Efficiency, productivity and profitability — these are all important components to any thriving business. However, what makes a company so efficient, productive and profitable? What may work for some might not be the best option for others. Yet, despite the variance, one constant can alter the overall success for any business: software.
Employing software to help manage a business could be a principle difference between a smooth, flourishing operation and a weak, collapsing venture. Businesses must incorporate a software solution that targets their unique needs in a way that makes overall operations, well, more efficient, productive and profitable.
"With help from the right software, it is entirely possible for a single entrepreneur to run his or her business like a major corporation," asserts Nick Leibham, account representative for KDS Moses.
Choosing the right software
The type of software may vary in regards to functionality and performance, explains Leibham. Solutions can be implemented for practically any business management-related task. From billing and accounting to tracking leads and inventory, software can help a business run more effectively.
Leibham identifies billing, lead tracking, scheduling, dispatching, accounting, inventory, customer management, mobile, route optimization, reporting, automated payments and route optimization as a few common business software solutions, although the "possibilities are near limitless."
Routing software, recommends Leibham, is an effective, popular application that offers many benefits, such as more efficient routes, less money spent on gas and the potential for more service calls, since less time and labor are required per stop. Faster employee training and more efficient dispatching are two more advantages of routing software.
However, Leibham believes all software has the potential to enhance business operations. "My opinion may be bias, but I think [software overall] is an improvement and money-saving tool for all businesses," continues Leibham. "I would highly recommend finding software that does more than just routing. Having software that will optimize and manage routes is nice; having an integrated software that ties routing to dispatch, receivables/billing and reporting is better. I will always recommend using the fewest number of software [solutions] as possible. It saves on time, data entry, less human error and it’s just nice to have all data in the same spot."
The critical role of mobile technology
With today’s advancements in technology, especially mobile innovations, it isn’t too hard to find a solution that incorporates the "all-in-one" methodology. In fact, mobile technology helps businesses, notably service providers on the go such as water dealers, stay more organized and in tune with the status of their day-to-day tasks and general business operations.
"With mobile computing software on [smartphones and tablets] in the field connected to [software such as] CRM (customer relation management) scheduling dispatch software in the office, field service companies, including water treatment dealers, can much more easily organize their data to run very efficient sales, delivery, installation and [an] entire company compared to the competition," explains Andrew Kuneth, vice president of Prism Visual Software.
Kuneth states that in addition to performing more productively, service providers and salespeople equipped with smartphones/tablets in the field look more professional to the customer and can perform "paperless" operations from the initial quote to installation to invoicing.
"A [phone] and tablet today can be equipped with mobile apps developed by a variety of software companies to assist your field staff to record customer information and water tests, create quotes and complete installation work orders with parts and equipment," says Kuneth. "Customers can be presented with invoices and proposals emailed right to their [inboxes], and techs can receive payment with a swipe of a credit card on-site. PDF contracts, pictures of customer locations, installations and plumbing assessments can be attached for future referral."
Kuneth continues by listing a few key benefits of mobile software:
- Accountability: It is important to know what is going to happen and what has happened already. A mobile dispatch solution can help to balance overloaded routes, track real-time employee progress and optimize routes.
- Increase sales: Smart software can be set up to "mine" your database for a customer who might be due for a filter change or equipment upgrade, prepare automatic scheduling alerts and to perform inbound and outbound calls with ease. Customer service agents can also be equipped with history of past water tests, services and equipment installations as well as any upcoming service needs. Additionally, field personnel can be supplied with information to fix an issue faster or sell new products.
- Reduce labor: Employing mobile software can limit unnecessary office tasks, such as posting work orders and creating invoices.
- Visibility: You can gain a better understanding of your financial and operating position the next day, with the ability to send invoices and statements out by a simple tap of the finger.
- Boost customer satisfaction: Prospects and customers find technology exciting, interesting and easy to do business with. Presenting videos on water contaminants, alerting customers of upcoming services by a quick email and/or swiping their credit cards in front of them on your phone/tablet can make customers feel important and know they are in good hands with your company.
He adds, "Mobile software and smart technology will continue to have an ever increasing presence in our society. Water treatment dealers should [consider] implementing mobile software if they [have] not already."
Kuneth advises businesses to invest in a mobile software with an "offline mode" to effectively use the application on the road and software with industry-specific features, such as water test/service history, equipment installations and contaminant presentations.
Efficiency, productivity and profitability
As mentioned, software could be the difference between a company that is healthy and one that is weak. A company must research the various types of software available and select the solution[s] that will set its business apart from the rest.
"[The] goal is to make business so hands-free and carefree that a business can run extremely efficiently and successfully from anywhere — on the road, at home or on vacation," notes Leibham.
After all, efficiency, productivity and profitability are critical factors of any thriving business.