Electrical contracting company Beel Electrical has been servicing Victoria’s Mornington Peninsular since 2009. Recently, the management team introduced a new eCommerce and job management system that would enable them to track a job from booking to completion, and even take payment on the job site.
Owner-Manager Ben Beel considers himself at the forefront of technology, and has always used digital tools where possible in his business. After building a successful website and Facebook channel, Ben turned his sights to an eCommerce solution that would make the business more efficient.
“I’ve always known there were systems out there that can make the job easier, so all it took was some trial and error before settling on a system I liked. We’re using an app called Service M8 that was created here in Australia, and was specifically designed to help small trades businesses.
“I tried a few systems, and I found that either they were too large and expensive, or they felt more suited to traditional businesses that sell a product rather than a service,” says Ben.
“For me, it all comes down to efficiency. My old man once said ‘you never want to put a system in place that takes longer than the task itself’, and I kind of made that my mantra when looking for a job management and payment system.”
The app allows Ben to create a job when a call comes in, schedule it to a staff member for a later date, or mark it as urgent and send it to the closest available van. Then, staff simply open the app and all of the job information is accessible. They can also click a button to navigate to the job site via their mobile phones GPS, and send a text to the customer to let them know they’re on the way.
“We’ve found the text to customer service to be particularly helpful. We’ve often had customers say ‘thanks for the text, I was about to pop down to the store so I decided to stay’. It’s a great way to help make sure that someone is home when our staff arrive, saving us time at the end of the day,” says Ben.
For Ben, that’s the one of the major factors in choosing to use a digital job management and invoicing system – saving time.
“Having the ability to track my vans from the office helps me assign jobs, so we can make sure that we’re servicing as many customers as possible on any given day. It also means I don’t have to go home at the end of the night to a three hour pile of paperwork,” he says.
The second factor in using the system was financial. Now, that three hour pile of paperwork is completed by staff during the day, leaving Ben more time after work for his personal life, and helping to improve the businesses finances.
“If you send someone an invoice in the mail, they will just add it to their stack of bills and budget it in when it works for them. With the eCommerce system, our clients are notified about our Payment On Completion Policy as they make a booking. That way, they know we expect payment on the job site, not weeks later,” says Ben.
“Service M8 lets us take payments on the job site. First, we can send an invoice direct from the app using our tablets. The customer can see the breakdown of expenses then and there.
“Then, we can open a secure part of the app, take their credit card details and get their signature, all from the iPad. The customer is sent a copy of their invoice through the App after we approve it, and they can get that by email or text. If they want a paper copy, we can send a request through the App, and Australia Post will sort it all out for us.
“It saves us a lot of time in going back to the office, creating an invoice, printing it and putting it in the post. Plus, it improves our cash flow because most of our customers pay on the day.”
Ben feels that digital is the way of the future if you want to build a successful business.
“We find that not only have we improved our systems, but overall we’re much more efficient. That means we can take on more jobs and grow the business organically, just by using this system,” he says.
“Our next step is to connect our digital systems – we want to investigate digital advertising and use that to our advantage.”