Does Your Calendar or Despatch Board Suck?

Let's cut to the chase.

It's time to ditch the Reece Diary!!!

Hey we're in the 21st century boys - pen and paper and scribble notes and dog eared pages are not for the modern plumber. It's time to embrace the online diary....

So where do you start? There are a multitude of plumbing software programs out there all being sold by extremely pushy salesmen salespeople (sorry trying to remember to be politically correct - it's hard for this old dog....) 

Hmmm and naturally each software company will tell you theirs is the best...
......just like you're the best plumber in your area...
......so how do you really find out 'which one's the best'?

You know what - it starts with what your needs are. 

It's got nothing to do with the program itself.... 

WHAT DO YOU NEED FROM YOUR CALENDAR?

Are you a one man band? Sole Trader? Do you have staff - how many?

Do you work for builders, on renovations, new work or commercial projects where you're most likely on a job for 1 day to many days?

It makes a difference - this idea of one piece of software fits all is a load of rubbish!

And that my busy friend is why YOU MUST NOT LISTEN TO PUSHY SALESPEOPLE THAT ONLY KNOW ONE PROGRAM!!!!

You need to do the research yourself, ask your fellow plumbers....

WAIT - I know that you do this alot already, ie ask another plumber - BUT I want you to not choose a program because they're using one, but rather ask what they like about it and compare their notes to your wishlist - does it cover everything you want it to do? -------
OHHH ok...... double WAIT - you don't know what you want it to do?

And herein lies the problem.....
....which is why we'll go back to YOU working out your needs.

Let's start again.  

What information did you take down in your diary.

Name, address, time, date, notes.

So let's start with those.

You want a diary/calendar/scheduler that at least lets you collect that info - and really really quickly.

Tell you what - I'm going to make this easy for you. I'll let you in on what you should be looking for - I can't tell you how many different programs I've used over the years looking for the perfect calendar... but I will tell you that this list below... is going to save you countless hours of trawling the internet...

Here's the top 5 things a Calendar must do/have to run a plumbing business, in my opinion:

  • Multi column, ie enable you to have a column for each staff member (and if it's just you - you still want this, as it's great to use the columns for other information). And I don't mean a gantt style chart column that runs horizontally - I mean a vertical column.

  • Notes - you must be able to show notes on the screen as well as appointments.... and not just job notes, but internal operating notes that specifically relate to a day/date, ie MV1 in for repair, Joe has swapped trucks with Tim. OR Tim late to work today...

  • Colour coding - for a really quick run down of what's on for the day, it's important to have jobs colour coded - eg. pink for pending, green for confirmed, blue for finished OR yellow for blocked drains, brown for hot water heaters, purple for general maintenance etc. AND you need to be able to decide which works best for your business - in other words this should be flexible and totally customisable to you.

  • Overlapping - not all calendars let you overlap appointments but we found this vital in plumbing. Say you allow for a 2 hour appointment for a job 7am - 9am, but you really don't know how long that job will be and you want to take on another job that's booked for 8.30am - the system needs to allow you to put another job under your name at 8.30. The other way this works is if you have a team of plumbers and you're booking jobs in for the next day...but you're not sure who's getting what job at this point. You create an "Unassigned" employee and all jobs get put to this "Unassigned" person - you might have 4 jobs booked in for 7am and you need to be able to put them all against "Unassigned" until you're ready to move them. So yes, it's important that the system you use allows you to overlap or even double up on appointments.

  • Suburbs - the calendar or despatch board should show what suburb or address each job is in without you having to click on the job. ie it should be highly visible. This makes it so much easier for a despatcher to organise jobs quickly and efficiently....and this is what it's all about - MAKING THINGS EASIER, NOT HARDER.

  • Cloud based - and that means being able to be used on ANY device - Mac, PC, ipad, iphone, smart phone etc..... As we've previously discussed, having an online calendar also means that when the time comes for you to have someone else answering your phone and logging in jobs, they have the ability to use the same system as you.  AND - this doesn't mean having to 'buy' more licences or 'seats' - you should be able to have ADMIN staff login with their own login details FOR NO EXTRA COST...!!!!!  

So does the calendar you're using now fit those needs?

Pretty sure most like Simpro, ServiceM8, Geoop, Tradify and more.. CAN NOT tick ALL of those boxes.  I've tested them all.

So where did we turn? Well believe it or not our choice of Scheduling software is a program designed for....... HAIRDRESSERS AND SALONS. YES - you read that right.

IT TICKS ALL OF THE BOXES ABOVE!!!

I want to leave you with this thought.... just because a piece of software wasn't WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY FOR PLUMBERS OR ELECTRICIANS... doesn't mean it won't work.... it really does pay to look and think outside the box - especially when the box was designed by EX-ELECTRICIANS/PLUMBERS WHO THINK THEY KNOW WHAT'S BEST FOR EVERY OTHER TRADIE..... hmmm and we're back to the 'ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL SCENARIO'.

The program we recommend is called Timely... and you can check it out, and even do a FREE 14 Day Trial HERE >>>>

You may not like it.

You may hate it.

And that's ok.

ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL.

I will leave you with one final piece of info..... this program, along with the other 3 we used, turned our business completely on it's head. So much so that we were able to run 7 trucks with 2 part time office staff and a team of casual virtual receptionists. 

Why did we like it, apart from the recommended list of needs above....

Because Timely is by far the easiest program we have come across when it comes to creating customer cards and booking in jobs. Even though the program was originally designed for Salons and in-house service businesses with a bit of creativity we managed to tweak it to work for a plumbing business of 10 staff and 7 trucks.... and it worked beautifully.  

Interested in setting up your own Despatch Board on Timely - exactly the same way we used it? All you have to do is follow along step by step to have your own fully functioning Calendar... >>>> CLICK HERE.

Timely appointment scheduling system

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