Affordable Field Service Business Tools to Keep in Mind

January 17, 2024 | Read: 7 minutes

Here's Why Cheaper Isn't Always Better for Your Field Service Business

When it comes to choosing the best field service business tools, cheap options aren’t the best way to go, but affordability certainly matters.

You might be eager cut costs by choosing tools that seem to “get the job done” but this can prove more expensive in the log-run.

Let’s explore why…

Note: originally by Linda Formichelli, this article has been updated.

At first you might feel like a real winner! The software you’ve purchased is better than using paper, but, after a while, you see things start to go wrong.

It turns out functionality is limited, systems aren’t right for your business, and there’re frustrating bugs that customer service can’t help you with….

Unfortunately, you’re experiencing false economy.

What you thought would save you time and money is now going to cost you more in the long run to replace.

What’s worse, by investing in equipment that lets you down, you end up failing both yourself and your customers. That damage to your reputation can be hard to climb back from, too.

Fortunately, we’re here to help highlight features to look out for when choosing field service software & hardware. After all, we want you to have field service tools that help you thrive!

Keep in mind that affordability matters. It can be well worth spending a bit extra to ensure you’re getting everything you need to aid you now and into the future.

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Physical Field Service Business Tools

Computers & Office Equipment

Your office staff need computers with the power to let them do their jobs quickly and efficiently.

Cut corners on this purchase, and your whole business can slow to a crawl as your employees struggle with sticky keyboards and trackpads, low battery life, low memory, and sub-par headsets. (Source: ‘Cheap Laptops: Good Deal or Waste of Money?’).

To break out of the “cheaper is better” mindset, think of the cost of computers and other office equipment in terms of cost per hour of use, not cost per item.

Here’s an example we’ve provided in another article:

That doesn’t mean you have to strain your bank account to purchase the most high-end computers and office equipment. These days, a lot of technology has improved so that even cheaper options function really well. (Take Google’s Pixel phones, like the Pixel 7, as an example. They have 3 options at increasing price-points. The “7a” is cheapest, “7” is mid, and the “7 Pro” is at the top. Each model is a quality product, but users will have their reasons for going higher or lower, deciding some features are necessary whilst others might not be worth the cost).

Not everything is made equal, though and later in this article, we’ll talk about how to strike a balance between getting a high quality product vs. going for low prices.

Parts, Inventory, and Suppliers

If you’re always on the hunt for cheap tools for field service, stop right now.

For yourself, you know that low-quality tools and parts often lead to low-quality installations and repairs—and those, in turn, lead to upset customers.

Not only that, if you’re not careful, the cheap parts you buy will not only break faster than quality parts—they can also be unsafe.

“In the same way that people quickly forget a high price if you deliver high quality, they’ll also forget the low price if you deliver low quality”

So says Peter Crocker in his article False economy: Beware the lure of the Quickie.

Fraying electrical cords and faulty power tools are a hazard for your field service engineers and everyone around them. Just like choosing good software, choose good parts: customers will thank you for it.

Digital Field Service Business Tools

Whether you’re looking for accounting software or the best service management software, it can be tempting to go cheap (or even free).

In the end, though, like the hardware, cheap software can end up costing you way more time and hassle than the few pounds you saved.

Software Solutions

If you purchase cheap software on eBay, Craigslist, or Amazon Marketplace, it’s most likely counterfeit.

And even if it’s not, some software companies won’t officially recognise you as an owner of their software, and won’t offer support for the products you buy on these sites.

Not to mention, oftentimes free and cheap software is harder to set up and maintain, is more difficult to use, doesn’t do the job well, and comes with little or no customer support.

Just take a look at the reviews of many free field service management apps and you’ll run across titbits like: “I lose so much work, I have to write everything down and then enter it into the programme after the phone call is over” or “This would be a great tool… if it worked!”.

Kind of pointless to spend time setting up free software if it doesn’t actually do the job, right?

Balancing the Cost & Value of Field Service Business Tools

There are good bargains to be had out there, as long as you aren’t obsessed with scoring the very lowest price on everything you purchase for your business.

Here’s how to make it happen:

Look at all sides

When you buy parts, office equipment, software, or service, you’re paying for more than just that item. You’re also paying for everything that goes into creating the thing, as well as all the benefits that come along with it.

When you buy a computer, you’re also paying for the employees that man the computer company’s helpdesk. When you purchase a part online, you’re also paying for the speed of delivery, the quality of the manuals, and the attentiveness of the supplier’s customer service staff.

These all impact your business—and how your customers view your business—so be sure to evaluate all aspects of the product or service you’re buying, and not just the thing itself.

Check out reviews

The company you’re evaluating might have the best sales copy ever, but you can get the real deal by reading customer reviews.

Again, look for reviews that critique not just the item itself but also the customer service and other key features of the purchase.

Also note how the company responds to negative reviews to get a good idea of their customer service skills.

Ask around

If you’re friends with other business owners, ask for their suggestions on affordable-yet-quality products and services, and for their opinions on parts, supplies, or software you’re thinking of buying. No field service friends? Ask in an online industry forum instead.

Look for lists

Search for ‘best budget laptops’ (or ‘best budget smartphones’ or whatever you’re looking for), and you’ll find that many experts and websites have helpfully compiled lists of their top picks just for you.

Don’t Buy Cheap

Finally, just as you don’t want to automatically jump at the lowest-priced parts, services, software, or supplies, you also don’t want to be the low-price leader in your area.

In his article The 7 Biggest Mistakes That HVAC Contractors Make, HVAC expert Allison Bailes lists ‘Trying to be a low bidder’ as one of the biggest blunders.

“The race to the bottom results in everyone being a loser,” he says. “The ones who don’t get the contract lose.

The one who gets the contract can’t do the work properly because they have to scrimp on labour and materials. And the homeowner loses because, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.”

An All-in-One Field Service Business Tool

Looking for an affordable job management solution?

Commusoft will help transform your business.

It’s as simple as that.

You can explore all our Jobs Management Features, as well as our new Sales CRM!

At Commusoft, we’ve designed everything with Field Services in mind, all with the aim of helping you to keep track of your communications, send follow-ups, book jobs, manage pipelines, communicate with customers and lots more!

Hard to believe? We get great reviews but do take a look around for yourself, too!

Explore all in one job management software with Commusoft

I'm eager to tell compelling stories and share great advice that helps field service businesses to build on their success.

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