Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Cost of Inaction

In today's competitive economy, is your business feeling price pressure, high customer service demands, and experiencing lower margins?  As a business owner, you're faced with many challenges, the most prominent one being efficiency.  How do you manage your employees, fleets, and services to promote efficiency?

You may have a method in place that is working, but how well is it working and what benefits are you missing out on from sticking with an older method?

If you currently run your business processes on paper, how long does it take to complete tasks such as scheduling, recording work orders, and filing invoices? How difficult is it to look up customer history?  And most importantly, how much is it costing you to keep the method you have rather than switch to something that’s digitized, faster, and easier to use?

There is a cost for not changing and adopting a new system.  Do you know your cost of inaction?

Think about the current system that you use, looking at the amount of both time and money it takes to maintain it.  Then examine the more efficient system you could have and consider the time and money it will save you.  If the value of the time and money you’d save is higher than the cost of the new system, it is better for your business to invest in the new system.  The cost of inaction is one of the most important factors to consider when determining whether or not to make a purchase.  

When it comes to fleet management, having a more efficient way of scheduling, dispatching, completing work forms, and sending out invoices will save employees hours of completing paperwork, saving hundreds of dollars and allowing for more jobs to be scheduled and completed out in the field, increasing your revenue.  Not only do you save on workforce costs, but you save on vehicle costs too.  Having a system that sets up maintenance reminders and tracks your mileage, fuel usage, hard breaking, etc. could save you money every month on fuel and maintenance costs.  The cost of inaction is much greater than the upfront cost of digitizing your business processes, and hesitating to do so could lead to great financial loss.

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Snow Industry Special: Protect Yourself from Slip and Fall Claims

For those of us who live, work, and travel in the northern half of the United States, snow and ice accumulation is to be expected.   Therefore, slip and fall claims are to be expected too.

Slip and fall claims are more common than you'd expect, and can be a huge financial burden to any business who has to fight them.  It is all too often that the snow plow companies are blamed and charged with these claims, which is why it is so important for businesses in the snow and ice industry to be able to prove the work that they've done, that it was done completely, and therefore, are not liable for the accident.

 Here is one example: you own a snow plow business and are hired to plow and salt the parking lot of a store.  However, as a customer is rushing into the store to escape the cold, he falls and is injured.  The store tries to blame you for not completing the job and forgetting to salt the parking lot.

Do you have the exact times that you plowed and salted the parking lot to prove you did both? Do you have the photographic proof that you finished the job?

The truth is, when it comes to slip and fall claims, you need to be able to protect yourself and your business.  Install a digital GPS vehicle tracking system to reduce your liability, mitigate slip and fall claims, monitor snow events, and see crews finish each job site live and in real time.

The Stats of Slip and Fall Claims
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year, over 800,000 people are hospitalized for hip or head injuries due to falls.  Each fall results in costs of approximately $30,000 totaling $24 billion dollars every year.

To learn about other interesting trends regarding slip and fall injuries, click here.

About IndusTrack
IndusTrack provides an affordable, simple, and powerful solution for snow industry companies to protect them against slip and fall claims.  We combine in-vehicle GPS tracking and a mobile app for workforce management into an all-in-one software tool.  Track your job locations, time spent on the job, material usage, and your crew to improve efficiency, increase revenue, and reduce liability.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Lean Strategy, Lean Action

With lean manufacturing, the idea is pretty simple: get rid of waste, in whatever form it might be, so that the only processes you have left add value to your customers.  These become your core, essential processes, the ones your business can't function without and switches the focus of your business to your customers to improve satisfaction, increase efficiency, and reduce operational costs.

Even though this idea started in manufacturing, it can be applied to any industry.  Every business has room to improve.

Here's one approach to being lean in 5 easy steps:

Step 1: Sort & Identify Value

Review the processes you go through on a daily basis:  How do you schedule jobs as customers call in?  How long does it take you to create an invoice based off of a completed work order?  Can you provide detailed proof of work to your customers?  Essentially, all of these questions boil down to: How efficient are your business processes?

This is what lean manufacturing is all about: boosting efficiency by switching your focus to serving your customers. The two go hand in hand.

Think about it this way:

  • The value of your business depends on the satisfaction of your customers
  • The satisfaction of your customers depends on your employee's ability to complete a job quickly and accurately
  • Your employee's ability to complete a job depends on how efficient your business processes are

So evaluate which processes are necessary to create customer satisfaction, rank how important each one is, and eliminate the ones that have no added value.  At the end of this step, you should have only the necessary processes you need to run your business and best serve your customers.

