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Using Industry Software To Manage And Grow Your Business

September 30, 2005
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Many contracting companies are turning to scheduling and dispatch software and wireless technology to help them make their businesses more profitable.

Whether you are selecting a service management system for the first time or have already been using one, it is important to take the time to do the research and examine your system. That way, you will gain the best industry-specific solution available in today's market. With the right industry solution, companies like McCarl's Services Inc. have found they can automate and optimize appointments based on variables that include customers, jobs, parts availability, and technicians' skill sets, experience, and locations.

An Industry Solution

McCarl's Services Inc., a mechanical contractor serving the Pittsburgh area, offers services such as professional maintenance system design, engineering, fabrication, installation, retrofit, energy management, system balancing, and fine tuning. Founded in 1946 with one plumber and a single truck, the company - now one of the largest mechanical construction and service providers in the area - had enough experience that when management realized they needed to make a software change, they did not simply jump on board with the first company that claimed to be designed for the mechanical/HVAC construction field.

"There was no doubt in our mind that to make this change we needed to take a step back, look at how we wanted to run our business, and then evaluate each vendor to find the one that would help make us more successful," said Gregg McMillan, chief financial officer for McCarl's Services. "That's how we found the WennSoft Service Management Series."

Knowing they wanted to partner with a company dedicated to serving the mechanical industry, McMillan concluded that "One of the main reasons we felt comfortable with WennSoft was because the solution was developed by a mechanical contracting firm, making it a true industry solution."

With WennSoft’s system (above and below), McCarl’s has found a software vendor that would allow them to not only help manage their field techs and operations, but also to provide opportunities for growth within the business.

Advantages Of A Service Management System

McCarl's relies on WennSoft to manage its service process by using the Service Management Series for dispatching, scheduling, invoicing, and maintenance contracts. "One of the biggest advantages WennSoft service software has provided us is the ability to have more control over our workforce. The software we had in place before was just not comparable in its dispatching capabilities," said McMillan. "Improved dispatching combined with the ability for individual management of contracts helps us to control costs and effectively manage our contract base, resulting in increased revenue."

A service management system should link together scheduling, dispatching, work order completion, and billing, thus reducing the time it takes to invoice a customer for the work completed. Faster invoicing has also been proven to reduce the number of billing disputes, thus increasing profitability and improving the bottom line.

"Since implementing the WennSoft solution we have definitely been doing more work with fewer people," said McMillan. "We are able to turn around our billings faster and more efficiently. After the service has been completed, we're able to invoice clients within the week."

One key to a service management system's success is its ability to integrate seamlessly with the company's financial information. "Having our accounting tied to the contract management is a must for us to run our business," said McMillan.

Bringing together the operational side of the business with the accounting side also results in enhanced analytic and reporting capabilities. "With the WennSoft product we can have access to real-time information within minutes," said McMillan. "Everything is updated quickly and viewed in real-time, giving us the ability to manage things in a timely manner."

One of the greatest benefits McCarl's has seen since using the WennSoft software, though, is being able to provide better customer service. "We can perform service and billing in a faster manner on the WennSoft product and the precisions we have in place with that product combined with the detailed tasking that is tied with the dispatching has helped us better service our customers," he said.

Product Expansions

Product extensions, such as customer portals and wireless devices, can give a company a competitive edge and it's important that your service management system will allow for growth into these areas when a company is ready, without the need to buy separate and expensive programs for new functionality.

With WennSoft's system, McCarl's has found a software vendor that would allow them to not only help manage their field techs and operations, but also to provide opportunities for growth within the business.

"Our customers are important to us, which is why we've started looking into something that will let our customers see their own account information," said McMillan. With WennSoft's Web-based e-Customer Portal module, the company will be able to offer customers the ability to request service calls and to view their own service call history over the Web at any time."

"Currently we mail out service reports to our customers every week. We are starting to look into a possible mobile solution that would allow us to turn around reports and billing even faster," said McMillan. WennSoft's MobileTEC is an add-on module that extends work order management via remote database access to anyone in the field equipped with a laptop or a handheld computer with wireless network capability, supporting communication between dispatchers and technicians. Because WennSoft has a mobile product, it gives McCarl's the opportunity to expand without having to use another vendor.

Final Thoughts

"The support staff at WennSoft has been very helpful. They respond to us promptly with suggested solutions to our issues and they have assisted us a number of times with our reporting," said McMillan.

In addition to the basic functionality of the system, the integration between operations and accounting, and the product extensions available, it is also important to have a high expectation that the software company you have partnered with is going to be around. A service solution that is built on a strong technology platform will have the ability to offer additional resources, such as service and support when it's needed. Upgrades will come each year to help utilize the most up-to-date technology while allowing the business to grow and stay competitive.

Reprinted with permission from the Mechanical Contractors Association of America's (MCAA's) Smart Solutions, Summer 2005. For more information about WennSoft, visit www.wennsoft.com or call 262-821-4100.

Publication date: 10/03/2005

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