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The Complete Field Service Management Buyers Guide

January 8, 2018 • It sometimes seems like there’s never an end to the work that has to get done, and that’s before you actually do the work. Estimating, scheduling, bidding, dispatching, and so many other tasks take up valuable time, and most of that time isn’t billable. And even once you’ve got the job, you have to manage a huge number of moving parts just to keep the project moving, all while continuing to seek new opportunities. In today’s working environment, you’re required to do so many tasks in parallel with the work you’re getting paid for and it’s limiting your ability to grow your business and maximize profits. If you take the time to use the right tools, however, you’ll discover a better way to manage your business and get control over your time. A field service management (FSM) software solution that can be managed from your mobile phone can make your operations more efficient and help you increase your ability to engage with new customers. This guide about field service management software will walk you through the process of finding the right solution that fits with your needs and will support you as you grow. Not every business is the same, but everyone wants to reduce wasted time and effort so they can focus on getting the job done. FSM can certainly help you do that, but you must be armed with information to be able to ask the right questions and identify a tool that can be effective for you. Everyone is talking about FSM, but why do you need it? FSM software helps people and businesses manage workers, inventory, scheduling, billing, customer service, and every aspect of running separate projects and their entire business. It automates time consuming and repetitive tasks, which frees owners to focus on growing their business. Analyst firm Gartner predicts that by 2020, 70% of eld service organizations will tie customer satisfaction directly to benefits derived from an FSM solution, up from approximately 50% in 2017. There’s clearly a trend towards the use of technology as a driver of better customer service and improved efficiency. And as more businesses seek these advantages, using an FSM app will become a “have to.” The key, however, will be to find the best one.  As cell phones, tablets, and other devices are common on-the-job tools, they are making FSM solutions and apps easy to deploy and use. User-friendly mobile FSM apps create a new way of running a business because they provide a single dashboard from which a business owner can manage almost all aspects of the business and stay in close contact with customers and employees.  Businesses that don’t implement the right solution will quickly fall behind those that are getting the economic and time-saving advantages of FSM. Those that make the move will realize that with relatively minimal effort, and in very little time, they have better control over their operations and more time to do the things that deliver income. Let’s look at some of the specific things to look for when identifying FSM software that’s best for your organization. Advil or FSM? Reduce headaches with a better way to manage teams, finances & jobs Technology can deliver major improvements to a business, but it has to be easy to implement, customizable to the organization’s unique needs, and deliver demonstrable business advantages. Think about the tasks you go through on any given day, and then consider how much easier it would be if they could all be done faster and from a single dashboard. An FSM solution should provide communication, collaboration, and other functional capabilities that keep your business connected to the people who get the job done.  Automate Repetitive Tasks These include customer communication, invoicing, accounting, and routing of supplies. The right app will automatically send invoices and reminders without you having to do the manual work of creating, sending, and waiting for a response.  Delegate, Manage, and Coordinate Some FSM solutions are based just on tasks. To truly eliminate redundant work, the best tool will have built-in work ow capabilities and will enable you to delegate different tasks to people within your organization, all based on employee permissions and access to the management of the app.  What makes a good FSM solution? Delivers immediate, and sustainable improvement in your bottom-line.  Learning   curve should be easy for you and all of your employees. Increases communication with, and among, all employees. Covers all aspects of project management, from start to finish. Get the business and get paid No business can stay afloat if income isn’t regularly coming in. Yet, the process of billing, collecting, and paying vendors can be one of the biggest time sucks. An FSM solution should centralize all financial activity into a single dashboard so you get a clear picture of the status of bills and revenue, and insight into where money is coming from and where it’s going. With this kind of insight, you can be more effective at planning and allocating money, supplies, and people.  