Hands typing on computer for blog

Housecall Pro blog

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

TOPIC: Guides

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

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

8 Hacks To Boost Productivity This Summer

July 12, 2017 • Summers are relentless. The days are long and your business is busier than ever. At the end of it, you may walk away feeling as though it was one big blur.  While summer is one of the busiest seasons around, there is something to be said about making the most efficient use of this valuable time. Implementing a few inexpensive hacks will put money back in your pocket, shave hours off your workday, and reclaim some valuable time to enjoy your summer. Even better, these efficiency hacks have long-term benefits and will set your business up for success in the coming months. We’ve put together a short-list of 10 pro-business hacks that will surely add some sizzle to your step. Faster Modern Communication With 97% of Americans using text messages, it no wonder that texting is the most popular and most frequently used form of communication. Text messaging is 10x faster than making a phone call and costs 125% less. Customers are also far more likely to see and respond to your message.  Keep & Update Records Keeping records sounds like the easiest part of good office management – but keeping them updated can be a lot harder in practice, especially when they build up. The easiest way to beat this is problem is to make updating records an automatic routine. When you get a new customer or client, it only takes a moment to enter them into your customer list. Having accurate records is a sure fire way to quickly increase company efficiency and keep everyone organized. Digital Invoicing/Go Paperless   You’ve heard it before: go paperless. Today, software makes it really easy to move to a low-cost paperless solution. Having access to all of your company information will make running your business a breeze. You’ll be able to search for customer information (like billing address and work history) without having to call the office. By utilizing digital invoicing, you can create invoices on-the-fly and update them in real-time with your customer’s ever-changing needs. Your customers will delight in the exceptional service you’re providing by creating quick and accurate invoices, and you’ll love getting paid faster.   Skip the Pleasantries You’re busy and so are your customers. Introduce online booking to your website and give them the freedom to choose a service time that works for them. Online booking will allow customers to choose the service they want to be performed, and immediately choose a time from your real-time updated availability. This software is a great way to reduce time spent going back and forth with customers. It also exponentially increases the chance of getting booked. The fewer steps it takes for them to get from point A to point B, the more quickly they will book with you; simple as that. Use Free Cloud Storage Solutions Cloud storage makes for some amazing changes to any small business. Simply put, the cloud is just a secure place on the internet for your company to store their information. All the information is in one spot, accessible from anywhere in the world at any time. You and your team can see changes to a contract, schedule, or invoice immediately; not in hours or days. You’ll love the increased collaboration between members of your business. This is also a great solution to store job-site photos. Typically, the photos taken from a job that may have important legal or technical information are stored on an employee's phone. By storing these photos in a company cloud solution, any employee can access these photos, at any time. Eliminate bulky, space-wasting file drawers and move to a clean and efficient cloud solution.   Make Communicating Easier Keeping your customer in the loop is one of the foundations of running a successful business and keeping customers happy. No one likes being left in the dark or wondering what to do next. By sending a few simple messages to your customer, you will ensure they have a clear course of action and decrease any potential miscommunications. Automating these messages will shave hours off your work week. For example, automatic text notifications will let customers know when the technician is en route. By keeping customers in the loop during this process you will reduce no-shows and make sure customers receive an exceptional experience. Stop Chasing Down Payments To stay successful during the summer, you need to make sure your cash flow is coming in strong and on a regular basis. We recommend using a system that has a batch invoicing option so you can let technology help you collect payments automatically. Your system should also have payment processing, so you can easily accept payment for your invoices out in the field. Keeping these two services tied together greatly increases your business efficiency. Get Back to Basics With Postcards Customers hate spam, but love appreciation. Consider using postcards as a great way to reach out to customers, remind them to book their next appointment and thank them for previous business. Manually writing, printing, and mailing all those postcards can be extremely time consuming and costly. Instead, use an automation service to send postcards after 2-3 months of the initial job date. Pro-tip: include a special promotion code on the postcard to track how effective your marketing campaign was and incentivize customers to book another job.    These hacks are designed to save you time, while continuing to foster customer relationships. With improved customer communication, quicker billing and invoicing, consistent marketing, and routine organization, you will be to offer an experience unlike any other. Implementing these changes should also eliminate wasteful business practices, reduce employee hours spent on back-office work, and lower the risk of unhappy customers, which is especially important during your busy season. If you’re looking for a program to help with some of these hacks, then take a moment to stop by our features page. We’d love to show you brief demo explaining how Housecall Pro can help you accommodate more business with increased efficiency all while being very affordable. 

Kareem Abulaban

go-paperless

New Logo and Icon, Same Commitment

June 4, 2017 • At Housecall Pro, our brand promise has always been to provide an open door, both literally and figuratively. We work to create features for our customers that open new doors of opportunity. And, likewise, our door is always open to hear how we can improve. This philosophy is behind our single goal: providing you with the best platform to run and grow your business.  Many companies have told us that the simple 'On my way!' text helps ensure a warm reception and an open door when they arrive on the job. The power of this simple gesture can transform an anxious in-home appearance into a friendly interaction that keeps a delighted customer re-booking year after year. Combined with automated notifications during the job process, booking through Yelp, Facebook, your website, and the Housecall consumer app... we will continue to look for more ways to open new doors of opportunity for your business. Many companies have also told us how happy they are to have found a software partner that is willing to accept criticism and improve. And although we won't always be able to make changes at lightspeed, we promise to never stop trying. With this mission in mind, we have updated our logo to both tell our story and permanently ingrain our commitment to your success. Our new logo replaces the truck guy with an open door. On Monday night, we will update our app and the icon will change on your phone: There is now a centralized location to see activity on all of your jobs. The activity feed can be accessed from any screen by clicking on the heartbeat icon next to the settings icon at the top right-hand corner of the web portal. You can scroll through the feed, expand and collapse items for additional details, and click into detail pages directly from the tab.  We will continue working to earn your business each and every day. As always, we welcome your valuable feedback. 

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

nl-49