More and more software aimed at contractors features electronic data capture in the field to replace manual input and increase workflow efficiency, either as a component of a larger solution or as a dedicated app. Here are a couple of apps that help in filling out forms in the field.
GoCanvas.com (www.gocanvas.com) is a cloud-based platform designed to automate the collection of data on mobile devices. Users can input data into the GoCanvas App using pre-formatted forms or user-created mobile forms that are submitted, stored and archived. The data is retrievable at any time by approved users.
The software includes the ability to use drag and drop tools to customize the GoCanvas App for the mobile forms or process a contractor needs. These can be edited without any programming or coding at any time by the account administrator.
Data sets that can be captured include customer details and job description/time/date/location. The app can also be used for collecting a customer signature, taking a photograph of equipment that has been inspected, and accepting payments in the field upon job completion. According to GoCanvas, HVAC contractors also use the software for plumbing/heating estimates, job work order/invoices, maintenance checklists and employee time cards.
The collected data is encrypted to ensure information can be transmitted safely. All completed forms submitted to the GoCanvas platform become part of the contractor’s private secure database and are available and searchable online 24/7. (There is unlimited data storage.) The platform is also accessible on PCs.
The Go Canvas platform also offers the Dispatch and Calendar feature, for managing technicians in the field, and a Business Insights feature that can display data that technicians capture in the field.
Once the data has been collected, contractors have the option of creating PDF versions that can be sent to the customer, such as an estimate or invoice.
As of autumn 2107, GoCanvas has hundreds of templates for the HVAC sector which can be easily modified in the App to update the service provider contact details and the price lists for parts, helping ensure users in the field have access to updated data.
Pricing is based on the number of users. A 30-day free trial is available.
iAuditor (Safety Culture, https://safetyculture.com/iauditor, downloadable free at Apple App Store, Google Play, and from Microsoft or available on the web) is a mobile checklist app for creating and populating safety inspection and quality inspection checklists and reports, including OSHA inspection reports, on the spot from any iOS, Android or Windows smartphone or tablet. A drag and drop template builder speeds the process.
When doing inspections, a user can add photos, GPS location, and time and date stamps, and can capture electronic signatures. No internet connectivity is needed to complete the report. Viewing options of reports include Word document, PDF, spreadsheet, or web browser. A premium version for a monthly fee is available that includes unlimited data, analytics, and API access. (Free 30-day trial.)
Curious about how your customers really think you are doing but they have not, might not want to, and haven’t yet thought to share with you directly?
Tablet toting system
Given that tablets are, for some contractors, almost as active a work tool in the field as a wrench, a user might want to hang one off a tool belt for easy accessibility. The Runnur Tablet Tech Belt system (www.mobiletechgear.com) is a toting system that facilitates hands-free carrying of a tablet, can keep it in a secure position, and, when the tablet is needed, affords the wearer access in less than a second.
The system is composed of a heavy duty 2¼-inch wide black belt or hip pad and a low profile VHB™ mounting plate that bonds to the flat backside of any standard polycarbonate mobile device case. Plus, there is a tether plate with a security cord. A buckle mechanism locks the tablet safely to the belt when not in use, thus keeping the wearer’s hands free. When the tablet is needed, the quick press release mechanism on the buckle attachment allows access in under a second. The foot-long security cord prevents the likelihood of dropped devices and downtime due to breakage.
The belt closes with both several inches of Velcro and with a traditional metal buckle, and comes in three sizes to accommodate waists from 26 inches through 44 inches. The smaller Hip Pad is for lighter duty use or smaller devices such as iPad Airs or minis. Also available, a matching optional clip-on tool bag.
How you doing?
Curious about how your customers really think you are doing but they have not, might not want to, and haven’t yet thought to share with you directly? GuildQuality (www.guildquality.com) offers contractors independent, third-party customer satisfaction surveying and performance reporting. Subscribing members provide GuildQuality with their customer list and GuildQuality’s Georgia-based survey team reaches out via phone, email, and direct mail to conduct a short standard or custom survey about that contractor.
GuildQuality also provides real-time survey response data and customizable reports that can track company and individual performance and compare the scores to similar businesses. Contractors may also populate a member profile page and use the feedback from the surveys on social media. The service carries a monthly fee.
Bill and Patti Feldman write articles and web content for trade magazines and manufacturers of building products. They can be reached at [email protected].