The best kind of app for your business is one that automates many tasks but also provides convenience features to encourage faster invoicing of customers and more efficient payment of your bills. Build relationships & create a network of fans Building a following of loyal customers while continually acquiring new ones is part art, part science, and it takes a ton of time. Marketing is critical if you want to grow your business, and your FSM solution should provide tools to support these efforts. Rather than rely on multiple apps and services to get your message to customers and prospects, an effective FSM solution will give you the ability to create marketing materials, distribute them, and maintain regular communication with customers all from within the app itself. The idea is to put you in front of potential customers when they need you. Marketing to today’s consumers requires more than just direct mailers or email campaigns. Look for a solution that is comprehensive in what it offers and allows you to do the following: Real-Time Customer Engagement  If you can provide text notifications, online customer chat tools, and other ways to engage online, you’ll demonstrate your customer-first approach and dedication to their needs.  Effective Marketing & Advertising According to MarketingSherpa, 72% of American adults prefer communication by email. With an effective FSM solution, you should be able to quickly and easily create email and postcard marketing campaigns that are built on templates, can be designed in minutes, and sent to prospects and customers in one click.  Customer Relationship Management (CRM) You create loyal customers when they know you care about them. The FSM app you use should help with your customer relationship efforts by maintaining a history of your interaction with them. An added bonus is being able to set up alerts within the app to remind customers of regular maintenance or other services that are needed. Book it and become a provider of choice Homeowners look for a service provider because they have a problem that needs fixing. They make a decision when they are ready to engage, and if you can present your company in a positive light at that time, you greatly increase your odds of getting the business. Almost 70% of consumers say that online reviews are very or extremely valuable in evaluating a eld service provider, and almost 50% indicate they would pay more for providers that have positive reviews. With consumers increasingly relying on peer recommendations and online word of mouth, it’s critical to have your business visible where potential customers are searching.  How to get the benefit of context-based booking Look for an FSM application that is integrated with websites that provide reviews, including Yelp, Facebook, Bing, and others. You should also be able to use the app within your website so users can book while they are learning more about your services. The Top-rated FSM Tool By Business Owners: Housecall Pro FSM software is intended to make your job easier, help you reduce inefficiency, and give you opportunities to build your business. The problem is that most apps only provide some of these elements and you’re left to cobble together the missing pieces. This just adds to your “to do” list. Housecall Pro is a comprehensive FSM solution that combines every aspect of eld service business management, marketing, and financials into a single app. It is essentially a complete and comprehensive business operations console which can be managed from your phone, a device, and anywhere you have web access. We’re building a large and fanatical group of customers which is demonstrated by top ratings from users. Housecall Pro is the top rated FSM app on the five most popular software rating sites, and consistently gets top marks for being the most affordable, user- friendly, and best overall tool for eld service management businesses like yours. What separates Housecall Pro is our approach to you and your business. We recognize that wasted time, supplies, and other resources creates stress and lose income. Business owners try desperately to avoid that, but they are either saddled with inefficient tools, or they can’t find the time to solve problems because there’s simply too much to do. Housecall Pro breaks down the separate types of jobs you need to do, but integrates them into one app. Within the app you can manage every aspect of your business in a way that cuts down on waste and makes your business more attractive to customers. 

