• Routezilla Virtual Scheduling Assistant (www.routezilla.com, 800-730-6773) is a web-based on-demand automated scheduling solution for service companies active in social media who would like to elicit new business from online exposure while also managing several tasks of daily business online. It is designed to enable customers to schedule their own appointments while also optimizing service routes for each crew taking bookings. No downloading is required. The program functions in real time, with 24/7 access by all users.
Using Google mapping technology, Routezilla can calculate availability for all crews for that day, book appointments, send automated email to customers about the booking and send a follow-up email reminder. Service crews can log on from anywhere to find out where they need to be at the start of the business day.
A modified view of the monthly calendar lets customers see when a service person is available in their area that day or in the future. The software is instructed to only accept bookings within the proscribed service area for each crew the program is scheduling for. The areas can be expanded or shrunk any time. Bookings are put into the first available open time slots that enable efficient travel of the tech(s) between locations of the service calls. If only one crew is working on a particular day, Routezilla can schedule around the first booking of the day and create a radius around that location. If no more slots are available, the customer is made aware of time slots available in subsequent days.
Administrators can create questions for each customer to answer that would impact the length of the scheduled appointment. The questions can elicit a numerical response, which automatically affects the duration, or a free response, which does not affect the duration but can capture further details about the customer’s request.
It is also possible to black out services, crews, service areas and times you want to be unavailable for appointments, which can help avoid any traffic obstacles to maximize booking efficiency.
When a company signs up for the software, it gets a domain name. Initial set-up entails drawing neighborhoods on a Google map in the area the contractor wants to service, creating services and setting maximum daily driving distances, and — using a “Share” button — sending out the page link via email to your company’s social networking pages (such as at Facebook and Twitter), letting customers know they can book directly online. You can also add a Book Now link from your website, using your unique Routezilla URL as the link.
The default admin address on the Routezilla account is sent an email whenever an appointment is booked, as are any customer inquiries. Administrators can also book appointments manually.
Field techs can mark jobs complete in their mobile schedules, which changes the color of the appointment block on the back end, enabling management to see the completion. Service personnel can add notes from the field, which are time stamped on the back end and identified by the email of the sender.
The Routezilla dashboard, seen only by administrators, shows recent bookings, analytics such as lead conversions, repeat customers and preferred booking methods by service type, region and date, as well as the number of hours booked and upcoming blackouts.
Routezilla also offers custom integration of selected third-party apps the contractor may be using. Scaled monthly pricing; a free 30-day trial is available.
• JobFLEX estimating and invoicing app for Android devices (www.job-flex.com, 855-354-3539) is designed to enable small and mid-sized HVAC and other contractors active in residential work to create quick quotes with images from anywhere, using an editable materials list and a stored pricing list. The app does not require cell phone service or Wi-Fi connection.
You can customize the format for each estimate, include a photo on the opening page and additional photos showing the existing system, along with photos and details of representative replacements and improvements. The estimate format also includes “terms and conditions” covering the scope of work, payment terms, change order, warranty and conditions of the proposal, and a line for customer signature and date. You can choose which details to show or hide on each estimate and can present multiple packages for customer consideration.
It is possible to create invoices from existing estimates by selecting “create invoice” from the drop-down menu and selecting “add from customer list;” JobFlex auto populates the customer’s data. Or you can create an invoice from scratch by filling in invoice date, number and terms. Then inputting customer information and all outstanding items. The software will track payments made in cash, by credit card or with a check and keep tabs on balances due.
The app is free for the first 20 quotes and invoices. After that, options are a monthly Basic subscription for a single user and unlimited quotes or a monthly Pro subscription for multiple users, unlimited quotes and use of customer management tools and various reports, such as on open and closed quotes, invoicing and sales performance. Either subscription allows uploads of project files to a secure file directory accessible from mobile devices or a computer.
Bill and Patti Feldman write articles and web content for trade magazines and manufacturers of building products. They can be reached at [email protected].