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December, 2016 - Smart Service

Update 97: Expanded Color Coding, Seasonal Recurrence Patterns

On December 29th, 2016 by

The final release of 2016, Update 97 adds a plethora of new features to Smart Service and iFleet. Watch the video to see them in action and read about each addition below!

Seasonal Recurrence Patterns – Smart Service users can now set seasonal parameters on recurring jobs. This comes in handy when scheduling work that only pertains to certain times of the year (example: a weekly lawn mowing job that does not continue during winter months).

In addition, Smart Service users can now set an “Ends After” date for a recurring job. This works great for companies undertaking major projects. An HVAC company performing a system installation during a construction project, for example, can set up a daily job for the days or weeks that the construction remains active, then set an Ends After date for the expected completion of the project.

Email as Required Field – If your company needs email addresses for customers, you can now require email as a required field in customer records. This forces users to supply an email address before saving a customer’s information.

Expanded Color Coding – Category labels can now follow a custom color coding scheme. This means your company can color code jobs in whatever way you’d like, assigning each color a custom meaning specific to your industry or your business. If, for example, you’d like to assign colors for first time customers or jobs that require safety gear, Smart Service will allow you to do so. The custom colors you set will also carry over to iFleet, keeping everyone on the same page. In addition, reporting for custom color categories is now available.

Model and Serial Number as Required Fields – You can now require model and serial numbers as required fields in iFleet. Enable this feature, and field technicians will be forced to include model and serial numbers in iFleet when entering equipment information. This will help ensure the integrity of your company’s records.

Schedule Estimates on the Smart Service Calendar – The ability to “Add Estimate” has now been included on the Smart Service scheduling board. This will make it easy to create and schedule an estimate for one of your employees. To use this feature, simply right click on the scheduling board.

Address Certification – A green checkmark now signifies that a US address has been officially certified. This will let users know beyond the shadow of a doubt that an address is officially certified by the US Postal Service.

Item Descriptions in History Records – To view longer job item descriptions, users can now click on the new magnifying glass icon.

Call Ahead Symbol in iFleet – Jobs marked with a “Call Ahead” warning in Smart Service will now display a call ahead symbol in iFleet. This will let technicians know that they should call their customer before heading out to perform the scheduled work.

Additional Employees in iFleet – iFleet users can now check an assigned list of employees for each job to learn wether or not additional employees (beyond themselves) have been assigned to work on a given job.

Click to view the complete 10.97 release notes.

Click to update Smart Service.

How to Make Your Plumbing Business More Time Efficient

On December 22nd, 2016 by

We are all guilty of wasting time, procrastinating, and turning work in late. However, when it comes to your plumbing business, the last thing you want to do is create a culture of inefficient time management. As the owner or manager of your plumbing business, it’s essential that you set the example for the company and your employees of how to manage time. To do that, we’ve come up with 5 effective ways to improve your plumbing business’s time management and increase employee productivity.

Get in the habit of making lists.

In a society that demands productivity, multitasking can cause you to become hyper-productive, always checking emails, running errands, and flipping back and forth between jobs. Jumping from task to task can make it harder to complete projects. Multitasking sometimes represents a more time consuming approach, one that brings your time management to a screeching halt.

To counteract this, create to-do lists each day consisting of the tasks that you need to finish. To-do lists will help reduce the urge to multitask and encourage you to focus on one project at a time. It’s also very satisfying to cross items off your list each day.

Integrate scheduling and management software.

Two of the biggest time sinks for a plumbing business are scheduling customer appointments and keeping track of plumbing technicians. If you don’t have a management system that keeps track of appointment times and customer information, you could be spending triple the amount of time managing these things by hand (not to mention all the time wasted deciphering poor employee handwriting and reconciling billing inaccuracies).

Plumbing software that integrates with Quickbooks marks one of the easiest ways to organize files, track time, and give your plumbers an effective way to plot their service calls each day via GPS. A plumbing management system does all of the legwork for you, saving you and your company precious time and increasing productivity.

Avoid and eliminate time wasters.

Do you and your employees like to surf the net during work hours? Social media and online window shopping can waste an enormous amount of time each day. Set the expectation for your employees that social media and online shopping should be reserved for lunch and breaks. Remove bookmarks and quick links to your Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon accounts. If they’re not in front of you, you may be less likely to visit them. This could save you a good chunk of unproductive time.

Create buffer time between projects.

