Plumbing Software Programs
Well this is a popular topic this one!
How do you know what's the best App or Program to run your plumbing business on? There are quite a few out there on the market and all of them do similar yet different things.
To answer this question you really need to look long and hard at your business, what systems are in place now and what systems do you want to implement in the future.
Here's a list of questions to ask yourself:
- How do you charge for your services? Do you use the time and materials method or do you use the more modern 'flat rate/quoting" method?
- What % of your work is commercial, industrial and domestic? Each of these areas should be treated differently and hence a program needs to be able to handle them all.
- Do you want to invoice on the spot or do you get your guys to fill in jobcards and then the office does up the invoices?
- Do you want to accept payment for a job on the spot?
- Do you need a calendar to schedule jobs on? And if so, do you want this split up by plumbers - ie a vertical calendar column for each plumber, not just a horizontal 'bar' graph. (Another thing I could never understand - why do programs use bar graphs? - we all know how to use a calendar and visually they look great. Bar graphs take a little more time for our brains to adjust to and there's usually a learning curve with them. Not to mention the fact that so many of these programs don't put the most vital info in the summarised text you see - ie ADDRESS. For maintenance plumbers this is what we remember our customers by - not their names! The most important info you should see on a calendar is the ADDRESS and preferably Suburb first - this is a huge help for scheduling)
- What about rosters - do you have them? Do you want a program where your plumbers can see these rosters?
- Would you like your invoices/sales automatically sent to your accounting package?
- If you use the flat rate/quoting method - would you like to be able to have all of your services/products uploaded within the program? In other words your pricebook is built in to the system.
- If you use time and materials - do you want the ability to create 'groups' of materials for a common task? For eg: replacing a tap washer - create a group of materials that includes tap washer, oring, lube etc instead of having to input each and every thing you use separately? How much time would this save?
- Reports - would you like to be able to see a sales report per plumber per day or month? It amazes me how many programs don't have this one.....
- Marketing/Reminders - do you want to be able to send out emails or sms messages to your customers from the program?
Once you have this list - only then can you pick the best program for your individual needs. Or you might find that you need 2 or 3 programs that integrate to get everything you need.
The best way we found to test each program was to sign up for a trial and put in a couple of real customers, sales and staff. And then follow through the process that you would normally and see what little things you come across that annoy you or not. Many of the programs look the goods on their websites and when you look at the feature lists.... but it's not until you put in your own data and keep following your list of needs that you find where they fall over.
We never ended up finding our perfect program, well we did - but it was custom built and we wanted to only use browser based programs (programs that weren't stored on your computer, but rather in the 'cloud'). In the end we decided on 3 'cloud' based programs and had them integrated.
So in summary, there's really no good blanket program for all of you, but rather one that needs to be based on your wish list above. What works for your competitors may not be the best program for you.
Here's another thought to leave you with..... does it need to be a program specifically designed for the Field Service Industry, or could there be another program in a totally different industry that's actually more suited?
Here are just some of the many programs on the market that we've tried todate:
ServiceM8, Invoice2Go, InvoiceASAP, Fergus, Tradify, JobSync, Timely, Geoop, ServiceCEO, WorkflowMax, WORK[Etc], Freshbooks and more.....
Got any questions or is there a program you'd like us to test for you? Let us know in the comments below...