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Housecall Pro blog

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

INDUSTRY: Small business

iPhone, Pricing and Company Info Updates

March 6, 2016 • Special Announcement: The brand new iPhone look and feel is now live! Update your app today to enjoy better in-app navigation, enhanced processes, and new features!  What's New: Price List and Description Enhancements Easily edit every aspect of your price list, including descriptions, names, and prices. You can also customize what each customer sees on a case-by-case basis. Company Name Invoice Display Switch  Does your logo not include your business' name? You can now add your company name underneath your logo on invoices. Price List and Description Enhancements You can now access and edit your price list in its own tab titled 'Price list' which can be accessed by clicking on the 'My Account' button at the top-right corner of the web portal home screen. From this section, you can add, remove, and modify all prices, service names, and descriptions. You are now able to see service descriptions in this section for all of your service capabilities. Service names, prices, quantities, and descriptions are now also visible on your job screen. You can also edit any of these lines for that particular job. By adjusting the job description, for instance, you can customize what that particular customer will see on their invoice for that particular job. You also have the choice of leaving the default setting as it is. You can also access and edit services, prices, quantities, and descriptions on your mobile device. When creating a job by clicking on the line item, you will be able to access your current price list (including descriptions) and also be able to drill down further into the service details to edit price/quantity, names, and descriptions for each service.  By tapping the 'New Entry' button on the top-right corner, you will be able to create a new full job capability and also get the option to save that new entry to your permanent price list through a convenient switch.  **Note** Service names, prices, and descriptions will be pushed to your Quickbooks Online account if you have set up your HouseCall Pro to Quickbooks connection.  Company Name Invoice Display Switch  Company Name Invoice Display Switch If your company name is not included in your logo, you can now switch on the business name text line that appears below your logo on invoices. If you would like to keep the logo the way it is without the additional company name text line, simply make sure the box is left unchecked.

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

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Quickbooks, iPhone and Job History Updates

February 21, 2016 • Quickbooks Online Job History Import Convert all of your QBO invoices into HouseCall Pro jobs. Keep track of each customer's service history throughout the years. New iPhone App Navigation, Look, and Feel The iOS app has a new navigation bar at the bottom to make it even easier to use. You can now customize your price list, quantities, and job descriptions while on the go. Quickbooks Online Job History Import We have been working around the clock to make it possible for you to take all of your Quickbooks Online invoices and convert them to HouseCall Pro jobs. We are happy to announce that this job import feature will soon be going live! In fact, we have already converted a small handful of accounts with ease during our beta test.  The work we are doing here will also significantly improve our integration with Quickbooks Online. Including the ability to sync job category, name & description, apply taxes by line item, import and update your service list, and more. In order to qualify for the job import, you must currently be using Quickbooks Online or be willing to convert to it from the Quickbooks Desktop version. New iPhone App Navigation, Look, and Feel We are constantly trying to improve the way HouseCall Pro looks and feels. From the images above you can see just a fraction of the enhancements and updates we will soon be releasing on the iPhone app. We have completely re-designed the way you can move around the app by creating an intuitive bottom navigation bar. We have also increased your ability to customize price lists, job descriptions, and price/quantity within the app. These are just two examples of the brand new look and feel of the app. The new version of the app will be released very soon, so stay tuned!

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

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So You Want to Build An Awesome Website?

