A little backstory…
Let’s start with a story told to me by Martin at Little River Plumbing Company. In the beginning, Martin’s wife Kim was the company’s dispatcher, the Bookkeeper, the receptionist, the HR department, and the Marketing person. After having a baby, Kim was no longer able to keep up with everything. Martin hired a dispatcher, Toni, to handle incoming calls and put together the routes for their two plumbers.
Between them, Toni and Kim were able to take care of everything at the office, until they landed a large contract with an apartment maintenance company. That is when they started getting about 12-15 service calls each day, plus all the paperwork and dispatching calls that come with that. They were going to have to hire an additional plumber, plus another person, just to answer the phone.
That’s when Kim went online to find a better way to handle all the paperwork, billing, and invoicing and she stumbled on Field Service Software.
Let’s explore the ways that Kim, Toni, and Little River Plumbing were able to benefit from the use of their new software.
Faster, Easier Dispatching
Before purchasing Field Service Software, the typical call went like this… a customer with a leak would call in, Toni would take the call, she would write down the customer’s information, and then tell them she would call them back. She would then look through the day’s tickets to see who was most likely to have time to handle the new call. She would call that plumber and ask them how their schedule was going. If they were behind, she would call the next plumber until she found one who would say yes, they could fit it in.
Then she would call the customer back and tell them when she could have a plumber come by to help with their leak. This part of the process would take 10-15 minutes as long as she was able to reach the plumbers on the first try.
Toni would then write up a work order for the job, including the estimated tools and time needed. She would send the plumber a text with the customers’ address and details of the problem he is having. We are now at about 25 minutes total for the dispatching process.
Invoicing and Payment Collection
Little River Plumbing would bill most of their customers at the time of service. This would typically involve the plumber creating a work order, asking for a credit card, calling the office and waiting for Kim or Toni to run the card. The plumber would then mark their work order paid and giving a copy of it to the customer.
As long as there were no issues, this would take about 20 minutes.
The Inevitable Issue
Recently, Little River had a customer who was upset with their service. They called the office to say that the plumber who was supposed to come out to do their new home inspection had not properly inspected the site and they wanted their money back. They claimed that there was a leak that should have been caught.
The plumber who had taken care of this customer had remembered thoroughly inspecting the home and felt certain the construction crew must have caused the issue after inspection, but he had no proof. They had no choice but to go back out for another inspection, free of charge, in order to keep this customer happy.
Fortunately for Martin, he has not had this issue with his plumbers, but a pest control company we work with was having trouble with one of their technicians disappearing every afternoon. The only way they could tell was that he was taking so much longer to complete his route than the other techs… and the customers started to complain that they were not getting serviced. It took spot checks along his route to finally catch the fact that he had a girlfriend he was seeing in the middle of the afternoon two or three days each week. He was falsifying his work orders to say he had completed jobs that had he had not even been to.
Unfortunately, this is not uncommon with some field service employees. They often run errands or pick the kids up from school in the company truck, causing quite a bit of risk for your company.
There are many great reasons to use Field Service Software. The ones we have covered here are just a few. Some options to consider are driver time tracking, driving time reports, accounting integration, truck inspections, and Elogs. All of these features are designed to help you run your business in a more efficient and accurate way. Keeping all of your customer’s information on your phone might have worked when you only had a few customers, but as you grow it is crucial to look at more professional ways to manage your business.