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

man processing payment with home owner using housecall pro

Don Snyder - Walking Through Fire

December 8, 2017 • Here at Housecall Pro we’ve all heard of the man, the myth, and the legend known as Don Snyder, owner of Instadry Carpet and Tile Cleaning in Orlando. Through his humor, kindness, and engagement, he has quickly become one of our favorite Pros. Life Before Instadry Don was “hatched, not born” in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he lived for 22 years before joining the Marine Corps. During his five years in the military, he worked a lot in aviation. After 12 years in this industry, he gained valuable insight that would later help him run a business of his own. He first saw a need to get into the carpet cleaning industry after receiving a horrible experience in his brand new home from what was perceived as a “reputable” company. After one of his friends showed him some new equipment, as well as how to properly clean carpet, Don found his calling. A few years later he started Instadry Carpet and Tile Cleaning. How Does He Do It?! If you’re an entrepreneur, you know that starting your own business is a huge learning process. Luckily, Don is willing to share what he’s already learned with you. His advice for anyone wanting to start their own business is to never be afraid to try something new. Whether it’s using new tools or trying out a new process, he’s found that it’s important to take the risk of something new in order to improve. “Whenever Housecall Pro releases a new feature, you see a lot of users that are afraid to try it, but you can’t see the benefits of it until you do. You have to take the risk and be willing to try new things in order to help your business grow.” Don learned that you can’t be afraid to try new things or to make mistakes. His understanding that mistakes will happen and his ability to acknowledge when they do happen, has allowed him to learn from those mistakes and helped him continue to grow. Happily Ever Housecall When Don first started Instadry he bought only one pack of carbon copy invoices, costing him $30. We won’t say what his response to that price was, but he wasn’t happy. During this time, Quickbooks Online was becoming popular, so he signed up and started trying out a few different CRMs. After a year of spending his free time frustrated, trying to build out a system to run his business, he went searching for the QBO-sponsored apps. That’s when he found Housecall Pro. He immediately dropped the program that he just spent a year and a half struggling to implement and gave Housecall a shot. All because he saw that we’re continuously growing and adapting in the eye of the pros. Customer Experience Once Don saw that as his customer’s satisfaction had increased, he noticed that his business did too. He eventually changed his mission statement to reflect the importance of the customer experience: “To be THE TRUSTED service provider by turning every customer into a lifelong client!” When it comes to making sure you’re giving top-notch customer service, Don says he constantly looks for an opportunity to shake a hand. While it seems ironic, he told us that technology has actually brought him closer to his customers, allowing him to shake more hands and have a smoother, more convenient conversation. The Art of Multitasking In the end, what it comes down to is staying organized while handling everything at once. Don’s biggest success is handling a dynamic operation with ease. Now he can execute on thirty different tasks and still stay organized. “Just this morning I experienced this issue. Everyone in the field was slammed and I’m getting phone calls left and right. I had two appointments scheduled with two awesome clients and had to go to a hotel to do an offsite quote. On my way there I ended up stuck in traffic with more calls coming in. We had someone who needed to change their appointment from later that week to this afternoon. By pulling up the app, I saw that someone contacted one of the techs and postponed the afternoon appointment so we could accommodate the other person’s needs. The customer was so impressed that she added more work to her service. The technician was also excited that their day was still full. Everyone in the office was excited about the freedom and flexibility the software gives to our operation.” It’s Don’s employees that drive his ambition. He’s found that one of the hardest parts of owning your own business is carrying the responsibility to be successful for more than just yourself. His employees rely on him to keep the business running smoothly in order to do their jobs. It’s important for him to know what’s going on at all times in order to set his employees up for success. The Community Don isn’t just a well-known customer at our office, he’s also a huge part of the Housecall community on Facebook. He’s always chiming in on the Pros group to give advice, solve problems, or make everyone laugh. “I’ve been connected to a lot of other great pros from around the country, through the group. That kind of connection works because they’re not your local competitors that you’re swapping ideas with, so you’re not afraid to share your advice and learn from each other. Plus, there’s a community that follows behind it. Field services are field services and we all have to have the same attitude and focus when it comes to our customers.” Don Snyder is more than just a great customer, he’s also a great friend and business owner. If you would like to learn more about how Don runs his business click here.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Don at carpet & tile cleaning