Stop jamming 20 projects into a single day. To maximize productivity, you need to give yourself some lead time in between tasks and projects every day. An extra 5-10 minutes between tasks will allow for distractions, phone calls, and urgent emails that require an immediate response.

The same goes for your plumbing technicians. Don’t overbook their schedules with customer service calls. It could backfire and create a poor customer service experience if there is no buffer time for jobs that might take longer than expected. Allow your technicians an extra 30 minutes in between jobs for customer questions, traffic, and other unforeseen problems.

Set time limits on tasks.

Just like your plumbing technicians have a timeframe for service calls, you should set restrictions on your tasks. Strategize every day and set aside blocks of time to complete tasks. Here is a sample of a possible work day schedule:

8:30 AM – 9:00 AM – Respond to emails.

9:15 AM – 12:00 PM – Order supplies.

12:15 PM – 1:00 PM – Lunch.

1:15 PM – 3:00 PM – Follow up customers about their recent service calls.

3:00 PM – 5:00 PM – Look over invoice report from previous week.

Blocking out your time for specific tasks helps reduce the chances that a single task will drag on and on.

It’s important to note that as the owner, you’ll want to schedule out additional buffer time during each task for any day-to-day issues that may arise. So, if you schedule two hours for invoices, tack on an additional 15-30 minutes for fires that need put out, on top of the 10 minute buffer time between projects.

Implementing some of these effective time management tips can improve your company’s productivity and help improve your work environment. For help with integrating plumbing business management software, contact Smart Service for a free demo and see how you can improve your time management.

Five Books to Read to Shape up your Electrical Contracting Business

On December 20th, 2016 by

Even as an electrician software solutions provider, we don’t dare underestimate the power of a well-written physical book. For business owners, especially in the contracting and service worlds, it’s easy to get bogged down in day to day minutia. Paperwork, scheduling, figuring out payroll… these all take time away from what really matters: making your business profitable. Load some of these incredible books into your tablet or phone next to iFleet. Let us handle your electrician scheduling software while you take some time to improve your business fundamentals. Here are our top 5 suggestions:

How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

Any list of books for business owners that doesn’t feature this classic is sadly misguided. How to Win Friends and Influence People has earned a reputation as a must-read for almost everyone, no matter what stage of business they are in. First released in 1936, Carnegie’s book is one of the first self-help books ever published. Several chapters speak directly to how people should handle themselves in order to increase their earning power, improve sales, and win new clients. Additionally, the book teems with all manner of other helpful advice for dealing with co-workers and employees.

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It – Michael Gerber

In his 1985 book, Michael Gerber looks at the commonly held belief that most businesses are started by entrepreneurs (hence the title, in which “E-Myth” is short for, “Entrepreneur Myth”). Gerber argues that this thought is simply fiction. The majority of businesses are started by “technicians,” people who are experts in the hands-on work of an organization. There is quite a lot of discussion on the relevance of this book in the age of the internet. In The E-Myth Revisited, Gerber attempts to dispel some of the commonly held beliefs about starting and running a business.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… And It’s All Small Stuff – Richard Carlson

Many business owners strive for perfection. Winning 100% of all projects bid on, coming in below cost every time, and under-promising and over-delivering are all admirable goals. However, there comes a point when perfectionism can drive you crazy. Carlson recommends using the small challenges in our lives and businesses as little lessons to each of us. Stressing a gradual self-improvement model, he recommends softening your most stubborn positions and trusting your intuition to lead to less stress in your daily life.

How Much Should I Charge? – Ellen Rohr

Ellen Rohr is a small business expert who specializes in the service industry. Originally a partner in a plumbing company, she learned the ropes of the industry after graduating with a business degree. In How Much Should I Charge? Rohr explains some of the mistakes business owners make when they decide the pricing for the services that they provide. The advice she offers cuts across specific contracting areas and gets directly into how much your services are worth to your customers. By uncomplicating your business, you can focus on driving revenues higher.

Think Big, Act Bigger: The Rewards of Being Relentless – Jeffrey Hayzlett

Jeffrey Hayzlett is an industry veteran who happily sprinkles loads of personal experiences among the advice in this book. His no-nonsense writing style leaves plenty of room for humor, and inspires readers, motivating them to continue pushing forward. His mantra says it best, “The most dangerous move in business is the failure to make a move.” While this book isn’t necessarily geared towards electrical services specifically, it will give you quite a few things to think about.

