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Housecall Pro blog

Everything you need to succeed as a Home Services company in a digital world.


3 Surefire Ways to Increase Revenue

January 25, 2016 • Do you struggle to market your business? Is it a challenge to reach new customers? And once you find a new customer, how on earth do you keep them coming back? Marketing your business can seem like a full-time job, one that you may not have time for after a hard day’s work. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! In 2015, nearly a quarter of small business owners listed marketing their business and finding customers as their top challenge. It can seem daunting to craft a marketing strategy for your business that targets just the right type of customers for your business at the right time. That’s why we’ve created a simple 3-step plan to help you grow your business and keep your customers coming back time and time again. Before we jump into strategy, let’s talk about your customers. Acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one, so your primary goal should be the satisfaction of your current customers. Your current customers are people who you have already built a relationship with, and who already know the value of your services, so it’s a far more efficient use of your time to solidify those relationships as your first priority. If you’re still not convinced that retaining customers is valuable, check out this research that shows increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. Now are you sold on focusing on your current customers yet? Good, because once your customers are satisfied, they will be more than happy to refer you to their friends and family! Not only are current customers less expensive to retain, but they are also your BEST source for finding new business. With that in mind, here is the simple, three step plan we’ve created to help you re-market to your current clients:  Thank your customers Send out reminders Ask for referrals The steps seem simple enough, right? Let’s look a little more in depth at how you can make each of these phases work for you and your company: Step 1: THANK your customers for their business The very first phase of your marketing plan should always be thanking your customers, and not just on-site. Your first job with a new customer is like an interview - you impress them based on your merits during the job, as well as follow up and make sure you stand out afterwards. This can be as simple as a 30 second phone call, an email, or a postcard. No matter how small the gesture, showing your gratitude is an easy way to let your customers know that you care about them, and appreciate that out of all the other companies in your industry, they selected yours. There are also economic advantages to expressing your gratitude. Don’t believe me? Check out this study, which found that waiters who write “thank you” and a personalized message on their receipts received larger tips than waiters who didn’t, as well as this study, which found that a retail store’s volume of purchased goods rose by 70% after calling past customers and thanking them for their purchases. These results stem from the fact that a simple “thank you” intensifies your relationship with your customers and their loyalty to your brand. In other words, there’s absolutely no excuse for not expressing your gratitude. Step 2: REMIND your customers about your business As a business owner, you want to believe that your customer service and superior quality are enough to earn a permanent place in your customer’s rolodex, but in today’s world, that’s simply not enough. This is especially true in the home services industry, where a single customer may have relationships with a carpet cleaner, plumber, window cleaner, pest control company, and a landscaper (just to name a few). That amount of information is a lot to keep track of, especially when factoring in follow-up service schedules.  It is your job as a business owner to prevent your customers from forgetting about you. Make a point of reaching out to your customers every three months, six months - whatever time frame works best for your industry. Just make sure that you are contacting them early enough that you remind them of your service before they would think to look for it on their own. That way, you can eliminate the possibility of your customer losing your contact information and booking someone else. Step 3: Ask your customers for REFERRALS Referrals are hands down the most successful marketing channel at your disposal. The proof is in the pudding: Customers are four times more likely to use a service if they are referred by a friends, and referred customers have a 16% higher lifetime value than non-referred customers. This is especially true if you do commercial work: 84% of B2B decision makers start the buying process with a referral. There are three steps to harnessing the power of referrals: Earn it:  Your quest for referrals begins far before you ever start re-marketing to your customers; it begins with your quality of service. Make sure you leave your customers satisfied and thank them for their business, so that they feel appreciated.. Ask for it:  This tends to be the hardest step for many business owners. Some may be embarrassed or afraid to ask. Others may think they don’t have the time or that their customers should just be willing to give referrals without needing to be asked. Whatever your thought process may be, there is no reason NOT to tap into this goldmine of new business.   Reward it:  If you want your business to be at the top of your customers’ minds, you need to give them a reason to think and speak of you often. This can be as simple as expressing your gratitude, or it can be more tangible, like offering your customer a discount or a gift card. When all's said and done, your best bet for creating lasting relationships with your customers is making sure they know that you value their business. As simple as these three steps are, your customers will appreciate feeling like they are valued member of your business community, and in turn, will be happy to help you spread the word and help you grow your business!

