If your business is anything like mine used to be… I feel for you.
There were days I thought, “Why the !@$# did I get in this business?”
We slowly attracted new customers. All the wrong ones. Some of our
employees drank too much on the weekend and didn’t show on Monday morning. Sometimes we had to pick laborers up at the ‘green house’… you know, the place where they all stand around looking for work.
The ‘wrong customers’ we attracted didn’t realize they were supposed to actually pay for the services we were providing. Scheduling and routing was a nightmare. Invoicing never went out on time. Some customers never got billed for some of the work we performed. Other customers asked for work and we some how forgot to do it. Certain ‘wrong customers’ would claim to have canceled 2 months earlier and wouldn’t pay their bill. We couldn’t prove otherwise. All of our residential customers wanted to be mowed at the end of the week… not on Monday. The business was a beating. Some days it felt like life just plain sucked.
Okay, I’ve exaggerated a bit… but at the time, it really did feel that way.
I knew we had two major problems. 1) we didn't know how to effectively market and acquire new clients without spending a small fortune and 2) we desperately needed a software system to manage everything.
I found several systems I could piece together but managing it was going to be a mess.
I also found a system with an up front $10,000.00 price tag. That was kind of steep. But it looked interesting. What if it didn’t work? They didn’t have a guarantee. Not to mention, it didn’t really appear to be built for me and my business.
I finally gave up and settled on a $1000.00 scheduling system that interfaced with QuickBooks. It wasn’t bad, in fact, it was way better than what we had before. Unfortunately, it wasn’t web based so we could only use it on one computer in the office. And all it really did was remember the schedule, print a route sheet and export the completed work to QuickBooks. Again, a huge improvement, but not nearly enough!Get Tour & Pricing Now
We didn’t really know how to market. Our previous companies had been built on in-person selling, networking and building relationships. With this business, the key to rapid growth had to be marketing.
We needed a technology system that could manage the business. I looked and looked for such a system. I found about three or four different systems I could buy and piece together to accomplish what I was looking for. Had I gone that route it would have been a giant mess.
If we planned to light a fire under our company and make some exciting things happen without requiring all of my time or multiple expensive employees… we had to do something.
I finally called off the search for a complete, web based system.
I co-founded Service Autopilot to build the system I was certain needed to exist. It has been an extremely expensive process and has taken a long time to build. Fortunately, I have been in the software industry since 1997, so I knew exactly what to do and how.
The early version of the system revolutionized our company. It is web based. Our trucks had laptops mounted in the cab with wireless cards (today we use mobile devices). The system made it possible to hire and manage office staff that can work full or part time from their homes. That saved us a lot of money. Our business started running smoothly. Most of the errors and mistakes we were making were eliminated relatively quickly. Marketing started going out. New office and field procedures became easy to implement. We could actually see a snapshot of our business and understand what was going on.Get Tour & Pricing Now
Our business started to take off. The first few years of the business resulted in fairly slow growth. During the four years after implementing the new system and building and implementing a real marketing system
During that painful time when it felt like I was under water trying to catch my breath and fix my company's numerous issues I was bombarded daily with solutions to all of my problems.
Direct mail, but primarily email marketing, constantly interrupted me with the next great quick fix to solve all my worries.
The solutions being peddled ranged from Val-pak, door hangers, sophisticated auto-responder systems, social marketing and networking, Google Adwords, podcasting, video posting, blogging, SEO, Facebook marketing, quick launch formula products, the latest internet wizardry… the list is still growing.
Everyone under the sun was interrupting me with ‘the thing’ that I had to look at … that I had to buy this minute before it went away forever and disappeared never to be offered again.
What I learned is most of that stuff is nothing more than a distraction and will totally waste your time. It will get you nowhere fast.
The reality is you only have to execute a few things very well over and over again to create a breakout success.
Before you bother with any of the 'latest new things'… with any offer, I’d encourage you to work on two things.
And only two things.
Put a technology system in place (or a better one) to help you run your business. First get control of the business.
Become an expert at growing your business through marketing. By the way, the technology system you put in place must help you with this.Until you have accomplished this I would encourage you to ignore everything else.
