Case study: Plumber Plugs Scheduling with Connect2Field
Queensland plumber Kelvin Slade needed to find a better solution for managing jobs and appointments for his six plumbers.
The 30-year-old business, Slade Bros Plumbing, had been using the calendar in Microsoft Outlook Online which met basic needs but was becoming a bit cumbersome, Slade says.
“To get everyone onto the calendars we used the category function and colour coded it. When we started using it we had six or seven field staff so you can imagine a single day looked quite cluttered in terms of trying to disseminate who was doing what and where,” Slade says.
Slade searched the internet and looked at several cloud-based job scheduling programs, mostly from the US and Europe. Some where too complex or too inflexible, while others wanted to duplicate the accounting system.
As a result profits had risen 15 percent in the 10 months since Connect2Field had been in use. Ease of use and flexibility were major factors in choosing the eventual winner, Connect2Field. “It’s very easy to see who has what, where the gaps are in the day and the equipment they have.”
Price was another incentive. “We are only a small organisation and to fork out $200-$300 a month for a scheduling solution was beyond our reach and Connect2Field is substantially less than that,” Slade says.
Benefits of job scheduling in the cloud
Connect2Field had a multi-fold effect on the plumbing business, Slade says. “It makes sure our staff are where they’re supposed to be in terms of our clients’ expectations and that they have the correct information that they need. They know at the start of the day what their day looks like.”
Connect2Field’s interface makes it easier to work out what each plumber is doing during the day. If a client phones with an emergency appointment, Slade can see which plumber can be rescheduled.
The biggest plus is that now the business is accurately capturing travel time and time on the job.
“On a paper system the guys would sit in their truck and say, ‘I think I arrived at this time’, and they might be 15 minutes out or more and that’s 15 minutes we’re not capturing.
“Or if they spent one and a half hours driving there we need to see whether we can incorporate some of that travel time into the job.”
Giving iPads to all the Slade Bros plumbers let them enter information directly into Connect2Field immediately after the job, Slade says. There was less chance of overcharging or undercharging clients and as a result profits had risen 15 percent in the 10 months since Connect2Field had been in use.
More accurate and on-the-spot time recording through the cloud meant the plumbing business had much faster access to information about clients’ jobs.
One customer in the insurance industry gives Slade Bros access to his reporting system and Slade can take the details of inspection reports from Connect2Field as soon as the plumber finishes the job and enter it into the client’s system almost immediately.
“We are providing a faster, more efficient service to our client which means that they are providing a faster, more efficient service to their client. If they are looking for a rapid response they certainly come to us,” Slade says.
The Connect2Field team had been very quick to respond to questions and resolve issues, and the program itself had been very stable, Slade says.
Because Connect2Field is on the internet, Slade can access it from anywhere there is an internet connection. “If I were interstate I can certainly jump on a computer and have a look.”
The accounting connection
Connect2Field can send invoices directly to some cloud accounting programs but Slade says he is not interested in changing from QuickBooks which is installed on a desktop PC in the office.
The time and effort involved in moving to another accounting program for the sake of integrating it with the job scheduling program was not worth it for a plumber, Slade says.
“In the plumbing field we have a top 200 to 300 (items) that we would commonly use but we would probably draw on a line of 3000 items one of which we might use once every three months. So trying to nail that down in any system you can understand how complex that would be, which would defeat the purpose of trying to keep it simple for the end user,” Slade says.
“If I serviced petrol bowsers where you’ve got a van that’s got a certain line of commonly used stock which is probably all barcoded, I can see how that would benefit a service provider.”