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Housecall Pro blog

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

TOPIC: Technology

Clover vs. Square - Choosing The Best Payment Platform

February 28, 2019 • Working in the field service industry used to present payment issues. Since most home service providers don’t carry a full cash register in their truck (and by that we mean no one does), cash or check used to be the only options. While you might welcome cash, keeping a stash of bills in your truck isn’t the most secure way to run your business. Luckily we’re now in the age of payment processing software . Benefits of a mobile payment platform Thanks to mobile card readers and point of sale (POS) processors that fit in your pocket, you can collect all manner of payments in the field. Whether you work in plumbing, electrical, carpet cleaning, pest control, or another service industry - mobile payment apps are a lifesaver. Some of the most popular features of mobile payment platforms include: Accepting payments on the spot from anywhere, even if you’re offline. Receiving money in your bank account right away with instant transfer. Setting up automatic billing to streamline your cash flow. Putting an end to checking the mailbox for payments. Two of the most used payment platforms are Square and Clover. Which is better for you? Let’s take a look. Payment Platforms 101 First things first: there are some features that most payment platforms consider essential. Before you ask yourself “Is Square better than Clover?”, ask yourself what you need from a POS system. Here are some of the general features of any payment processing software, including Square and Clover. Mobile Readers: Card readers let you swipe client credit cards in the field using an attachment on your iPhone or a mobile terminal. Perhaps the most essential part of a payment platform, the mobile reader securely processes the payment and sends your customer a receipt. Add-On Services: You can customize your POS service by adding on additional services. Square allows you to add on things like appointment booking, payroll, and instant deposit. Clover has features including time clock and tip pooling. Easy-to-Use Hardware: In addition to the efficiency and accuracy of your software, your system should have user-friendly hardware. This includes handheld terminals and phone attachments. Comparing Fees Between Square and Clover Fees are important, there’s no way around it. Lower transaction costs keep your overhead within budget. Square and Clover arrange their fee structure somewhat differently. Here is an overview of what fees look like with each service: Square: Square processing fees include a 2.75% rate for for swiped, tapped, or dipped card payments on a reader or stand. For cards tapped, dipped, or swiped on a Square Terminal, the fees are just 2.6% plus 10 cents per transaction. From a Square register, the fee is 2.5% plus 10 cents per transaction. There is no monthly fee to use terminals or registers. Clover: Clover processing fees include a flat fee and per transaction fees. Your rate will depend on the plan you use, and they may also vary if you use a processor other than Clover. If you get your services from Clover, the fees are as low as 2.3% plus 10 cents per transaction (with a $29/month fee) for a “Register” plan. This is recommended for businesses that do more than $50,000/year of transaction. The “Register Lite” plan costs $14/month plus 2.7% and 10 cents per transaction. An Overview Of Square Square has seven different payment terminal types, and you can use as many or as few of them as you need. Use the Square register inside your office and take the Square terminal (handheld) and Square reader for magstripe with you on the road. Square tracks all customer transactions, and you can sign in from any device to see your dashboard. It’s pretty convenient. Square offers a real-time sales report, which allows you to filter by item or tender type. This makes finding out how many of your jobs are paid for in cash is easy. Square customer service is a bit non-traditional. They don’t offer a public customer service number; once you sign up for their service, you can use your dashboard to receive a customer code that enables you to reach a representative. They also have chat support via the web. What is the Clover Experience? Clover’s pricing plans are somewhat inconsistent due to multiple processors involved with Clover payments. In other words, you may not be dealing with Clover directly. While this gives you some freedom of choice for fees and other features, it could also mean your customer service experience will vary between processing providers. If you want to choose Clover, you likely have some extra research on your hands. Clover has six hardware systems, which allows for a lot of flexibility. This includes their popular Flex handheld terminal and Clover Go for smartphone payment processing. The customer Mini is great for in-store payments. Clover also syncs with hundreds of apps, so you can really customize your POS station.   Choosing a Payment Platform Asking yourself “Should I use Clover or Square?” is a loaded question. If you want easy access to customer service, Clover may be the answer. If you care more about dealing directly with the creator of your hardware and software, Square could meet your needs. Square has more mobile phone POS hardware, which draws in users who want to turn their smartphone into a payment station, while Clover boasts the ability to set up a loyalty program so you can grow your leads. Pros & Cons Of Using Square: Summed up, here are our Pros & Cons of using Square as your payment platform for your small business: .tg {border-collapse:collapse;border-spacing:0;}.tg td{font-family:Open Sans;font-size:14px;padding:10px 5px;border-style:solid;border-width:1px;overflow:hidden;word-break:normal;border-color:black;}.tg th{font-family:Open Sans;font-size:14px;font-weight:normal;padding:10px 5px;border-style:solid;border-width:1px;overflow:hidden;word-break:normal;border-color:black;}.tg .tg-oe15{background-color:#ffffff;border-color:#ffffff;text-align:left;vertical-align:top}.tg .tg-4eds{font-size:24px;background-color:#ffffff;border-color:#ffffff;text-align:center;vertical-align:top}.tg .tg-5crt{font-size:28px;border-color:#ffffff;text-align:center;vertical-align:top} Pros And Cons Of Using Square Pros Cons - Several different payment terminal types - Real-time sales reports - 2.75% transaction rate - Non-traditional support - must receive a customer code before getting in contact        Check out Housecall Pro vs. Square Pros & Cons Of Using Clover: Here is one last look at the benefits and setbacks of using Clover as your processing software: .tg {border-collapse:collapse;border-spacing:0;}.tg td{font-family:Open Sans;font-size:14px;padding:10px 5px;border-style:solid;border-width:1px;overflow:hidden;word-break:normal;border-color:black;}.tg th{font-family:Open Sans;font-size:14px;font-weight:normal;padding:10px 5px;border-style:solid;border-width:1px;overflow:hidden;word-break:normal;border-color:black;}.tg .tg-oe15{background-color:#ffffff;border-color:#ffffff;text-align:left;vertical-align:top}.tg .tg-4eds{font-size:24px;background-color:#ffffff;border-color:#ffffff;text-align:center;vertical-align:top}.tg .tg-5crt{font-size:28px;border-color:#ffffff;text-align:center;vertical-align:top} Pros And Cons Of Using Clover Pros Cons - Freedom of choice with fees and features - Very customizable - Fees as low as 2.3% per-transaction plus .10 - Multiple processors means you might not be dealing with Clover directly Consider Housecall Pro as your payment solution You can also look outside these popular options to other payment platforms. Companies like Housecall Pro are developing payment processing systems designed just for home services businesses. Our features allow you to get paid in minutes with Instapay, keep customer cards on file, and process payments via card reader, built in processor, or ACH. All with some of the lowest fees possible. Bottom line: If you haven’t entered the 21st century with your accounts receivable, it’s about time, and you have lots of options.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Clover vs. Square logos

