Samsung Galaxy Smartphones and Tablets Boost Plumber Productivity, Accelerate Billing Cycle
Faced with a shortage of licensed technicians, Charlie’s Plumbing needed their field workers to spend more time plumbing and less time filling out paperwork. But the company’s old, paper-based workflow was inefficient and prone to errors. Processing paperwork and billing clients took several weeks, which often led to customer complaints. To grow the company, Charlie’s Plumbing needed to streamline workflows, get invoices out sooner and boost overall productivity.
increase in efficiency due to mobile workflows
The mobile solution has increased technician efficiency by 12 to 13 percent, as they now spend significantly less time on paperwork and phone calls. The billing cycle has accelerated by 1,000 percent, which has increased cash flow. Receivables are also down by 30 percent due to increased speed and an 85 percent reduction in billing errors. Because customers receive invoices more quickly, Charlie’s gets paid more quickly too. And improved team communication has led to more collaboration, a greater sense of camaraderie among workers and better employee recruiting and retention.
“If you can’t get enough plumbers, you have to figure out how to put more of their time to plumbing and less to paperwork.”
Merrill Crawford, President, Charlie’s Plumbing
The Customer Need
Growing Business, Limited Human Resources
- Digitize workflows
- Accelerate billing cycle
Crawford says the process was inefficient, error-prone and often led to customer complaints. “Let’s say a customer calls in. Our service department treats them wonderfully, and our technician does a fantastic job. But the bill doesn’t arrive for three weeks, and it’s incorrect because the information has passed between multiple hands. By now, the client has forgotten the wonderful job we did. They just see that Charlie’s Plumbing can’t get a bill out.”
After-hours and weekend jobs presented additional challenges. With the office closed, team captains dispatched technicians via phone. Each captain had a large book with information about billable clients, including which were acceptable to serve during off hours based on credit history. But the book didn’t stay updated, and technicians often took calls they shouldn’t have, creating cash-flow problems from unpaid invoices. Seeking to grow the company, Crawford needed to streamline workflows, boost plumber productivity and get invoices out sooner.
Paperless and Productive
Additionally, technicians can now access client information without calling the head office. “Let’s say a plumber is on a job and knows we’ve gone to the same site for the same problem before. He can look up the customer history, see pictures from previous jobs and get a better idea of what he’s dealing with.” The mobile solution also works much better for after-hours calls, a large source of revenue for the company. Both team captains and technicians can access client information from their mobile devices, so plumbers are no longer dispatched to customers with delinquent accounts.
Billing cycle shortened from three weeks to one day
Samsung Galaxy Smartphones
“Now our clients get their bills fast. There are no errors. They’re much happier and pay a lot more quickly.”
– Merrill Crawford, President, Charlie’s Plumbing
Happy Workers, Happy Customers
Crawford says Charlie’s Plumbing has been in “a real growth mode” in recent years. The mobile workflow has helped enable that success by:
- Increasing productivity: The mobile solution has boosted technician efficiency by 12 to 13 percent by allowing them to spend less time on paperwork and phone calls. As Crawford explains, “We no longer have technicians sitting on the phone waiting and waiting to get their next call, because there are 10 other calls waiting.”
- Streamlining billing: The digital workflow has accelerated the billing cycle by 1,000 percent, increasing cash flow. Receivables are down by 30 percent due to the increased speed and an 85 percent reduction in billing errors.
- Improving customer satisfaction: “Customers aren’t happy when they don’t get their bill on time or correctly,” says Crawford. “Now our clients get their bills fast. There are no errors. They’re much happier and pay a lot more quickly. And Charlie’s Plumbing looks very high-tech, sharp and on the ball.”
“There’s an upfront cost when switching to paperless, but it’s worth it. Money, speed, employee happiness and customer happiness — you can’t beat that.” – Merrill Crawford, President, Charlie’s Plumbing
- Fostering collaboration: Crawford says the mobile solution has increased communication in a number of ways, leading to better teamwork and a stronger sense of camaraderie. “Technicians can get parts faster because of increased communication with our parts department. And they enjoy talking to other plumbers about how they’re using the tablets. At our monthly company meeting, there’s a lot of, ‘I found this app that’s very useful,’ or ‘You’ve got to check out this website that’s helpful.’”
- Bolstering recruitment and retention: The technology gives Charlie’s Plumbing a hiring advantage. “At a certain level, everybody is offering decent pay and quality benefits,” says Crawford. “Leaders have to ask, ‘What else can I do to attract new hires?’ To be a company that works at a higher level, that provides better communication and better technology, is a cool perk. Our new hires have been vocal about how much they like our technology and communication.”
Due to the productivity boost, deploying the mobile solution has been like adding additional employees in the field, notes Crawford. “There’s an upfront cost when switching to paperless, but it’s worth it. Money, speed, employee happiness and customer happiness — you can’t beat that.”