February 16, 2016 • As a home service provider, your website is one of the most important tools in your belt for acquiring new business. 85% of customers use the internet to find local service businesses, so odds are your potential customer's first impression of you and your business will be based on your website. How do you design a site that pushes that customer over the edge from just browsing to giving you a call? We’ve got you covered! Here’s a crash course in everything you need to know to build the foundation of an engaging and business boosting site. In The Keys to Good Web Design Define who you are and what you do This one might sound like a no-brainer, but your potential customers are browsing through tons of websites in search of the perfect home service provider. If they have to endlessly scroll and scour your page to learn what you do and how to reach you, they will move on to the next site. Clearly stating what type of service you provide, where you’re located, and how to contact you on the first screen they see is an absolute must in order to capture their attention. Establish credibility When you’re selling a service, you’re selling a relationship with yourself. You need to clearly establish what your unique selling position is - in other words, how are you different than your competitors, and why should your customers trust you? Including testimonials on your website is a great way to accomplish this, but furthermore, your website should look polished and user-friendly, because the level of care you put into representing your business is the level of care you’ll be perceived to treat your customers with. It’s all about striking a balance between personal and professional - you want to give your website viewers a genuine feel for your business that puts them at ease letting you into their home, while maintaining a skilled and qualified demeanor that inspires confidence that you’re the right person to get the job done. Craft your image The visual imagery you use on your website should be engaging enough to capture your customer’s attention, while staying true to your brand. Here’s some tips and tricks for visual design: Logo: Although your logo has no intrinsic meaning on it’s own, your logo is symbolic of your brand. It should be on all of your marketing materials: websites, social channels, invoices, trucks, shirts, etc. Therefore, it needs to be, and resonate with your branding message. Thinking about a redesign? Check out this article for some additional inspiration. Color Palette: Certain colors can subconsciously with viewers, so you should select your color palette carefully, depending on how you want to portray your brand. Typeface: The font you choose for your website can speak volumes about your brand. Fonts have different personalities, so you want to choose one that fits with your core branding message. Check out these examples: If you wanted to portray that you’re a responsible and principled company, Papyrus or Bipolar Braden probably isn’t going to be your font of choice.. you would want to choose something more classic and refined. However, if you want to tell your customers that you’re fun and funky, using Lobster 1.4 as an accent font could be a good way to show some personality! As a general rule of thumb, you should only use two fonts on a web page, one for headers or accents, and one for the body text. Additionally, on websites, you should choose a sans-serif font (one without tails on the letters, like Helvetica Neue or Lato) for the body text, because it makes for a cleaner, easier to read viewing experience. Last but not least, I am begging you, please please PLEASE never use Comic Sans. Ever. The 4 Cardinal Sins of Web Design Now that you know the principles of good web design, let’s talk about some common mistakes and how you can avoid them: Cluttered websites: It’s easy to overload your site with content and images, but this is one of the fastest ways to lose traffic to your site, because your customers can get overwhelmed. An easy trick to see if your site has too much going on? Do a squint test! Squint at your site - if you can’t pick out your main points and call-to-action, you’ve got too much going on. Bad Photography: Photos, when done right, are some of the easiest ways to make your site fun and engaging. However, your customers will pick up on generic or poor quality photos in a heartbeat, and that’s worse than having no photos at all. Invest in getting professional photos taken, or high quality stock photography to make your site stand out! Poor Navigation: If it’s not intuitive to your customers where they can find all the pertinent information about your company, they’re not going to take the time to look. Using Fixed Web Design: As web use is becoming increasingly mobile, you need to make sure your web site is optimized for a variety of screen sizes. This is called responsive or adaptive web design, and are necessary in today’s digital world. If your web site is one fixed width, customers viewing that site on a small screen will be frustrated by the difficulty of use. Smashing Successes Some of these principles are hard to visualize, so let’s see some of them in action. Here are some examples of home service businesses who knocked our socks off with their web design: ManMaids - College Station, TX Everything you would want to know about the business is right there on the front page: what they do, where they’re located, their pricing, their contact information, and even a “Book Now” button in the top navigation. If I’m a customer and I’m in a hurry, I’m way more likely to give ManMaids a call if I don’t have to go on a treasure hunt to find all the info I need. Best of all, they provide you that information without cluttering their home page. It is clean and aesthetically pleasing, and the running video is a fantastic way of captivating a customer’s attention while simultaneously giving a customer a taste of their personality. Controlled Climates - Clovis, CA This website is a perfect example of visual branding. Their logo is simple, and obviously connected to their industry, but they’ve personalized it to make it their own. Additionally, their color choices, red and blue, are commonly associated with hot and cold, which is a clear connection to the HVAC industry. Their logo and color choices are consistent across all of their messaging, creating a professional and memorable representation of their brand! In Conclusion... Congratulations, you now know everything you need to know to become a master web designer. Time to stop reading about best practices, and put your new found skills to use. Happy Designing!