What Is An Automated Billing System?

February 16, 2019 • Tired of invoicing your customers manually? You’re not the only one. There comes a time in every business owner’s journey where tabulating monthly bills simply becomes a time suck. The answer to your problem may be easier than you think! With an automated billing system (ABS), you’ll become more efficient, eliminate billing errors, and have better payment tracking at your disposal. Let’s take a look at what an automated billing system can do for your business. Automated Billing 101 An automated billing system sends out invoices to your clients on a regular interval so you don’t have to manually populate and send them. In other terms, it streamlines your revenue management. Who really needs ABS billing? Most large businesses (think your credit card company or insurance provider) were early adopters of automatic billing. When you have thousands of customers, automated billing slashes your accounts receivable costs. On the contrary, many small businesses believe they can manage manual billing just fine, and an ABS seems unnecessary. However, there is more to the story. Go paperless in your payment process ... more than 56% of Millennials pay their bills online and many prefer automated channels Even a streamlined invoicing process is not as efficient as automated billing. As people switch to digital payments  across the board (the use of paper checks fell 50% between 2000 and 2012) paper bills are becoming a thing of the past. In fact, more than 56% of Millennials pay their bills online and many prefer automated channels. If you can generate a paperless bill, why not automate the process? PRO Tip: Have a customer who is late on payment? Give use the info about the past bill, the level of urgency you wish to convey and we'll send them a letter & track the progress of the dispute...for free. Send a collection letter today. Key Benefits of Using an ABS Automated billing services could be a lifesaving addition to your growing business. Invoicing five or six clients every month is manageable, but at some point billing will likely get away from you. At the very least, you’re probably working late nights at the end of the month when you don’t have to. Here are some of the ways an ABS can keep your accounts receivable process from making you cross-eyed.    More efficient process. An automated process means no more plotting out individual invoices or organizing a client’s monthly charges on the 30th. Tracking your client’s charges online and sending an automated bill saves more hours than you’ll be able to count. Faster payments. When a client receives their invoice like clockwork, payment becomes a habit. When you send an email with a click-to-pay option, you may soon find that you’re spending fewer resources contacting customers to remind them about their invoice. If cash flow is an issue, faster payments could be the solution. Automated follow-up. Many ABS software options also automate invoice follow-up. That means even when a customer does fall behind on payment, they will receive an automatic reminder without so you don’t have to worry. Accurate payment tracking. Which customer accounts are up-to-date? With an ABS you can easily access payment records and see the history of a client’s account. Searching for an invoice in your files or on a computer requires time and effort you could be putting elsewhere. Fewer payment errors. Tracking due invoices automatically and receiving online payments can also reduce errors. You’re only human. You can make an accounting error on a manual invoice that an ABS would have caught and corrected. Is an Automatic Billing Service Right for Your Business? When you start to rethink your accounts receivable, you’ll have some questions. How do I choose an automated billing system? How much money will I really save? To decide if automated billing is really right for your business, consider the following. Calculate the current hours spent on billing. How much time do you and/or your staff currently spend on invoicing? Calculate the salary expenses currently associated with this work at your company. For instance, if your accountant earning $30/hour spends 25 hours monthly on invoicing, your annual cost is $9,000. Consider how many hours you’ll save. Now, let’s look at the bright side. Consider how many hours your accountant can save when she has ABS on her side. Let’s say she cuts her time invoicing down to 10 hours per month. That’s an annual savings of $5,400 in raw figures. Factor in the cost of using an ABS. Of course, your automated billing system will have its own expenses. Some automated billing services start at just $100/month. Let’s say you spend $200/month. With $5,400 in salary savings and $2,400 in ABS costs, you could still save $3,000 per year by switching to automated billing. Think about relocating resources. How will you use the freed-up time? This is how you maximize savings. If your accountant doesn’t make use of her newly available time, you could end up losing money rather than saving it. Find ways for your in-house staff to take over duties you previously outsourced or create ideas for new revenue streams.   Do your research Finding an invoicing system that works for you in half the battle, and making sure you implement it will bring you home. Thanks to the ease of use for most automated billing systems, you can begin to free up time and money almost immediately. Your customers may even thank you. That’s a win-win.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Gold cash register for automated billing system

