5 Time-Wasting Sales Mistakes HVAC Business Owners Make

On November 30th, 2016 by

Wasting time is one of the quickest ways to hurt your revenues and upset future customers. Smart Service focuses on making HVAC businesses more efficient and profitable with software for HVAC businesses. However, administrative inefficiency isn’t limited to the scheduling and dispatching of technicians. Sales professionals can also make mistakes, especially while prospecting clients.

Here are five major time wasters that your sales staff should look out for:

1. Getting Too Social

HVAC technician and customer laughing

While being friendly and approachable is always important to help you position yourself as a problem-solver, spending too much time on the phone asking about your prospect’s family, recent Disney vacation, or any other irrelevant topic takes time away from making money. Keep social hour to a minimum by making a good first impression and asking questions that help transition into focusing on the prospect’s problem.

2. Asking For Too Much Time

As a business owner, you know more than anyone the validity of the adage, “time is money.” When scheduling a sales call, keep another saying in mind, “it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission.” Ask to schedule a shorter sales call, and you’ll encounter less friction getting your meeting on the calendar. Even if you run over the allotted time during the sales process, you’ll give yourself something to follow up about when you don’t quite cover everything.

3. Pursuing Unqualified Leads

When too many prospective leads turn into dead ends, sales representatives end the month scratching their heads while trying to figure out why so much time was spent on prospects that didn’t pan out. Find out in the first conversation with a future client what the scope of their needs and problems are, what their budget is, and if your company is the right fit to fix the problem. Being too afraid of losing a lead, even a cold one, can waste time and resources and leave better-fitting potential clients high and dry.

4. Preparing A Rigid Sales Presentation

HVAC sales presentation

It is very important to come prepared to talk about the services you provide and what differentiates your business from local competitors. In the sales world, the saying goes, “if you don’t have a plan, stay in the car.” However, the urge to over-prepare with a lengthy sales pitch—one heavily laden with industry jargon—often leads to over explaining and squandering a client’s time. A good rule of thumb: if you’ve been talking for over three minutes without feedback from the prospect, it’s probably time to ask them a question. Remember: PowerPoint is not the end-all-be-all when it comes to software for HVAC businesses.

5. Chasing Unresponsive Leads

Fear of missing out is an epidemic in sales. With an increasing amount of information on the internet that allows potential clients to do their own research, it is up to you to make sure that “analysis paralysis” doesn’t set in. Fear of missing out doesn’t solely exist on the client’s side, however. Sales teams that perpetually chase unresponsive leads (who may have once seemed promising) can miss opportunities to pursue new upcoming prospects.


3 Ways Window Cleaning Scheduling Software Can Increase Your ROI

On November 29th, 2016 by

As a business owner, you are always looking for ways to improve the way your business runs, and ultimately, your return-on-investment (ROI). To be successful you must continually monitor the financial health of your company. Everyone has different ideas and methods for running their business and streamlining processes, but for those in the window washing business, window cleaning scheduling software has proven time and time again its effectiveness in improving the ROI of companies. Here are three of the ways window cleaning software can help your business.

Improved Customer Service

window cleaning customer service

One of the biggest ways window cleaning software can help your company is through improved customer service. With scheduling software such as Smart Service, you can eliminate process inefficiencies, which helps streamline your customer service department. Window cleaning scheduling software allows your representatives to easily see what jobs workers are completing at what times, allowing your reps to answer calls with more speed and certainty. Your customer service team will also be able to see customer history, payment history, and any other pertinent work order notes made by your field cleaning professionals. Additionally, by giving your customer service team an additional outlet for communication, they can easily cancel and reschedule the work order if need be, minimizing the time it would normally take to reschedule and notify the window washer. Improved processes in your customer service department can translate to increased employee productivity.

Increased Employee Productivity

From streamlined work routes to electronic timekeeping, window cleaning scheduling software can have a dramatic impact on the productivity of your employees. Because scheduling software can improve the efficiency of the customer service department, your field workers will be able to receive instant communications alerting them to changes in their schedules. With instant notifications about work orders and schedule changes, your employees will be able to alter their route accordingly, without wasting time driving to a canceled or rescheduled job. Your window cleaners will also be able to streamline their routes with window cleaning software.

Scheduling conflicts and wasted time driving to jobs are two major pain points all service industry companies face. With paper notes and schedules, it can be difficult for drivers to map out an efficient route to save time, gas, and money, especially when their schedules can change mid-day. Scheduling software eliminates the time wasted driving across town five times. As your company’s reps schedule new appointments, your software can automatically find the best route, time, and worker for the job.

