Carpet cleaning and restoration businesses are being given more and better software tools all the time with which to strengthen their operations.
“Companies who stay on top of the latest developments will be able to adapt much more swiftly than those who continue doing what they have always done,” Joe Kowalski, CEO of ServiceMonster, says.
But all the changes can feel overwhelming at times, so we’ve gone directly to the source — industry technology developers — to create a guide for current software benefits and how to make the most of them.
Tie the software together
One of the biggest opportunities to find more success with software is through integration of various business aspects across different platforms.
“Some of the exciting new technologies we are starting to see are seamless field and office collaboration, smart crew dispatch using GPS, mapping and traffic data, access to greater analytics and data, and better communication and reporting tools,” Next Gear Solutions President and CEO Garret Gray shares.
And this integration goes beyond knowing where your employees and equipment are at all times. It reaches the customers, too, providing easier scheduling and saving everyone involved time.
Steve Mastio, owner of FittleBug, explains there are a number of ways software is starting to better integrate different aspects of a business owner’s company. From creating the ability to provide discounts online to customers who schedule their services before or after another customer within a certain radius, to only showing the availability of trucks with the services a customer desires (so you don’t need all equipment on all trucks) — both abilities Mastio has implemented within his company’s programs — software providers are finding ways to make integrating scheduling software and calendar maintenance easier on end users. Mastio adds, “I think there’s lots of opportunities for GPS functionality in the future.”
Beyond tracking your people and procedures, there’s also much opportunity in modern software for streamlining workflow.
“The biggest innovations coming in the near future will help carpet cleaners or restorers scope and estimate jobs faster and more accurately,” explains Nick Sykes, Xactware’s assistant vice president of mobile and desktop. “Cleaners are already diagramming floorplans and calculating repair costs using just their smartphones or tablets. Recent line-item entry enhancements are making it faster for cleaners to calculate costs, and integrations with laser-measuring devices… are making it faster and easier for cleaners to import precise dimensions directly into their mobile estimating systems.”
And cloud storage has opened up a new world for carpet cleaners and restorers, making it much easier to bring together work when produced across multiple platforms.
“Before mobile, scoping the loss onsite was often a productivity killer with notes being written by hand onsite and then reentered into an estimating system later,” Sykes adds. “[Now] you can start a project on your desktop computer at work, sketch and scope the project onsite with your tablet, and then finish up the estimate later at night at home on any computer with an Internet connection.”
Gray says to look out for more mobile capabilities including phone-based sensors, mobile document signature capture and mobile time keeping. “We believe the use of mobile technologies will lead this trend, especially as connectivity continues to improve in less populated areas and during CAT events. The ability to capture data offline and store it locally does have its place, however, real-time data acquisition and delivery is the goal,” Gray shares.
And Kowalski agrees that wireless trends will lead to more and better integration of systems over time. He says, “Before long, you will be able to get detailed information on the performance of your machines via your phone or transmitted wirelessly to your office from the field.”
Make a game plan
From researching and choosing the right provider to bringing all team members into the loop on new programs, adding software to your company requires, like everything else, proper planning.
Often business owners think simply adding new software will make everything run more smoothly and simply, but it takes a bit more effort than that.
“Some mistakes we’ve come across are not having owners and managers fully involved in the implementation and on-boarding process [and] not having a clearly communicated plan and overall strategy,” Gray says. “Failing to clearly define each employee’s role and expectations with the software can lead to problems.”
It’s also important to remember, before you ever institute new software at your company, that looking around and choosing the right software, one that’s built a reputation for success in the industry, is important.
Kowalski reminds us it’s dangerous to skimp when it comes to new technology for your business. “If a deal seems too good to be true, make sure you read the fine print,” he says.
“Your client database is one of your most precious assets, and it should be protected. Apps that are free may come with the stipulation (buried in the terms and conditions) that any data you upload becomes their property,” Kowalski adds. “Your clients won’t appreciate it if they get flooded with spam calls.”
Don’t cut class
Fear. It strikes us all whenever we venture into something we don’t really understand. But the best way to overcome this fear is to learn as much as you can.
“One of the challenges [industry professionals] have is they’re not technology guys… It’s not their wheelhouse, and they’re constantly challenged with time,” Mastio points out.
But even though time is hard to come by in our industry finding the time to learn about the company software is essential to making it work for you, and many in the industry aren’t using all the tools at their disposal.
“They should be because it will make their jobs easier and free up more time. But you’ve got to invest a little bit of time to implement time-saving ideas,” Mastio adds.
The need for training in new technology for your business is no less important than training for a new, diversified service at your company.
Sykes says it’s essential to keep learning about a software product even when you have a deep understanding of it. He says, study the release notes of new updates to see what new enhancements are included. There’s a good chance that study will pay you back with faster and easier ways to do your job.”
Gray agrees. He says business leaders have to focus on staying up-to-date on company software to be sure it’s being fully utilized.
“Any good software is constantly evolving and changing to meet the needs of a changing market,” Gray says. “This requires a commitment to continued education and training to make sure all levels of your business are getting the most out of the software.”
And when you’re well-versed in the details of your software, you are better able to pinpoint things you wish it did or did better.
“If you have an idea or suggestion for new features and enhancements for the products you use, send it to the software development team,” Sykes recommends. “Many of Xactware’s most powerful features started as user feedback.”
Build a brighter future
Better software implementation within your company has some compelling advantages, chiefly making your company more efficient and saving your time and energy, but the advantages go beyond that to the most necessary of business aspects — customer satisfaction.
This happens in both small and large ways, from making your customers simply feel appreciated to better scheduling your job calendar.
“Keeping detailed records of your clients will help you offer them better service,” Kowalski says, “If you meet your client’s pet, you should store its name. When you ‘remember’ the pet’s name during your next visit, your client will love you for it.”
As industry-focused technology continues to advance, making all business aspects easier and less all consuming, it will be the companies who learned and best utilized these advancements early on who find success in the future.
Amanda Hosey is assistant editor for Cleanfax. She has worked in the editing and publishing field for more than five years. Hosey holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master’s in creative writing. She can be reached at (205) 408-3784 or [email protected].
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February 21, 2023