The 13 Best HVAC Apps for Every HVAC Technician

February 13, 2019 • Thanks to smartphones, we have access to a wealth of information and tools right in the palm of our hand. Apps have completely revolutionized many industries, from ridesharing to academics to banking. The HVAC industry is no different. As an HVAC technician, it’s important to have your physical tools with you to diagnose and resolve issues. However, virtual tools are just as crucial and can help you enhance your business by allowing you to solve problems more efficiently in the field. Below you’ll find the 13 best HVAC apps that can help you learn HVAC concepts, troubleshoot problems you may face in the field, and calculate loads so you can make accurate choices about furnace or A/C unit size. These apps can help both amateurs and seasoned pros, so read on for an in-depth look at the HVAC apps that’ll help put your new HVAC business on the map. Our HVAC App Categories: HVAC Learning Apps HVAC Troubleshooting Apps HVAC Load Calculation Apps HVAC Business Apps HVAC Learning Apps If you’re new to the HVAC field, it’s important to be committed to becoming an expert and that means you need to absorb all you can about heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration. HVAC software allows you to brush up on essential knowledge so you’re better able to handle and resolve issues out in the field. As an aspiring HVAC technician, you’ll need to have a wide breadth of knowledge and be able to answer questions such as: What is a sling psychrometer and what does it measure? What’s the difference between an air conditioner and a heat pump? What is one element you don’t have to consider when you’re completing an outdoor unit install? If you’re not sure what the answers are to those questions, have no fear. The apps below will cover those questions and many more. Even if you’re a professional who has been working for years, there’s always new technology and equipment to learn in the industry. Below are some of our favorite HVAC apps to keep you updated and knowledgeable. HVAC Flashcards by BH Inc – iOS — Cost: $4.99 Best for: “ Studying HVAC technology & theory” This app is a great tool for studying for the HVAC exam and may even make the process a little more fun. It’ll help you gain better understanding of HVAC technology , terms, and theory. HVAC Flashcards covers major areas of the HVAC exam including: Air distribution and balance Gas heat Heat pumps Refrigeration concepts Controls Electric heat Features: Access to over 1000 pre-made flashcards with essential terms, equipment, and concepts Statistics for cards and games you play plus a study-tracker Schedule for reviewing flashcards to help keep you accountable Customization of flashcard color and text color for a user-friendly interface Text-to-speech technology Offline download available for offline studying so you don’t need an internet connection to learn How to use: Choose between four modes: Study, Listening, Quiz, and Matching Study statistics to monitor how well you’re doing among different categories Simply follow the directions on the screen to flip between flashcards The Dictionary: Complete HVAC Dictionary Free — Android — Cost: Free Best for: “ Studying HVAC terms” This app serves as a quick reference guide for HVAC terms and concepts. Enjoy learning about more than three thousand terms with expert descriptions covering heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. This is great for both professionals and those just beginning their HVAC careers. Curious what parameters make a leak Class IV or Class V? Need to know the difference between an axial fan and a centrifugal fan? Done. With this HVAC app, you’ll have all of the definitions you could want in one convenient place. How to use: Type in your HVAC term right into the search bar Add bookmark to save the term for easy reference later HVAC Practice Test — iOS — Cost: Free Best for: “ Various study modes” Get ready to crush your HVAC exam. This HVAC app boasts thousands of up-to-date questions, tracks your progress for every single question, and optimizes your ability to memorize concepts and terms. You can even challenge your friends to see who has the most HVAC know-how. Instead of one mode where your brain gets bored, your mind is stimulated by multiple learning modes. How to use: Choose between different featured modes: Study, Slideshow, Matching, Memorize, and Quiz Based on your progress, the app will quiz you daily on categories that need more attention Flip between flashcards, test your knowledge with a timed, multiple-choice test, or review your overall knowledge progress Challenge friends to HVAC knowledge quizzes HVAC School – Android — Cost: Free Best for: “ Curated information from HVAC professionals” If you’re an Android user, this is one of the best HVAC learnings apps you can get. It will help current HVAC technicians keep their knowledge base current and assist those aspiring techs to learn all they can. Features: Tune in and listen to the HVAC School podcast, an informational podcast about changes in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems you should know about. Read technical articles by professionals in the industry to bolster your understanding of concepts, equipment, and theory in the industry. Use the HVAC calculators integrated within the app to gain a broader comprehension of common HVAC mathematics concepts. How to use: Use the dashboard to search through different categories: Tech Tips, Podcast, Tools, and Search Look up HVAC terms, listen to an industry podcast for insider knowledge, read articles on HVAC theory, and utilize HVAC calculators HVAC Troubleshooting Apps As an HVAC technician, you have an incredibly important job: fix sometimes critical issues that affect customers’ enjoyment and comfort of their homes. Here are some common problems you might face on a typical service call, depending on your particular location: Common problems faced on an HVAC service call Heat pump won’t shut off The actual temperature doesn’t reflect the thermostat High electric bills Heat pump is blowing cold air Steam coming from outdoor unit Cold and hot spots within the home Overly noisy indoor unit Strange odors around unit Hot water runs out too quickly Those are just a few common HVAC issues but you never know what your day in the field will hold so it pays to be prepared for anything. Below are some of the best HVAC troubleshooting apps you can confidently diagnose and fix a problem. iManifold – iOS and Android — Cost: Free Best for: “ Calculating HVAC/R system performance” The iManifold App is a convenient troubleshooting tool that calculates HVAC/R system processes as well as performance. Using user input and dynamic, live system data, you’ll be able to easily hone in on any issues. With over 40 selectable refrigerant options and equipment options, the iManifold app can be customized for your specific HVAC/R needs. For advanced options, you