Plannit (www.plannit.io) 1-833/PLANNIT) is web-based field service management software for home services providers. Suitable for small contractors and including a mobile app for use by employees in the field, Plannit features on-the-job capabilities incorporating scheduling and dispatching, GPS-enabling routing and vehicle tracking, job tracking, and team management, and has non-billable work capabilities including quoting and invoicing, payment processing.
Scheduling and dispatching take place on a color-coded drag-and-drop calendar, utilizing GPS-enabled routing that visualizes scheduling of daily and recurring routes for each technician, with the ability to locate each vehicle in real time and accommodate emergency visits and other modifications.
Technicians using the mobile app can automatically send “on my way” notifications to customers, add notes to work orders, modify jobs from the field, create new jobs, log time spent at each job, and annotate the status of jobs in progress.
Estimating and billing tools provide the ability to create professional looking quotes and invoices, with a company logo, that can offer customers various payment options. Invoices are sent automatically once the customer approves the quote. (Plannit can automatically trigger invoices and work order creation when a customer okays a quote.)
Integrated credit card processing is available from within the app. (This capability is an optional add-on, with a transaction fee only, no externa terminal needed—the payment processing is online and integrated in Plannit.) Transactions can sync with Quickbooks, Sage, and other accounting solutions.
Plannit centralizes customer communications with availability of and access to email, phone messages, website inquiries, text messages, and Facebook messages within the software. A customizable chat box on the website allows users to qualify and respond to customer inquiries. The customer portal enables homeowners to see their messages, quotes, invoices, and payments.
Pricing: fee per month, scaled by number of users, for core features; external options (including payment processing fees, accounting integration, in-app two-way text messaging, phone bot, and GPS routing) carry additional fees.
Thumbtack (www.thumbtack.com, 855/738-6113) is a home improvement platform connecting home services professionals with customers, allowing pros to quickly secure business opportunities that align with their expertise.
How it works: Through the Thumbtack app, customers find a professional service provider to perform a job, with Thumbtack identifying which pros are available and ready and willing to take on the job.
For example, Thumbtack HVAC pros can sign up, for free, at www.thumbtack.com/pros and select their targeting preferences from eleven categories listed under HVAC Service Professional (e.g. central A/C repair and maintenance, heating system installation or replacement, heating system repair or maintenance, duct and vent cleaning, duck and vent repair, thermostat installation repair).
Customers who come to Thumbtack put in location, project details, and a preferred timeline for the job to be performed and Thumbtack generates a list of potential “exact matches” which appear instantly in the app for the homeowner. At the same time, the pro gets notification and will message back and forth with the customer to discuss the project details.
In addition to getting a pro’s quote for the job, the homeowner or other searcher can review past work descriptions, see photos of past projects uploaded by both customers and pros, read reviews, and check for a valid license or background check all on a pro’s Thumbtack profile.
Thumbtack sends the pro weekly emails detailing success rate in getting new jobs compared to the competition in the same geographic area. (Contractors can turn the Thumbtack Pro service on or off at will, allowing integration and engagement with customers from multiple platforms under one interface.)
Pricing: Thumbtack Pro is downloadable free at the App Store and Google Play. It is free for contractors to create profiles; with no subscription fee - the pro pays only when an interested customer makes contact. Through its Price Assurance feature, Thumbtack will refund the cost of the project for pros if the customer becomes non-responsive and does not leave a phone number for follow-up. That feature also places limits on the number of pros that can compete for each project.
Update: Thumbtack’s Pro API recently integrated with Workiz, a field service management and communication platform (www.workiz.com, profiled in the September 2019 column, updated in the July 2020 column), enabling Workiz pros the ability to find and chat with potential new customers. The integration of the Thumbtack Pro API (www.thumbtack.com/pro) allows home services professionals using Workiz to manage customer inquiries from Thumbtack, their website, and wherever else they engage with customers or potential customers through one interface and maintain new customers from Thumbtack on their contact hub.
HVAC Equipment Locator app and the associated website component Equipment Locator Cloud, (Carmel Software, www.carmelsoft.com, 800/339-6030) enable contractors to track customer equipment, nameplate, and maintenance data, along with photos and spec sheets, and share the equipment information with other authorized users.
Users can perform global text search for all inputs for any building or piece of equipment and store the GPS coordinates of the equipment, to easily determine which equipment is closest at any moment.
The app, available for iPhone and iPad and for Android devices, also offers auto-scheduling periodic maintenance events and the ability to view a list of upcoming maintenance events sortable by those closest to you and issue email alerts of upcoming maintenance. Contractors can allow clients limited access to data about the equipment serviced.
Patti Feldman writes articles and web content for trade magazines and manufacturers of building products. She can be reached at [email protected].