No matter what industry you are in, professionalism and efficiency are vital to your success. When you are in an industry where you are trusted to be in or near people’s homes and businesses — like those of us in the plumbing industry — it is an even bigger deal.
Establishing trust and maintaining a consistent work ethic is a must-have for any company that wants to grow. After all, how many of us get the best referrals from word of mouth? People won’t refer your company if you don’t do the work well or if you give some other indication that you don’t know what you’re doing. This includes how efficient you and your crews are before, during and after the job.
It may seem small, but a simple thing like effectively using various cloud technologies has been key in our ability to serve our clients and, in turn, rapidly scale our business. These methods are great for a business of any size, even after you start adopting more formal industry-specific programs.
The benefits of the cloud
First, let’s talk about why using cloud technology is important.
Let me ask you this: Are you just getting started in the plumbing industry? Or do you have an established business with a small crew? That is where our company was in 1987 when we started with just one small septic tank truck and one small portable toilet truck. In recent years, my business partner and I have been able to scale the business to where we now have 15 trucks and full crews to manage all three main service areas of our business (septic tanks, portable toilets and storm shelters).
Using cloud technologies, you can improve communication, decrease paper waste, and allow your crew members to be better prepared for their work at every job site. Another great thing about many cloud technologies is they are relatively easy to learn and use, making them another great asset to you and your employees.
Now, let me share how we use cloud technology to manage our business.
The first thing we did was make sure all our staff members, whether they are in the office or in the field, have a smartphone. We use various apps and web-based programs to communicate with each other, transport necessary documents, dispatch our crews, and perform various other business operations.
One of the first apps we started using was a calendar. Sounds too basic, right? A calendar app allows us to know which crews are where and when. We can input all the information about a job in each calendar entry. That tells our crews what the work is, where the job site is located (the location easily translates into GPS), and any other details they may need about that job. The apps also allow for shared calendars that can be shared between one or more of our technicians.
The calendar also tells our office staff where crews might have an opening to do last-minute jobs that can be scheduled immediately. The office staff can also easily edit the calendar entries to reflect changes in each job without generating a lot of unnecessary paperwork.
We also heavily use a document storage app to maintain all the documents needed for each job, each company vehicle, and any other documents that might be needed.
Say, for example, there is a problem with one of the trucks. Our crews have roadside assistance, insurance and vehicle registration information at their fingertips. The same is true for any documents related to a specific job, such as work licenses, septic permits for county and cities, and health department information.
By having all of this information available at a moment’s notice, our crews can inspire even more confidence from our clients in our company’s ability to do the job right. What’s more, it actually gives them the ability to work more efficiently because they aren’t waiting on paperwork.
Over time, we’ve started using industry-specific programs, but even those are entirely web-based, allowing our office staff and crews the ability to manage the program while in the field. We continue to use free, cloud-based apps to stay ahead of our competition.
Cloud technologies can be used for any service or home-based business. They create efficiencies that will allow you to work like a big company, even when you’re a company of only two or three people.