can upgrade to iManifold Report Pro, Charge & Airflow Report, and Mechanical Inspection to take your HVAC business to the next level. How to use: Calculate HVAC/R system performance by inputting variables directly into the blank fields Look up equipment information, system profiles, and troubleshooting guides HyTools – iOS and Android — Cost: Free Best for: “ Hydronic calculations” HyTools by IMI Hydronic Engineering delivers a handy, intuitive hydronic calculator app for HVAC pros. This isn’t just any app, it was built by industry leaders in hydronic distribution systems and temperature control, IMI Hydronic Engineering International SA. More than 100,000 projects all over the world and years of experience helped to build this app so you know you’re getting the best, most accurate information. Need to make a unit conversion? Confused about pipe sizing? Find all the answers you need with this app designed with the HVAC professional in mind. Features: Pipe sizing Unit conversion Hydronic calculator (input two values and get the answer) Power – flow – temperature difference Flow – valve setting – pressure drop Flow – Kv/Cv – pressure drop Dirt and air separator pressure drop calculation Valve sizing and presetting Radiator power estimation (panel as well as column) Run-time selection of localization and run-time selection of language How to use: Input values into the empty fields to find common HVAC calculations Use answers to guide any necessary corrective actions or to determine replacement needs Refrigerant Slider – iOS and Android — Cost: Free Best for: “ Pressure-to-temperature refrigerant conversions” This app comes from the engineering experts at Danfoss who specialize in refrigeration, air conditioning, heating, motor control, and machinery. If you’re looking for an app that acts as a quick, efficient pressure-to-temperature refrigerant converter, this is your app. The Refrigerant Slider covers 69 different types of refrigerants including natural ones. You’ll be able to dive into a world of refrigerant knowledge thanks to this app’s in-depth description of different refrigerant types. Features: View Global Warming Potential (GWP) and Ozone Depleting Potential (ODP) of refrigerant materials Ability to switch between AR4 and AR5 values according to European F-Gas regulations App built according to NIST Refrigerant Properties and uses Antoine equations for conversion See both dew and bubble point for refrigerants Switch between Metric and Imperial units How to use: Using the left side of the screen, a slider will help you determine the pressure or temperature reference Using the right side of the screen, you’ll see the pressure and temperature in exact measurements Type in a specific pressure or temperature reading and the slider will give you instantaneous answer corresponding to your input Test and Balance/Commissioning Calculator – iOS and Android — Cost: $9.99 Best for: “ Pressure-to-temperature refrigerant conversions” If you’re an HVAC technician out in the field, you will want to be prepared with the right knowledge. And with HVAC issues, that means you must have various formulas and mathematic equations close at hand at all times. The Test and Balancing/Commissioning Calculator has common calculations you may need when you’re out trying to fix different HVAC issues. How to use: Find Cooling MBH Calculation: By using inputs of altitude, CFM, entering and leaving dry bulb and wet bulb temperatures, this calculator determines the work performed by the cooling coil in total, sensible, latent MBH, tons of cooling and condensate gallons per hour. Find Water MBH: By using the known GPM and entering and leaving water temperature, the calculator will tell you how much heat is transferred into water. Find Sheave Change: Helps you determine the necessary sheaves and belts to either add or subtract to the fan RPM to get to the correct CFM. It also determines the required BHP for change, the length of the belt, and delivers both motor pitch and fan pitch diameter. Find Heating MBH Calculation: Utilizing the known altitude, CFM, and entering and leaving dry bulb, the calculator will deliver the sensible heating load data. Find Humidification: Using the known altitude, CFM, and entering and leaving dry bulb and wet bulb temperatures, the calculator will tell you the work being reintroduced into the air stream. For example, “steam pounds per hour,” “total MBH,” and “gallons per hour”. Find Traverse Points: By inputting the duct size and whether or not there is an internal liner, this calculator will give you location points to perform traverse in ducts, both rounded and rectangular. Find Psychrometric Properties: Delivers all psychrometric property data from any dry bulb and wet bulb temperature of air at any given altitude. Find GPM: Determine the GPM based on one of the combinations below: Known Cv & ΔP (PSI) Known design ΔP of fixed Orifice, Design GPM, Actual ΔP (PSI) Known design ΔP of fixed Orifice, Design GPM, Actual ΔP (Ft) This is one of the pricier apps on the list, however, it’s also one of the most comprehensive pieces of HVAC software. HVAC Load Calculation Apps The load calculation is how you determine the right size furnace and/or air conditioning unit for a client’s home that properly balances heating and cooling needs. When the HVAC industry was in its infancy, technicians would make an educated guess to ascertain the heating gains and losses for a given property. Usually this number was derived from the actual size in square feet of the home and it wasn’t necessarily an accurate number. Because HVAC companies needed to make sure the unit would be big enough for the house, they usually erred on the side of caution and installed a bigger-than-needed unit. A too-small unit in a house that doesn’t properly balance cooling and heating losses means that the unit won’t effectively cool or heat the house. A unit that’s too large for a space or property, however, isn’t great either. A too-large unit results in hot and cold spots throughout the house. The HVAC industry changed radically when the Air Conditioning Contractors of America was formed. The organization came up with standardized ways to calculate a home’s heating and cooling losses involving complex mathematical equations. Unfortunately, doing those calculations by hand meant a lot of time and effort was expended. In the modern HVAC world, apps and software do the mathematical heavy lifting. Here are some of the best HVAC load calculation apps to make sure your service responds to your clients needs. HVAC Load Plus — iOS — Cost: $24.99 Best for: “ Sizing cooling and heating units” HVAC Load Plus is the perfect companion when you’re out in the field. It’ll allow you to size cooling and heating units, show those results to the client, and email the data to your home office to analyze the information further for more insight. Plus, you’ll save time by inputting data in the field and returning to your office