“We just had a go, and it’s the best thing we’ve ever done really.”
Todd Fiedler can recall the exact moment he decided to take the plunge and dump his plumbing business’s paper-based job dispatch system and switch to connected tablets and business apps.
He had witnessed the nuts and bolts of the system but, as a tradesman who didn’t start his career in the digital era, he wasn’t quite convinced.
“I was watching TV one night and there was a program on that warned if you don’t move with the times, your business will die,” Todd says, describing the turning point in his thought process. “We just had a go, and it’s the best thing we’ve ever done really.”
When Todd bought the plumbing business from its previous owner three years ago he inherited a work dispatch and accounting system that relied on mobile phones and printed job cards. It was bearable for the previous owner, but Todd wanted the business to pursue a wider range of work. The system became chaotic and the business began to drown in paper.
“It was a nightmare for that first 12 months. I was just losing the plot with the paper. I couldn’t keep track of jobs and I couldn’t find jobs. People would be ringing me up saying, ‘Todd, you haven’t sent us a bill’. I’d be asking ‘for what job?’” Todd recalls.
On top of invoicing issues, the bookkeeper was spending up to 30 hours a week manually entering invoices into Fiedler’s accounting system.
Job Management Software with GeoService
After getting a bit of guidance from TradiePad, a Telstra Professional Services partner, Todd set about deploying a fleet of five tablet devices equipped with Telstra SIMs and GeoService. The software integrated neatly with the company’s Xero accounting system through the Telstra Mobile Network.
It saved Todd hours on the phone organising his team of plumbers and automated the masses of laborious invoicing and data-entry.
“Before, I was up Sunday nights doing it. You’d get tired, go to bed, then wake up and start again on Monday morning. Now I leave it all to Monday, because it’s such an easy process,” he says.
He estimates that each of his plumbers was losing an estimated hour a day sorting paper records − time that should have been put toward billable work.
“That’s eight man-hours lost every day on paperwork. It’s like having one man down, every day,” Todd laments. “There are a lot more billable hours now. All the parts are there, everything’s there, it’s just tick and flick, and away the boys go. GeoService and Xero linking to each other streamlined our invoicing process.”
The company also dramatically improved its financial performance simply by streamlining its invoicing system. Invoice turnaround was reduced from two weeks down to two hours.
Increased cash flow
“For the first time in two years, our cash flow is where it really needs to be and that is because the invoices are getting out quicker than they ever were,” explains Todd.
“I want to make us even more efficient. If things are more efficient hopefully we should make more money. And by being more organised I’ve got a bit more time for my family and myself.”
The company’s bookkeeper now has time for more important tasks and its plumbers have been able to give clients a higher standard of work. The tablets provided by Telstra and GeoService let field staff share photographs of job sites matched to that job, which means it’s much easier for Todd to share information with staff and advise them.
“We’ve got good service all round our working areas with Telstra, so the guys can take photos and attach it to the job cards. I can be kept up-to-date with any issues and it’s all documented too, we’ve got a history of the job that will always be in the system. I can be away on holidays and I can still see what’s going on. The boys can ask me for my opinion at the drop of a hat, whereas before they’d have to get home, talk about it at night and show me a picture on the phone.
“Using smartphones and tablets with a tradesman is just a dream. Being with Telstra gives us the peace of mind that we’ve got the coverage and the service that we need, so they’ve got everything at their fingertips. They can search for material and they can look up specifications on anything. And it’s all at their fingertips,” Todd says. “Heading to a job, I’ve got my phone, I’ve got my tablet, I’ve got my apps and away I go, Mr Organised.”
Try GeoService Job Management Software Free for 14 days!