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May, 2017 - Smart Service

How Field Service Software Can Grow Your Plumbing Business

On May 30th, 2017 by

Every business decision and opportunity you encounter boil down to whether the outcome will help your company or not. As a small business owner of a plumbing company, you often look at these decisions more critically than a franchise business or large company would. You must analyze every purchase you make or service you offer to ensure it will help you grow your business, not keep it stagnant or hurt it. Every business owner has their own keys to success or tried and true tricks to make their company grow, but almost every owner will agree that running an efficient company forms the backbone of their success. Many routes lead to improved efficiency, but field service software has proven itself time and time again as most cost-effective way to streamline business processes for an efficient, profitable company. Field service software integrates with every facet of your plumbing business to truly help it grow.

QuickBooks Integration

QuickBooks from Intuit boasts an 80% market share when it comes to business owners, with more than 4.6 million customers on the software globally. Chances are, you use QuickBooks too. Think about how much easier the daily tasks in your company would become with a field service software program that seamlessly integrates with the software you already use. When you add plumbing field service software to your QuickBooks, you can schedule and dispatch jobs straight to your plumbers’ mobile devices. The QuickBooks integration allows your technicians to see not only job information, but customer and equipment information, line items, and other historical data that your business manages with QuickBooks. After your plumbers finish their job, they file their paperwork electronically, where it immediately posts to QuickBooks.

QuickBooks integration with plumbing software represents one of the easiest ways to streamline your business processes so you no longer need to manually populate work order information. This allows your technicians full access to client history on the job, so they won’t need to worry about contacting the office for customer information, additional requests, or adding line items.

Cost Savings

Sometimes you have to spend money to save money, and that’s the case with field service software. Depending on the software you choose, you will either pay a one-time fee to own your software, like with the plumbing software offered by Smart Service, or pay a recurring fee for a subscription. While software with an upfront cost can save you more money over time, both will save your company money by streamlining your company’s processes.

You may think by not spending money on expensive plumber software, you save on a luxurious extravagance. You may think sticking to traditional methods of conducting business (such as using paper invoices and hand drawing routes) saves money. This is not the case. In the field service industry, technicians incur an average of $337 in printing costs annually. For a plumbing company with 20-30 workers, upgrading your company with paperless field service software can save up to $10,000 a year. That’s a huge savings, but it doesn’t even get at the whole picture. Think about the other costs associated with all that printing. Maintenance fees for printers, scanners, and fax machines, the cost of filing cabinets… these things also cost money! You can eliminate or significantly reduce these expenses by using field management software.

And the cost savings don’t stop there. Plumbing business software can significantly reduce technicians’ time expenditures by streamlining all company processes. Certain field service software systems (such as iFleet) can save your technicians roughly 105 minutes of unnecessary administrative work every day.

Saving Time = Saving Money

How does plumbing field service software save time? And how does that time turn into cost savings? During an average workday for a technician, the time savings break down like this:

  • Plumbing techs can clock in at home and leave straight from their house to go to their first job. This saves the average technician 10 minutes a day, spending less time in traffic and taking a little extra driving out of the equation.
  • Plumbing software can create optimized service routes, saving both driving time and gas. Because most companies use GPS, this can save as little as 5 minutes a day, or as much as 30.
  • Inventory tracking capabilities prevent your plumbers from forgetting to bring the right parts, equipment, and tools to get the job done, saving them roughly 30 minutes a day in potential trips back to the office to pick up the right tools.
  • Plumbing software keeps all necessary customer and company data in one place, letting your technicians save at least 10 minutes a day avoiding calls back to the office concerning this information.
  • Paperwork can be one of the most time-consuming parts of a technician’s job, but with plumber software, your technicians can easily save 15 minutes or more. Forms automatically populate with information from your company records, so technicians have less to fill out. Paperwork automatically gets filed electronically upon completion.

These represent conservative estimates of field service software ROI. Time savings will vary depending on your company’s processes and size, but at the very least, your technicians can save 8.75 hours or about $175 a week. Add that in with cost savings from printing and paper costs, and your company can save over $9,000/year per technician. For a company of 20 technicians, that’s $180,000 a year your company can reinvest in other areas.

Technical Support Saves Money and Headaches

When it comes to saving money, cutting down on the amount of overhead your company has serves as one of the easiest ways to reduce costs, letting you spend more on marketing and other areas that provide a real return on investment. Reducing costs associated with bookkeeping comes to the same thing. If you experience a problem with your plumbing software, you can’t afford to hire a software expert to debug the program and figure out why it happened. Your technicians can’t wait around for the fix. They need to know where they need to go next. That’s why many plumbing software companies offer a wide variety of support resources to ensure that you can keep your dispatch software running smoothly without the need for expensive computer support technicians. Free plumbing software solutions simply don’t offer the customer support that Smart Service does. The Smart Service support plan grants you unlimited use of the Help Desk, which is available from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM EST every Monday through Friday.

