Optimize Cashflow

Optimize Cash Flow with Field Service Software in HVAC

Optimize Cash Flow with Field Service Software in HVAC

Let’s start with a quick, basic definition of cash flow: generally this is the amount of money being transferred into and out of a business, especially with regard to liquidity. It’s important to remember that “cash flow” statements conceptually are different from P&L, or profit and loss, statements. Accounting best practices determine P&L statements, which don’t necessarily monitor the amount of cash moving through your business.

Cash flow tends to be affected by these factors, especially in small business HVAC operations:

Accounts receivable
Inventory
Accounts payable
Capital expenditures
Borrowings and debt services
Timing differences

Here’s a quick example, from that Inc Magazine article linked above. It relates directly to field service. The author worked for a small business field service manager, who didn’t understand why he made money in a quarter — but lacked the cash to pay his bills. The explanation:

In this case, the difference between his net income and his cash flow was primarily a result of the purchase of a truck for cash, sales made during the period that were not collected (accounts receivable), estimated tax payments made in an amount different than tax expense for the period, increased inventory levels in preparation for the coming selling season, distributions to the owner, and principal payments on a bank loan.

Overall, this is the takeaway: You want to have positive cash flow in a business because it helps make everything else run smoother. Some of the most successful companies in the world — Google (Alphabet) and Apple — are thought of that way in large part because of their positive cash flow status. Now, if you run a small business HVAC shop in your primary geographic area, let’s be realistic: You will not have as much cash on hand as Google does. But there are ways you can improve your cash flow!

Most of positive cash flow in small businesses comes from effective tracking/monitoring of different aspects of your business, and that usually comes from integrated systems. In the case of an HVAC company, FSM software is usually the best bet. FSM software helps you integrate:

Inventory
Customer information
Scheduling and dispatch
Sales and marketing
Anything else you want to integrate (document storage, email, etc.)

Typically, the primary benefit of FSM software is that it allows for better communication and more transparency so that different silos within your business all can arrive at the same page. This usually makes your decision-making and data analysis more effective.

But in a cash flow context, FSM software tends to shorten the cash flow cycle for businesses — which is really useful in an SMB context. Better invoicing and billing (which happens with FSM software) leads to shortened billing cycles and more accrual of revenue; you can also use a metric within your FSM software, such as “Completed Jobs vs. Invoiced Jobs,” to showcase how your cash flow is moving relative to jobs you’ve billed out for.

Positive cash flow is all a part of getting the most out of your FSM software. How do you do that? And how can FSM software lead to increased profitability? We prepared a guide for you, which you can easily download now.

 

Cash flow tends to be affected by these factors, especially in small business HVAC operations:

 

  • Accounts receivable
  • Inventory
  • Accounts payable
  • Capital expenditures
  • Borrowings and debt services
  • Timing differences

 

Here’s a quick example, from that Inc Magazine article linked above. It relates directly to field service. The author worked for a small business field service manager, who didn’t understand why he made money in a quarter — but lacked the cash to pay his bills. The explanation:

 

In this case, the difference between his net income and his cash flow was primarily a result of the purchase of a truck for cash, sales made during the period that were not collected (accounts receivable), estimated tax payments made in an amount different than tax expense for the period, increased inventory levels in preparation for the coming selling season, distributions to the owner, and principal payments on a bank loan.

 

  1. Overall, this is the takeaway: You want to have positive cash flow in a business because it helps make everything else run smoother. Some of the most successful companies in the world — Google (Alphabet) and Apple — are thought of that way in large part because of their positive cash flow status. Now, if you run a small business HVAC shop in your primary geographic area, let’s be realistic: You will not have as much cash on hand as Google does. But there are ways you can improve your cash flow!

 

Most of positive cash flow in small businesses comes from effective tracking/monitoring of different aspects of your business, and that usually comes from integrated systems. In the case of an HVAC company, FSM software is usually the best bet. FSM software helps you integrate:

 

  • Inventory
  • Customer information
  • Scheduling and dispatch
  • Sales and marketing
  • Anything else you want to integrate (document storage, email, etc.)

 

Typically, the primary benefit of FSM software is that it allows for better communication and more transparency so that different silos within your business all can arrive at the same page. This usually makes your decision-making and data analysis more effective.

 

But in a cash flow context, FSM software tends to shorten the cash flow cycle for businesses — which is really useful in an SMB context. Better invoicing and billing (which happens with FSM software) leads to shortened billing cycles and more accrual of revenue; you can also use a metric within your FSM software, such as “Completed Jobs vs. Invoiced Jobs,” to showcase how your cash flow is moving relative to jobs you’ve billed out for.

