Oh how we love servitization. We talk all the time about traditional companies product-izing repairs and regular service, building product categories around utilities that previously were seen as a cost center, or relegated to other organizations altogether. But what about those businesses who have been delivering service all along? We certainly talk about them, and we talk to them. Their experience extends, under many circumstances, far beyond that of new entrants.

And as the expectations of these new entrants have changed, so too have the expectations of these aftermarket service companies. Whether it be through companies attempting to corral their work under a licensee framework, or the pinch of OEMs encroaching upon their well-worn turf, challenges mount for legacy companies.

As always, not every challenge will be the same. Not every business will be up against the same types of competition, nor the same environmental challenges. But for many, there are a few issues worth confronting before the metastasize into more complex problems. Here’s a few such problems, and how our legacy service brethren can work to address them.

Rising Tides Sink Old Ships

Ok—I’m not saying that every service provider will be wiped out by a wave of servitization, in which the brands that are serviced build internal infrastructure to compete with you. Dealer service centers and private mechanics are able to live and work side-by-side, have access to the same materials, and offer comparable services.

But in a new environment where businesses are selling outcomes, not products to consumers, the need to pivot services to embrace that might be the key. For some, that might look like, as mentioned before, becoming part of a network of certified service providers for a single brand. Often, that means that the onus of optimization, parts management, and repair coordination is taken out of your hands. But it also means that you need to have the right tools in hand—and the willingness to adapt those tools—to meet the needs of the manufacturer or distributor of serviceable products.

If you’re a service provider against numerous products in a specific industry, like commercial kitchens, retail, or HVAC, that model isn’t as feasible. For those companies, you’ll often lack the ability to connect as closely to specific assets as a manufacturer. For these companies, delivering exceptional service at the greatest value is the key to success. It’s imperative, then, to think about the tools you’re using today to capture that success.

The Agony and Ecstasy of Maturity

Legacy aftermarket service providers have an obvious leg-up in the service wars of the future…they’ve been doing it for a very long time, so they have the infrastructure, systems, processes, and procedures that have been iterated upon for years to produce the New York Yankees of service technology stacks (as a Masshole, this pains me to type).

But also…

Legacy aftermarket service providers have an obvious detriment in the service wars of the future…they’ve been doing it for a very long time, so they’re saddled with dozens of overwritten technologies, iterated into a mob of indiscernible wires to produce the Miami Marlins of service technology stacks (sorry Floridians…the Marlins are bad).

This duality emphasizes the importance of auditing your service processes. In the next few weeks, we’ll present some questions that we can ask to help you evaluate the integrity of your software. It’s certainly tough to turn the mirror onto processes, especially when those processes are day-in, day-out activities of your service business. But taking the time to step back and make those evaluations could spell the difference between success and failure.

Tom Paquin
Author

Contributor, Future of Field Service