for a more thorough analysis. Features: Weather for more than 1000 cities in database Data for hundreds of construction types for ceilings, windows, doors, floors, roofs, and more Additional input variations such as number of people, number of bedrooms, ventilation airflow, and more Ability to download a full HTML report of all data including a spreadsheet attachment Easily transition from Imperial to Metric units Equipment location services Bonus module: HVAC Quick Load – will allow you to perform rule-of-thumb heating and cooling load calcs based building type, square footage, and the number of people How to use: Create and store an unlimited number of projects – plus, you can copy existing projects to new projects for simple recycling of data Use calculator and report feature to see a full breakdown of the cooling and heating load report which includes further breakdown by opaque load, window load, skylight load, ventilation load, infiltration load, and internal load contributions Duct Calc Elite – iOS and Android — Cost: $6.99 Best for: “ Calculating ductwork sizing” Duct Calc Elite helps you make the most of a customer’s HVAC system. Duct sizes that are too small means that the entire system has to work more to keep the property heated and cooled to comfortable temperatures. Conversely, if the duct size is too big, the velocity is compromised so you might not be able to feel it at all through the vents. To calculate ductwork sizing, you’ll need to know the following: Square footage of the home Square footage of each individual room Cubic feet per minute Duct’s sizing friction loss rate Or, you can simply rely on the Duct Calc Elite which does all the work for you. This useful HVAC app boasts an intuitive, user-friendly interface so you can enter values for each calculation with total confidence. Features: Duct Size by Airflow mode Duct Size by Dimension mode Pressure Drop mode How to use: Use the included calculator to find the following: Duct dimensional units: inches, centimeters, or millimeters Airflow units: cubic feet per minute, cubic feet per second, cubic meters per second, or liters per second Velocity units: Feet per second, feet per minute, or meters per second Pressure loss unit: inches of water per 100 feet or Pascals per meter Duct material type: aluminum, concrete, fibrous glass duct liner, flexible duct-metallic, galvanized steel, PVC plastic pipe, smooth liner, spiral steel, or uncoated carbon steel Air temperature: Fahrenheit, Celsius, or Kelvin Elevation: feet or meters HVAC Check and Charge – iOS and Android — Cost: Free Best for: “ Refrigerant charge calculations” HVAC Check and Charge from Emerson Climate Technologies delivers on-site refrigerant charge calculations for air conditioning applications. Features: For use with R-22, R-410A, R-32, R-407C and R-134a Airflow calculator Superheat calculator (non TXV) Subcooling calculator (TXV) How to use: Technician chooses subcooling, superheat, or airflow setting Enter the specific system temperature with latent and sensible environmental loads Resulting calculation is the proper system charge Final value tells you whether or not the charge amount should be altered HVAC Duct Sizer – iOS and Android — Cost: $5.99 Best for: “ Ductwork sizing” This is another highly-rated duct-sizing app for both Android and iOS users. Essentially, it’s a virtual version of a traditional duct sizing measurement tool. How to use: Find Size by Airflow: Choose the total airflow in CFM (or L/S), the aspect ratio and either velocity of air or the friction loss per 100 feet (or 30 meters). The resulting calculation delivers both exact and rounded estimations of height, width, and diameter dimensions, the equivalent diameter (for rectangular and oval ducts) and the calculated velocity and friction loss. Find Size by Dimensions: You can examine an existing duct system by punching in the present duct dimensions and either the airflow or velocity numbers to arrive at the calculated duct friction loss. Add in custom parameters: Duct shape: rectangular, oval, round Duct material type Duct roughness Air temperature Air pressure HVAC Business Apps If you own your own HVAC business, you know how important it is to stay organized. With clients, multiple technicians, ongoing projects, emergency calls – HVAC businesses are known for being dynamic, busy organizations. So, it’s important to ensure that you have all your bases covered with regard to scheduling, clients, and project progress. For example, you can make it easier for potential customers to go about hiring an HVAC technician to fix a heating, cooling, or refrigeration issue by allowing online booking through social media and review sites. You may also want to consider a business app to help you digitize all the important information you’re dealing with day to day like client information, messages, projects, schedules, employee messages, and more. For all of your HVAC business needs , HouseCall Pro is the app that’ll help streamline your workflow and build your company. Housecall Pro – iOS and Android — Cost: Free Trial Best for: “ Managing your HVAC business” If you’d like an app that does it all, look no further than the Housecall Pro app. This app will serve as your business hub where all of your business-critical matters are in one convenient location. Message clients when you’re on your way, dispatch technicians based on proximity to clients, allow customers to pay with their credit cards for instant payment, send out automated emails without marketing services – there’s truly no other app like it. Don’t waste your time half-heartedly trying to market, let us handle that for you while you focus on higher-value tasks that are important to your business. How to use: Use the intuitive dashboard to navigate to each category and section to carry out your essential HVAC business tasks: Online Booking Schedule and dispatch Custom invoicing and estimating Payment Instapay Live map Service agreements QuickBooks Online Automated marketing Messages to clients Pay by credit card, cash, checks Send jobs to employee calendars Set recurring jobs Send notes and photos while on a job Send invoices via text Sync data to secure cloud Set employee permissions Export customer data and job information at any time Looking for a payment platform for your HVAC company? Check out our comparison of Clover vs. Square . HVAC Apps for every project HVAC apps aren’t the only way to get a job done right the first time, but they’re a helpful tool to make the most of your time, knowledge, and skillset. As an HVAC technician, you’re tasked with the important job of making sure people’s homes are comfortable. Using apps like Housecall Pro helps make your business more efficient and responsive. Tackle each HVAC job with the confidence that comes from knowing you have all the information you need right in your pocket.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Man holding phone with hvac app