Improved Record Keeping

Plumbing software helps your technicians know the customer’s history with your company as soon as they get to the job site. That means determining what has been checked, replaced, or worked on in the past to minimize diagnostic time to solve a problem. Does your customer claim that your company already came out to deal with a certain issue? Verify your customer’s information to double check. Keeping accurate records accessible from a mobile phone or tablet on the job-site can help establish a better relationship with your customer. With the time that your technicians will save, workers can better explain the repairs your customers need in depth, answering questions and establishing further trust. Home and business owners remember the technician’s professionalism above all other factors, so this helps foster repeat business. Additionally, dispatchers have access to this information to see which technicians visited a location or customer previously. Based on the customer feedback you receive, they can then decide to dispatch the same technician or opt to try a different one.

Additionally, the ease of access to these records can help you in case something goes wrong. Even in a nightmare scenario, plumbing software and the record keeping that it simplifies can keep you out of trouble. Imagine a situation, however unlikely, that a homeowner calls for your tech to replace a water heater. Your technician goes out, performs a perfect installation without any hitches. Weeks later, you get a court summons from an attorney of questionable ethics representing your former customer for obviously unrelated basement flooding. With plumber software, you can pull up records for your legal team in seconds, avoiding potential hours wasted looking through filing cabinets for archived work orders. “Case dismissed!”

Build The Business, Don’t Micro-Manage

With all of the previously discussed improvements in workflow to save time and money, every employee in your business can work more effectively. The expected additional influx of money into your reserves means that as a business owner, you will have more flexibility when it comes to trying new marketing tactics.

Building the business means more than just marketing to new customers and businesses. Finding ways to diversify your business can mean more economic security in the long run. If you operate a residential plumbing company, expanding your offerings into residential fire extinguishing systems, offering CCTV inspections, or septic pumping can help generate business opportunities in slow seasons. Alternatively, thinking of ways to make your business capitalize on what economists call “vertical integration,” is a great way to lower costs. Vertical integration consists of expanding your business to include all parts of the supply chain. While this may not be feasible for many plumbing businesses, improving the cost of sourcing parts, especially if you can add your brand name to it, can help in reduce your bottom line. Buying parts for plumbing installations can raise expenses after suppliers take their markup. If you become the supplier of even simple plumbing equipment, you can absorb that markup and charge the same, fair, market-rate amount to your customer, which makes each job more profitable.

An even more potentially profitable approach involves expanding your business into other markets. If you have found success in your market, consider expanding your brand. Large companies like Roto-rooter, 1-800-PLUMBER, and Mr. Rooter built their businesses into franchises. This has helped them expand into new markets. Using the franchise model for your plumbing business can lead to extreme profits. Using your branding and systems, entrepreneurs can start independently owned locations with franchise fees going directly to you, the business owner. This model has proven successful for many industries.

However, if you spend too much time managing the inefficiencies of your business, you’ll have no time in the day left to consider ways you can expand your business’ profitability. Consider the improved workflows and saved time that plumbing software can afford you as a down payment on improving your bottom line.

Concluding Thoughts

Making an investment in a plumbing software solution is exactly that, an investment. Unlike other plumbing and dispatch software providers out there, Smart Service charges a flat fee to own, saves you time and money, and provides top-tier technical support so you can start thinking about your business differently. Taking the first step on your path to greater efficiency can make for a scary step, but getting over that fear and committing to your own success can mean the difference between growing your plumbing business and letting it stagnate.

Grow Your Field Service Business With Facebook

On May 25th, 2017 by

Business owners constantly look to grow their businesses with new and improved advertising strategies. Many like the idea of introducing a brand in a place with an engaged target audience. For this reason, many companies turn to Facebook, the popular social media platform, as an effective marketing tool. Numerous possibilities exist for promoting your field service business within Facebook, a platform that almost one-third of adults interact with regularly.

The field service industry is relatively new to the social media scene, but that’s what makes Facebook such an exciting avenue for these businesses. Taking advantage of Facebook’s powerful marketing features can constitute a small step towards reaching a wider audience in your target market. This article outlines practical advice and resources to help boost your page audience and increase your brand’s visibility.

Create a Facebook Business Page

Start building a business Facebook page if you haven’t already done so. Within Facebook, you can create a personal profile, pages, or groups. For the purpose of promoting your business, you want to create a Facebook page, not a personal profile. Pages allow your company to utilize Facebook advertisement features, get “likes” with fewer limitations, and see valuable data from your page with Facebook Insights. However, you will need a personal, non-business Facebook profile to create and administrate your business’ page. If you already made the mistake of setting up a personal profile for your business, Facebook has an easy way to convert your profile into a Facebook Page. Once you create your page, fill out as much info as you can, add a link to your website, add contact information, upload high-quality photos of your team and office, and add postings to your wall to show that you stay active.

