Joining up with Benchmark Air Conditioning Inc., Bakersfield, Calif., Palmer has helped the business grow in his time there.
“I’ve been a management consultant for almost 20 years now and have worked with lots of small businesses, mainly in improving their technology, but also in marketing,” Palmer said.
So starting with Benchmark, a company with just 10 employees, has been an experience for the 48-year old Palmer.
“It’s been pretty common in my career to step in and take some sort of role in running a business, whether it be a vice president or chief operating offer role, but for this business, that would’ve been insane, so I stepped in as general manager to help organize the processes in the office and try to improve cash flow,” Palmer said.
When the company’s dispatch software program crashed, Palmer did what he does best: search for the next solution. It was a journey that led him to seek out all available options for Benchmark.
“I was very much interested in finding out who the software players were for this industry,” Palmer said. “There are certainly some well-established and popular players, but what I’ve learned from the past is that many will come to you with their own ideas of how to run your business. I know from being a small company here in the California central valley, that we weren’t going to be the type to want to sit down and have others tell us how to do things, so I was looking for a company that was flexible, that would work with us to learn from us and do things the time-honored way we like to do things.”
With the program and its data unrecoverable, Palmer had to work quick, as Benchmark was set back to another era in how it had to handle things.
“So they were back to 1975, and operating out of paper files and trying to keep track of everything on paper,” Palmer said. “It just seemed like the opportunity to leapfrog ahead and get them using their Android phones and a chance to go paperless. As a consultant, I worked in lots of different retail and service industries and have been familiar with lots of different software solutions, but I just really wanted to take a 20-year career of that knowledge and find the best solution for them here, and that’s when I landed on FieldAware.”
FieldAware is a field service management solution available at any time via the Internet or smartphones. With his big goal being to improve cash flow, FieldAware has helped do that, Palmer said. He noted the company’s cash flow improved this past winter over the prior winter in what is usually a slow season in central California.
“The best thing about it is you can see a job as it’s completed out in the field. And when it’s over, you can look it over and bill the customer. There’s no paperwork to manually go over, or get lost. All of that’s gone,” Palmer said. “They complete the job, you can look at it on the web, and right at that moment invoice the customer. So you can imagine how much that’s improved cash flow.”
Palmer said one of the things he likes best about FieldAware is the company’s flexibility when it comes to supporting Benchmark and what they are trying to accomplish with the software.
“FieldAware has had an amazing track record of implementing everything we wanted done into their program, and that’s a benefit of capturing a younger company. You get to work with them to develop a solution,” Palmer said.
“If we ever run across a feature we ever need, we can call and suggest it and that’s enough for them to make it an action item, presuming others are asking for the same thing and it’s not unreasonable. But in our case, nine out of the 10 things we’ve asked them to fix or do, they’ve been able to do them. You can’t ask for more than that.”
For more information about FieldAware, visit www.fieldaware.com.
Publication date: 6/10/2013