 

Positive cash flow is all a part of getting the most out of your FSM software. How do you do that? And how can FSM software lead to increased profitability? We prepared a guide for you, which you can easily download now.

FSM Software


FSM Software

How Field Service Software Pays for Itself

How Field Service Software Pays for Itself

If you’re a small business field service operation, let’s be honest: Many decisions are made on cost, and money, plus the opportunity for profit, is important. You want to deliver great service and get referrals and positive customer feedback but, at the end of the day, you need to make money. A part of making money, obviously, is keeping costs down.

There’s research saying that about 37 percent of small business service businesses — so about 3 in 8 — are still operating according to paper-based models around scheduling, inventory, finances, and more. Even if that number is close to 25-30 percent, that still means about 1 in 4 small service businesses have not moved over to field service management software, also known as FSM software, programs.

FSM programs basically allow you to integrate different areas of your business, so that they “talk” to one another. That way, if a technician needs to go across town for a specific customer, inventory will know he or she needs to pick up something for his or her truck — and all of this happens within the software, without the necessity of human prompt (usually). It’s a big timesaver.

So if field service software saves time and makes your technicians more effective, why don’t more small businesses use it?

The answer seems pretty logical: cost. People are afraid of the cost, or — probably more specifically — people are afraid that the cost won’t lead to a justifiable return.

Let’s keep this fairly simple: field service software does pay for itself. There are dozens of reasons. We can start with four:

Cuts operating costs: This is a huge advantage of FSM software. You drastically cut the costs of operating job management functions and other logistical tasks.
Enhances productivity: In the most general sense, enhanced productivity usually leads to increased profitability. With FSM software, you create better lines of communication between front office, management, and technicians. This creates less clutter and confusion around tasks and necessity, which leads to more effective priority management at all levels.
Eliminates ‘dead time:’ Dead time is when technicians have to return to the main office between two jobs to grab something (a part, customer information, etc.) If you have a FSM with mobile integration and connection to customer data/inventory, these dead-time trips are no longer necessary. Time is money, after all.
Grows revenue on-site: With less time necessary for logistical tasks, technicians have more time on client work. More time on client work means more customer billing, and sooner as opposed to later.

If you’d like to understand more ways that field service management software both (a) pays for itself and (b) sets you on the path to profitability, download our eBook now. There are more reasons within it, including some tied to data and metrics — which is becoming increasingly important for small service businesses.

FSM Profitable


FSM Work Order

Why Use Your Work Order Software for Mobile Technician Tracking

Why Use Your Work Order Software for Mobile Technician Tracking

In field service businesses, work order software is typically used as a way to track appointments, revenue, and customer information. Some even use the metric of completed jobs vs. invoiced jobs, which can speak to how effective your billing processes are. (You don’t want to have a lot of completed jobs that haven’t been invoiced yet.)

There’s another aspect to work order software that’s important, however: It can teach you a lot about your technicians.

Let’s run through this quickly.

By looking at work order software data, there are numerous points of information about your technicians that you can determine. This starts with the basics, such as:

How many work orders are they completing per day?
How long does it seem to be taking them to close out an appointment?
What revenue are they generating per week?

This can lead you to a deeper question, such as:

If the number of appointments per day is low, does this have something to do with drive time, inventory issues, or the basic skill sets of the technicians?

Field service management software, or FSM software, is continually evolving. We just had a new release of our own software, and one of the major developments we put in was route optimization and scheduling functions. If you manage time properly — especially technician time, as those are the people in front of the customers — it’s easier to grow your business. We understand that, so we want to make sure anyone using our particular FSM software has that benefit.

In the coming years, you’ll see more FSOs — including small business FSOs — move toward this idea of “resource scheduling optimization,” or RSO.

The goal in RSO typically is to minimize driving time. Technicians need to be in front of customers working on their issues in order for the FSO to make money. The goal of the scheduling team — and in reality, the goal of the organization as a whole — is to fit in as many appointments per day as possible. That constitutes additional revenue.

Typically, RSO software will design the best daily schedule for each of your technicians. This could be based on a number of factors like:

Geography
Driving distance
Customer priority
Customer preferences

In the process of optimized scheduling through field service software, the pain points revealed by your work order management software can resolve themselves.