Reach Your Business’ Goals With Facebook Ads

Customers use Facebook to connect and engage with their favorite brands. To get your business’ name in front of an audience quickly, consider running Facebook ads. This paid advertisement platform makes it simple to get your message to the right audience using targeting methods that include location targeting, interest targeting, and advanced demographic targeting. With location targeting, you can make sure that you only show your ads to users within the area that you serve. With interest targeting, you can show your ads to users who demonstrate interest in specific things. For instance, if you run a landscaping company, you may find success targeting users interested in home and garden related topics. If you have a website, you can target users on Facebook who have visited your site with Facebook’s pixel tracking. If you want to target specific age groups or other demographics, Facebook’s advertising platform allows you to do that as well.

In conjunction with Facebook’s targeting capabilities, you can create ads in different formats. Take note of the following ad recommendations for creating relevant and actionable Facebook ads.

  • Like Campaigns: Grow a base that you can leverage long-term with a Like campaign. Getting “likes” on your Facebook page will allow you to reach an audience in the future without paying to do so. Once a user “likes” your page, your future content and posts show up in their news feed organically (not as an advertisement).
  • Video Ads: Expand your reach and connectivity with video advertising on Facebook. Optimize your video ad campaign to engage with your target audience.
  • Link-Click Ads: The link-click ad format showcases an image that can be clicked upon to direct the user to a desired website landing page.
  • Lead Generation Ads: Facebook’s lead generation ads make it simple to capture inquiries from prospective customers interested in your services. These ads provide you with the information needed to close the deal. Keep your form short, but make sure that you capture all the relevant information you need to provide a quick and accurate quote. If the lead does convert, make sure to save time by importing their information into your field service management software.

If done correctly, Facebook advertising can give your business new opportunities and more leads. Before getting started with Facebook paid ads, you’ll need to identify the most effective Facebook advertising strategy for your brand. Set attainable goals that you want your company to achieve, determine your audience, and run a few different ad types to discover which works best.

Connect With Your Facebook Followers

Social engagement with Facebook fans online will give any field service company a higher likelihood of converting Facebook fans to customers. If a disconnect exists between your business and your audience on social media, this could play an impact on how others perceive your brand. Field service companies that add a social element to their network of followers have a leg up on the competition. Below are seven ways you can strengthen your business’ Facebook page and your audience engagement:

  • Promote your Facebook page on other social media accounts: Cross-promotion requires virtually no capital investment. With this approach, you can obtain a credible introduction to a new audience.
  • Post engaging content: For better Facebook engagement, your team should draft up content that is not only personal but also relevant to your readers. Try not to overload your Page with sales pitches. Combine the occasional sales post with relevant posts, photos, and announcements. If you find a news article or information that you think your audience would find interesting, share it!
  • Send out visual and timely updates: Experiment with your publishing times, and start posting more visual content that stands out. Facebook’s new design for timelines puts more of an emphasis on visual content like videos and images.
  • Write blog posts that include sharing buttons: Share individual stories about your business on Facebook. Doing so allows you to connect with your readers on a more personal level.
  • Pick a great cover photo: Some companies put their cover photo to good use promoting their products, campaigns, updates, and latest offers. Create some inspirational cover designs that will attract more visitors to your business page. Try to include your company name to keep that front and center.
  • Listen to your audience: Remaining receptive to feedback allows you to gain insight into how customers feel about your service. If someone posts on your wall with feedback or criticism, respond in an appropriate and sensitive way. Doing so serves as an outward reflection of your customer service and responsiveness to concerns.

Assess the Effectiveness of your Facebook Efforts

Learning what works best on Facebook for your field service business can take time and some trial and error. Monitor the results of your efforts to spot trends in what works and what does not. When running ads, try 2-3 variations to see if one approach results in more likes or contacts. Do people like or share one type of post over another? Day of the week or time of day could also represent huge factors in advertising or posting effectiveness. As mentioned before, Facebook does offer an Insights tool to chart some of this data and draw some conclusions into what your audience connects with most readily. If a Facebook lead does convert into a customer, make sure to mark that in your customer records or field service software. Tracking where your customers originate from over time in your customer database will help you make better marketing decisions and spend your advertising dollars in the most effective location.

