Time is precious. Do you ever think about how it ticks away as the day goes by, wondering if field and office teams are making the most of every minute? It's not that they're not working, it's that current methods often require large amounts of extra effort.
For technicians, this includes driving to the office each morning for assignments, and at day's end, to drop off invoices. Or, it might be the daily haggling over prices with customers who want a better deal. For the office team, it could be shuffling papers and paper-based invoicing and billing.
Enter simPRO. This Australia-based provider is a newer addition to the service trades' increasing number of job management software solutions. simPRO was designed from scratch by trade and service contractors, to eliminate once and for all the tedious and repetitive activities that have nothing to do with service or project management. And, it brings office personnel into the 21st century world of the cloud, and eliminates the expenses related to paper, printing and postage.
simPRO was designed for service and project-based businesses, to help them work smarter, provide exceptional service and attain maximum profitability. It streamlines a contractor's entire workflow process: from estimating to service delivery and payment processing. All key processes are visible across the company's entire workforce, as well as real-time, office-to-field connectivity. And, simPRO is cloud-based, so contractors can access their data from anywhere, at any time.
"simPRO is a business management software that helps to organize and automate processes. We help contractors maximize their profitability," says Anais Bovagnet, simPRO marketing manager.
"We streamline everything from quoting and estimating down to invoicing and payments. And while there are vertical software products that do similar things, most do not do all of it, like we do."
As a result of simPRO’s relevance and practicality, Bovagnet says, most contractor users will use 80% of simPRO’s software functions.
"simPRO manages job costing, scheduling, dispatching, time and materials tracking, billing, payment processing, and reporting. It takes contractors away from white boards and paper, and technicians coming into the office every morning, wasting 30 minutes getting their job assignments. Or, when someone calls off and they have to switch the work orders around. Everything is done via laptops and hand-held devices," Bovagnet explains.
One of simPRO’s biggest selling points is that it performs job costing, which Bovagnet says is missing from many software packages. Contractors know that job costing is essential, to know exactly how much was made on a job, however, many contractors have no idea how much they make on anything. Many wait till the end of the year to see if they’ve made any profit.
"When they can see their profitability statement, if they lost money on a project, they can decide whether they should keep doing certain projects or stop," Bovagnet says.
Three simPRO programs are available: simPRO service, Enterprise and Corporate.
- simPro Service assists with activities related to simple, daily workflows that, in the old model, are a drain on technicians’ time. It will precisely quoting, scheduling, executing and invoicing multiple service jobs.
- simPRO Enterprise provides the features of simPRO Service, with additional function: for projects, maintenance, multiple companies and asset management.
- simPRO Corporate includes all the features of simPRO Enterprise, with large-scale customization. simPRO experts meet with the contractor to learn their key needs to design the optimum tool for their specific workflow.
A variety of add-ons integrate with all simPRO products:
- a ‘Connect App’ for smart phones and tablets extends simPRO into the field, enabling technicians to manage stock, job status, record signatures and collect live signatures from clients.
- simTRAC displays vehicle locations in real time, while managing drivers licenses, maintenance and registrations.
- simPRO e-forms replaces paper forms. You can add attachments and integrate to all simPRO products. Forms are completed on a tablet and sent to the cloud, for instant access from the office.
One of the contractors who offered design input during the product development stage is Paul Christie, who operates Casalite, an electrical contracting business in Queensland, Australia. He's living in the states while helping spread the word about simPRO, as its business development manager. He's also using it to effortlessly manage his business back home, from a base in Colorado.
“Contractors repeatedly say they 'don’t have time, they don't have time.' That’s probably one of our biggest challenges, getting them to see we will give them time back," Christie says.
“We have story after story about how much companies have been able to grow with simPRO. They’ve become freed up, so they can make more money, and travel with the time they saved. With our software they have that freedom to take a break from their businesses and spend time with their families.”
Another pain point with contractors in every trade: finding quality workers. "We tell them, since it is so difficult to find quality workers, we can give you back billable hours. We can give them back one to one-and-a-half billable hours per tech, per day," Christie says.
As Christie explains, the increased billable hours benefit is made possible because service technicians are devoting less time with paper invoicing, and they no longer need to come to the office at the end of the day to drop off invoices. They bill the client then and there. Billing and invoicing is more immediate, which results in increased cash flow.
simPRO’s vertical markets include solar, data networking, HVAC, plumbing, security, and electrical, in small to medium size companies. simPRO is in use at more than 4,000 companies worldwide. In the U.S., simPRO's marketing teams are focused on the states where we have done well: Colorado, California, Texas, New York, and New Jersey.
"We also spread the word everywhere we can, and are members of at least 10 industry associations," Bovagnet says. "We’ve also partnered with Penn Foster, a distance education private high school based in Scranton, Penn., to help promote careers in the trades. People assume they must go to college after high school, but sometimes there are different options, and the trades are in desperate need of workers," she adds. She is so right.
Training is a key part of the simPRO integration process for a company. Those with the simPRO Service package receive training over the phone or onsite. Enterprise training is three to five days on-site. This training covers what business managers need to know to use the software and the system to their best advantage. Follow-up customer success teams are in place to help answer questions after the training period.
"We provide support at every step," Bovagnet says.
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