Business Checklist

November 2, 2017 • You have been busy all year, and we all know that during busy times even the most organized businesses tend to let some things slip through the cracks. It could be that you haven’t pre-ordered your supplies, or that you have a couple of unpaid invoices that need following up. Now that the busy season is beginning to wind down it’s time to take stock of your business and prepare to finish out the rest of the year. That’s why we created this business check-up checklist. Start taking the steps to get your business back in order. Inventory Payments: With all of the back-to-back jobs you’ve had this summer, there may be some invoices that have yet to be paid. Check in with those customers who have outstanding payments that haven’t been collected by sending them a follow-up invoice. Budget: Take a look at what you had budgeted for the high season and compare it with how much you actually spent. Adjust your budget accordingly for the rest of the year if you need to. Supplies:  Find out what supplies you used the most and keep track of them for next year. Once you know what supplies you used the most, you can use that as a reference to prepare your orders for the next busy season. Reflect on the past year: Acknowledge and learn from any mistakes you might have made this past year. See what you could have done differently and make sure to implement those changes for the next busy season. Some of these changes can be timely, so make sure to take advantage of this slower season to start implementing new structures and workflows now. Look at Your Highlight Reel: Don’t just learn from your mistakes, but focus on your success as well. Make sure to take note of all of your wins so you can continue the actions that have helped your business grow. Set Goals: Once you’ve identified your strengths and weaknesses you can begin to set your goals for the end of the year. You want to make sure to create a distinct set of goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely - aka SMART goals.   To learn more tips and tricks to help run your business more efficiently, visit us at HousecallPro.com.  

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

businesschecklist

How to Onboard Your Employees

August 25, 2017 • The world of field service management is undergoing a major shift. Field service management software (FSM software) is revolutionizing the way service providers communicate with their customers, schedule and dispatch their work, and handle invoicing and payments. However, as much as clients may be loving how simple and convenient FSM software is, it isn’t always easy for businesses to get their employees on board. For many employees in field service management, utilizing software is a new way of operating. Many would-be users are accustomed to paper forms, phone calls, and manual processes. So, how do business owners and leaders go about getting their new employees on board with FSM Software? Start With Why Before even beginning the process of researching and selecting a software tool, start with “why”. Let employees know that you’re looking at a new software tool that will save them time, save the company money, simplify their work, and the way they interact with customers.   Help them to understand early on how this will improve things so that they can begin to understand that a change is coming and can get used to the idea. Share your time frame with them as well so they know when to expect training will begin, and when they’ll start using it. Early Buy-In Gaining early buy-in helps surround the impending change in positivity. A great way to do that is to get the early adopters on board. How do you know who your early adopters are? They will be those employees excited about the improvements they can see FSM software will bring to their work. They’re likely the most tech savvy people on the team. Ask them to be a part of the buying process. Have them test software, ask questions, and propose ideas and challenges. Involve them in the ways that FSM software will change the current workflow. Not all of your employees will want to be involved in this stage, but offering the opportunity helps you find out who your early adopters are. You will need these folks to help sell the product to the rest of the team. Training Have you ever been in a training with someone that knows a lot, but has a hard time explaining the most obscure details? While this kind of deep dive may appeal to a handful of people, most users become overwhelmed, confused, or frustrated by all of that unnecessary information. Be sure that training is interesting — tell stories of success and cover tips, tricks andshortcuts that are sure to make your employees’ jobs even easier. You should keep the first trainings simple, clear, and short. Focus on Core Features Your employees are utilizing FSM software to make their jobs more efficient and delight your customers. Focus on the features that make the most sense and will make an immediate impact. For now, you can let go of any shiny extras. Once they’ve adopted the software, they can request further training on more robust features. Offer 1-on-1 Assistance There are bound to be a few employees who will need or want to see some details from training a second time. Be sure to offer one-on-one assistance to those folks, and make sure that they understand that help will always be available, anytime. You may also consider asking a few of your early adopters to help out with supporting the extra training to those who may need it. Be Encouraging One of the best things you can do to help your employees through the change to FSM software is to be encouraging. When they use the tool, thank them. Acknowledge, especially to the late adopters, that you understand making a change from their comfortable routines to something entirely new, isn’t easy. Let them know you appreciate their willingness to make the switch. You can also create peer champions by having early adopters who have success with the software share their experiences at a team meeting. Measure Results Oftentimes companies make software changes without really explaining the reasons why. While this can create difficult change management, what’s equally as frustrating for employees is to never really know whether or not the change was worth it. Be sure to measure and share the results with them so that they know how the new FSM software has positively impacted the business. The key to successfully onboarding employees to FSM software is to include them in the process early on, gain their buy-in, and provide thorough, easy-to-understand training that focuses mainly on core features. Be sure to offer extra assistance to anyone requesting it, and be encouraging. You’ll be on your way to happier clients and a more efficient workflow process in no time. *** Jessica Barrett Halcom is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com, with specializations in human resources, healthcare, and transportation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