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

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Employee Permissions and Jobs Update

January 10, 2016 • Enhanced Employee Permissions Manage what your employees can and cannot do in the system. Assign roles to each member of your team and set each individual's permissions. Non-Job Events Make it easy for everyone in your organization to see when someone is busy. Avoid conflicts by creating non-job events in the calendar to mark off personal time or vacations. Enhanced Employee Permissions Enhanced employee permissions allow you to get more specific with what your employees can and can't do/access in the HouseCall Pro app. In order to access the permissions toggle board, navigate to the 'My Account' button at the top right corner of the pro portal home screen and find the 'Employees' tab in the top ribbon. From there, click on the employee whose permissions you would like to edit and flip the switches to the correct position for each capability. Here are the permission options: See job prices & add, update, and delete jobs See customer phone number & email In-app chat with HouseCall app customers See & edit customer database Update company account info Accept instant (non-job) credit card payments  **You can set different permissions for each employee according to your business needs.  Non-Job Events You can now create non-job events on the pro portal. These events are ideal for administrators to more effectively schedule jobs around employee calendar items that are non-job related: 1. Click on the '+Add new' green button at the top right-hand corner of the web portal 2. Type in the name or description of the event in the text field 3. Enter in the address of where the event will take place (if applicable) 4. Click on the 'schedule' box to be taken to a calendar view You will be taken to a calendar schedule page where you can change the date, time, and employee associate with the event. This can be done by either dragging the event to the desired slot on the schedule itself, or by selecting 'edit team' and checking off the employees associated with the event. You can also click on 'recurrence' to set repeating event specifications. From there, simply click the 'Back' button at the top left-hand corner of the screen, and click 'save.' The event will show up on the schedule in a dark gray color.  **Note: Non-job events are only available on the pro portal. Mobile non-job events are coming soon!

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

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Housecall Pro Launches Free Plan for Single User Owner/Operators

December 22, 2015 • Housecall Pro is excited to announce our new FREE plan for single user owner-operators! We are happy to offer our all-in-one digital tool for you to run your entire business on the go at no cost to you because we want to help your business grow. Our free plan for single-user accounts offers many of the core features of our premium plan, including: Access to our award-winning mobile app and web portal Job scheduling Automated receipts and invoicing Payment processing, including our standard credit card processing rates of 2.69% plus $0.30 per transaction Ability to be featured in the HouseCall Booking App, where customers can schedule you at the push of a button “Housecall Pro is on a mission to bring efficiency and convenience to the lives of all service professionals, so we have launched our free version to ensure that our platform is accessible at every stage of their success,” said Ian Heidt, CEO of HouseCall Pro. Since the free version is designed exclusively for owner-operators, service professionals with technicians are encouraged to upgrade to a premium plan. If you switch to a paid account, you will get all of the features offered with the free plan, PLUS: Technician job dispatching and separate employee accounts Custom email marketing campaigns Premium postcard marketing capabilities Quickbooks Online integration and MORE… We are committed to supporting you as you expand your operation, so when you are ready to start marketing to your customers for repeat business, we will be there for you.

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

Calendar and New Features

December 20, 2015 • Customizable Calendar Quick-Views Need to quickly access specific information from your calendar? Customize exactly what you see when you hover over jobs to help you save time. In-App Arrival Windows Rather than telling customers you'll arrive at an exact time, now you can set arrival windows in the mobile app. Give yourself leeway between jobs and set it up without ever being in front of a computer. Customizable Calendar Quick-Views Calendar quick-views now allow you to customize what you can see when you look at your jobs on the schedule screen. When you hover over a job, you will see an overlay that allows you to check off what you want to see on the calendar item by default. You can select to see customer name, job description, job charge amount, customer address, city/state, zip code, and arrival window.  This customization allows you to optimize job scheduling for your specific business needs. All jobs scheduled will reflect the viewable details that you set up on the quick-view selection.  Arrival Windows You can now assign arrival windows from the job scheduling screen on your iPhone or Android device. Simply navigate to the 'Arrival Window' tab in the job scheduling section and select the tab. You will be directed to a screen where you can select your arrival window for that job and preview what it will look like to your customer in the top section. You can also set arrival windows from the web portal. Mobile Job Feed Scrolling  You can now infinitely scroll through and view all future and past jobs from your mobile device. This is great if you need to cross reference job history or check the status of past jobs on the fly.  Address and Customer Notes Your customer address notes now show up on the job detail screen accessible through your mobile device. You can create notes for each separate customer address and also add customer notes when adding a new customer. Customers will not be able to see these notes. 