5 Reasons Your Future Window Washing Customers Won’t Hire You

On December 16th, 2016 by

Some fundamental, preventable problems facing window washing business owners keep them from winning bids on projects. If you find yourself scratching your head at the end of the day wondering why your window cleaning scheduling software isn’t completely full of newly awarded jobs, you might want to consider these potential mistakes:

Customers don’t know and will never find out that you exist.

Experts suggest that 85% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses. This makes maintaining an online presence for your business an absolute imperative. Word of mouth will always remain valuable and relevant, but as long as the internet continues to dominate our society, you need an internet presence.

Your pricing is weird.

Your customers want to save money on window washing. Everyone shops around. Consider this when it comes time to submit a bid on a contract. Make sure your price isn’t too high relative to the competition. By the same token, make sure your price isn’t too low. Experiment with your rates until you find prices that give you the most profit. Many experts believe that you should aim to win 80-85% of jobs that you bid on. If you’re winning 100% of your bids, consider charging more.

Your customer service is bad.

Working on residential accounts means interacting with people. If you aren’t a morning person, consider pushing appointments until later in the day. It’s important to be friendly and genuine to your customers (or their tenants). Greeting them with a friendly smile can go a long way in helping keep your customers happy. Train your employees on how to listen to customer concerns. While you might personally deliver quality customer service, you need to make sure your employees do the same. They too reflect your company.

Your branding is bad.

The importance of appearance in a customer-facing business can never be overstated. Who would you personally prefer show up to work on your house? A guy in a rusty pickup truck, dressed in ratty overalls? Or a clean cut, well-dressed professional who pulls up in a late model cargo van with a logo professionally installed? Sometimes pulling up in a shirt with your brand on it does enough to separate you from your competition. In addition, logos displayed on your person and on your work vehicles equate to free advertising as you drive from job to job.

You’re unorganized.

Creating systems to make sure that you and your employees get to job sites on time, charge the right amount, and take the most efficient routes are extremely important if you want to remain profitable. Fortunately, we can help with this. Use QuickBooks to organize your business’s finances, and you’re already one step ahead of the game. Add window cleaning software to your list of tools to optimize your routes, improve scheduling for your technicians, track employee progress, and aid in dispatching. Help organize your business better.

7 HVAC Mobile Apps To Increase Your Business’ Productivity

On December 15th, 2016 by

We’ve all been there. You just upgraded to a brand new “smart phone,” but it’s acting like a dumb phone. Where is the integration? Where is the convenience? Where is the user friendly interface? As an HVAC business owner, time is your most valuable asset, and you simply cannot afford to have a phone unless it is a truly “smart” phone. More and more businesses owners these days run their businesses from phones. Whether it’s handling calls, managing contacts, keeping your calendar, scheduling employees, or anything else, today’s fast-paced world demands that you be able to tackle tasks on the go. That’s why we have compiled a list of 7 must have mobile apps to transform your phone into the intelligent mobile powerhouse that every HVAC business owner needs.

QuickBooks – The one and only. QuickBooks, the premier accounting software on the market, is now available as a mobile app for your handheld devices. This accounting software allows you to track nearly any financial metric or statement imaginable. As a bonus, Smart Service’s HVAC business software integrates directly with QuickBooks to revolutionize the way your company does business. Don’t settle for a smart phone, get yourself a smart business.

Addappt – Gone are the days of lost contacts, outdated contact information, and the struggle to connect with contacts. With Addappt, your business associates can update their contact information in your address book directly (provided they are also an Addappt user).

Slack – The premier instant messaging platform, slack was last seen taking the business world by storm. Slack allows you to organize your team’s communications into public or private channels, as well as direct messages. Slack also makes sharing images, files, PDF’s, and anything else a breeze. According to a recent company survey, Slack users held 25.1% fewer meetings and saw 48.6% fewer internal emails after installing and using the app, leading to an overall 32% increase in productivity.

RescueTime – Social media, games, and video streaming can spell the death of productivity for less disciplined employees. RescueTime solves that issue. This app tracks time spent in applications and on websites, and sends detailed reports based on user activity. These reports can help you identify wasted time throughout your day, allowing you to become a more productive business owner in the long run. The premium version of RescueTime also comes with the ability to block distracting websites during certain hours of the day to keep you on task.

Evernote – The premier note-taking app. Never again will you have to worry about attempting to access notes taken on your desktop from your mobile phone, or vice versa. Sync your notes automatically across multiple devices with Evernote. This app comes with a number of different packages to meet your specific needs, including a business plan that comes with additional team and administrative features.