Other benefits of window cleaning scheduling software include the ability to clock in and out via the software itself, instead of requiring employees to use the traditional punch cards at the brick and mortar locations where they work. Software such as iFleet allows business owners to track workforce progress and see the physical location of workers. Increased employee productivity allows your company to start completing more jobs in the same number of hours by eliminating inefficiencies. This directly correlates to more cost-effective operations, increasing revenue and ROI.

Improved Communication

window cleaning communication

Communicating with employees who travel can be difficult, especially when phone calls are the main form of contact. Playing phone tag is not only unproductive, but it can cause bigger issues such as missing a payment, missing a change to a work order, or forgetting the right gear for a job. Software made for window cleaning companies can help consolidate the communication process between customer service, accounting, employees, and team leads. With phone-only communication, it can be difficult for company representatives to simultaneously take customer calls while alerting employees of possible schedule changes. Using window cleaning software, you can send notifications directly to your employees while simultaneously communicating with customers. Additionally, software like Smart Service boasts integrations with apps such as QuickBooks, Google Calendar, and DropBox, allowing your team to easily share files, invoices, appointments, and memos through one service, instead of using multiple applications or a pen and paper.

Don’t underestimate the influence efficient software and streamlined processes can have on your company’s ROI. By eliminating wasted time and improving communication and productivity with window cleaning scheduling software, your company could see improvements in revenue and ROI. If you are interested in learning about window cleaning software, contact the experts at Smart Service for your free demo.


5 Tips to Help Manage Remote HVAC Employees

On November 28th, 2016 by

The productivity and efficiency of your HVAC employees are crucial components to the success of your heating and cooling business. If your employees aren’t performing their best, especially due to outside factors, your business could take a hit. As the owner or manager of an HVAC company, you have a lot on your plate, leaving little time to micromanage your service fleet. Below we give you our top 5 tips to manage your team of service employees.

Streamline the Schedule

One of the easiest ways to quickly improve the productivity of your HVAC employees is to streamline their daily schedules and routes. Often, remote service employees spend more time in their car traveling than they do completing jobs due to inefficient scheduling. If a contractor has to bounce across town to complete projects, not only will they be unable to complete all their necessary jobs, they likely won’t be productive when working. One of the best ways to improve the schedule of your HVAC contractors is by investing in HVAC dispatch software. There are many kinds of software for HVAC companies to help with scheduling. Some software, such as Smart Service, allow you to look at a calendar view of your employees’ schedules so you can easily add new appointments and send the information directly to your employees’ mobile devices. With a holistic view of your employees’ schedules, you will be able to schedule new jobs in an order that makes sense geographically.

Go Paperless


Have you ever had an employee call you when they are supposed to be at a job, just to ask for the address? Have one of your employees gotten lost on the job? Have your employees lost work orders or notes from jobs? All of these events can take a toll on your company’s efficiency, and this can be detrimental, especially to a small business. This is another problem that can be solved with HVAC software. Look for software that allows you to not only schedule your workers, but also allows you to send work orders, collect work orders, and store data for recurring jobs and customers.

Have a Game Plan

online field service company reviews
Whether your employees report to the office before heading out on their HVAC jobs or you manage them exclusively through HVAC software, it’s important to always have a game plan. Some managers like to start each morning with a meeting, others save those meetings for every Monday, but whichever you choose, it is a good idea to convene as a group to go over best practices, goals, and any work-specific reminders. Setting a time for meetings or for other tasks like working on social media can help increase productivity and employee morale. If your employees don’t report to a central location every day, consider sending a video or personalized memo to your employees to maintain that feeling of inclusion.

Monitor Employee Morale

No matter your industry, the size of your team, or the nature of your work, morale can make or break the success of your business. When managing remote employees, especially those in servicing industries, it can be difficult to convey the right messages to ensure positive morale. Still, there are a variety of ways you can ensure your employees remain happy. Two easy ways to help improve or maintain morale is by recognizing the personal milestones and losses of your employees and by simply asking for feedback. Both of these play into the idea of employees understanding they are valued. It is important to set your expectations high because high expectations warrant better results. As a manager, when you recognize both the accomplishments and failings of an employee instead of one or the other, they will recognize that you aren’t around for just the good things or just the bad things. On the other side, asking your employees for feedback and recognition of your accomplishments and losses will make your employees feel more at ease coming to you in the future and that their opinion matters.

Frequent Communication


Whether it is emails, text messages, or phone calls, it is important to communicate with your remote employees frequently. Not only will this improve the overall efficiency of your team, your individual employees will take notice as well. When managers are actively involved in open communication with their employees, they often see great ROI in terms of work productivity, efficiency, and motivation. Employees want to know they are being heard, and by opening those lines of communication they will be more likely to come to you for advice, help, or with any concerns. This is especially important for HVAC businesses with remote employees because the whole team is seldom together at one time. This is another area where HVAC software can come in handy. With one standard application for all employees that integrates seamlessly into other processes, you can streamline your communication to keep records, send personal messages, and address your team as a whole.