What Is Field Service Management Software?

February 5, 2019 • If you work in a home-services industry — and especially if you manage a team of professionals who make house calls — there’s a good chance you’ve heard about field service management software. But exactly what does this term refer to, and is field service management software applicable in your specific line of work? To help you gain a clearer understanding of what field service management software is and how your business might use it, here’s an overview of everything you need to know about this revolutionary way to streamline your workflow. What Is Field Service Management Software? For businesses that make house calls, field service management, often abbreviated as FSM, simply refers to the allocation of off-site resources required to serve customers. FSM comes in many different forms and can include everything from scheduling appointments to dispatching workers to determining the locations of your vehicles. Over the years, FSM has evolved from a rudimentary pencil-and-paper process into a sophisticated set of computer-based tools that leverage the latest technology. These computer programs are collectively known as field service management software . Computer-based FSM has existed for decades in the form of industry-specific programs, such as HVAC software designed especially for specialists in that field. Today, however, the leading FSM platforms are feature-rich, web-based tools that can be customized to suit any type of home-service business. And because these tools live in the cloud and are accessible from any internet-connected device, they make running a home-service business easier than ever before. What Type of Businesses Use FSM Software? A growing number of home-service businesses use FSM software, including workers in traditional trades such as electricians and carpet cleaners, as well as providers of more-emergent services like solar panel installation and home automation. Here’s a quick — but far from complete — list of professions that stand to benefit from FSM software: .tg {border-collapse:collapse;border-spacing:0;} .tg td{font-family:Open Sans;font-size:14px;padding:10px 5px;border-style:solid;border-width:1px;overflow:hidden;word-break:normal;border-color:black;} .tg th{font-family:Open Sans;font-size:14px;font-weight:normal;padding:10px 5px;border-style:solid;border-width:1px;overflow:hidden;word-break:normal;border-color:black;} .tg .tg-oe15{background-color:#ffffff;border-color:#ffffff;text-align:left;vertical-align:top} Housekeepers HVAC Specialists Electricians Plumbers Window Cleaners Pet Sitters Landscapers Automotive Detailers Pressure Washers Garage Door Installers How Does Field Service Management Software Work? Different FSM solutions work in different ways, but today’s most popular tools largely revolve around online dashboards and mobile apps. The online dashboards provide business administrators with a bird’s-eye view of a company’s entire operation at any given time. They also allow easy access to nearly every facet of the business within just a couple of clicks. Mobile apps, on the other hand, are generally optimized for workers in the field and provide them all of the information they need about upcoming appointments. These mobile apps also facilitate communication with customers and team members back at the office. The beauty of today’s FSM tools is that they allow everyone in an organization to instantly and effortlessly access the information they need from wherever they happen to be. But the best field service management software offers far more benefits Top 10 Benefits of Field Service Management Software If you’re curious about how field service management software can streamline your operations, here’s a rundown of 10 of the many benefits a modern FSM solution can bring to your home-service business. Simpler Management: Manage your workforce in the field more effectively — and more effortlessly — than ever before. An Up-to-Date Dashboard: Access a bird’s-eye view of your entire business anytime and from anywhere. Speedier Payments: Issue invoices at the touch of a button or instantly collect payment for completed projects. Simplified Scheduling: Give customers the freedom to schedule appointments online based on your team’s current availability. Enhanced Appearance: A sleek customer interface lets you appear every bit as professional as the biggest names in your industry. Empowered Employees: Allow your workers to deliver better service by giving them instant access to customer information. Improved Customer Communications: Increase customers’ peace of mind by providing them with real-time updates about appointments and ETAs. Automated Operations: Remove repetitive tasks from your to-do list by automating time-consuming processes. Reduced Confusion: One central location to view all day-to-day operations ensures every member of your team is always on the same page. Integrated Information: Import customers, calendars, and accounting information by integrating with other tools you’re already using. Try Housecall Pro Today! The advent of field service management software has revolutionized the way businesses that make house calls operate. But not all FSM software was created equal, and not all platforms will be right for your business. If you’re searching for field service management software to bring your company into the 21st century, Housecall Pro could be exactly what you’re looking for. We offer three tiers of tools and services built specifically with businesses like yours in mind. Our comprehensive packages make it easy — and affordable — for companies in a growing number of industries to operate more efficiently and profitably, than ever before. If you’re ready to experience the difference Housecall Pro can make for your home-service business, book your free demo today.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Man with field service software pushing boxes