5 Summer To-Do’s to Help Your Field Service Company Prosper

On May 23rd, 2017 by

If a company isn’t flourishing, it’s declining. This truth comes as a harsh one for some business owners. The key to furthering your organization is to think aggressively, be proactive in your sales, and operate diligently with customer service. In one area or another, your company must constantly push forward. Stagnant figures can’t become acceptable when dealing with the overall progress of your field service company. The age-old sales tactic of “always be selling” comes to mind. For our purposes, let’s modify this adage to “always be growing.” Drive must first come from the leadership in your company, but employees also need to have drive and motivation in the field service industry. With every worker on the same page and with a plan to move forward, noticeable boosts in performance and profits will inevitably follow. With summer approaching fast, we have five “to-do’s” that can help grow your field service company from a dormant one into a prosperous one.

Know and Market to Your Pipeline

One of the most crucial items for businesses to track is their sales pipeline. With small field service businesses, every potential lead becomes incredibly important. Unfortunately, when technicians or managers wear more than one hat, leads tend to slip through the cracks. You must monitor this facet of the organization and give it plenty of attention. Clients need to feel engaged and that they are a priority. If someone calls in with questions or seeks assistance, counter with hard data. Inform them of promotions or seasonal sales going on for that month. If you don’t book a service call immediately, follow-up in a few days to see if needs have changed. Sometimes trying back at a different time works because it gives the potential lead more time to think over their options. Tracking these potential leads and following them through the conversion process serves as a best practice for developing sales while allowing customers to feel involved and valued.

Make Your Technicians Marketing Pros

Another way to keep clientele morale up is to give your field technicians more power. Let field workers become part of the conversion process by equipping them with the tools to market your brand and services. Providing coupons or business cards to every technician makes an essential first step. Putting a physical piece of your organization in your customers’ hands ensures that your organization remains on their minds, eager to help meet their needs.

Since your technicians meet face-to-face with clients, give them digital tools to remain in contact as well. Train your technicians on phone communication and social media engagement to connect directly to your audience. Doing so helps initiate a direct conversation between the tech and the client to make the task more personal and customized. Sales workers don’t spend as much time on a job site, and sometimes questions may arise, such as rates or timetables. A technician who can answer sales questions makes the entire organization look competent and fully equipped to handle anything.

Take Your Field Service Company Digital

This item can potentially revolutionize the way your field service business operates. Using intuit field service management software will connect your workers to each other for instant access to documents and company resources. Field service software gives your techs an unlimited supply of materials and makes obtaining records instantaneous.

Service management software makes the first and second to-do items on our list a breeze. Keeping digital records of the account is a perfect way to monitor where it is in your sales pipeline. Upon completion of the service, mark the client’s record that the sales lead has converted and received assistance. Doing so will keep your sales pipeline completely visible and transparent to employees throughout the company.

Empowering Your Customer

Staying connected to your clients makes up a critical part of best business practices. Constant communication will ensure you put clientele needs first and provide them with a sense of empowerment. If cancellations or delays arise on either end, the other party should immediately know about it. This will help rectify the situation as soon as possible and will prevent excessive wait times.

Always Show Appreciation

The most obvious tip, often forgotten in many industries, is to be grateful for the business your organization receives. Without patron dedication, many field service companies would fail. Referrals have always been and forever will be the best form of marketing. Nothing quite says “job well done” like someone telling friends about the exceptional experience they had. Thank customers for their business and their referrals. “Regulars” make up a majority of income in any industry. Coupons, discounts, or thank you emails serve as fantastic ways of showing how much someone’s business means to you. These tangible ways of spreading visibility make tracking your pipeline simple. Coupon or discount codes on fliers or emails ensures that the prospect has converted.

Profits Reflect Performance

When the peak months of summer hit and many industries slow down, these tips will keep your company expanding. Staying proactive towards growth and planning for success ensures positive outcomes and increased profits. Avoid stagnant figures this upcoming summer and keep your business practices moving forward.

Think Hard Before Starting The Recurring Billing Process

On May 19th, 2017 by

When choosing a field service management software, comparing the different payment options available can make a critical difference in selecting one that best fits your company. Consider the affordability, value, and scalability of different payment models when making your decision. The three most common payment methods for field service software include:

  • A standard one-time fee
  • Monthly subscription fees
  • Annual subscription fees

Monthly and yearly options have some similarities, boasting similar advantages and disadvantages. Make the most out of your time and money by understanding how the two methods differ from a one-time payment.

Smart Service provides a desktop add-on to QuickBooks after a standard, one-time payment. This system does not require as much user commitment as a monthly or annual subscription-based software would. A one-time purchase of Smart Service saves you the burden of unnecessary expenses.

Dealing With Automatic Charges

Typical recurring subscriptions bill on a monthly or yearly basis. Auto-renewal charges can be hard to avoid if you do not cancel a scheduled payment in advance. Automatic payments assure that the bills get paid on time, but they also create some cause for concern. After providing a company with your bank account information, you authorize them to withdraw payments from your bank account. If you do not pay close attention to your monthly statement, you risk incurring overdraft fees.

