Running a service business is hard, but for many business owners, it’s harder than it has to be. This has become even more of an issue in the digital age. In fact, one in five small businesses still rely on pen and paper to manage their operations, and two-thirds of small business owners find new business technology to be overwhelming.
Without the right technology in place, however, business management is a complicated and time-consuming endeavor. If you’re a service business owner who is struggling with scheduling, dispatching, and invoicing because of old-school management methods, there are solutions on the market that can save you both time and money.
The right all-in-one business management software for your service contracting business can alleviate many issues that accompany job scheduling, team member dispatching, customer management, estimate/proposal management, invoicing, payments, and more. With the rise of smartphones and connectivity, technology can help keep your business organized, allowing you to save time, make more money, and grow your workforce. We’ll show you how technology can help solve these common issues.
1. The File Cabinet Approach for Customer Management
Finding customer information in a filing cabinet is hard. Between bad handwriting, misfiling, and inaccurate information, it can take hours to find the information you need. What’s more, compiling that information into something you can use to monitor your sales and business activity can take days of work. Thankfully, there’s something better.
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems allow you to quickly store, and access, important customer information. Customer profiles allow you to track detailed information such as email addresses, phone numbers, physical addresses, notes, sales information, and secondary contacts in a structured and organized way. Keep on top of customer updates with notes and comment logs on their profile that can serve as reminders of their specific needs. You can attach any customer files and photos that you may need to reference such as “before and after” photos, photos of the issue to resolve, work orders, blueprints, and more.
Customer management systems let you stay on top of who you’ve worked with and the services you’ve provided. Managing this information lets you improve the quality of your service without spending hours digging through files and making notes. One example of how to use this information is tracking your average earnings per job or most common service types. This allows you to better position yourself in the market and provide better service. With powerful smartphone apps, these systems let you access these records and photos on the go. This lets you make fast decisions on the job site, too.
With customer relationship management systems, your jobs, invoices, and customer records are automatically connected. This makes them easily reachable when needed. Need to check notes from a previous job? Simply open their customer profile and find the previous job record. Need to verify the payment status of prior projects? Check the job record and find the connected invoice. Customer relationship management systems provide you with full access to stored information and related jobs, invoices, and files you need — all at your fingertips.
2. Relying on Text, Calls, and Paper Records for Scheduling and Dispatching
Scheduling and dispatching is difficult. Building a schedule that accounts for a diverse workforce, distant job sites, and changing customer demands can take hours. Predicting when and how to scale your scheduling is close to impossible without the right tools on hand. If you want to get the most out of your workforce, you need to go digital.
With job scheduling and dispatching software, you can quickly and easily find available time slots in your team’s schedules. Then create a job record with all necessary information and files that help get the job done. Once the job record is created, all assigned team members can be automatically notified of the new job record, saving you the time of manually sending them information. They’re able to retrieve all relevant job information on demand, right from their smartphones. Need to update your team members with new information, like a customer delay? Simply update the job record for it to be automatically reflected in the assigned team members’ accounts.
Digital job records and work orders offer two-way information transmission as well. Skip the phone calls and notepads; with job scheduling and tracking software, your team members can provide status updates as they start and progress through the job. In the office, you’re able to track the status of the job in real-time without interrupting their work. With location tracking, you can easily see if your employees arrived on the job site on time and if they left the job site when they indicated. This information can quickly populate timesheets as well. From easy dispatching to status updates, digital job scheduling software keeps you and your team members in sync and with the information to get the job done.
3. PDFs, Scans, and Paper for Signatures
Even if you aren’t getting a signature in person, snail mail or even scanning and emailing back and forth can lead to a messy paper trail that’s just too easily unorganized. File upkeep becomes an even more massive headache when it’s time to do financial reports, or if a client project is verging on scope creep and you need to find a signed document to reference quickly.
Over-reliance on scattered paper and PDFs isn’t only a tried-and-true way to frustrate your accountant or office manager. It’s also additional work for both yourself and your customers.
That’s why e-signatures should be part of any contractor’s arsenal. Need an estimate approved? Or an agreement signed? With the right contractor software, just email the invoice or estimate and the customer can sign right from their browser. No need to open up Adobe Acrobat or follow the complicated dance of print, sign, scan, and email.
4. The Headaches of Handwritten Estimates
A handwritten estimate might work under ideal conditions. But not only do handwritten estimates and invoices take a long time to put together, but they’re also prone to miscalculations and mistakes. They aren’t easily retrievable either, and misplacing one can lead to serious complications later on.
With digital estimating and invoicing apps, you can easily and quickly create an invoice for your customer on the job site with simple taps of a button. All of the math is handled automatically, even taxes and profit margins. You can also save commonly used services and invoice items to quickly re-use for new invoices, making the process even faster.
Need to modify an estimate or invoice? With just a few taps, you can automatically adjust your line items to update all of the subtotal, tax, and total calculations. Once your customers are ready to sign off on your estimate, you can collect signatures from your customer right on your mobile phone and easily convert the estimate to an invoice with a simple tap.
If you want to provide a copy of the estimate or invoice to your customers, you can easily send them a text message or an email with the file attached. This allows your customer to easily search and find your invoices. And this makes it easier for them to stay on top of what they owe. Once the invoice is paid, simply mark the payment and everything is logged and traceable for any future needs. Digital invoicing systems allow you to save time with faster invoicing. You’ll never lose track of your estimates, invoices, or payments again.
Choosing a Digital Solution
While tools to digitize the management of job scheduling, dispatching, time-tracking, customer management, and invoicing can be powerful in themselves, using an integrated solution that combines all aspects into one application allows for less complexity, faster data entry, and maximum traceability into your customer history and workforce activity.
There are a few routes one can choose when selecting digital solutions. It might seem easiest to use an app for scheduling, a separate one for invoicing, and then rely on PDF software for signatures. However, the best route is to use an all-in-one product such as FieldPulse, which allows for scheduling, tracking, invoicing, and more – all from one dashboard. This ensures your app is ready to grow with your business, and you can keep everything connected.
By keeping all of your data in one secure location, you and your team can access all of this information from anywhere, using computers or mobile apps. This will help you better serve your customer and get the job done right.