By Shannon O’Neil and Michael Lindenbaum
From improving operational efficiencies to proof of service in the event of a slip-and-fall lawsuit, incorporating technology to support business goals is a smart move.
The primary advantage to documenting service is to ensure the customer pays the invoice and there’s an ability to provide proof of service in the event of a dispute or lawsuit. Here are six service areas to track:
- Proof that the crew was at the location
- Proof of the day and time they were there
- Proof of conditions and snow totals
- Proof of services that were performed
- Proof of materials and equipment used or applied
- Proof of site conditions when service was completed
Considerations when you choose
Proof of service can be made easier with tools and technology at your fingertips. Platforms are available that allow you to effectively and easily capture important data in the field.
Selecting the right technology options to document snow and ice management services can be confusing. Keep in mind ease of use, customer support, availability of technology updates and availability of user training for employees. Look for solutions that will integrate with one another as well as with existing systems to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort.
How technology can help
Let’s take a deeper dive into some ways to use technology to document processes and service, as well as the respective benefits.
. Having one system to track leads, estimate the service, generate a contract, schedule services, record service time and materials, perform billing and handle job costing will help keep the company organized. Many technology systems integrate with one another to ensure all data is stored timely, is easy to access and will be retained for historical data in the event of a lawsuit or billing question.
. Having a dashboard to identify the training progress is important to enforce training throughout the organization. Advanced training programs have multiple layers: hands-on equipment training, video training, on site property specific training, tailgate meetings/crew meetings, etc. This type of training documentation can help reduce insurance expenses.
Preseason site inspections
. For protection, take preseason site inspection photos that document property conditions, including existing damages. This can reduce money spent on having to repair damage not caused by your company. Some applications GPS tag the photos to a property map to show the specific location where the picture was taken. This can be helpful when servicing a large property.
Visual documentation of services provided, areas of concern or existing site damages are a click away with technology. As you explore options, consider those that are easy to use, integrate with other software you currently use, have good customer service support, and user training.
Property measurements and snow maps
. Visual inspection of the property has many benefits. Having the property measured online can help in several other ways.
- Create a color-coded map to show the type of equipment/labor needed for different areas of the property.
- Identify the crew to handle each area of the property.
- Add icons to denote special instructions for the crews (e.g., where to pile the snow or areas of importance).
- Add an animated plow truck icon to show the crews the process to plow and shovel the property.
. Let the smartphone be smart. Mobile devices can allow your crews and subcontractors to see what work to perform and the materials needed; take photos of the work before, during and after; create an issue/note for the office; and note pavement surface temperature at the start and end of service. Access this information on a live dashboard map for operation managers to see what properties have been serviced and those that need to be serviced - giving you the ability to adjust resources to service your client in a timely manner. Choose a technology solution that integrates with your GPS system to have the ability to see everything on one dashboard map.
Post-event reporting and billing
. Using a mobile device can give all the start, stop and materials used that are already in the billing system, allowing the ability to bill for services in as little as 48 hours. Obtaining certified snow totals from independent weather services to validate snowfall helps justify billing depending on the type of snow contracts. It’s another documentation step that supports the service and billing best practices.
Shannon O’Neil is CFO at RYCO Landscaping and a BOSS LM Certified Consultant. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or learn more at www.bosslm.com. Michael Lindenbaum is CEO of Sitefotos. Contact him at email@example.com or learn more at www.sitefotos.com.