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Housecall Pro blog

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

TOPIC: Technology

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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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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Technology Or Die: How Service Businesses Must Evolve

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

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

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Arrival Windows and Payments Updates

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

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

Partial payments & payment history on Housecall Pro

New Feature Plans

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

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

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Payments Updates

October 11, 2015 • Payment Time Stamp Even if you just started using HouseCall Pro, you can now send marketing campaigns to past customers by making a mark of the last time you received payment from them.  Adding a Historical Job To time stamp past payments, you'll have to add historical jobs into the system. Keep reading to learn how. Payment Time Stamp You can now time stamp all non-credit card payments received, allowing you to completely input your job history. This feature is very helpful if you want email and postcard reminder and thank you campaigns to launch for customers who booked jobs prior to your HouseCall Pro account creation. Once you have entered historical jobs, your email and post card campaign rules will transfer to those accounts retroactively. The next section of the newsletter will show you a step-by-step breakdown of how you would add a historical job to your account. Adding a Historical Job The first step in adding a historical job is to select the '+ New Job' button found in the top right corner of your HouseCall Pro web portal. Next, you will need to schedule when the job took place. You can do this by clicking on the 'Schedule' node on the left side of the main job screen. The calendar screen will pop up allowing you to jump through dates and times. Here, you can select when the job was started. This is optional, but can come in handy if you want to keep track of job duration based on services you offer. Similar to 'Start Job,' 'Finish Job' lets you time stamp when the job was officially closed out. This will give you a better understanding of work-flows. When you select the 'Payment' button, you will be prompted to enter payment type. Please not that you can't change time stamps on credit card payments. For all other payment options (check, cash, etc.), you can close out payment and then change the payment date. Once you have selected your payment method and close out the charge, you can scroll down the main job screen to change the transaction date and time. By clicking on the current date and time in the 'Payment History' section of the job screen, a new window will pop up allowing you to change the transaction details.  The job will now appear on your 'job list' with all updated data and your customers will now be placed in cue for upcoming reminder emails/postcards based on when the job was closed out. Customers will only receive communications that they qualify for in the future, and will not receive notifications for email/postcard rules that have already been met based on the job close date. For instance, if a job that occurred eight months ago is entered and you have a nine month follow-up service reminder, they will receive that reminder when they hit that nine month mark. However, they will not receive the six month reminder email you have set up because they have already passed that benchmark date based on the job close date. 

Matt B., Marketing Coordinator

Adding a historical job in Housecall Pro

Job and Customer Notifications Updates

September 27, 2015 • Estimate and Job Quick Add from Customer Screen Now on the app you can create an estimate or job from the customer details screen. We added this functionality to make using the app even more intuitive and convenient for you. Enhanced Customer Text and Email Capabilities and Customer Notes You can also now communicate with customers just by tapping blue icons on the customer details screen. Email, call, or text them straight from the app. Add or Create Customer Tags, Set Billing Address, and Create Address Notes But wait.. there's more! You can also add tags and notes to your customers right in the app. No computer needed. Customer Notifications Bonus feature: You can now turn off customer notifications for specific customers. Stop sending notifications and marketing campaigns to that one customer... Estimate and Job Quick Add from Customer Screen You can now create estimates and jobs from the customer details screen on your iPhone or Android. To access this feature, simply select a customer from your list and find the blue tape measurer icon to create an estimate or the blue job icon to create a new job for that customer. Remember that you can now convert an estimate to a job through your mobile device!  Once you select the estimate or job icon, you will be directed to a screen where the customer information is already pre-filled out. This will save you time when creating jobs and estimates.  Enhanced Customer Text and Email Capabilities and Customer Notes On the brand new fully-loaded customer screen, you will notice several blue icons on the right-hand side. These features allow you to communicate with your customer in a more efficient way. If you want to text your customer, simply click any of the speech bubble icons and a text screen will appear. If you want to email your customer, just click on the envelope icon to open up an email addressed to that customer. You can now also see the type of phone number assigned to your customers (mobile, home, etc.) and all of the tags associated with that customer.  Additionally, any customer company information stored will appear on the customer info screen. This includes company name, title, and phone number. You will also be able to access and edit customer notes at the bottom of the screen (**remember that customer notes are not visible to your customer**).   Add or Create Customer Tags, Set Billing Address, and Create Address Notes Customer tags are a great way to segment your database so that you can communicate with he right individuals at the right time with the right content. Now you can create and add customer tags on the customer quick-add screen. To add a tag, press the '+ Tags' button and select from your existing tags, or simply write in a new tag and press the back arrow button at the top left corner of the screen. The added tag will now appear as a green bubble under the 'Tags' section.  When you are entering your customer address/addresses, you can now switch the billing address toggle on or off. This is particularly helpful when you have customers with multiple addresses and need to be able to sort out the billing from the service locations. Also, address notes are now available so you can make location-specific reminders, instructions, and observations.  Customer Notifications You now have the ability to enable/disable customer notifications on a case-by-case basis. After setting your default notification rule, you can toggle notification options on/off on a customer-by-customer basis. This gives you ultimate control over how you communicate with your customers during the job process both on your mobile device or on the web portal. 

Ian H., CEO

Estimate and job quick add from customer screen on Housecall Pro