How to onboard your employees

Instagram For Your Field Service Business

August 21, 2017 • Social media is here to stay. The steadily growing crowd of Instagrammers, tweeters, and Facebookers won’t be going away anytime soon. While you may have thought social media is just a fad, or only for personal use, it’s actually opening brand new doors for you to interact and connect with a massive base of customers. From a business perspective, social media is a no-brainer business decision. You have access to about 90 million users on Instagram alone, for free. Yes, for free. Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media channels out there, and with the majority of its users being middle and upper-middle-class females, it's the perfect market for home service businesses. Let's take a look at how setting up an Instagram account for your business can help you corner this market and bring in new business. What is your new Instagram all about? Instagram is a social network for sharing photos and videos. What type of photos and videos your share is up to you, however, it is important that you decide the purpose of your account. Do you want to extend the reach of your brand? Is it a place where customers can share the value of your finished work? Or is it a way to highlight your customer service and show the human side of your company? This decision is very important because it sets up the story for the rest of your account. Remember, consistency is key, so once you’ve selected a theme for your new account, stick with it. Polish your profile First impressions are everything. It takes less than two-tenths of a second for a visitor viewing your profile to cement an idea about who you are and what your business is about, so make sure that initial impression is a good one. Creating a clear and uncluttered profile is crucial to making sure your audience finds your account and follows it. One of the first things they’ll see is your username. Try to craft a username that is short, memorable, and matches your business name. Next, make sure to upload a high-quality version of your logo as a profile picture. For your bio section, add a short description of your business. Try to keep it to the point, and authentic to you and your brand. Lastly, remember that unlike other social media platforms, Instagram doesn’t have a cover photo. With that in mind, most of your brand recognition will come from the content you post; plan accordingly.  Content is King Seek to create content that engages and entertains your audience. The best promotional content is content that is the least promotional. Don’t be afraid to pose questions in your captions in an effort to engage with your followers. Check out what kind of content to post for more tips on how to indirectly showcase your services, build anticipation and collaborate with others. Use Hashtags That Drive Business (#whattheheckisahashtag) Hashtags can help increase traffic to your page and help you track your success. Posts with at least one hashtag will receive 12.6% more engagement on average, and you can use up to thirty hashtags per post. Think of these hashtags as active keywords. When a user searches for something, the ones you’ve chosen will act as magnets for your post. Pro-Tip:  Place your hashtags as a comment to the actual post. By not posting them in the caption and placing them in the comments instead you make your post look a lot more visually pleasing.   Something every business should do is create their own custom hashtag. For example, if your business name is Xtreme Carpet Pros, we’d use something like #xtremecarpets. It’s an uncommon hashtag not typically used by other people, and your followers can use it in their own post to engage with you once jobs are complete.  Tips and Tricks To get the most out of your Instagram account, keep these tips in mind Convert your account to a registered business account Follow these steps to convert your account to a business account. Doing so unlocks a lot of free marketing and demographic insight about your account. You’ll be able to visually see things like which neighborhoods your followers are in, the best time to post, how much impact your post is having, and much more.  Links don't work in Instagram captions The only place you can share an active link that actually takes users to a website is in your profile (or through a button on a paid advertising post). Respond to other users' comments When people comment on your photos, don’t leave them in the dark. Creating a connection your customers and followers will show them that you’re listening to what they have to say.  They'll be more likely to continue following you and interacting with your pictures if they feel like they matter. Embed Instagram posts on your website This can show visitors that you're active on Instagram and help you add more followers.  To set up your new account for success try and touch upon all the items mentioned above. First, establish what your new Instagram account is all about. Next, polish your profile and ensure all your content is in line with your brand. Last, harness the power of hashtags and to reach more people than ever before. People come to Instagram to be connected, informed, and entertained. Setting up an Instagram Business account gives people more information about your products, service or business and gives them an opportunity to connect with you in a way that wasn’t possible before.

