Aptora Total Office Manager Enterprise Edition service management and accounting software features enterprise level accounting; drag-and-drop scheduling and dispatching; mapping of sales calls, appointments, installation, and service calls on a live city map for efficient routing of field personnel; and a fully integrated mobile field service management app, Aptora Mobile II (a separate, companion program), that gives field personnel access to work order management, customer history, invoicing, and payment processing. The software can import data from your old system and is available hosted in the cloud or as an on-premise solution.
Scheduling and dispatch are possible with exact start and end times and the ability to filter by day, week, month, or list view, with preferences saved by the user, who can open two schedule boards simultaneously. Employee photos can be added to the schedule board and sent as personalized reminders to clients, as well as printed for instant verification by the customer at the jobsite. Dispatchers can see tech vehicles in real time, set mobile reminders, and send notes to field technicians in the field. They can also schedule important assets limited in quantity.
Aptora Mobile II enables displays of work orders and appointments, filterable by user and type, and the ability to create invoices from work orders or from scratch. Field personnel can enter leads, create proposals, offer sell agreements, and—with integration with a home improvement lender (EnerBank USA®)—offer financing on the spot.
Accounting capabilities include flat-rate pricing, dashboards, performance backed payroll with templates and unlimited payroll items, fully managed tax tables and payroll taxes by location, and interface with third party payroll interfaces or the ability to create your own from scratch, and direct deposit. Other accounting capabilities include multi-warehouse inventory, KPIs (key performance indicators), a report builder, and integration with Microsoft Excel.
On-premise and hosted options allow for flexible pricing structure for any size company.
Host Merchant Services (www.hostmerchantservices.com, 877/517-4678) provides processing and financial transaction services for contractors who want the ability to accept secure payments at the job site. The application, which accepts all major credit cards, enables the contractor to accept mobile payment on an iPhone or Android smartphone, iPad or Windows tablet after which the contractor can email the customer a receipt or, on a rechargeable wireless terminal, generate and print a receipt over 4G/LTE or Wi-Fi network.
Host Merchant Services offers two pricing models. Under the first, Interchange Plus (also known as Cost +), the fees the card brands (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, Amex) charge for use of their cards is passed along to the contractor, along with Host Merchant Services’ small markup, an option for contractors who prefer to absorb the fees associated with accepting credit cards. Under the second pricing model, Cash Discount (also known as No Cost), the contractor passes along the processing fees to the customer, thereby allowing the contractor to avoid most of the fees associated with accepting credit cards. This model has, according to Host Merchant Services, become increasingly popular among contractors over the last few years.
eTakeoff Dimension Premier takeoff software (https://etakeoff.com, 888/825-2877) is an electronic viewer and takeoff solution for estimation across all construction disciplines, including plumbing and mechanical. The software, featuring an intuitive interface designed to mimic Microsoft Office products, enables contractors to work directly from pdf documents without need for conversions. Users can work from and switch among multiple plans. The software supports full multi-user concurrent use across a network.
How it works: The user sets the drawing scale from a list of scales or can set up a custom scale and can utilize multiple scales on the same drawing.
When used by plumbing contractors, for example, the user picks the symbols, selects the drawing(s) and areas to search and the Pattern Search capability can automatically count and tally quantities of fixtures and other components marked in the drawing(s) with symbols and save the measurements. It is also possible to refine the search based on smaller symbols in or near the original pattern. Results, sorted by how well they match the original pattern, are displayed in a grid and converted into a count measurement.
Users can also create quick access pattern search groups. For example, mechanical contractors can build assemblies that calculate elbows, reducers, and tees at the same time they are measuring pipe or duct. The process is accelerated with the pattern search tool to find multiple occurrences of symbols like dampers, registers, and air handlers. The software is designed to easily accommodate revisions to existing drawings that impact component counts and deliver updated counts.
Pricing: one-time price plus annual fee for support/maintenance. A Basic version of eTakeoff is available for free distribution to all project team members who need to view annotations, markups or quantity takeoff done with eTakeoff Premier.
Update on Workiz scheduling and management software (www.workiz.com, profiled in the September 2019 tech column): In response to the need to protect customers and technicians during the COVD-19 pandemic as much as possible, Workiz recently integrated with the Zoom video conferencing service, providing contractors, at no additional fee, the ability to give (savable) video estimates, reducing the need for onsite visits. They can also troubleshoot simple problems and answer questions over real-time video.
Patti Feldman writes articles and web content for trade magazines and manufacturers of building products. She can be reached at [email protected].