Most FSOs still aren’t at a place where they can work with more complicated RSO software, though. In fact, to understand exactly how work order management software — a more basic way of tracking different schedules — works, you need to understand the entire mobile ecosystem taking hold in FSOs right now. Why should you be mobile-first? How can you maximize your business that way? How does it play into fsm integration? And what will mobile-first fsm (field service management) give you in terms of data about your technicians?

We have put together an eBook on exactly this topic, which you can download now. Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Mobility eBook Download


Invoice on the go

Invoice on the Go with Mobile and QuickBooks Integration

Invoice on the Go with Mobile and QuickBooks Integration

A few years ago, we put in a call to one of our clients to ask about pain points in his business and what we could help with. When he answered the phone and we started discussing how his day was going, the first thing he said was, “I’m in Quickbooks hell.” That was years ago, and the story is still memorable.

Many field service small businesses probably feel and understand this concept of being in “Quickbooks hell.” Payroll, inventory, sales and other small business needs — all managed within Quickbooks — can be time-consuming, annoying, and prone to issue if not done right. But your people need to get paid, and sales need to get registered. So many of us consider this a necessary evil, whether we use Quickbooks or another program. Since Quickbooks enjoys close to 80% market share among small businesses, there’s a good chance you are using Quickbooks.

The thing is? “Quickbooks hell” doesn’t need to exist.

In fact, it’s possible to use Quickbooks to drive profits in your small business field service shop.

How? Like most ideas around field service management tools, it all comes back to integration.

When a program like Quickbooks fails for a small business — or when it causes people to say they’re in “Quickbooks hell”– what’s really happening is a lack of integration. If all of your systems operate in silos, then Quickbooks and similar programs do become a hassle. It’s often a maze you’re trying to navigate to get the right information you need to do your job. That can be frustrating.

This is where Quickbooks integration with Field Service Management software integration can come into play. You simply integrate Quickbooks with your field service management software — which is usually not that complicated and can be done in under three minutes — and now many of your systems are “talking” to one another.

That means scheduling, inventory, sales, dispatch, and payroll are all integrated and aligned. So if a technician gets backed up one day, the overtime will flow right into payroll. It’s not two separate calculations, or someone trying to determine billable hours after the fact. It’s integrated.

Integration makes your business run smoother and faster, which means more time can be freed up for bigger-picture items around decision-making. It’s less logistical, or “shallow,” work. It’s more strategic, or “deep,” work. That’s how you grow your business.

Using a Quickbooks FSM integration is a good example of common business advice, too: Outsource the parts of your field service operation that you’re not as good at. You may have a masterful payroll/accounting person in-house, and that’s great. But if he or she is good with numbers, this person could probably serve your business better in another capacity. So you outsource these skills to Quickbooks FSM integration, and you put this person in a more business-facing role. It benefits you in the long run.

It brings up one additional important point: You need a mobile-friendly field service management solution. Your technicians drive your business by being in front of customers, which means they need to be out in the field. Those customers might have something like Uber on their phones –so they’re entirely used to paying for service on mobile without even thinking about it. They don’t want some complicated paper-based process from their field service clients. They want a quick, easy, mobile field service management tool. If you have FSM software that’s mobile-first or mobile-friendly and you integrate that with Quickbooks, you’re ahead of the game on delivering the best customer experience possible.

This mobile part of the equation is crucial because that’s what your customers will expect. What else should you be considering when selecting a field service management software tool apart from mobile-first, integrated, and Quickbooks-friendly? Download our eBook to explore additional considerations as you research the possibility of purchase.

Mobility eBook Download


Quickbooks Integration

As a Service Tech, You Want Quickbooks FSM Integration

As a Service Tech, You Want Quickbooks FSM Integration

Even if your field service operation is a small business, there still might be “silos” within it. One person might focus on scheduling, and another might focus on bills and invoices. Small, family-owned FSOs can have silos – separate departments — just like enterprise-level companies can.

Because of this, sometimes it’s confusing to FSO managers that a program like Quickbooks — which is for financial and accounting management — is important to service technicians.

But it is! And here’s why.

When a service technician goes on a call, he or she has a lot to manage. First and foremost, whatever the problem is needs to be fixed or repaired. That has to be done to keep the customer happy. On top of that, the technician needs to display a high degree of customer service. He or she needs to engage with the clients, listen to them, and even discuss other options with them (maybe up-selling some of your other service offerings). Finally, there’s billing.

The billing stage is sometimes overlooked in the process because billing doesn’t have to occur at the client site. It could occur later, of course.