Managing an HVAC company with remote workers can be difficult when you are juggling everything else in your business. With the help of software for HVAC companies, you can streamline different parts of your business with the end goal of helping your remote employees perform to the best of their ability. If you are looking for HVAC software to help you, contact Smart Service today to get a free demo.


Essential Mobile Apps for Plumbing Businesses

On November 21st, 2016 by

Owning your own plumbing business is a struggle if you don’t have the proper tools to get the job done. You would never show up to a job without a wrench or a hammer. The same should hold true when tracking finances, schedules, and work orders, especially when you’re not in the office.  It’s essential that you equip your plumbing business with the best mobile applications on the market to help streamline workflow and reduce overhead. The 7 apps listed below qualify as must-haves to run your own successful plumbing business.

QuickBooks

The first workflow software essential is QuickBooks. For most businesses, including those in the plumbing industry, having a central place to keep track of the inner workings of your company is absolutely vital. The QuickBooks mobile app allows you access to invoices, expenses, and reports at home or at an out of town conference. Both the mobile app and the desktop software offer a variety of integrations with other workflow applications to help bolster your efficiency.

iFleet Mobile Workforce Software

iFleet plumbing software 

Gone are the days of paper invoices. The days when your plumbers had to call the office to receive their next assignment have officially passed. iFleet is an essential mobile workflow app that allows your plumbers to finish paperwork in the field, access a customer’s complete work history, and track equipment for big jobs. Technicians can use the talk to text feature to take detailed notes in situations where typing grows cumbersome. The app features GPS integration and helps your plumbers easily identify their next job. iFleet keeps customers up to speed with accurate arrival times, reducing downtime in between jobs.

iFleet integrates with the Smart Service desktop application, and with QuickBooks back at the office, using GPS breadcrumbs to keep supervisors up to date with workforce tracking and time tracking. This app allows your plumbing business to significantly reduce lead time on jobs and avoid losing important customer information and invoices.

DropBox for Business

Dropbox integration 

Avoid bogging down your iPad, tablet, or phone with hundreds or even thousands of pictures, files, and invoices from your plumbing business. DropBox allows your team to sync and share folders of images and files from customer accounts, as well as general business information. Through DropBox, files can be accessed from any desktop or mobile device at any time. Because files no longer need to be stored on your device, tons of storage space gets freed up. DropBox also allows integration with other mobile apps and desktop software, including iFleet and Smart Service.

Google Calendar

One of the most important parts of running a successful plumbing business is making sure that your plumbers have an accurate schedule each and every day that can be accessed from any kind of mobile device. Google Calendar is a must-have because of its compatibility with iPhones, iPads, Androids, and the Windows platform. Google Calendar can also integrate with other mobile and desktop software like QuickBooks and Smart Service, allowing you to schedule service calls and set up reminders for your plumbers, all from one place.

Intuit GoPayment

Allowing your plumbers to take credit card payments while in the field can significantly reduce the time to process payments and gives customers the power to choose their preferred form of payment. While checks and cash are great, having the ability to run credit card payments helps eliminate additional paperwork. Credit card payments can also be verified while your plumbers are still in the field, increasing turnaround. Intuit GoPayment comes with a convenient card reader, allowing your plumbers to swipe customers’ cards so they don’t have to manually type information in and risk making a mistake. All of the payment information is synced with QuickBooks and other integrated plumbing software, keeping your customers’ information secure and available on any device.

join.me Mobile Conferences

Make yourself available to your team of plumbers and office staff while away from the office with join.me’s mobile app. join.me allows you to tap into staff meetings from your iPhone, iPad, Android device, and even your Apple Watch, all with a touch of a button. An admin can share their screen or presentation, keeping the whole team on the same page at all times.

LinkedIn Pulse

LinkedIn Pulse Logo 

Working in conjunction with other residential and commercial industries constitutes an important part of running a successful plumbing company. LinkedIn Pulse provides a great means of accomplishing this. This mobile app allows you to stay current with industry-related news and keep tabs on what your connections are reading. You can also set up notifications on your mobile device for time-sensitive news and information, as well as trending news about your competitors.

Running a residential or commercial plumbing company requires layers of efficiency throughout your entire staff. These mobile apps integrate with desktop plumbing business software and can help streamline workflow and keep you in the know as a small business owner.


