Plumbing businesses are not exempt from the widespread digitalization transforming all industries. This digital wave has ushered in tech-focused customer expectations and increased competition due to operational advantages gained from using new systems.
As such, plumbers and plumbing business managers must invest in the proper technologies to stay competitive in their markets.
Fortunately, there's a vast market of field service management solutions that perfectly address the needs of different types and sizes of plumbing businesses. This Buyer's Guide will help software buyers trying to gain an understanding of this complex software market.
Here's what we'll cover:
Maybe you're fortunate enough to have a few employees supporting your plumbing business—or perhaps you're going it alone. Either way, plumbing service software will help you get a better handle on your business as you execute on the dozens of daily operational responsibilities.
These field service systems help companies just like yours create work orders, assign appointments and manage employee schedules. These systems support optimized routing to direct drivers the best way to the next job, allowing them to do more work in the day and save on fuel costs. And service software often offers systems for recording, storing and analyzing valuable customer contact information and past work histories.
The most important features of plumbing software help newfound organizations grow. These systems typically support appointments and schedule management, work order creation and collection/storage of valuable customer data.
Beyond that, some plumbing service software also tracks plumbing equipment and parts inventory, both across the operation and even within each vehicle. This way you have an accurate idea where your tools are and if you need to order more equipment/parts to complete scheduled jobs.
Here's a detailed description of these functionality:
|Work order management||Create, store and track all job requests as well as provide monitoring capabilities to get a snapshot of open jobs across the entire business.|
Appointment and scheduling
|Receive calls/emails/messages (from social, chatbot on site, etc.) requesting plumber appointment. Confirm details of appointment and assign to qualified plumber/employee.|
|Routing||Direct drivers on best routes to take to get from a to be. More and more common this is an onboard integration with Google Maps or Waze.|
|Customer management||Helps companies collect, store, view, and analyze valuable customer account details such as contact information, payment options and service history.|
|Invoicing and payments||Enable plumbers to generate invoices via mobile devices and accept payment on site with mobile payment processing.|
|Equipment/parts tracking||Keep accurate count plumbing equipment and parts, track the location of parts and equipment whether in your shop or in company vehicles.|
|Customer portal||Service customers can view available appointment windows, submit service requests, pay invoices and check expected arrival times.|
One particular feature of most plumbing software that you must acquire is GPS tracking. This capability infers having a tracking system that's either embedded into the vehicle or the plumber. These systems provide multiple, very tangible revenue boosting benefits that plumbing services can achieve.
A few of these include:
GPS tracking also enables managers to hold mobile employees/plumbers accountable for safe, efficient, and agreeable vehicle/driving usage.
Before starting your research, it's important that you determine what kind of buyer you are. The majority of plumbing businesses looking for operational software fall into one of these categories:
Solopreneur/Owner: These are plumbers that own or "are" their business. They have straightforward needs that are addressed by a wide range of providers and would benefit greatly from automations and other software support.
Small business buyers: These plumbers work for small operations that are moving beyond Microsoft Outlook, Excel spreadsheets, and paper work order management. They realize the need to adopt software in order to grow/sustain the growth of their business.
Contract buyers: These are businesses that contract out plumbing work. They need all the core features but have additional needs for managing work orders for contract plumbers, maintaining communication with contract plumbers and tracking request customer satisfaction.
Enterprise buyers: These buyers work for large regional or national plumbing organizations. They may have multiple locations/franchises to manage and place a premium on integrations across all business units.
|Newfound transparency||Establishing a formal process for tracking job from initial call through to completion revolutionizes your operation by enabling you to drill down from a high-level view of all open jobs to details of a specific job.|
|More accurate scheduling||Many businesses using manual scheduling process are losing money because of the need for large "windows" of appointment times. Plumbing service software can more accurately schedule appointments, enabling more work to be scheduled and get done within each day.|
|Smarter routing||Integrating dynamic routing via Google Maps or Waze with the job locations for that day enable plumbing services to most effectively set their schedules and get from on job to the next without having to unnecessarily go across town and back.|
|Improved customer experiences||The ability to record valuable customer information gives plumbers in the field a head start on providing excellent customer experience. Employees taking calls from customers about appointments and plumbers in the field can both add notes citing valuable information to improve overall experience.|
|Meet customer expectations||Systems that support capabilities for customers to submit job requests and appointment times online meet ever-evolving customer expectations and generate qualified leads for following up with.|
These are the five key benefits of adopting plumbing services software. But in spite of these benefits, there is a significant potential issue plumbing service businesses might encounter when adopting new software:
Failed implementation and adoption. Businesses must do everything they can to effectively adopt and get employees using any new software. Change management best practices are a great place to start, and don't be afraid to lean on your software vendor for training.
Mobile service apps. Microsoft debuted their tablet PC version of Windows in 2001, and field service organizations (like plumbing businesses) haven't been the same since. Now mobile field service apps are available across all major mobile platforms for plumbing businesses to use in the field.
Mobile payment processes. One huge benefit of mobile payment processing is the ability to accept and process payments immediately upon completion of the job. This puts the money owed for work more quickly into the hands of the business rather than sending an invoice and waiting on the customer to submit payment.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Most all service software vendors for plumbers to consider now all offer cloud-based products, typically through a monthly subscription plan. This means you'll access and log into your system via internet connection or mobile data usage in the field. This is different than on-premise systems that you'd purchase and install totally on your own server.
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