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The Marriage of the Internet and Field Software

January 22, 2007
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Finding the right field software solutions that are cost-effective and all-inclusive are two goals of many service providers - especially HVAC contractors. One California contractor recently tapped into a mobile field service solution hosted by myServiceForce.com and has been reaping the benefits.

Riverside, Calif.-based Pro Mechanical Service Inc. has been using FieldMasterPro, a full-featured automation and productivity software program provided on-demand via Web access, to reduce overhead and streamline administrative and dispatching functions - leveraging affordable technology previously only available to large businesses.

The product is designed specifically for field service companies and sold as a service to small businesses. It provides tools for workflow from initial order through invoicing and it integrates directly with QuickBooks accounting software.

According to myServiceForce.com, the distinguishing highlight of FieldMasterPro is its complete feature set and its wireless synchronization to field technicians, turning low cost smart phones from cellular carriers into fully functioning handheld computers capable of providing the field technician with a complete customer history, full work order management, inventory use capture, and work order completion with field invoicing.

In other words, a cost-effective way to manage field service.

“I was looking for a solution that worked with Quickbooks and was Internet-based,” said Tom Willison, president of Pro Mechanical Service. “We were very lucky to find this group. We use this solution for every service call and most of our construction work.”

myServiceForce.com provides Pro Mechanical Service with handheld devices and field service software that allow all 18 technicians to print bills on-site, post invoices online immediately, and update customer information in real time, with data instantly synched back to the main office via a wireless connection.

Only three other staff members have to manage the remaining work: one dispatcher, one bookkeeper, and Willison.

The company’s use of the technology has directly reduced its overhead, resulting in benefits like:

• Higher pay and better benefits: $25-29/hour, compared to average rates of $18-20/hour, plus a healthcare package;

• Cutting the billing cycle by 92 percent, from 60 days to five;

• Saving more than $40,000/year in office support costs.

“We are very much a paperless company and use the Internet as a form of reporting, recruiting, responding, tracking, business development, and advertising,” said Willison. “And see even more development and use in the future.”

Gary Rawding, president of myServiceForce.com, said cost savings using his field service solutions are dramatic. “The direct benefit to users is an immediate increase in billable hours by as much as 20 percent or more as well as dramatically reduced administrative time, improved collection cycle, and enhanced management control from anywhere there is high-speed Web access.”

For Pro Mechanical and other HVAC contractors, myServiceForce.com also provides a low cost entry into deploying mobility solutions. The company offers a range of full-functionality handheld devices, including personal digital assistants (PDAs), smart phones, and ruggedized field handheld computers and tablets running Windows Mobile 5.0 or Windows XP Tablet Edition - some of which cost as little as $300.

Rawding noted that for small business owners, the use of the Web and wireless capabilities can dramatically improve their personal productivity, span of control, and flexibility of management. “For many, it provides for the first time the ability to manage their businesses at any time from anywhere, even while on vacation,” he said. “In addition, providing the software as a service accessed via the Web reduces the cost of entry and ownership such that a small business can get enterprise level software at very affordable rates.

“As an example, a company with seven field technicians and one dispatcher would have to pay $35,000+ for an enterprise system and handheld computers along with annual maintenance fees of $5-10,000/year. FieldMasterPro purchased through myServiceForce.com will cost less than $3,000 to get started (for smart phones) and less than $5,000 per year to use.

“For most customers, the return on investment in FieldMasterPro is less than one month and the added benefits of management control and personal time recapture are priceless.”

For more information, visit www.myserviceforce.com.

Publication date: 01/22/2007

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