But many clients like the option of paying their invoices right after the work is done. Everyone is busy, and waiting to pay only adds a tier of responsibility for the client. If the work is done and the problem is fixed, many customers will just want to pay their bills right then.

There are two things that can happen at this stage, typically:

You use an integrated Field Service Management system and it’s relatively easy for the technician to bill the client right there.
You don’t use an integrated system and it’s hard and time-consuming and ultimately the technician leaves without billing the client.

Consider the second bullet point for a second. In this situation, the technician did everything right. He or she fixed the main problem, provided good customer service, and engaged with the customer. And now, through no fault of his or her own, the technician is leaving the site with a slightly unhappy customer. The customer couldn’t pay, so that’s another thing he or she needs to manage down the road.

This is why Quickbooks (or another financial system) integration into your FSM software is crucial. You don’t want your technicians to do everything right on a job and still leave behind unhappy customers. You want the whole process to be seamless. You won’t hit that goal every time out, but it should be the goal every time a technician is dispatched anywhere.

FSM software benefits your business by integrating the different areas of your business, from billing to scheduling to inventory to workflow management. But it does cost money to buy FSM software, yes.

Rather than keep telling you about the ROI of it, let’s show you. We work with a company in California called Leete Generators. They are, somewhat unsurprisingly, a generator company. Maybe you’re an HVAC company, or an electrical FSO. It doesn’t matter. You will still see the ROI of FSM software here.

How? Download our look at what Leete Generators did with FSM and how that helped the company grow. You’ll see specific numbers and features that it utilized. If you have questions about this could apply to your business model, definitely reach out. We love helping small business FSOs achieve similar types of success as Leete did.

ROI FSM


Keep Your Books Accurate With Quickbooks FSM Integration

Keep Your Books Accurate With Quickbooks FSM Integration

In terms of your financials and accounting, what’s most important to your field service organization? Some might say (maybe with a hint of humor) “Making sure we make a lot of money.” That’s a good goal! (Although in all honesty, your real goal should be good customer service — and the money will flow from that.)

The real answer to this question is “accuracy.” If your financials and accounting aren’t accurate, you open your business to a whole host of problems, from angry customers to penalties from the IRS. It’s important to be precise and focus on details in all aspects of business, but in financials and accounting, it’s crucial.

If you run a small business FSO, there’s a good chance you use Quickbooks for accounting: the software has a roughly 80% market share among SMBs.

Quickbooks is a great system, but like any technology, it’s prone to error based on the humans who input and move around the data.

If you use Quickbooks and accuracy of data is a concern, the next step in this process is: why is it a concern?

Typically, inaccurate data comes from one major issue: lack of communication among internal partners. Usually the financial and accounting data will be managed by someone in one of those departments, but if you’re a small shop, there’s a chance the same person who runs financials also does customer data — and heck, that person might even be your HR rep and your VP all at once. That’s the nature of a small business.

For financials to be accurate, though, all the customer information, employee hours, technician hours, and technician overtime needs to be accurate.

The easiest way to do this, typically, is to have one system that houses everything — as opposed to a paper-and-pen system where necessary elements are in different filing cabinets, or even a system where different people in your office use different technologies to achieve their main tasks (someone on Google vs. someone on Microsoft, for example).

Usually the easiest way to keep everything in one place is to use a FSM software tool. These integrate the different aspects of your business. So now scheduling information, and technician overtime, can be one screen away from customer data and sales leads.

This helps makes your financials more accurate, which is the most crucial element of your financials.

The next benefit to accurate financials is that your company can have a more detailed look at its revenue stream — and whether or not it’s a revenue generator. FSM software usually helps along this process for small business field service shops. If you’d like to know a little bit more about how FSM software can act as a revenue generator, download our eBook now. If you have any specific questions about your business model or location, let us know.

6 Steps


FSM Quickbooks

Using Quickbooks Integration with FSM Software to Increase Profits

Using Quickbooks Integration with FSM Software to Increase Profits

Several years ago, our team placed a call to one of our small field service business customers to see how his company was faring overall, and if there were any software or management issues with which we could help. Right after asking him how the day was treating him so far, he replied with a phrase that is entirely too common among small- to medium-sized field service industry business owners and employees: “I’m in QuickBooks hell.”

Ahh, yes, the all-too-familiar sentiment that is short for, “I’m in over my head in accounting, invoicing, and sales software, and can’t get anything else accomplished around the office and shop.” That phone call took place years ago, and it’s still memorable.

