When searching for a new fire protection software for your field service business there’s a lot to take into consideration.
You want it to be user friendly for the team, effective in keeping customers happy, while also making your business more profitable overall. When comparing systems, though, it can be overwhelming to sort through what functionalities will give you this trifecta.
To help make this undertaking easier, we’ve put together a list of key capabilities every fire protection software should have. They’re integral in running your business efficiently, while also creating a great all around experience for both customers and employees.
Here are the 5 features you’ll need:
- A customer database that’s cloud based
- Contract management with planned preventative maintenance
- A scheduling system with route optimization
- Custom forms that can be tailored for any job
- Invoicing capabilities that are customized and automated
Your customer database is the ultimate resource when working with clients. It should hold all communications, property details, pictures, quotes, and invoices–essentially every interaction you have with your customers should live there. It’s also important that it’s cloud based, that way nothing ever gets misplaced or lost.
Managing these records in a spreadsheet or system that doesn’t allow for detailed notes to easily be logged is not sustainable for your fire safety business. It shouldn’t take minutes to sift through information. When working with a client, whether in the office or field, it’s essential that previous work orders and communications can be pulled up in seconds.
These records should also be searchable by multiple fields–whether that be name, address, or job number. This capability significantly reduces the time your staff spends trying to retrieve information, creating a better experience for the team as well as your clients who can be serviced faster as a result.
And while it is important for both the office and field to use the database, it’s equally important to have security levels within the system. The fire and alarm sector holds sensitive information like passcodes to homes and buildings, and the entire team should not be able to see these details when those clients are not being serviced.
To keep your client’s information secure, your system’s database should allow you to assign specific and custom security preferences to each user on the software.
Contract based work is a major source of revenue for many fire protection companies, but manually going through these agreements to build planned preventative maintenance schedules is time consuming. It can derail staff from focusing on other, more essential parts of the business. Therefore, it’s important your new system can track these agreements with minimal effort.
When working with clients who manage large commercial buildings it can be tedious to plan out weekly and monthly inspections on top of annual testings. If the team has to sift through multiple contracts kept in a shared drive or on paper, it’s possible a planned maintenance may get overlooked. Not only is this a contract breach, but it will also negatively impact your business relationship with that client.
To avoid this costly error from happening, your new system should build your planned preventive maintenance work directly into the schedule. When it’s time for a client to be serviced the software should also notify your team, leaving no room for a job to be missed.
Likewise, if an asset is accidentally left off the technician’s job sheet and they do not test it while on site, it can cause a major safety concern for everyone working within the building. When evaluating field service software for your fire protection business, make sure the system allows you to log all assets associated with the contract as well. This way, technician’s know exactly which alarms and sprinklers to service on each visit.
Contract management helps to eliminate human error and manual work for the team. Instead of tediously searching through contracts every month, they can direct their focus to other parts of the business like marketing and sales.
Managing a calendar for multiple technicians can eat up a large portion of the office’s time, especially when working in a large service area. As customers call in, the schedule needs to be created not only around technician’s availability but also their proximity to the job.
It wouldn’t make sense for a technician to do their first job of the day 15 minutes down the road and the next an hour away. Routes need to be optimized and it’s a time consuming process. Shifting around route options on Google Maps to see which will be the most efficient can be laborious; and all that work can be hindered when there’s a sudden call for an emergency alarm going off on the opposite side of town.
However, with the right fire protection software in place, these optimized routes can automatically be found for you within seconds. By simply entering in the work address, the system should be able to find the most efficient schedules for technicians–eliminating up to 90% of the time spent on scheduling and optimizing.
Of course, not every job requires the same skillset, and some will need more advanced technicians to complete them. It can be difficult remembering offhand who is qualified for which jobs, and if a tech is sent to perform a service they cannot complete, it’s going to leave a bad impression on your customers. Not to mention, your technician just lost valuable time driving back and forth.
Therefore, having a software that lets your preload information like shift patterns and skillsets is imperative when scheduling. It will decrease the amount of time technicians spend on the road (actually reducing travel costs by 15%) while ensuring the right person is always sent for the job.
While onsite for fire inspection jobs your technician’s will need to fill out safety forms and checklists. If a technician completes 25 jobs a week, they’re carrying a lot of paperwork from job to job. The chances of something getting lost or misplaced throughout the work day are high–and missing files can lead to countless problems.
It means a lot of calls back and forth between the office and field, taking up time and causing friction between your staff. Even if all the work orders make it back at the end of the week, human error can always happen. Maybe a line was skipped or the handwriting is illegible, making it impossible to understand what was done onsite.
If this is the case, a second visit to the location might be needed. This means the office needs to deal with an unhappy customer, while the technician has to redo the job instead of taking on a new one.
That’s why your new software should give you the ability to digitize job sheets, customize them, and require mandatory fields to be filled out before closing the job. This way nothing goes missing, there is no time spent calling back and forth, and there are no unsatisfied clients.
A good field service software will allow you to build your own fire protection forms and tailor them to the different jobs you do–whether that be commercial, residential, reactive or planned. An alarm testing job sheet should be different from a sprinkler inspection form, and each template should be customizable. With this functionality you’ll never have to worry about technicians leaving the job site without completing all required tasks or forgetting to record important information.
This also requires your new system to have a reliable mobile app. Make sure the app syncs off and online so nothing is lost even when there’s no connectivity. This way, once technicians regain connection everything goes directly back to the office. It removes all the back and forth communication while ensuring the administrative team has everything they need to start invoicing.
If job sheets only come back to the office at the end of the day, invoicing may be a burden. It shouldn’t be too time consuming or delayed though, because every hour you wait to send an invoice is adding to the time that you aren’t getting paid.
Finding a software that simplifies and automates the process is crucial in your search. Invoicing should not be a manual or painful undertaking. If your staff is building invoices one by one, it’s taking up too much time that should be focused elsewhere.
For example, if your technicians are completing 20 jobs a day and it takes the office 10 minutes to invoice for each job, that’s three hours spent on invoicing a day. Which adds up to 15 hours a week. That’s essentially two entire work days dedicated to invoicing.
With the right software, that number could drop to 2 hours a week total. Once a work order is completed your new system should send it directly back to the office. The invoice should be immediately raised, and the system should automatically insert information into the template.
If you do weekly inspections for commercial clients, your field service software should offer flexibility on how you invoice for fire protection jobs. In some cases, sending the invoice directly after each job is burdensome to your customer. It can be too much for them to keep track and they may end up missing one. This means a delay in your payment for the job.
To avoid this, make sure the systems you evaluate can consolidate those invoices when needed. This option enables customers to receive one invoice that breaks down all the work done for them at the end of every month. Instead of weekly increments, they can pay off the total in one go. This will help increase your on time payments, while simultaneously increasing their satisfaction.
The takeaway on what key features your fire protection software should have.
Software is meant to make your life easier, and these five capabilities will reduce your team’s workload while increasing profits. A strong customer database improves customer satisfaction, and happy customers become loyal ones to your business. Likewise, having an easy way to manage their contracts is key to maintaining good client relationships.
It’s equally important that your new fire protection software reduces the number of tedious tasks for your team. Free up hours of their day with a strong scheduling system that automatically finds the most efficient routes, and use custom forms to ensure nothing is ever missed on the job. This will help save time on invoicing as well, which your software should make easy and flexible.
If you’re ready to start your evaluation, Commusoft is a great option. It offers all the key features you’ll need in your new fire protection software as well as other beneficial capabilities like inventory management, service level agreements, and in depth reporting. Learn more by checking out a quick product tour here.