Step 2: Re-Order

Now that you have a list of essential processes, order them in a way that will promote efficiency and productivity in the workplace.  One method is to establish a systematic workflow, drawing out how each step connects to the next starting with receiving a call from a customer all the way down to sending out invoices and paying your employees.

Workflows are all about the details of the process. Break down each basic step into even smaller steps, and consider how you can alter those steps to make them faster.

For example, think about your process of dispatching.  How do you send work orders to your employees? Is it on paper? Do you notify them with a call? What do you use for navigation and routing to get to the job site on time? How live is that data? And finally.....is this the best way for you to communicate effectively with your employees when it comes to dispatching?

Sometimes the basic order of steps will remain the same, but start to ask yourself what you can do to make these steps work better.  Always stay receptive and adaptive to change.  Make sure there is some flexibility in case of future advancements and growth within your company.

Step 3: Polish

Workflows are not a simple thing.  There is a lot of overlap and dependency within them; if one step isn't done accurately or timely, it will mess up the next one.  Fixing this challenge isn't about adding in more processes; it's about transforming the way you do business.  One way to do this is by going digital.

Take advantage of mobile scheduling, time tracking, electronic forms, vehicle navigation and routing systems, etc.  Digitizing your processes cuts down the amount of time spent sorting through paperwork, therefore reducing operational costs and human error.

To see how effective digitized processes can be, think about everything that is included in a work order: the time it took to do the job, the materials that were used, forms signed by the customer, notes of details or problems that occurred, etc.  Where do you store work orders when you're done with them?  And how do you access these reports later on to view customer history?

When you've been in business for years and start to accumulate hundreds of customers, you don't want to be sorting through multiple filing cabinets filled with hundreds of sheets of paper trying to find a past report.  Going digital allows two things to occur:

  1. You have everything stored in one place, so past reports are easier to access and communication becomes simpler.
  2. You can integrate your digital system with your new workflow to create better management by making sure that steps are done systematically.

Step 4: Standardize

Ensure that all of your employees are on the same page when it comes to this new process, and train them in on these new workflows.  Develop a set of rules of how and when to record data and where to store it. Where do you want your employees to record materials used for each job? How do you want them to record it? What details should they include?

Whatever format you decide on, make sure it is the same across the board.  It's important to have consistency within the entire business organization.

Step 5: Maintain

Maintain the new order of processes you've set up and review it regularly.  You may find that a few years down the road you need to edit some of the processes you have in place.  Future technology, products, and tools may become available that can further improve your business operations. 

The main goals of being lean in your business operations are to cut costs through improved efficiencies, create a focus on adding value to customers, and instill progress.  We live in a fast-paced world, and in this day and age, the expectations of service industries continue to advance and change.  It's necessary for you to have the ability to change with them.

About IndusTrack

IndusTrack provides a simple, easy to use, and highly accurate solution to build efficiency in service industry companies.  We combine in-vehicle GPS tracking and a mobile app for workforce management into an all-in-one software tool.  Track your job locations, time spent on the job, material usage, and your crew to improve efficiency, increase revenue, and ensure customer satisfaction.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Staying Present

Building Customer Relationships: Part 3

Last week, we talked about what makes a strong foundation for customer relationships and have found that loving your customers and communicating with them are two of the biggest factors of that foundation.  But once you have this foundation built, it doesn't end there.  You still have to stay present as your customer relationships begin to grow.

What does staying present mean?  Staying present means:
  • Truly listening to what your customers have to say
  • Addressing their concerns
  • Anticipating their needs
  • Updating them on the progress your business has made
  • Showing them what else you can offer to improve the lifestyle they lead
Customer relationships are dynamic; they are constantly growing and changing, but it's their progress that makes it so exciting.  As time goes on, your customers will want and need different things, so of the bullet points listed above, the two most important are to anticipate their needs and listen to what they have to say.

When it comes to anticipating your customer's needs, think of when you're eating at a restaurant.  If your glass of water is running low, your waiter/waitress should refill the water before it's completely gone.  They are anticipating your needs, rather than waiting for you to ask them for more water.   Another example is getting a new phone.  You're excited to use it, testing out the features, etc.  But after a few days, you may think: I should probably do something to protect this phone.  Well, your phone company is thinking the same thing, so they contact you showing you phone cases and screen protectors, anticipating your need for protecting your new phone.

