Business development is everything, especially if you believe the old executive adage that "if you are not growing, you are dying." You need to grow your field service business, no matter what area of field service you work in (plumbing, AC repair, machine maintenance, and so on.) 

For years and years, the idea of business development was predominantly external. You needed better talent (hiring). There were factories and equipment to be bought. The technology was not there yet. Scaling and becoming profitable were about defeating the challenges out in the marketplace.

It is a very different picture around business development these days.

Business development and lessons from Bain

Bain is a well-respected consulting firm. Here is a recent interview with Chris Zook who headed the global strategy practice of Bain for two decades. The article is about business development and the "startup mentality." (More on that in a second.) Here is, quite possibly, the most interesting section:

One of the most amazing and powerful statistics from our five-year study, where we visited 40 countries in the course of it, is that for the largest of companies, 94% say that there are barriers to achieving their growth targets. But by my other statistic, 94% of the barriers are now internal. They are not lack of a market, market saturation, technologies they couldn’t possibly have, unbeatable competitors, government regulation, economic slowdown — none of that. They say in 94% of the time it is internal, and we found that many more than two-thirds of these primary reasons were related to complexity and how some companies age prematurely.

Business development: now it's all about the internal barriers. By the way, Zook wrote a book about this.

What are some of the internal barriers to business development?

The normal ideas apply here, including:

  • Poor communication
  • Unclear roles and responsibilities
  • Senior management meddling
  • Too many middle levels
  • General issues with ethics and trust
  • Everyone spending too much of his or her time in meetings/calls

Zook says that the "founder's mentality" is about three things that will help defeat this.


  1. Insurgent Mission: This means you are "at war" with the current standards of your industry.
  2. Frontline Obsession: This means you care deeply about how customers are perceiving your product or service.
  3. Owner's Mindset: This means you have an aversion to bureaucracy and want to jump on problems yourself.

How can the internal barriers in business development be overcome?

Zook's research through Bain shows this: companies who reach $5 billion in value usually have 9-14 layers between 'the front lines' and upper management.

This is a real problem for organizations as they scale. Adding too many layers can slow down decision-making and result in poor outcomes for your customers and clients.

While we are sure you would love to be a $5B company, these are issues you need to consider as you grow to whatever your financial ceiling is.

Moving beyond fix and repair

It is a much more nuanced field service world these days. Technology is changing much of the business models, from Internet of Things and connected devices to the prevalence of, and preference for, mobile options among your customers. If you have been running a field service business for 20 years or more, chances are your business model is extremely different than it was when you started your operations.

That is what is meant by “moving beyond fix and repair.” Ultimately, your customers and clients will judge you on the quality of the service you are providing – namely, fixing and repairing whatever their needs are, and whatever they contract or hire you to do.

But for you to successfully run your business, you need to periodically move beyond fix and repair and think about other aspects. How do you hire? How do you do sales and marketing? What are your core values?

Because the day-to-day can get so busy, sometimes FSOs do not think about these bigger issues until it is too late.  

That is why we put together an eBook on various ‘beyond fix and repair’ issues to consider in your business. You can download it now. If you have any questions about specific aspects of your business or business model, do not hesitate to contact us.


Written by Julio Hartstein