With the U.S. economy rebounding from the 2008 recession and unemployment rates at a 42-year low, companies across industries are struggling to fill new positions and retain workers. In skilled trades industries, where the war for talent is particularly tough, companies are turning to mobile technology to boost productivity and better leverage human resources.
“There is such a shortage of licensed plumbers and technicians,” says Merrill Crawford, president of Charlie’s Plumbing. “If you can’t get enough of them, you have to figure out how to put more of their time to plumbing and less to paperwork. That’s the only way to grow the company.”
But the company’s old, paper-based workflow was inefficient and prone to errors. Plumbing technicians came into the office once or twice a week and “checked out” stacks of paper tickets. Throughout the week, service managers dispatched technicians to jobs via phone calls. Technicians would write the initial details on the ticket, fill out the rest on the job and get the client’s signature. Every Tuesday morning, technicians turned in tickets and time sheets from the previous week. Then tickets had to be logged back in, processed and sent to the billing department, which resulted in it taking clients three to four weeks to receive invoices, and up to five weeks if the bill was incorrect.