Subscriptions Cause Privacy Concerns

Companies that require substantial amounts of data from their customers can inadvertently create privacy concerns. In today’s modern age, protecting your private information has become crucial. Stolen subscription data can at times carry serious repercussions. Companies might fail to safeguard customer subscription data, making them more susceptible to a security breach.

Benefits Of A One-Time Payment

Some may fail to realize the numerous advantages to this method of payment. Instead of making monthly payments indefinitely, upfront payments eliminate the need to pay on a monthly or annual basis. One-time payments offer businesses a reasonably priced, rapid, and reliable way to pay with no long-term commitments.

What are the benefits of a one-time payment?

  • Convenience
  • Lack of hassle
  • Zero cancellation fees

No Contract Needed

Contracts don’t exist when you buy software outright. With a traditional licensing fee, you always have the option to end the service or add more users. Other software companies have moved from perpetual licensing models to subscription models. You might think that canceling a contract with a merchant sounds easy, but doing so may breach the contract, incurring a major cancellation fee. Discontinue recurring subscription payments, and you don’t always terminate your contract. With a single licensing fee (as in a one-time purchase model), the possibility of vendor lock-down is non-existent, and you won’t need to worry about making any further commitments.

Lower Cost

On a long enough timeline, the total costs from software with a payment plan will become much more costly than software with an upfront, traditional, one-time licensing fee. When choosing software, you want to choose a package that lasts your company a long time. If you want to get five or more years out of a service, choose the one that will cost you less over a longer timespan.

Pricing structures vary among field service software providers. Some field service software providers include a costly setup fee with additional costs per month. Fast growing companies that decide to go with this type of per-user subscription-based pricing program will have to pay for more unnecessary costs over time. Consider the following scenario: Your HVAC company has five technicians, and one office administrator. You are choosing between two hvac software solutions. One solution has a one-time $7,500 fee and the other charges a monthly subscription fee of $50 per user along with a $300 setup fee. For those six users, your software will cost $300 month, or $3,600 a year. In two years, you will have paid the same amount (between the monthly costs and the setup fee) as you would have for the software with the one-time fee. If you plan on growing your team, that can also drive up your cost when you have to add another user. This scenario is just one example of how vital it can be to your bottom line to compare the short-term versus long-term costs of field service software.

Narrow Down Your Options

Finding the right software for your field service business may take a lot of time and energy. Even so, you should take your time and think about the kind of software pricing that will align with your business strategy. Concentrate on these key factors:

  • Increasing efficiency
  • Reducing Costs
  • Streamlining business workflow

While you may save some money initially with a subscription model, you will ultimately pay more total money this way than if you simply make a one-time purchase. Smart Service is available for a reasonable one-time fee. To fully take advantage of Smart Service and iFleet, you only need to figure out how many concurrent users you need. After that, budgeting becomes easy.

Closing the Deal: Handling Customers Who Want To Haggle

On May 15th, 2017 by

Well, I am interested, but that price seems high. Can you give me a better deal?

Anyone who has sales experience in the HVAC industry has almost certainly heard these words (or others like them) while negotiating with a potential customer. To be frequently undervalued is an unfortunate side effect of the lack of understanding the typical person has of the HVAC industry. HVAC services are required infrequently and often the expense is unanticipated, so the primary concern for most customers is to get the job done as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. When considering this, one begins to see why we commonly come across inquirers who take a hardline stance and try to haggle away your profit margins. As a company, you should handle situations like these carefully. While it can be appropriate in certain cases to adjust rates to close a sale, we also want to be very careful not to devalue the services we offer. Below we’ve laid out some common pratfalls to avoid when addressing a haggling customer. We’ve also suggested a few alternative strategies to consider putting to use.

Don’t Let Low Perceived Value of HVAC Services Personally Offend You

When a customer rebuffs the quoted price you’ve offered and gives a counteroffer that devalues your services, you might naturally take it as an affront. After all, customers effectively question the worth of your company and the work you do when they do this. Perhaps they have not considered the various costs that you expend to do the job properly. Maybe they don’t have a good understanding of the hours needed to complete the task. You might immediately slide into a defensive position when a potential customer calls your price into question, but don’t respond to their queries with hostility. “When under attack, most people’s natural response is to defend themselves or to counterattack,” Thomas C Keiser said in Harvard Business Review. “For a salesperson in a negotiation, either of these actions will escalate into a heated disagreement.”

Instead, Keiser says, opt for an “assertive pacifist” approach. Avoid rebutting them, address their issues and questions as best you can, but don’t give in and lower your rate. You want to stand your ground and come to an agreement, not get taken advantage of.