You can market all day long...Get Tour & Pricing Now
... and drive swarms of hot prospects to your door ready to buy. But, if you can’t answer the phones live, can’t track their calls, can’t price their business almost immediately, can’t sign them up and secure payment in a way that doesn’t ultimately result in a bad debt, can’t effortless schedule them and automatically set them up in your accounting system, can’t automatically bill them on time… you shouldn’t even bother plowing cash into your marketing campaign.
If you can’t take the calls, close the business and constantly follow up on the ones you don’t close you are flushing handfuls of cash down the drain.
Lay the foundation of your company… prepare for growth first. All the while spend as much time as possible sharpening your marketing skills.
Once this has been accomplished.
Most great successes start out a bit slow and ultimately surpass
everyone else because they got the foundation right.
The speed at which you build your business doesn’t matter. Look at all the big companies crumbling under debt and bad management. Most are crumbling because they grew too fast, tried to keep up with their competitors, got caught up in greed and they were not prepared for the growth they created.
Now they are gone… or a shell of what they were.
Don’t make the same mistake. Build your foundation to last.
Fortunately, there is a technology system that makes this so much easier than it used to be.
Doesn’t that sound nice?
You arrive at the office at 9 a.m. Your crews are already out the door. Have been for some time. You sit down in front of your PC or Mac with a cup of coffee and log on. You quickly scan your day’s To Do list. Then you look at a daily snap shot of your business in Service Autopilot. It shows you exactly where each of your crews are at that very moment. You quickly scan your open prospects, client count, new sales, open issues log, cancellations, pending sales, daily closes, etc. Within a few moments you have a complete picture of how your business is doing. You can see the trends.
As calls come into your office and as prospects request estimates and sign up on your website, Service Autopilot automatically notifies all the right people within your organization of exactly what to do. And tells you when they fail to do it.
After lunch with a new client, a property manager, you return to the office. According to Service Autopilot there are not any major "fires". You check the call log. Everyone is on top of the calls. There has been a lot of activity today, 9 new leads, 5 closes, 4 email estimates sent, 1 service concern, 2 billing questions. No cancellations.
You answer a call on your cell phone. It’s Mike… a long time customer. He’s got an emergency. One of his irrigation zones has been watering one of his color beds since 6 a.m. this morning.
With the click of a button Service Autopilot helps you locate the closest crew. You radio them and send them to Mike’s property. That’s serious customer service.
Later that afternoon the weather moves against you. The down pour forces your crews back to the shop. Lisa, your office manager clicks a couple buttons in Service Autopilot and all of that day’s clients are notified of potential weather delays. Once again… serious customer service.
Finally, on the way out the door to catch your son’s baseball game you quickly view today's invoice summary. All looks good. Service Autopilot automatically charged 237 of your client’s credit cards for their open balances. 14 of the credit cards failed. But, Service Autopilot has already...
... notified the 12 customers in the system with email addresses that they need to login or call to update their credit cards. A ticket has been auto generated for Nancy in accounting to print and mail payment notices for the two clients who you didn’t have email addresses on file for whose credit cards didn’t go through.
That will get done tomorrow. In the mean time, Lisa, the office manager, is reviewing all of today’s completed work to verify its accuracy. She’s also making sure that the crews all stayed within their budgeted man hours at each job.
Before she leaves she will easily reschedule any unfinished work for tomorrow and quickly generate all of tomorrow’s route sheets. The crews will automatically receive the route sheets on their smart phones.
What’s interesting is that these little stories barely cover all of the different things that were going on today behind the scenes at your company. The great thing is… you didn’t have to worry about any of it. Service Autopilot and your well trained team managed it all for you.
It’s very important to know that…
Not all businesses need or are ready for this level of sophistication.
So we also created an entry level version of Service Autopilot that will give you all the features you need right now to start or continue building your business to the next level.
When you’re ready, with the click of a button, you can upgrade to a more advanced version of the system. Doing so will automatically give you all the functionality you could possibly need to take your business to any level you desire.
Click the button below to access the Demo, Screens Shots, Full Tour and Pricing.