In 2009, Apple released its “There’s an app for that” series of advertisements. The point of the campaign was to highlight the vast number of – largely pointless – things that your iPhone could help you achieve. In reality, we only use a handful of apps on our phones. That hasn’t stopped developers, though, with Google Play now sporting over two million apps.
Mixed into that hodgepodge of Angry Bird flavors, Flappy Bird knockoffs, and mediocre photo editors is a rich selection of genuinely useful stuff. If you’re sending techs out into the field every day, you might as well try to find a few useful apps to make life easier.
Most of the big field service software players – ServiceMax, Jobber, mHelpDesk, etc. – have apps that plug your field techs into the ecosystem. If you’re either not using a management system that comes with an app – or not using any field service software – there are still plenty of great mobile tools for you to use.
Keeping everyone on task and in the right place is one of the most difficult parts of any business. Field service companies have the added difficulty of flexible timeslots, moving parts, and cancellations from hell to breakfast. As such, you need a scheduler of some sort. the whiteboard with sticky notes all over might not be the best solution for you.
Float is a simple team time management app. You can tag your employees with specific skills and then search through them when assigning tasks to make sure you’ve got the right people going to the right places. See who’s available, manage recurring schedules, and tap into the system’s email notifications to keep everyone on the same page. Prices start at $22.50 per month for five users.
Teambook allows you schedule your techs using a tagging system similar to Float’s. You can also setup client pages, allowing your customers to login and see what their upcoming scheduled work looks like – a great feature for big, recurring customers. With plenty of calendar syncing options, your techs can get schedules on their phone no matter what phone they’re using. Starts at $39 per month for unlimited users and 40 active projects.
Teamweek is a slightly more stripped-down scheduling app for teams. You can easily put tasks into your calendars, see who’s available, and share the results. There’s less tagging and reporting than in the other two options, but you’ll pay less, too. Plans start at free for five users, and can offer a good introduction to scheduling and sharing.
Billing and mobile payment apps
Getting paid is important. In fact, if you had to choose one part of your company to never have a problem with, you wouldn’t be wrong to choose billing and invoicing. You can speed up the payment process, cut down on back office work, and make your customers smile with mobile payments.
There are almost no end of options here, and your decision might be based on the accounting or payment system that you already have in place. If you’re just looking for something basic, though, there are simple options anyone can manage.
Square is still the name I think of when I think of mobile payments, but that’s largely because they show up at the food trucks and farmer’s markets I frequent. The company issues small little square payment terminals to its clients, which allow anyone with a smartphone to start taking credit card payments. The Square app lets you generate invoices on the fly, accept payments easily, and get paid quickly.
Everyone recognizes these little devices, these days, which is a nice perk when you’re in the field. Techs can manage the process without any problems, and customers are unlikely to balk at payment when the little square comes out. Currently, (early June, 2016) Square is charging 2.75% per swiped or invoice transactions.
PayPal has long been a dominant force in the payment industry, spinning itself off from eBay last year. PayPal also offers a plug-and-swipe system for credit card processing, under the PayPal Here brand. It also offers invoicing. And, I guess it also offers all the stuff that Square offers. Huh. PayPal’s little swipe-thing is a triangle instead of a square, if that matters to you.
PayPal does require a larger machine for processing chip-and-pin cards, which Square manages with an upgraded plugin. In reality, there’s not a whole lot of difference. Comparison sites seem to call it a draw between the two, or give the edge to one by a hair. PayPal pricing is 2.7%, but users pay more for invoice transactions.
Depending on what business you’re in, your techs could use any number of support applications for their work. I’m not going to list out everything here, but let me give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
In the Google Play store, you can buy apps that:
- Help HVAC technicians determine pressure and temperature based on refrigerant type
- Give plumbers a reference for pipe and fitting sizing
- Build estimates on the fly for a range of business types
- Let users determine the size and slope of building roofs
There are thousands of similar apps that replace traditional hand calculations or repetitive work and that can help your business save time every day. Take the half hour to run through your section of the app store and find the pieces that can make your life easier.
The wide breadth of apps available means that there are plenty of other options out there. Square and PayPal, for instance, are just two of the hundreds of apps that can give you the power to take payments in the field.
I’d love to hear what your business is using to get more done. Drop a line in the comments and let me know what app your business couldn’t live without.