Listen To Their Concerns Regarding Your HVAC Service Rates

Utilize the “assertive pacifist” approach correctly to effectively address customer objections. Attempt to achieve some level of mutual understanding. Remain attentive and give the haggling customer a chance to fully explain why they believe your rate is too high. Staying calm and collected not only diffuses potential anger, it also gives you an opportunity to uncover the pain points at the root of their objections. Perhaps they know they will struggle to stay within their monthly budgetary limitations. In this case, simply offering a little extra flexibility in terms of financing will ease their aggression without sacrificing your margins.

Steer the Conversation With Targeted Questions

Now that you’ve listened to their objections, ask thoughtful questions. If they assert that “your rate is too expensive,” try asking about their budget, and discuss with the client what both parties can accomplish within this constraint. Use non-provocative language. Remember that the client likely does not have a full perspective or appreciation of the HVAC industry, and rebuking them will never lead to successful resolution. Acknowledging their concerns and digging deeper with targeted questions shows them that you have an interest in working with them to come to an agreement, without conceding ground on your margins.

Record Any Discounted Services in the Customer’s File

If you do ever decide to discount a service for a customer, make a note of it in your HVAC software. If the customer tries to haggle again in the future for a service you already discounted, you will want to have this information available so that you don’t undercut your profit even more. Also, if a customer grows used to receiving a particular service at a special rate, you will want your team to have this information readily accessible the next time they call. Using an HVAC software solution will allow you to easily keep track of this customer information so it doesn’t get lost in a sea of paperwork.

Easy Steps to Avoid Haggling in the Future

There exist some proactive actions your HVAC company can take to avoid haggling with customers in the future. Itemizing your invoices will allow customers to see a breakdown of costs and services provided. Seeing this breakdown provides an unspoken sense of value while providing less room for arguing about total costs. Accurate billing can also prevent sticker shock in the future, sticker shock that leads to haggling. If you have ever under-billed in the past because of an inaccurate invoice, that mistake could cost you in the future if your customer assumes the same cost for the same service. Ensure that you have an efficient process in place for documenting any additional work done by your techs and always collect customer signatures at the end of the job. Equipping your HVAC technicians with a field service mobile app can empower your team to record updates and close out the necessary paperwork quickly and easily.

There will certainly be times where the best course of action is to say no and walk away from a haggling customer, but this is not an ideal solution for both parties. If used too often, this practice can have negative long-term consequences. Instead, treat customer concerns as valid. When a new client makes an attempt to haggle on price for your HVAC services, the way you respond will set the tone for your business relationship moving forward. Responding correctly can make the difference between retaining a loyal customer and getting a poor review on social media. Handle these important situations with care.

Growing Your Company With Plumbing Business Software

On May 12th, 2017 by

Taking the step to move forward with business management software is a big decision. For many professionals in the plumbing field, the expression, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” has become the dominant mindset. However, the plumbing business involves much more than just fixing leaking pipes or installing a system in a new house or office building; the plumbing business requires economic conservatism, social skills, time management, and other learned traits. The upfront cost of plumbing business software can intimidate, but in the long run, the investment can save you money and help the overall health of your plumbing company. Plumbing software is more advanced and robust than you may think, helping with a variety of business functions.

Plumbing Software Cuts Down On Overhead

The most obvious benefit of using plumbing software for QuickBooks is the improved efficiency that your plumbing staff experiences. Using the automation features provided through plumber software stops you from wasting man hours from inefficient work processes, reduces overhead, and provides further cost savings through accounting and inventory integration.

Automation Reduces Wasted Man Hours

Many plumbing companies don’t properly evaluate the details of each job. A number of factors cause this. Plumbing companies lack time because the owner of the business has to take jobs, deal with human resource issues, and sign checks for services rendered. With these factors at play, a business owner seldom has time to think strategically about the company.

Reduce the time spent filling invoices, estimates, receipts, and equipment repair logs to help keep your staff more productive. If a technician has to spend 30 minutes per job dealing with paperwork, and they perform just two jobs per day, you’re losing 250 man hours every year for each technician you have on your team. Spending that amount of time doing paperwork is indefensible. By automating that workflow, you can make sure that you’re getting the greatest possible production from your technicians.

If you reclaim these 250 hours per year, you can direct technicians to do more billable work every day, meaning that projects or service calls are completed ahead of schedule, giving you the ability to schedule more jobs during the day. That sort of efficiency impresses customers and builds repeat business.

Additionally, plumbing business software helps improve scheduling and dispatching processes. This can help your technicians tend to even more service calls throughout the day and enhances the likelihood that technicians can get to the job at the scheduled time. This not only saves you money, it also increases your cash flow. Every business should have a reserve of cash available to keep the business running through day-to-day operations. When you establish this stash, the additional income you save can go towards marketing materials or towards attracting new customers. Direct mail campaigns, flyers, brochures, Google Adwords, even social media marketing… these things are not free. An increase in revenue can be used for outreach efforts.