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

Job Flow Updates

December 13, 2015 • Job Flow Redesign We redesigned the way you add new jobs. It is now a simple 3-step process that involves selecting a customer, services, and then scheduling the job. New Job Details Screen Now it's easier to create, edit, and view each individual job. You can now also see the Google street view of the job right in the web portal. New Job Process on the Web Portal 1. Add a Customer You can now create new jobs and estimates from the '+Add new' button at the top right-hand corner of the web portal. The first step of the new process is to select your customer. Start typing your customer name into the customer search bar and your closest matches will show up in a drop-down menu. Simply select your customer and go to step 2. If you need to add a new customer, click on the '+customer' link and enter in the customer info. 2. Add Line-Items After selecting a customer, you can enter in the services and material line items, unit prices, and customer notes. Start typing the services you will be carrying out for the job and select from the drop-down menu. You can now also create custom services, type multiple lines of text, and set custom prices. Material line-items work the same as service items. Start typing the material and select from the drop-down menu or create a custom entry with its corresponding price. If you want to access your entire price list, click on the '+Select from service list' link and check the services/materials you want to include. Add customer notes which will only be visible to your technicians and admin. If you click on the 'save' button at the bottom of the screen, you will be directed to the new job details screen and the job will be 'unscheduled' and ready for further updates. 3. Schedule the Job After service and material line-items have been set, you can move to step 3 for job scheduling. You can search for all jobs assigned to particular technicians by entering employee names into the search field. Select job teams, arrival windows, and define recurrence details by clicking on the corresponding links. You can now select between schedule, day, and month views directly on the screen for optimized job scheduling. Saving the job after it is scheduled will take you to the new and improved job details screen. New Job Details Screen The web portal job details screen has been improved, making it easier to create, edit, and view a job. Everything will should seem familiar, just more streamlined to get things done faster. Watch the Brief Tutorial

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

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Technology Or Die: How Service Businesses Must Evolve

