Using intelligent technology to improve your business operations is kind of like using Google Maps to get home during rush hour: you may already know the direction you need to take, but technology can help you figure out how to reach your destination in the quickest, most efficient manner.
Take UPS for example – they’re a prime example of a relatively traditional company that has used technology optimize their business operations. Seemingly simple solutions – such as avoiding left turns whenever possible – has helped UPS knock a whopping 20.4 million miles off their routes while delivering 350,000 more packages. In the process, they also cut their CO2 emissions by 20,000 metric tons.
While this type of technology was once only available to multi-million dollar companies that could afford a team of sophisticated analysts and engineers, that’s no longer the case. In the last few years, innovative startups have devised new apps that allow even the smallest of American businesses to harness technology to streamline logistics while boosting productivity, efficiency and revenue.
A recent study found that 78% of contractors are using three or more apps to help streamline operations and run their business more efficiently, saving them both time and money. Some of the most popular and innovative apps available offer three key features: GPS fleet management, smart scheduling and enhanced billing features.
GPS Fleet Management
Fleet management apps are being utilized by all types of businesses, from teams of contractors to delivery fleets. The reason? They can dramatically improve customer service. After all, one of the biggest issues customers face when booking service appointments is timing. There’s nothing worse than waiting around all day for a service tech or delivery to arrive, particularly if you’ve taken time off work. To help combat this issue, many GPS-based team management tools will automatically send your customers text updates regarding their appointment. In fact, if you’ve ever placed an order and received a text message with a delivery ETA, then you’ve already seen team management technology in action.
This type of automated appointment reminder can also help dramatically reduce customer no-shows, which are a huge thorn in the side of any service business. Additionally, should one of your employees be running late, tools like Breezeworks will automatically alert you, giving you the option to reroute another employee to the job while providing your customer with an updated ETA. For businesses, the benefit is clear: when customers are kept in the loop regarding their appointment, there are less complaints and phone calls to deal with.
GPS tracking technology can also be an asset when it comes to customer disputes. Should a customer claim one of your employees was late or didn’t show, your team management software can provide you with irrefutable evidence that your employee was (or wasn’t) where he was supposed to be. Of course, this can also help dramatically improve team accountability, providing you with added peace of mind.
Smart scheduling tools allow you to optimize scheduling by considering two factors when assigning jobs: location and time. For example, Breezeworks’ new Smart Scheduling featuretakes the manual work out of scheduling – it looks at what appointments you already have booked, what team members are going to be where, and automatically picks an appointment time which is optimized for minimum travel time and maximum time utilization efficiency. This allows you to cut down on employee travel time and fuel costs, potentially saving your business thousands per year, much like UPS. Additionally, these tools provide greater insight into average time spent on jobs, enabling you to time appointments in a more precise, efficient manner.
Additionally, smart scheduling tools can also help your company generate more repeat business by automatically reminding customers to book follow-up appointments. This type of proactive technology can dramatically boost top-line revenue without having to spend time and money on the tedious task of mailing out follow-up postcards. And, of course, it goes without saying that unlike a postcard or mailer, your customers are guaranteed to actually read a text reminder!
Productivity and Billing
Apps that streamline email invoicing, enable employees to accept payments from the field, and automate other tedious administrative tasks are helping many small businesses reduce staffing costs, cut costs, and save countless hours of time that can be better spent on revenue-boosting activities.
By using a single app for everything from estimates and invoicing to A/R and payment processing, it’s easier than ever for small businesses to keep their (virtual) “books” in order. Additionally, because job data is automatically carried over across all features, it cuts down on time spent doing data entry, as well as the mistakes that occasionally occur while doing so. Of course, it goes without saying that such apps help make tax season – that time of the year we all dread – much easier, allowing you to produce electronic files instead of boxes of recipes and hefty payment logs.
In short, features like GPS fleet management, Smart Scheduling and automated billing can empower you to spend less on overhead, get more out of your employees, provide enhanced customer experience, and grow your business. With more than 50% service business owners stating they’ll be investing in these types of apps within the coming year, such technology is about to become commonplace. As customers begin to seek out companies that use this type of technology to provide a better experience, it’s more important than ever to adapt now and get a leg up on the competition.