Save Money with Reduced Expenses

Reducing wasted manpower using plumbing dispatch software affords you the time to focus on growing your business. With more time, you can better oversee business processes and try different marketing tactics. But time isn’t the only thing you need to successfully execute a marketing strategy, implement new procedures, hire employees, or upgrade equipment. You need money, too. By integrating plumbing business software into your company operations, you can start reducing expenses, freeing up capital for other endeavors.

Dispatching and Routing: You may not realize how much money your employees waste on gas due to inefficient work routes. Monitoring jobs by location, time, and plumber can add up to a nightmare when you do it by hand. Ignoring these factors makes things easier, so it’s often tempting to do so. However, with the scheduling abilities of plumber software, you can electronically create schedules, optimize routes, track plumbers, and monitor job progress to ensure your workers use their time as efficiently as possible. This software keeps all of your information in one place and allows your whole team to access information in real time instead of playing phone tag or relying on long email chains. Your plumbers no longer have to drive back and forth across town to get to their jobs, saving you time, gas, and money. Additionally, the scheduling and dispatching features allow technicians and plumbers to take their vehicles home. Because they can access their schedule from the software, you can eliminate the gas and time expended driving to the office to pick up schedules every morning.

Tracking Inventory: Not only can plumbing dispatch software help with scheduling and routing, software such as iFleet, allows for managing work orders and tracking inventory. Whether you track large equipment such as portable water jetters or cable machines, or the wholesale stock of pipe fittings, ball valves, and other tools, your software can help manage inventory. Software can help you track bigger items that get used on a job by job basis as well as bulk stock items that run low.

Going Paperless: When you’ve scheduled the job, plumbers can use their phones or tablets to access paperwork, job information, and other details electronically. Your workers can fill everything needed through the software, resulting in a ready-to-bill invoice to send to the office and customer. With schedules, invoices, forms, and other paperwork filed and managed electronically, you reduce the amount of paper, ink, writing utensils, and other supplies you need to purchase. Going paperless with plumbing software also allows you to customize forms and other information based on necessity.

Working On, Not In, Your Plumbing Business

As your efficiency improves, it can allow you, the business owner, to have a fundamental shift in the operation of your business. If your company started as a one-person operation, as many do, it is very easy to become trapped in the one-person mindset. Without breaking this way of thinking, you’ll struggle to grow your operation.

By shifting your focus from working in the business to on the business, you can strive to eliminate potential bottlenecks (including yourself at times), which improves workflow for everyone. This shift in mentality is beneficial. Using plumbing service software helps you start to think of things differently. What other inefficiencies exist within the business? How can you help your employees make the right decisions? How can you empower your employees to “own” jobs, not just work them? These are all questions that you must ask as you grow your business from 10 to 20 to 50 employees and beyond.

With more time, you can start to question some of the practices of your business that may not bear fruit. By using plumbing business software, you’ll have the time to evaluate your business and ask hard questions.

Direction: What are your goals? Why are they your goals? These questions hint at the fundamental issues at the heart of any business venture. Many well-meaning entrepreneurs start businesses to “beat the competition” or to “make a lot of money.” While these are acceptable goals, they are not definable end goals with a realistic deadline. Making clear goals, for example, “We will increase revenue by $X per month by the next fiscal year” or “By 2025, I will have successfully sold my plumbing business and retire to Hawaii” means creating goals that are both measurable and time-bound.

Hiring: Are you hiring the right plumbers? Would you be better served by someone with a background in human resources and recruiting? Hiring is a key factor in putting the right people and processes in place to remove yourself from the day-to-day operations. As a business owner, you need to focus on growth. This requires trusting the people you hire to execute the day-to-day work.

Firing: Are your technicians performing their duties well? Do you consistently receive complaints from customers who deal with a specific technician? With additional time on your hands, you can address underperforming plumbers, attempt to reconcile complaints, and take the appropriate actions toward termination, if necessary. With more time, you can recruit a new technician who fits your company culture better, completes work more adeptly, and leaves satisfied customers at every job.

Marketing: Is your marketing strategy creating a positive return on investment for your company? Do you outsource your work to a marketing firm that fails to produce quantifiable results? Does your marketing company provide enough solid leads that you should increase their budget? Good marketing means knowing your potential clients and getting their attention in a compelling way. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t can make and save you a lot of money.