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

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How Much Is Your Brand Worth?

February 3, 2016 • Branding is an abstract concept, but its impact is undeniable. In fact, consumers are willing to pay 200% more for brands they feel connected to. Learn about branding so that you can boost revenue and skyrocket your brand to success! What is a Brand? When you think of a brand, what comes to mind? You might be envisioning a logo, such as the one emblazoned on your Starbucks cup. While a brand’s logo is what people typically remember most about a brand, there is much more to branding than just a logo. The reason why the idea of a brand is difficult to understand is because it is intangible. A logo, on the other hand, is tangible. You can see a brand's logo, yet a brand itself "exists only in someone's mind," according to Forbes. A brand is everything that people think when they see the brand's logo. There are two components to a brand: both the actual product or service it offers, such as Starbucks’ coffee, as well as the thoughts and feelings associated with it, for example, the bliss of sipping your favorite caffeinated beverage. In semiotics, the study of how meaning is created, signs communicate messages. Imagine a “Stop” sign. In this example, the signifier is the sign itself. The signified, or meaning conveyed, is to stop your car. When we apply this to brands, you can think of a logo as the signifier, which represents the ideas attached to the brand, or the signified. As reported in Entrepreneur, a logo is the foundation of a brand. While your logo is essential, it is not the only element to consider. The ideas and emotions signified by your logo are what are what truly define your brand. Regardless of your logo, your brand can thrive as long as it inspires positive thoughts and a strong connection with your audience. The Starbucks Story To illustrate the concept of how a company can charge far higher than its competitors, yet prevail due to powerful branding, let's study the example of Starbucks. Starbucks is one of the most beloved brands in the world. What makes Starbucks so successful? It’s not the unique name and logo alone that earned Starbucks its place in the hearts of so many fans.  What sets Starbucks apart is the experience it provides its customers. Visiting a Starbucks store is a sensory experience that engages all 5 senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch, and, of course, taste. First, you see the store’s contemporary, yet warm and cozy design. As you enter, the scent of roasting coffee beans wafts into your nose. After placing your order, you hear the barista call out your name. You pick up your piping hot Grande Carmel Macchiato and take a sip. Mmm… it's delicious, as always. If you’re a Starbucks fan, you may adore your classic drink order, but your love for Starbucks likely extends far beyond that. Starbucks is more than a coffee shop, it is a place where you can go to feel at home. Whether you go to Starbucks in Des Moines, Iowa, or Barcelona, Spain, your experience will be nearly identical, providing a sense of familiarity no matter where in the world you may be. By offering the opportunity to relax in comfort, Starbucks has won legions of fans across the globe. By consistently delivering a luxurious, sensuous experience, Starbucks establishes a powerful relationship with its customers. Starbucks’ brand is successful because of meaning people attach to the brand. For many, the Starbucks logo represents refreshment and rejuvenation in a relaxing atmosphere. Since Starbucks forges strong emotional ties with its patrons, it earns their loyalty and love for life.  I use the Starbucks story to simply illustrate the fundamental impact of brand loyalty and overall significance of customer experience. Although small service businesses differ greatly from something as corporate and global as Starbucks, the lessons are still the same; Service professionals must strive to create elevated emotional brand loyalty through their business offerings.  How can you do that? Read on.  How to Create an Emotional Brand While you may not be running a coffee shop, the lessons learned from the story of the Starbucks brand can be applied to any business. In fact, if you effectively establish an emotional connection with your target market, you can charge 200% more than your competitors for the same service, according to research. That’s right, customers are willing to splurge for brands they have forged strong emotional ties with, so the premium price tag is less meaningful than their relationship with the brand. Further, emotional branding increases sales volumes and customer loyalty, both boosting the bottom line. Now that you know how powerful emotional branding can be for your bottom line, how do you tap into it? Follow these steps to establish a brand that your customers can connect to emotionally: 1. Identify an emotion to tie to your brand. How does your brand make people feel? For example, if you own a cleaning business, you could choose satisfaction or security. Communicate in your brand messaging that you aim to instill complete satisfaction and reliable security within your customers through your services. Be careful to choose emotions that are already likely to be evoked by experiencing your brand. 2. Imagine an ideal experience with your brand. Starbucks’ former VP of Brand Planning, Jerome Conlon, explains to Branding Strategy Insider about how “dream catching” helped cultivate the Starbucks brand experience. In this experiment, Starbucks asked participants to imagine drinking the absolute best cup of coffee. Starbucks learned that their customers’ ideal coffee experiences were similar, so they set forth to provide that perfect experience in their stores. For your business, you can ask your friends and family to help. Ask them to dream about the ideal experience in your service industry.  Find out details about what would make their experience with your brand deliver positive emotions. Envision how you can provide an optimal experience and aim to cultivate that ideal. 3. Invoke the emotion in all experiences of your brand. Establish a voice for your brand that consistently conveys that emotion. Tie it into everything your brand is, does, and says. Your customers will start to associate your brand with the emotion if you do this successfully. Most importantly, consistently provide your customers with an experience that evokes the emotion. For instance, if you tie the feeling of satisfaction to your cleaning company, ensure that your customers experience your brand in a way that offers money back for anything less than complete satisfaction.  4. Integrate all of your branding with the emotion. If your brand already has a name and a logo, ensure that they are aligned with the emotion you have chosen. If they aren't, you may want to consider changing them, or at least finding a new emotion to channel that fits in with your existing branding. Make sure your brand’s color scheme is reminiscent of the emotion. For example, if your emotions are blissful and peaceful, blue and green are colors that convey a sense of serenity and earthiness. 5. Inspire your entire company to cultivate the emotion. Once you have a vision of your emotional branding, know that it alone is not enough. As demonstrated by the Starbucks story, a brand’s vision must “be expressed through behavior, through each and every Starbucks employee at each location. Hence, we had to share the vision with everyone inside the organization.” Teach your employees how to provide the best possible experience to all of your customers. Show them how they can nurture emotional ties with your customers so that they truly feel the emotion when they experience your brand. Enrich the working conditions of your employees so that they authentically convey positive emotions in interactions with your customers. To be powerful, a brand must be consistent and authentic. By following this advice, you will be on your way to building a captivating brand. Just like Starbucks can charge sky-high prices for its coffee, you too can increase your prices up to 200% more than competitors by tapping into the power of emotional branding! Connect with your customers emotionally so that they would never consider an alternative in your industry. Create an emotional branding strategy so that you can catapult your brand to prosperity!

