the benefits of going digital are clear — and if you’re reading this article, it’s probably time to switch. 

Don’t wait for your competitors to get the leg up. GorillaDesk offers a powerful all-in-one platform designed specifically to meet the needs of field service professionals. From CRM and billing, to scheduling and route optimization, GorillaDesk offers the tools you need to run your business more smoothly and effectively.

Sign up for a free trial and see how easy we make it to move from paper to digital on our field service management platform.

Other posts to check out

Pest control marketing: Let’s make that phone ring

Pest control marketing: Let’s make that phone ring

With so many other local pest control companies making competition tight, keeping that phone ringing with new customers may not feel as easy as you thought. To keep your pest control business growing takes marketing know-how. Here are our best tips.

How to get more positive customer feedback

How to get more positive customer feedback

Customers trust online reviews just as much as word of mouth from friends and family. The truth is: Online reviews can make or break your local services business. Here’s how to build that glowing reputation your service deserves.

Master job closures: Dynamic Estimates and Estimate Packages

Master job closures: Dynamic Estimates and Estimate Packages

Discover how GorillaDesk’s new Dynamic Estimates and Estimate Packages can transform your business operations. Offer personalized service options and streamlined package choices to enhance customer satisfaction and increase revenue. Find out more.

Transform your business

Try it free for 14 days. No credit card required. Instant setup.

We will be customers for life

“I can not say enough good things about GorillaDesk it saves us so much time and money. The customer service is the best. I would recommend GorillaDesk to anyone no matter what industry. I trained my employee in 5 minutes on how to use it. We will be customers for life.”

Ryan Sullivan

Business Owner