Dropbox – We’ll make it simple, if you aren’t backing up your data and files on the cloud, you are asking for trouble. What happens when you drop that phone in a puddle and it dies on you? Or when your hard drive fails? Do you lose weeks, months, even years of important documents and files? Not with Dropbox! Backup all of your important data and documents on the cloud for safekeeping, and give yourself the ability to access them from any device you wish.

iFleet – Last, but most certainly not least, it’s iFleet. From the developers of Smart Service, the premier HVAC business software, comes the best HVAC business mobile app on the market. iFleet equips your technicians with access to schedules, contact information, equipment records, service histories, company forms, and so much more. This app is the key to unlocking HVAC business efficiency outside of the office. When partnered with Smart Service and Routzy, there is nothing that can stop you.

So there you have it, seven apps that can completely transform the way that you do business from your phone. At Smart Service, we aim to educate our customers in all aspects of managing their business, whether that be through HVAC business software, smartphone mobile apps, sales techniques, or anything else. Be sure to check back regularly for new articles that can help you take your HVAC business to the next level!

If you are looking for an HVAC business software that can completely revolutionize the way your company does business, be sure to schedule a free demo of Smart Service today! You can increase profits and efficiency more with Smart Service than with any other HVAC software on the market.

Three Electrician Business Softwares that Can Boost Productivity

On December 9th, 2016 by

When running a field service company, it can be difficult to streamline processes and communication to ensure the maximum efficiency of your team. Although there is no panacea to productivity, there is a variety of electrician business software programs out there to help you effectively manage staff in the field and in the office, hire the best employees, and manage billing and work orders. Below, you will find three of the most helpful electrician software programs available to assist in improving employee productivity.

Recruiting and Hiring

hiring for an electrician business

The keys to a productive workforce are hiring productive employees and making the hiring process easier. One of the hardest parts of hiring new employees is putting bias aside when assessing a potential candidate. Personal bias can cause one to look past a potentially positive or negative factor, which can result in hiring an unqualified person, or not hiring the qualified person. Automated business software such as Oracle Taleo can remove the bias from recruiting. This can prove to be valuable electrician software that ensures the electricians you hire are efficient and productive, as well as positive representatives of your company. Oracle Taleo has the ability to provide end-to-end recruiting automation, including extracting resume and social media data for review. Automated electrician software can help identify the qualities, experience, and assets you are looking for in an employee while identifying negative marks as well. But don’t take our word for it, the McKinsey Global Institute states that this type of software creates better and faster matches between workers and potential employers to improve productivity.

Dispatching and Scheduling

Even after you’ve found the right employees, it might still seem as though you are not running as efficiently as possible. In these instances, your company may benefit from electrician dispatch software. This type of field service software can help your company cut out wasted time from unnecessary commutes to the office, clocking in/out at headquarters (rather than at a job site), and unorganized driving routes. iFleet is a leading electrician dispatch software developed to help your team work more efficiently. Some of the features of iFleet include remote time tracking, schedule syncing, navigation, updating work orders, and office communication. Dispatch software can help your team efficiently schedule projects in an order that makes sense geographically, enabling your team to complete more work orders in less time. Additionally, this software eliminates the need for paper time cards, paper work orders, and paper forms. iFleet also allows you to track the progress of your employees’ work while out in the field, avoiding endless phone tag and miscommunication.

Processing Work Orders

electrician work order software

Gone are the days when technological limitations forced companies to use paper and pen to manage billing and track customer histories. On average, each worker in the field service industry incurs $337 in printing costs a year. This adds up. For a company with 20-30 workers, switching from paper to electrician business software can save as much as $6,740 to $10,110 a year (in paper costs alone). Smart Service is an electrician software that integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks, giving your employees all the information they need in one place. Smart Service will give electricians in the field the ability to view every address, phone number, work order, schedule, and job note they need. Techs no longer need to spend as much time playing phone tag with the office. If an electrician completes extra work on the job, or requests additional parts or wires, they can input their needs into the system, making them available to office staff. Both iFleet and Smart Service work together with QuickBooks to provide seamless scheduling and billing integration.

Streamlining the company’s workflow with electrician business software improves productivity across the board for both office staff and field workers. If you want to learn more about using electrician dispatch software to help your company’s scheduling or billing, contact Smart Service to get a free demo of the software.

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