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

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Pricing, Dispatch and Events Updates

January 31, 2016 • Unit Price and Quantity on Invoices Do you want your customers to see unit prices and quanitties? Now you have the option to display these on invoices. Non-Job Events Block out space on the calendar for holidays or personal events. Dispatch to Crews  Now you can dispatch jobs to a multiple employees. Select all the team members you need to dispatch to a job. Unit Price and Quantity on Invoices You now have the option to display unit price and quantities for all of your invoices. If you click on the blue envelope or PDF icon on your job screen, you will see a pop-up window containing your invoice preview. On this screen, there is a check-box (located at the top-center of the window) that will give you the option to display the unit price and quantity for that job.  By checking the box, you will be setting unit price and quantity to display on all of your invoices by default for your organization. If you would like not to display unit price and quantity, simply uncheck the box.   Non-Job Events You can now view, create, and edit non-job events on both iPhone and Android devices. To create a non-job event, select the '+' icon at the top right-hand corner of your screen and click the calendar icon. This will open up a new screen where you can give the non-job event a title, time/date, location, and the employees that are assigned to that event. The events will show up on all calendars and job lists across all devices in the organization. Dispatch to Crews  When scheduling, you can now dispatch multiple technicians to the same job from your HouseCall Pro app. To access this feature, simply follow the normal job scheduling work-flow. When you arrive at the 'Dispatch To' tab, you will now be able to select multiple employees for any given job. A blue check-mark will display next to every selected employee for that job.

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

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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