Feature Focus: Segments

January 28, 2019 • This weeks Feature Focus is about setting up segments for return jobs or jobs that require you to take a deductible, deposit, or bill an insurance company. We're going to go over the three keys to setting up your segments correctly. 1) Name your segment What’s the reason you’re segmenting the job? Is it because you need to take a deposit? Is it part two of the first job, or an extra repair? One of the reasons it’s important to name your segments is so you can look back and know what happened that day at a glance. Keep in mind this segment name will also appear on your customer’s invoice, so make sure it's professional.  2) Double check your lines items You want to go through and make sure you have all the correct information on your invoice. When creating your line items, you have a couple of options. You can copy them from the previous day or add new ones, if the work is going to be different. 3) Make sure you schedule it A lot of our Pros don’t realize that when you add a segment, the schedule doesn’t copy over. So just make sure you’re going in and scheduling the job for the correct date and time. So remember - when you’re using segments - name it, update your line items, and add it to your schedule. Now that you have your checklist, go through a segment you’ve already created and make sure these three steps are completed so that you’re ready the next time you add one. To learn more about segments check out this help article.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

FeatureFocus Segments

Feature Focus: The 4 P's to Succeeding with Online Booking

January 7, 2019 • This weeks feature focus is about setting up and optimizing your online booking with the Four P's. The Four P's are: Pricing, Pictures, Personability, and Promotion. 1. Transparent Pricing Don't be afraid to show your prices. Today’s consumers like to shop around, and don’t like to guess. Listing your prices gives you the upper hand and shows transparency. 2. Use Pictures When it comes to pictures I cannot stress this enough, do not use stock photos. There’s nothing more in-genuine, than a model in an unworn polo and a fake tool belt. 3. Be Personal You also have to make sure your online booking pictures are personable. Get your phone out on the job and start snapping. Capture working, lifting, smiling, and just being yourself. 4. Good Promotion Finally you need to promote your online booking. There are a lot of great ways to do this, like running Facebook and Google ads, notifying customers through your voicemail, or setting up an auto-text. In Housecall Pro, you can send email and postcard campaigns with directions on how to book online.You can also advertise your online booking on your business cards and truck wrap. So remember:  Pricing, Pictures, Personability, and Promotion. By optimizing your online booking, you’ll start to see those numbers increase, while building trust with the homeowners. And that’s the key. I challenge you to implement these 4 Ps into your online booking.