Balancing your Plumbing Company’s Finances

On November 17th, 2016 by

As an owner of a plumbing business, you juggle several things at any one time. Between managing employees, scheduling customer jobs, tracking inventory, competing with other plumbing companies, and marketing your business, managing your plumbing company’s finances can seem overwhelming. However, tracking and balancing your finances regularly can be the difference between ending up in the black or falling into a hole at the end of the year. Below are six of our top tips for better managing your plumbing company finances. Put these tips to use and you’ll breathe a little easier when an unexpected expense comes your way.

Overestimate expenses

The first step for balancing your financials is to get an understanding of what you bring in and what you pay out. Expenses like gas, wages, insurance, utilities, supplies, and other overhead costs need to be itemized and accounted for in your expenses. In planning a budget, it is far better to over budget and have an excess of profit than it is to underestimate and end up owing money. If you have a recurring expense that can vary in amount, estimating on the high end can help you ensure that this expense is always covered.

Set revenue goals and plans to reach them

 

When examining your budget, compare the money that comes in against the money that goes out. Apply some simple logic to make this balance work. If you experience an increase in expenses, you’ll need to also increase the amount of money that comes in. When balancing your books, make note of positive and negative trends in expenses and revenue. Know what your sales and revenue goals need to be for your company to stay on track and remain profitable. Once you have those numbers, plan your strategy for hitting them, whether that means updating your pricing, boosting your marketing efforts, or increasing the efficiency of your operations.

Plan large purchases in advance

A large, unplanned expense can devastate your budget when you least expect it. Company vehicles break down, office equipment becomes obsolete or falls into disrepair, and you must constantly expand your toolset and technology as your plumbing company grows. Planning ahead using up-to-date financials and profit projections can help balance your risk when big expenses come up. A little planning prevents these large investments from feeling like huge burdens.

Invest in accounting software

 

When your company first starts, it’s easy to keep handwritten records or maintain a spreadsheet of paid invoices and paid bills. However, an uptick in volume can cause these rudimentary systems to quickly fall off the rails. Investing in an accounting software application can help you keep better track of your financials and stay organized. Software solutions such as QuickBooks, Zoho, and others are popular among plumbing company owners for their user friendliness and accessibility. Some of these solutions, such as QuickBooks, integrate with third party add-ons to help manage other aspects of your plumbing company. These include scheduling your plumbers, equipment tracking, routing, and more. QuickBooks plugins such as Smart Service help you manage your plumbing business in one place—making it not only easy to track financials, but also to schedule out your service calls.

Keep financials up to date

As your plumbing company grows, your budget will change. Setting aside time to review your financials and update your accounts is crucial to staying on top of your plumbing company’s success. Audit your financial information monthly and make sure that you track and record expenses accurately so that you can make sound financial decisions. Staying on top of this information monthly also helps when it comes time to close out the books at the end of the year. Backlogging under a time crunch puts you at risk of missing important information that can negatively impact your taxes and year-end statements. Review your financials every month, and you’ll have plenty of time to make month-over-month comparisons, as well as year-over-year comparisons, helping you spot seasonal trends and track your growth over time.

Understand how seasonality impacts your business

 

The plumbing market can be influenced by a number of outside variables such as location, weather, and holidays. Tracking both positive and negative trends in phone call volume, service requests, and types of service requests can allow you to make forecasts as you go into different seasons. Typical seasonality factors that impact a plumbing business include holidays in which people host large gatherings, cold weather that can cause pipes to burst, home buying season, new construction season (in which new plumbing is needed), and periods of increased rainfall (which can lead to basement flooding). If you know that a busier season is coming, schedule your plumbers accordingly and make sure you have all the supplies you need to meet the demand. For slower seasons, make sure to scale back your costs where possible.

In all, staying up to date with your plumbing company’s financials will empower you to run your business more effectively and efficiently. In any small business, time is money. Consider purchasing plumbing software that can help you manage your company and organize your financials. Contact Smart Service today to request a demo of award-winning plumbing software. Talk to a representative about how Smart Service technology can help your business.


What’s New in Smart Service?

On November 16th, 2016 by

Since the beginning of the year, we’ve stuck to a quarterly release schedule for new content updates to Smart Service and iFleet. With several major updates published (and many more planned), we felt it was time to start cataloging all the additions. The results of our efforts? The brand new Updates page!

On this new updates page (located at the easy-to-remember address SmartService.com/Updates) you will find an article summarizing the biggest changes made to Smart Service and iFleet this year, as well as an article detailing the additions made in each individual update.

Finally, the video below (which also appears in the 2016 summary article) provides a walkthrough of our most notable additions.

As we continue to add content to Smart Service and iFleet, we will continually update the new Updates page. To make sure you don’t miss any new features, bookmark SmartService.com/Updates and check back regularly for the latest news.