Community Outreach: What efforts help you build your brand? With community outreach, you can form favorable impressions among your target audience. A time-tested combination of outreach efforts can help improve your business’ profile in the community. Sponsoring a little league team, hosting a networking event, attending public functions, even organizing a volunteer night at a local animal shelter can raise community awareness. You should make time to fit these things into your day.

Employee Relationships

When you’ve hired the most qualified plumbers who embody the brand you want your plumbing business to project, you want to keep them underneath you for as long as possible. The best plumbers give you a competitive edge over other companies, and retaining staff helps avoid the additional expenses associated with onboarding and training new employees.

Plumbing business management software such as Smart Service offers employee-portal functions such as daily news, information center resources, and other tips and tricks that can help your employees perform more efficiently. Using this type of business management software allows you to curate content for employees such as best practice guides, how-to guides, and other industry news, improving your plumbers’ overall performance.

Plumbing software can also help you communicate with your fleet more effectively. No need for phone trees, mass emails, or other communications that get lost in the shuffle. Use your software to post company announcements, send individualized schedules, reminders, and other company information.

Client Relationships

All of the benefits of using plumbing business software to grow your business can contribute to stronger customer relationships. Word of mouth advertising is crucial, and the most trusted recommendations come from clients that have been with a company for an extended period. Streamlining schedules to avoid late arrivals and long waiting times can improve relationships and trust between you and the client. Inventory tracking ensures your technicians never show up to a job unprepared and electronic billing ensures a bill, statement, or invoice never gets lost. These features help strengthen client relationships.

By crossing your T’s and dotting your I’s, you will ensure you aren’t losing valuable customers due to inefficient work processes.

Final Thoughts

Expanding your business takes much more than plumbing knowledge; it takes a business-oriented perspective. As the owner of a small plumbing business, you’re often pulled in multiple directions, from billing to scheduling and from taking calls to purchasing inventory. By investing in a robust, multi-functional plumbing software that integrates with QuickBooks, you will save both time and money that you can refocus on growing your business. With a new plumbing software, you can communicate more efficiently with employees and clients, reduce paper waste, optimize schedules and routes, manage inventory, and focus on your brand. All of these save you time and money.

Scheduling Software Can Put Money Back in Your Pocket

On May 5th, 2017 by

The benefits of service scheduling software can increase a field service company’s productivity and assist in preserving hard-earned revenue. Going digital with field service software gives your business a competitive edge, allowing technicians to access schedules and customer data in the field. Service scheduling software speeds up the communication process by opening a direct line between field workers and administrative staff. This, in turn, cuts down on the time wasted entering data multiple times, eliminating the margin of error that ultimately costs money.

Know Where Your Field Techs Are With Field Service Software

Intuitive field service scheduling software makes for an optimal resource for many reasons. Most scheduling software packages have a GPS feature included within the software. When technicians work out in the field, they often have to make multiple stops throughout the day, occasionally making trips to gather supplies or refuel. Each task can burden already-stretched schedules. Digital scheduling software can help the administrative staff track the locations of all service techs. This invaluable resource allows customers to plan for an approximate arrival time while also making it easier for staff to plan routes. All travel should make sense, and there should be no overlap in directions. Planning jobs by location makes it possible to fit more tasks into a technician’s schedule, which allows the billing of more invoices and the collection of more revenue.

The Quality Assurance Shortcut

Quality assurance represents the key to avoiding miscalculations within a company. Showing up to the wrong address or at the wrong time… these honest mistakes can arise from minor clerical errors or misread handwriting. Keeping task notes and customer information accessible helps circumvent these mistakes. Software helps technicians prepare with the necessary tools and materials they need to complete the job. Scheduling software creates an open network for other staff members to review and validate data.

When dealing with any business, the 1-10-100 rule should take precedence. It states that you can spend one dollar verifying the data initially, ten dollars later on correcting the mistake, or one hundred dollars if the issue remains unaddressed. Scheduling software represents the first dollar spent on prevention. Avoid mistakes snowballing into costly blunders. What starts as an incorrect entry could very likely cost a company a great deal of money in the end. Customers also view mistakes as a reflection of the employee or the business as a whole. Often, they’ll express dissatisfaction and look to cancel future services. Proper record keeping can increase overall customer satisfaction, and smart scheduling software keeps your records accurate.

Preparation is Principal

In addition to quality control, field service scheduling software can serve as a lookout on the road for technicians. Detours and construction sites can stall drivers and add precious minutes onto an already lengthy commute. Use GPS to plot step-by-step directions for job destinations and eliminate guesswork. A GPS system will get drivers back on the road should they get turned around or become lost. Not only does a service software keep customer information and directions handy, it helps create routes that are convenient for workers. Cutting down on drive time will save the company money and make technicians’ jobs much more feasible. As always in the field service industry, well-equipped employees do profitable work. This means satisfied customers and more revenue for your organization.

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