We come across this situation time and time again when talking to office managers at plumbing, gas and heating service companies: The business is doing well. In fact, it could do more but it is working to full capacity.
The only solution appears to be hiring more engineers, but that implies taking on additional costs and risks (will the new engineer work out, will he fit in, and will there be enough new business to justify the investment?)
In fact, the argument is based on a false premise: that you are working to full capacity. The answer is not to hire new staff (at least, not yet) but to look for ways to do more with the staff you already have, and within their contracted hours. Impossible? We very much doubt it.
Here are the three principal reasons why you can increase revenues and profits, while at the same time improving customer and employee satisfaction.
To do so, you will require effective job management software. Because no matter how efficient you are personally, you need to combine your own skills as an office manager with the technology that enables you, and your team of engineers, to function as a more effective operational unit.
Reason 1: Better scheduling
Organising jobs manually is probably one of your most time-consuming tasks. As the company grows, it becomes more complex, as the possible permutations grow and more information needs to be communicated to engineers and customers.
With job management software, you simply book jobs into the diary and send emails and sms confirmations to customers confirming that the appointment has been booked. Likewise, you can keep engineers informed in real time so they do not have to come back to the office and pick up timesheets (which can get misplaced or lost).
If something changes, you can send a follow-up sms or email informing engineers of any changes. Job management software updates the engineer’s diary and his phone will update in real-time with all the information he needs.
Engineers can see property address details, telephone numbers, notes, job details, property history, parts required, appliance makes and models.
That means: less time spent on getting information and fewer missed visits. Enabling your company to take on more work without hiring additional people.
Reason 2: Improved efficiency in the office
It’s not just engineers’ time that is precious – as the office manager, yours is too. One of the biggest problems of trying to do everything manually is that information is scattered across different processes so that you have to enter the same information many times.
Job management software automates the interfaces between these various processes and stores of information, minimising data input. For example, invoicing draws on your customer records, timesheet and parts information to generate invoices and statements automatically.
Invoice information is automatically sent through to your accounts package. Stock management automatically adjusts your inventory as parts are used and alerts you when it is time to order fresh supplies. What’s more, if the job management software syncs with field engineers, you can offload many of the tasks. For example, estimates can be generated onsite by an engineer with a few clicks on a smartphone or tablet.
Reason 3: Increase opportunities
It’s not just about saving you time, though. More importantly, it’s about what you can do with the time saved.
For a start, you are less likely to miss an opportunity as you will be better placed to follow up on an enquiry, and with the right information at your fingertips you can determine how to schedule in a large contract and comply with the customer’s requirements. You will have more time to generate repeat business by automatically issuing timely service reminders.
Basically, the more you succeed in automating your timesheets, record-keeping, invoicing, parts management and other admin tasks, the more time it frees up for you and your engineers not only to do other things, but to do more profitable and satisfying things.
But there is another important benefit: the more you automate, the more you eliminate error, because errors inevitably creep in so long as you are duplicating manual input of information.
Errors lead to further wastage of time and they can be the source of customer dissatisfaction: even a simple error such as a spelling mistake on an invoice can cause a customer to question your company’s professionalism.
When you have admin and team management under control and you still need extra capacity – that is the time to hire new staff. But when you do so, you can be more confident that it will be a profitable investment!
"...I am the office manager, and without Commusoft I would need at least another full time other staff member. Now I can spend time planning targets of our business, what strategic approach we’re taking for new things..."
See how Julia, a commusoft customer, get the most of Commusoft's software.