December 9, 2015 • In the Digital Age, no industry is safe from the toppling effect of technology. From Uber overturning taxi companies to Airbnb eclipsing the hotel industry, a wide array of businesses have been transformed through technological advances. From all of this progress, one thing remains perfectly clear: no industry is safe from technological disruption, including the home services industry. As the future approaches, service business owners can either choose to adopt technology and ride the success wave, or fight against technology with previously prevailing strategies and get completely crushed by the inevitable technological disruption that is sure to take place. Failure to satisfy the needs of tech-savvy modern consumers runs the risk of being left in the dust. Advantages of Adopting Technology At this point, you might be thinking "Ok, I get it, but how can I be absolutely sure that technology will help and not hurt my business?" This is a perfectly common concern shared by many, so it is important to break the answer down into main points. The primary role of technology for your business is increased efficiency. I can see how this result doesn’t sound particularly exciting on the surface, but trust me when I tell you that technology will help your business run more quickly and smoothly. Increased efficiency will save you hours upon hours of time, which in turn will save you a lot of money. Technology will also help you identify bottlenecks in your business, leading you to discover opportunities to improve processes and save even more time to make even more money. Even if you are confident that your current methods still work, continuing to operate the same way will eventually take its toll on your business as competitors adopt newer, more efficient technologies. You may be wondering to yourself why technology is necessary when your business is functioning just fine, but the reality is that the world is changing faster than ever. Although the service industry is only slowly catching up, it is wise to be proactive and protect your business from extinction before it’s too late. As technology drives society forward, you need to reach your customers where they are; which is online and on mobile devices. Establishing a digital presence is essential to meeting the needs of the modern market. Exploring the New Frontier of Mobile Applications How important is it for businesses to have a strong digital presence, really? The truth is that it is essential to connect to customers, even if you do not sell directly online. Beyond simply having a website and social media profiles, it is also becoming more and more vital to embrace mobile technology. Digital Trends reports that, on average, Americans spend 4.7 hours on their mobile devices every day. Of that time, 85% of it is spent using mobile apps, according to TechCrunch. This means that businesses without apps lose out on reaching consumers where they spend a significant amount of their time.   For small business owners, the idea of building a mobile app can seem daunting. According to eMarketer, 78% of small business owners said their business did not have an app, although 71% responded that they felt having one would benefit their business. Developing an app from the ground up is discouraging because it requires a significant amount of engineering power. Unless your small business can afford to hire a team of engineers, you may feel inequipped to enter the world of apps. Fortunately, tapping into mobile app technology is more accessible than ever because of all resources available to assist you in overcoming this barrier. Fighting the Fear of Technology Fear of technology can be paralyzing, and it prevents many businesses owners from reaching their full potential. Skepticism of technology itself plagues service business owners, as they are overcome with concerns of the supposed dangers of digital tools. Many simply do not see how advantageous technology can be because they turn a blind eye to its benefits and get overtaken by sensationalized fear of breaches in data security. Just as debilitating as the fear of technology is the fear of actually learning how to operate a new device. Teaching oneself to use technology can be overwhelming, especially for older adults. Pew Research has found that that 77% of senior citizens would need assistance if attempting to delve into a new type of technology. Humans are habitual creatures, and it can take up to 66 days, this study reports, to develop a new habit. Putting in the time to become proficient is challenging when you do not feel comfortable, but luckily you do not have to go it alone: there are already tools out there to help you boost your tech-savviness.  Taking Advantage of the Available Tools To ease the strain of learning how to operate unfamiliar devices, there are plenty of resources available to guide you along the way. Take advantage of all of these tools to make your educational experience easier: User-Friendly Design . Since most technology companies realize that adopting technology is a problem, it is now a common practice to design with ease of use in mind. Overcoming the fear of learning new technologies is as simple as diving in and exploring for yourself. You may find that the learning curve is not as high as it seems once you take charge. Customer Support . Customer service representatives are almost always available to answer your technical questions. Many tech companies offer live chat with their customer support team so that your issues are solved quickly and seamlessly. Search for a chat bubble, which will often be featured in the bottom right-hand corner of screen, to see if help is available. FAQ Pages . When you have a question about technology, there is a good chance that you’re not alone. Someone else has probably encountered the same thing, which means that there is also a good chance that an answer to your question is already featured on an FAQ page. Check out these helpful guides to commonly-asked questions each time you face a challenge. Knowledge Bases . Beyond static FAQ pages, there are also even more in-depth, interactive databases of information. Knowledge bases are dynamic resources that often possess artificial intelligence to offer extensive support whenever you need help. Blog Content . Blogs have exploded in popularity in recent years, which means that anything you can think of, there are probably a whole bunch of blog posts about it. Search the web to find content created around any topic you are interested in learning more about, and it is almost guaranteed to be waiting for you. Tutorials and Video Content . For visual learners, video tutorials are an excellent way to discover how to get the most out of technology. Along with the helpful tutorial videos, there are a wealth of videos with the purpose of teaching you how to do anything and everything imaginable.     is a wonderful resource to find videos to help you in all of your pursuits. With all of these resources available at your fingertips, learning to use technology can be a breeze. Since the opportunities of technology are limitless, you have everything to gain and your business to lose. Service business owners are making a mistake unless they embrace the digital tools at their disposal. As the service industry catches up with digital times, small business owners that resist innovation will watch their business become obsolete. In conclusion, it is important to realize that you can always take baby steps along your road to technology adoption. If you look at the big picture from the beginning, you will likely be completely overwhelmed. Yet if you simply break your business down into small sections and optimize for each, you will soon see just how much your business can benefit from digital tools. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your business. The most important thing you can do is to try.