 Think of what you have done for your customer before.  Has it been a long enough period of time where they would need an upgrade, need something else to be fixed, or need another product/service that you have?  Think about how you can anticipate your customers' needs based on what they currently have.

Sometimes it can be hard to listen to your customers, especially when they only have negative things to say.  If someone is upset with your service, they may write a bad online review or something of that nature.  But even when their comments are negative, listen to them.  If they are upset with you for not showing up on time or taking longer than expected to complete a job, there are tools to help you manage the way you spend your time; take advantage of them.  If they complain about the work not being done as well as they expected, take that feedback and use it to better your work in the future.  If they complain about the price being higher than expected, there are many price estimation tools that can help you with that as well.  

One of the best examples of this type of situation is Domino's.  Many people would complain about their pizza crust not tasting good, that it's not soft enough and tastes like cardboard.  But Domino's listened to what their customers were saying and completely redesigned the crust of their pizza to make their customers happy and strengthen the relationship they had.  

So what are your customers saying?  What positive things have they said that you need to keep up over time?  What negative comments have they made that tell you there may be some problem areas in your business that you need to look into and change?

Staying present with your customers will help you to not only grow your customer relationships, but will also give you an external view of your business operations allowing you to see the changes you need to make; so listen and make those changes.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Starting with a Strong Foundation

Building Customer Relationships: Part 2

Now that you're starting with a clean slate, it's time to build up a strong foundation with your customers.  This foundation is built upon what many would consider to be "the basics".  Treat your customers with respect, be patient and understanding with them when they ask for support, don't try to win an argument, ask good questions to guide them to the solution they need, etc.  But what is the biggest factor, the best thing you can do to build a relationship with your customers?

Love them.

You have to love your customers.  This is something that is easier said than done, of course.  It's easy to love the customers you have when they are easy to work with, when they are happy to be speaking with you, or when they want to tell you how great your product or service has been working for them.  It's not so easy when they call in upset or frustrated, or when things aren't working the way they want them to and they take their frustration out on you.

We have all experienced both types of customers (and we have all probably been both types of customers ourselves too), and once we have one bad encounter with a specific customer, it's hard to love them in the future. To love difficult customers, you need to change your mindset.  Every day is a new day.  Every conversation is a new conversation.

So when you recognize their number calling on the phone or see a notification of a new email from them, before you pick up that phone or start going on a rampage with your email response, make a mental note to: 1) remember that you have been in their shoes before, 2) erase any negative thoughts of conversations you've had with them in the past, and 3) go into the conversation with positivity and excitement.  If you do, your attitude will rub off on them making the conversation go much smoother.

The other major foundational piece of building strong customer relationships is....

Good communication.

  • Ask your customers questions, make sure you have a clear understanding of exactly what it is that they need. 
  • Communicate with them regularly to ask how your product or service is working for them making sure they are satisfied with you and your business.  
  • Don't just stick to small talk, get to know your customers.  Understanding who they are and how they think can allow you to service them better.  

For example, some people are so detail oriented that they can't step back and see the bigger picture of how things will fit together.  Others are the opposite: they see the big picture and how a project should look when it's finished, but can't understand all of the smaller steps that must be taken first. 

A few years ago, we had our bathrooms redone in our house.  When the tiler was laying out the shower tiles, I didn't understand why he started in the middle of the wall instead of just starting on the edge and working his way down.  He said he does it this way so that the tiles on each end of the shower are the same size.  In this situation, I was thinking about the big picture, rather than the details.  Just based on our conversation, he could understand my way of thinking and was able to explain in way that made sense to me.

Getting to know your customers can help you see the way they think: are they detail oriented, or a big  picture thinker, or something else?  Once you know this, you can communicate more clearly with them, as the tiler did for me.

Friday, July 14, 2017

5 Customer Mistakes you Could Easily be Making

Building Customer Relationships: Part 1

Managing customers and ensuring their satisfaction is one of the biggest concerns of any business.  The happiness of your customers allows everything else to fall into place.  Happy customers lead to happier employees, positive reviews and word-of-mouth, more business, and more revenue.

But what are you doing that could be hindering your relationship with your customers?  Here are a few common customer mistakes you could easily be making.

1. You Don't Know Them

It's important to know your customers.  Know their name, know the products and/or services they like to use, and know the problems they have had in the past.  Knowing your customer's history can go a long ways to improve satisfaction.  The more you know about your customer, the better you can serve them in the future.