Kindra K., Marketing Coordinator

Feature Focus Online booking

The ROI of Quality Field Service Software

September 18, 2018 • If you’ve been in the field service industry for a while, you know how important it is to use quality management software. A good tool allows you to coordinate many components of field operations from a single platform. For instance, the  five most requested features of a field service management (FSM) solution include scheduling, work order management, job in progress tracking, job management, and service history tracking. Any decent field service tool at least manages those five things and does it will. With a well-designed platform, your business efficiency and customer service improves — and so does your revenue. This is what Gartner discovered when they  surveyed 35 companies in different field service industries that had implemented a field service management (FSM) solution. On average, the software paid for itself in nine months. The highest reported improvements were a 60% increase in technician efficiency and customer satisfaction. And these results were just the averages across different solutions. As with any investment, you’ll see a better return when you choose the right tool for your company. So how do you know what the right field service tool is? When you’re comparing different solutions, one place to start is looking at industry trends. This awareness will help you choose a solution that will offer the most value over a long period of time. In this post we look at six industry-leading trends and important features to look for in a FSM solution. Three Important Trends in Field Service Technology 1. Software-as-a-Service offers the Most Versatile Solutions Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions are hosted online (or in the cloud) by the vendor as opposed to software you need to install on your own networks and computers. SaaS products are subscription-based and usually come with customer support built into the monthly or annual fee. When you’re managing a field service operation, one of the most important factors of picking a tool is whether you can actually use in the field. This is the biggest advantage of SaaS solutions over those you can only operate from your office. As you’ll see when we look at the benefits of mobile apps, as well as features like automated invoicing, your ROI dramatically increases when technicians have easy access to your management tool. This is just one of the reasons why more field service companies are moving to SaaS platforms. Blumberg Advisory reported that the  cloud-based FSM market was valued at $1.2 billion in 2017, and they anticipate that number to double by 2022. Benefits: Saas solutions allow you to use the technology from any device (including in the field). They require less time and resources to set up and manage. It’s easier to scale with a SaaS solution as your company grows. SaaS software more easily integrates with other tools, such as CRMs and accounting software. 2. Mobile-Friendly Solutions Provide New Value for Technicians There are many reasons why  over half of field-service companies believe that investing in mobile technology is critical to their performance. Mobile technology provides workers in the field access to valuable troubleshooting resources, as well as offering many ways to improve customer service. Nasrin Azari, CEO of Mobile Reach, also explains how  mobile apps can keep field technicians safe: “When it comes to the mobile applications technicians use every day, simplified screens, background automation, and simplified error handling reduce the likelihood of an accident.” Benefits: Being able to collect data in the field increases job accuracy They can improve time management in the field and keep customers informed of technician’s arrival times They give technician’s access to a customer's history and troubleshooting resources, as well as access to other team members They improve customer service by providing immediate estimates and invoicing 3. Integrations with Other Software Field service business use a number of tools to manage their companies, including accounting software, inventory management solutions, customer relationship management tools, as well as your social media platforms. When a field service tool integrates with these other tools, it saves you the hassle of entering information twice. For instance, we’ve found that by allowing our customers to sync their invoices and payments information from HouseCall Pro to Quickbooks, we’re saving our customers an average of fifteen hours a week on redundant paperwork. Benefits: Less employee time spent on paperwork More information available to all systems can create better reports and overall improved functionality. Four Features to Look for In Field Service Solutions Hopefully you see the value of mobile-ready SaaS solutions, but even then, there are dozens of tools on the market to choose from. When you’re comparing FSM platforms, it’s important to know what popular features might be giving other companies a competitive advantage, as well as what features your customers are coming to expect. Here are four popular features to look for in a field service platform. 1. Live Chat Improves Customer Satisfaction Rates Fewer customers want to call for customer service. One study found that  42% of customers prefer live chat over the phone. Not only do they prefer chat over phone, but they’re also most likely to be satisfied with the experience. According to a report from Zendesk,  92% of customers gave the experience a positive rating compared to just 88% who used voice service and 85% using email. Satisfied customers are more likely to stay customers, which is why live chat functionality can improve your customer retention rate. Another benefit: more leads. Thornton and Grooms, a heating, cooling, and plumbing company in Michigan, receives about  twelve leads per day via live chat. According to their marketing director, the majority of those leads become customers. ROI: Improved customer retention, more customer leads. 2. GPS Tracking Improves Technician Punctuality Another feature that improves customer retention is GPS tracking. According to a  survey by Software Advice, nearly 70% of customers polled wouldn’t rehire a company whose technician was up to an hour late. A quarter of them had a cut-off time of 16-30 minutes. GPS tracking can help keep workers on time by increasing accountability, as well as the ability to make scheduling and route changes in real time. An overwhelming  95% of field service companies that implemented GPS tracking saw an improvement in their technician’s punctuality. They also found decreased fuel costs, as well as an increase in work orders completed per day. ROI: Improved customer retention, increased number of finished work orders. 3. Automated Invoicing Gets You Paid Faster Take information captured by your technicians in the field, and immediately send follow-up info or requests for payments to the customer via email. Automating this process reduces the time and cost of invoicing. It also improves accuracy, since paper invoicing requires more steps where something can go wrong. Automated invoicing reduces costs, such as employee hours. One study found that moving from paper invoices to online invoices  reduced the cost of each transaction from $20 down to $4. They also help you get paid faster. Aberdeen Group found that the  average service-to-payment cycle is 34 days. Having lots of open invoices can create a cashflow bottleneck.  Sending invoices via email, as opposed to paper invoices via mail, reduces this payment cycle. Field service tools that allow technicians to invoice in the field significantly shortens that payment cycle even more, especially if they can take payments directly from the customer. Your customers are getting used to taking payments via mobile devices.  Juniper Research predicts that mobile payments will make up almost a quarter of all point-of-sale transactions by 2023, estimating 87 billion transactions annually. ROI: Faster payments with less associated costs, improved accuracy of invoices, improved customer satisfaction. Online Booking Just like live chat,  70% of consumers want to book services online rather than over a phone. Whether they’re on your website, on your Facebook page, or browsing your Yelp reviews, ideally you want customers to be able to see your availability and book your services. Using online booking can dramatically increase the number of service requests. By adding convenience to your customers, it also aids in customer retention and satisfaction. Online booking also saves employee time by automating the workflow. As soon as a customer creates a service request, technicians can be automatically assigned the job and have access to the customer’s history. ROI: Improved customer retention and satisfaction, reduced employee time spent on the phone and scheduling work orders. Some Benefits are Harder to Track Some of the benefits of a good FSM tool are easier to track than others. Once you’ve implemented a solution, you can compare the amount of work orders completed, the average amount of time per job, compare monthly revenue, and use surveys to gauge its impact on your customers. Other benefits may be harder to track, but just as important. For instance, a good system that improves workflow can reduce the stress of your employees and make their jobs easier boosting company morale. Well-designed technology can be easier to learn and reduce the time it takes to train new employees. And finally, having better work reports and statistics can give you a better sense of how your company is doing and what you can improve. Overall,  the benefits (and ROI) of having the right field service solution — one that’s cloud-based and mobile-ready add up when you start to consider improvements to workflow, technician’s accuracy, customer satisfaction and retention, and employee satisfaction. If you’re looking for a field service solution that offers the features live chat, GPS-tracking, as well as scheduling and dispatch, estimates and invoicing, online booking, and many other services you need to run your field service business, try out HouseCall Pro.

EJ Brown

The-ROI-of-Quality Field Service Management