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

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Arrival Windows and Payments Updates

November 22, 2015 • Arrival Windows Introducing arrival windows to the web portal! Let your customers know you'll arrive within a certain time frame, instead of at a specific time. Partial Payments & Payment History Charge your customers with only one part of a payment and then collect the rest later. Then see how much they still owe you so you can bill another partial payment or the entire remaining balance. Arrival Windows (aka Time Windows, aka Service Windows, aka Time Slots) You can now set an Arrival Window on the web portal. This will change what your customers will see as the time you are scheduled to arrive. For example, if you have a 2hr window for a job at 10am, the email and messages to your customer will say the tech is "scheduled to arrive between 10am-12pm." When creating a job on the web portal, you will fill out the usual information and schedule the job normally. Before you click 'create job,' locate the 'arrival window' icon. Clicking the 'arrival window' icon will open up a new window which will let you select the arrival window time period. You will also have the ability to set the arrival window as a default. **Note** Display of the Arrival Window on the Pro app (what you and your techs will see) is coming within about a week. Just need to get it approved through the app stores. Partial Payments & Payment History After you click on the 'Payment' button on the main job screen and select the 'Next' button in the top right-hand corner, you will be directed to a screen that lets you change the partial payment amount. Simply click on the white section under the 'Amount' label and enter in the partial value. Under that section you can type a payment note to remind you of partial payment details. Once you are done setting the partial payment amount and notes, click 'Next.' When you are ready to accept another payment on the original partially paid job, simply open the job up and click on the 'Payment' tab on the main screen. You will now see a 'payment history' section (in green above) which will show you how much payment has been received and let you read the partial payment notes. Once you click on 'Next' in the upper right hand corner, the remaining balance for the job will appear. From here, you can either set another partial payment, or charge the remaining due amount.

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

Partial payments & payment history on Housecall Pro

New Feature Plans

November 15, 2015 • 'Free' Plan for Owner/Operators Now single users have the chance to use many of HouseCall Pro's core features at no cost. 'Grow' Plan Our mid-tier plan is designed for smaller organizations looking to grow with access to features such as email and postcard marketing. Get access to more premium features such as job dispatching and the QuickBooks Online integration. 'Manage' Plan Keep track of your company with features such as advanced reporting and GPS tracking of employees. Give your customers a new way to schedule with the online booking feature for your website. 'Free' Plan for Owner/Operators (single-user accounts only) The free plan is designed for single-user owner/operators and includes the following features and rates: Job Scheduling (without the ability to dispatch to others) Automated Invoicing/Receipts Payment Processing (including credit card processing at a rate of 2.69% + $0.30 per transaction) Ability to be featured in the consumer re-booking app Access to the HouseCall Pro web portal 'Grow' Plan for 2-10 User Accounts The HouseCall Pro 'Grow' plan is designed for growing businesses and allows for up to ten users with separate log-in accounts. This plan costs $79 a month for a monthly term and $69 a month for a 6-month term. For new accounts, there will also be a $99 one-time setup fee. Here is the plan in detail: All core features from the 'Free' plan (including credit card processing at 2.69% + $0.30 per transaction) Technician job dispatching for up to ten users with separate log-in Customer database Unlimited custom email marketing campaigns Premium postcard marketing campaigns at .65 cents a card Quickbooks Online integration Google Calendar integration Company chat in-app 'Manage' Plan for Unlimited Users The HouseCall Pro 'Manage' plan is designed for fast expanding businesses and allows for unlimited users with separate log-in accounts. This plan costs $199 a month for a monthly term and $175 a month for a 6-month term. For new accounts, there will also be a $99 one-time setup fee. Here is the plan in detail: All core features from the 'Free' plan (including credit card processing at 2.69% + $0.30 per transaction All premium features from the 'Grow' plan Advanced reporting GPS breadcrumbs (coming soon) Website booking widget How To Change Your Plan If you want to stay with your current plan, there is no action required on your part.  If you would like to switch to one of the above mentioned plans, please take the following steps: 1. Log into your web portal and click on 'My Account' on the right hand corner of the screen 2. Select the 'Billing' button from the top ribbon menu options 3. Click on the blue 'Update' link The screen that pops up will allow you to select your new feature plan and inform you of your current plan. Simply select your new plan, click on your billing frequency (monthly or 6 months), enter your credit card information, and click 'submit.' Keeping Your Current Plan At HouseCall Pro, we are happy to announce our new feature plans specifically designed to grow with you at every stage of your business. That being said, we want to make it absolutely clear that you are under no obligation to switch to one of our new plans and can continue with your current plans and rates. If you decide to go with a new plan, all plan features, rates, and terms for the new plan will apply and override your previous plan. This means that you will not be able to mix and match components between your old and new plans.

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

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