2. Minimal Communication

Customers like to know that they are cared for and that they have the support available to them when they need it.  Now, you don't want to bombard them by calling them every few hours just to check in, but stay connected with them, and connect with them on multiple channels (through email, phone, social media, etc.).  Make sure they have what they need and that any concerns or questions they have are resolved.  

3. One-Size-Fits-All Solution

When it comes to your customers, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.  Every person you serve has different requirements and different needs for a solution.  You must be able to understand the different needs they have and cater your products and/or services towards that.  Make them know that you are willing to work with them to find the perfect fit that they need.

4. Sending Them in a Loop

Make sure that you take a direct approach when your customers contact you.  There's nothing they hate more than having to be put on hold for extensive amounts of time and be transferred around from Person A to Person B to Person C.  Make sure you ask enough questions and get enough clarification from them to know exactly who it is that they need to speak to.

5. Having Inaccurate Data

Living in the 21st century, technology and data are inevitable in a business.  As your business grows, your amount of data will become almost overwhelming, so use technology to organize and take control of it. Customers like to see all the details of what they're paying for.  If you can organize your data in a way that gives your customers precise dates, times, notes, materials used, etc., you not only make your customers happier, but you protect yourself and your employees by being able to prove that you've done the work.

Customer satisfaction is key to any business.  Start to take a look at how you interact with your customers.  What customer mistakes have you been making?  What has been making them happy vs. unhappy?  If you want to start building up your relationships with customers, it's important to start with a clean slate.  Recognize the bad habits you've fallen into and get rid of them.  Once you do, you can start to build a new foundation with your customers, and that starts with good communication.

To learn about IndusTrack and the solutions and tools that we offer for workforce management and in-vehicle GPS tracking, visit our website or contact us at (612) 746-4017 ext. 1. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

IndusTrack Launches Smartphone and Tablet App Ideal for Scheduling and Monitoring Snow Removal Businesses

Snow removal businesses often face huge difficulties that other mobile workforces hardly ever have to consider. IndusTrack recently announced the launch of their IndusTrack Smartphone and Tablet app designed to make scheduling, monitoring and coordinating snow removal businesses much more simple and easy. Early users couldn’t be happier.
There’s little doubt for anyone who has worked within it even briefly, the snow removal business comes
along with problems that can appear both quickly and frequently. With customers generally demanding jobs be finished on time, being able to answer these issues quickly can be the difference between a business’s success and failure. Scheduling software experts IndusTrack recently announced the launch of their IndusTrack Smartphone and Tablet app offering a way to more easily schedule, monitor and coordinate snow removal businesses in a win/win all around.
“We understand the ins and outs of snow removal businesses and our IndusTrack Smartphone and Tablet app was developed with that in mind,” commented a spokesperson from the company. “For a smart snow removal company, this can be the set of tools that puts them over the top to more profitability, less stress, more satisfied customers, and even happier employees.”
According to IndusTrack, the app allows companies to track the amount of time their workers spend on plowing vs salting and sidewalk service. The app also allows users to monitor job statuses, to do easy reports for billing, to track materials used for each customer’s job, to provide proof of service to customers, and deliver information accurate to the minute for the highest level of tracking ability.
Users have given the snow removal app positive feedback across the board.
Frank I., from Boston, recently said, “This is no exaggeration – IndusTrack changed the way we approach our snow removal business, almost completely and for the better, when it comes to making sure our business runs smoothly. Worth every penny. Five stars and fully recommended.”
For more information be sure to visit:
About IndusTrack
IndusTrack is a complete mobile workforce solution. They offer scheduling, timesheets, mobile forms, GPS and asset tracking. Their one-source platform is also integrated with QuickBooks and other back office software. Prior to IndusTrack, the founders started the design and consulting service business, Spectrum Solutions in 2002. As Spectrum, the team designed hundreds of GPS tracking/wireless solutions for other companies. The company had more than 40 engineers and was considered the premier design services business. In 2008, IndusTrack was created by this deeply experienced team brought together to address market challenges with tracking fleet and mobile workers.
For more information, visit: http://www.industrack.com
Media Contact
Company Name: IndusTrack
Email: support@industrack.com
Phone: 612-746-4017
Address:10700 West Hwy. 55, Suite 270
City: Plymouth
State: MN
Country: United States
Website: http://www.industrack.com
Source: ABNewswire