Here are three software solutions that, taking advantage of mobile computing devices, expedite business operations and specific tasks in the field.
Flint Mobile, www.flint.com, which is downloadable free at the App Store or Google Play, is a swipe-free mobile payments app compatible with iPhone and Android devices. The app facilitates collecting of customer payment in the field without a credit card reader.
Suitable for smaller, service-centric contractors, Flint Mobile enables users to accept payment by taking a picture of a customer’s credit card with their mobile devices, with the app translating the photo into a digitized number. No images are stored on the phone and all transactions are encrypted for maximum security. Standard card verification information and a touch screen signature are required to complete transactions. The customer signs with his or her finger to approve the transaction. The contractor can then send a receipt to the customer via the app. Card scanning is free, with payment carrying the transaction fee.
The app also has the ability to customize, send and track (as well as void) e-mail invoices containing the amount, the contractor’s business information, and a “pay now” option that allows customers to pay from any smartphone or computer without having to register or sign in. Again, invoicing is free, with payment carrying a transaction fee. If payment becomes overdue, Flint will send a friendly reminder to the customer.
Contractors can view and track all transaction history by line item online, download it into Excel or text formatted files, or automatically sync to a QuickBooks Online account.
mHelpDesk, www.mhelpdesk.com, apps for iOS and Android has a monthly fee and a 14-day free trial is available. This is a web-based field service solution that handles service requests and work order tracking, scheduling and dispatching, customer billing, customer relationship management and reports. Featuring a user friendly interface, the program makes it easy to create a new estimate and send it to the customer, create a new work order and assign it to a technician, and create a new invoice in the office or in the field and send it to the customer.
The solution integrates with Google Maps, enabling a user to assign the technician located closest to the job. Schedules can be rearranged via drag and drop and techs in the field will receive live updates.
Contractors or their field service personnel can create estimates in the field on mobile devices and, if the optional website form-generating widget is installed onto the contractor’s website, customers can use an Online Request Form to submit work orders and sign off on them using a compatible mobile device with a touch screen for signature capture on the contractor’s mobile device.
Every work order has its own record, with all the information, including billable hours for each employee, on a single screen. Users can create custom fields and records can be pulled up for customers in the field to clarify the job or resolve he said/she said disagreements.
The onscreen menu for each work order features tabs that will show work order details, estimate, invoice, payment, time tracking, and notes and messages. Users can add existing files and photos taken in the field with their mobile devices to the work orders. Every update to a work order is updated live, so everyone is informed in real time.
The solution accommodates digital payment in the field on the contractor’s iPhone, iPad or Android device. Invoice and payment information is synced in real time, allowing management in the office to know what the technicians are doing in the field. Invoice and payment data is exportable into QuickBooks, eliminating need for double data entry for accounting.
mHelpDesk also includes employee time tracking for billable hours and can generate an Hours per Staff report. The solution also offers an optional asset tag feature that, using a barcode scanner and a Dymo LabelWriter 450 Turbo, allows users to track customer assets/equipment (e.g. a heater or air conditioning unit) in a customer’s home or place of business. Should a tech on the job want to know the service history of a tagged asset and any service requests linked to it, he or she need only scan the bar code to pull that information up on a mobile computing device.
The program provides about 30 pre-formatted report types, including customer, financial, work order, time by assignment, and time tracking, plus the ability to generate customized reports based off ticket/work order information. Reports can be downloaded and saved. mHelpDesk features 256 bit encryption (the same as online banking).
Fullsteam HVAC software for iPhone and iPad by IKB Design [GB] Ltd., is a trial version and a full version is downloadable at the App Store under “productivity.” This software enables rapid sizing of steam and condensate pipes. The app, which operates in imperial or metric units using calculation methods common to the USA and the UK and with international pipe data, also calculates steam properties, pipe weights and expansion.
Bill and Patti Feldman write articles and web content for trade magazines and manufacturers of building products. They can be reached at [email protected]