Kareem Abulaban

Instagram for your service business

Q&A With Ron Legacy

August 17, 2017 • We had a chance to sit down and speak with one of Housecall Pro’s power users, Ron Legacy. He shared stories about his success with social media and how it has been so important to driving more business. Ron started a carpet cleaning business called Legacy Services Carpet Cleaning in 2010. Since then, he’s has built up a large and engaging customer base that has helped him succeed as a small business owner mainly through the use of social media. Matt  How did you decide to use social media for your small business? Ron Actually, it was my daughter who started me on Myspace, then I opened a Facebook account in 2010. This was the same year I started Legacy Services Carpet cleaning. My intent was to make friends and hopefully help others going through similar situations. When I started Legacy I was actually living in the back of a truck, brokenhearted with only a dream of building this carpet cleaning company. I honestly had no idea how successful it would become when I began.  Matt What’s your favorite social media channel to use? Ron They all have their own benefits and the algorithm changes quite frequently. I would have to say the top 2 are Facebook and Instagram for building new business. Matt What has proven to be the most successful channel? Why do you think that is? Ron Facebook allows you the opportunity to create virtual relationships that feel real. Customers love to buy and recommend people that they know and trust. Matt You have 14k likes on your business’s Facebook page. How did you grow it into such a large following? Ron 2 words...Daily marketing. It has taken over 7 years of creating content daily to build the page over 14k followers. But just like building a house, you first start with a solid foundation then build up from there. Matt How do you decide to post the content you do? Ron Daily content is important but context is king. I pay attention to what the hot topic of the day is and my team creates content based on what we believe will give us the best chance of going viral. After the post has picked up momentum, then we pay Facebook to reach more people in our demographic. Matt How many jobs per month do you win from social media? Ron All of our new customers come from social media. We then use HCP to set them up on a regular cleaning schedule. Min we book is 8-10 jobs per day. During the summer months, we have booked over 30 in a day. Matt What’s the one thing you would warn people to be careful of when fully getting started? Ron We do a ton of Live broadcasts, so make sure you’re prepared before you push the “go live” button. We use the 5 P formula (Proper preparation prevents poor performance). We also rehearse weekly in-house with our team to help capture the best content for advertising. Matt Do you mainly use video or pictures when posting? Do you utilize facebook live to better interact with your customers? Ron Yes, we have a ton of live content and mix it up daily as well. We try to post at least 3 times a day and then interact with our potential customers. Matt What are the top 3 things you would recommend to someone who is looking to get started? Ron Social media can either help your business grow rapidly or destroy your reputation. You have no control over the reviews people will leave, but you do have control of how you respond. Make sure you have someone logged in at all times ready to put out any fires.   Be real. If you’re fake, people will see through it. Remember, people do business with companies they like and trust. Every single customer you visit has the potential to reach hundreds more for you. The best marketing I have discovered thus far is word of mouth. If you see your mom or relative raving about an experience they have had with a particular company, you’re way more likely to use that company. This should probably be the #1 rule. Never post anything you wouldn’t want your pastor, priest, or mom to read. Keep it clean and encouraging. Once again if people like you they will be more apt to use your service. (I added one) Post daily! In our fast-paced social media world, out of sight means out of mind. Do you remember what you read on FB yesterday? Matt Well, Ron, it was such a pleasure talking to you today. You have given our audience quite the insight into how to succeed with social media and why it’s so important and pivotal to your business. Keep up the amazing work. Ron Great talking to you Matt. I am glad I could be of assistance. You guys keep up the amazing work over at HCP. I tell all my fellow carpet cleaning colleagues that you guys are the only way to go. Matt If you haven’t already, go check out Ron’s Facebook Business Page, his personal Facebook Page, and his Instagram. Thank you to everyone who stopped in to learn about social media.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

legacy