With approximately twenty-nine million small businesses in the United States, QuickBooks seems to control the market share of financial management software at eighty percent. Numbers like these mean that there’s a good chance that your field service business is one of many that uses QuickBooks to create and receive invoices, manage accounts payable and receivable, run payroll weekly or semi-weekly, record and view sales information, and generate quarterly tax and profit and loss statements.

After reading the above list of functions for which your company uses QuickBooks, you can see why using the program can be a time-consuming matter, but the fact of the matter is that employees need to be paid, accounts receivable charts need to be tracked, and sales need to be registered because, let’s face it, finances are the most crucial matter in business. However, you cannot forget that technicians need to be scheduled, workday driving routes need to be determined, and inventory needs to be distributed and monitored accordingly.

This is where QuickBooks integration comes into play for your small- to mid-sized field service business. Field service management software like Optsy allows for QuickBooks integration with data to simply and effectively allow for the accounting, dispatching, managing, and scheduling departments “talking” to one another—a.k.a. working together to drive your business’s bottom line. Integrating QuickBooks with your field service management software is uncomplicated, and can be done in under three minutes.

Once your company does Quickbooks integration with its field service management software program, you can have both a desktop suite with a mobile/tablet component that ties all of your company’s critical data together. All of your field service business’s information is integrated and organized into easy-to-use dashboards which include inventory, dispatch, sales, payroll, customer data, financial statements, and the like.

What does this mean for your field service business’s operations? If a technician gets behind schedule on any given workday, his or her overtime hours will integrate right into the payroll portion of your field service management software once you integrate QuickBooks. What does that mean? No more separate calculations to determine billable hours and rates.

Along with this, if one of your accounting or scheduling employees leaves on vacation or retires, other employees from different departments can still access financial or dispatch information without learning an entirely different software system. All-in-all, QuickBooks integration with fields service management software is a much more effective way to run your business.

Another benefit: because QuickBooks seems to nearly monopolize the market share in small-business financial software, most field service management programs do integrate with QuickBooks.

“How Exactly Does QuickBooks Integration Boost My Company’s Revenue?”

We’re glad that you asked. Remember our client who was stuck in “QuickBooks hell” before he decided to integrate QuickBooks with field service management software? Can you imagine how much opportunity cost—and actual revenue loss—his company experienced by separately managing financial and scheduling data? If all of your systems operate apart from one another, then you are looking at navigating a maze in order to find information that is necessary to effectively do your job. Time is money, so why not create more time to complete work and drive your business’s bottom line.

This is where QuickBooks integration helps your small to medium-sized field service business. Having an all-in-one field service management system makes your business run smoother and faster, which means that more time can be freed up for decision making, planning, and implementing these ideas. Innovation is how your grow your business; pouring over financial statements while switching back and forth from a separate scheduling and dispatching program while attempting to craft an email in your Outlook account is not.

Along with growth comes additional revenue. Sure, you’re going to spend a little money on your field service management software, but when you integrate QuickBooks with this new software, you’re going to reap the financial benefits that come along with unparalleled organization. Your technicians may be able to take on more appointments each day due to enhanced scheduling and routing capabilities. You may be able to cut back on the number of office employees who perform different managerial functions now that all of your company’s accounting and scheduling information is in one dynamic program. You may even align finances with technicians’ skill sets to see which tech generates the most amount of money for your company on a given type of jobsite.

Another way that QuickBooks integration drives your field service company’s bottom line is by allowing you to outsource specific parts of your company—but actually, it isn’t really outsourcing at all. Say you have a masterful accounting employee in-house who is great with numbers. Instead of having your numbers person managing tedious financial information all day, you can invest in field service management software that does this job for your company. Then, your talented numbers person can serve your business in other strategic capacities that can help generate additional revenue for your company instead of having this person crunching financial data that could be done using QuickBooks integration.

That being said, making field service management software complete with QuickBooks integration profitable is a big deal for small businesses. Field service management software can be costly, and small businesses have less resources than large corporations and much tighter budgets—and we understand that. Here at Optsy, we work mainly with small businesses, and are more than happy to help you find a QuickBooks integration solution that works best for your company. We will even walk you through the QuickBooks integration process to make you feel more comfortable with our field service management software.

We have created a list of resources and questions for you ask yourself and your bosses when proposing the idea of investing in field service management software that integrates with QuickBooks. You can download it below, and feel free to contact us with any questions.

Key Information