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Gas Smart Heating has rolled out a high tech mobile workforce system as part of a paperless management system. A specialist in domestic heating and plumbing, Gas Smart Heating Ltd has equipped its field engineers with tablets running jobWatch, a 5 in 1 app supplied by BigChange.

Incorporating vehicle tracking with real time job reporting via the tablets, the system provides Gas Smart Heating with a complete end to end business solution.

With a team of highly trained engineers and headquarters based in Brighton, Gas Smart Heating provides reactive gas and plumbing maintenance including boiler and appliance installation. Formed just 5 years ago the company wanted to introduce the latest technology to underpin further expansion. The BigChange system has replaced existing software and paper-based systems, eliminating paperwork throughout the business.

Steven Cahalane, Director, Gas Smart Heating says:

“At the start we were only partly automated and crucial details on customers and appointments were simply scribbled on pieces of paper and calendars. As we began to grow and recruit more engineers, we realised we needed a much more professional system. We wanted to be able to match larger service providers such as British Gas and that’s when we started looking for a new system,”

Previously Gas Smart Heating had a system that provided digital job sheets but according to Cahalane it was very much a packaged solution with fixed job worksheets designed for a sole trader.

“Our old system was fine at the start but as we began to recruit more engineers it was clearly not up to the job. What we really wanted was a single system that would do everything. It was clear from the outset that BigChange offered something that fitted the bill exactly.”

In the office, Gas Smart Heating use JobWatch to log incoming calls, schedule work with jobs sent electronically to the assigned engineers’ tablet. With real-time data from the job, the office is always kept in the picture and can quickly resolve any issues – with invoices generally raised on the day of job completion

Cahalane says:

“The thing about BigChange is that it can match the functionality of systems costing hundreds of thousands of pounds used by national utility firms. This allows new independent players like Gas Smart Heating to enter the market and match the levels of service provided by the traditional suppliers,”

Gas Smart Heating Ltd realised that in order to compete effectively with the large national suppliers and to set them apart from their local competitors, customer service was going to be key. JobWatch is being used to provide the best customer interaction possible including immediate email booking confirmations including name and photograph of the assigned engineer.

Operationally, JobWatch has been implemented to provide information on appliances and job history information so engineers have visibility of previous faults and work done. The system also manages stocks and parts purchasing so engineers no longer face delays on jobs waiting on parts. With real time communication with the office, any additional work needed on site can also be quoted and agreed for completion while still onsite.

Cahalane explains:

“The job history and stock management applications with JobWatch have made a big difference. It means first time job completion rates are much better. In turn our engineers are happier as there are fewer frustrating delays waiting for parts and customers are happier as the work gets done first time without the need to arrange another visit,”

Health and safety is a big issue in the service industry and Gas Smart Heating are finding that JobWatch is helping with safety and compliance. Engineers can immediately record any safety issues onsite with supporting time and location stamped photographs. The system also provides onsite risk assessment workflows and electronic certificates.

As part of JobWatch vans are fitted with satellite tracking. Previously engineers were being called to check on their whereabouts but the system has eliminated that by providing email or text ETA alerts to keep the customer informed on the day. Customers are also able to track engineers progress via a link they receive by Gas Smart heating, allowing them to get on with their day without fear of missing the engineer.

Cahalane explains:

“With BigChange we are simply a lot more organised.”

“With satellite tracking data we can ensure engineers are paid accurately for their working day and overtime. Customer service has really benefitted as well – proof of service is very important especially when dealing with the high expectations of consumers. The tracking and live reporting also helps eliminate and resolve disputes, with quick and accurate invoicing that ensures we get paid quickly.”

Cahalane adds:

“In implementing the BigChange system we wanted to get in early with the latest technology and as state-of-the-art professional software it gives us a crucial competitive edge in the market. With JobWatch we are probably 25 percent more efficient; without it we need more office staff and I would be overwhelmed with administration tasks and paperwork. In fact, we simply wouldn’t be able to compete,”

“However, we see the biggest benefits being realised in the future. Because of the flexibility of the system we can configure it to take on contract work that we could not really do before such as insurance-related work. In addition we can expand freely and the system is easily expandable, accessible and relatively affordable.”

Gas smart van

The BigChange Collaboration Network attracts many innovative and dynamic young professionals aiming to expand services to their customers.

Michael Cairns of Celsius Plumbers is one of the young) and creative individuals who has partnered with BigChange to simplify and centralise his business operations. We recently sat down with Michael to discuss his journey into the heating and plumbing industry, reflecting on some key advice to young business owners looking to expand their operations.

BigChange: Tell us a little bit about your background, how you got started in the industry and some of your most significant accomplishments?

Michael Cairns: I started my journey in 2003 as an apprentice plumbing and heating engineer. At the time finding an apprenticeship as someone over 16 was very difficult, but without a doubt it has had a major positive impact on my life and my families.

After completing my apprenticeship, I gained industry qualifications and started working for the McSence Group. I spent less than a year as a Heating Engineer for McSence before being made redundant from my position.

Following my time at the McSense Group, I decided to start my own business. That big jump happened at the end of 2007 and has grown into Celsius Plumbers.

BigChange: How did your experience as an apprentice plumbing and heating engineer shape your understanding of the value and importance of vocational apprenticeships in the service sectors?

While some things have change since my time served apprenticeship, many of the features and industry wide problems have remained in the heating and plumbing sectors. One of the biggest issues we are currently facing is a major shortage of qualified plumbing and heating engineers. Without skilled professionals giving over their years of experience, there could be significant concerns about the next generation of skilled labour in the UK.

There currently seems to be many independent trades people, way more than ever before. These small businesses are fantastic and take great pride in their work, but not necessarily interested in taking on apprentices due to time and financial constraints. This trend could prove to be a major issue, as older plumbing and heating engineers retire.

We really champion apprenticeships and have done so for many years. We have been training apprentices here at Celsius since 2007. We have proudly trained 7 apprentices so far, all of whom have gained their full industry qualifications. we currently have an apprentice in his 3rd year and are about to start a new 1st year apprentice, which is really exciting for us. The reason we feel so strongly about taking on apprentices, is because we recognise the value and importance of passing on the knowledge to the next generation. I suppose, I recognise personally how much an apprenticeship shaped my life, I wouldn’t be where I am today without one.

BigChange: How has the BigChange system enabled you to streamline operations?

Michael Cairns: After being frustrated with our previous software provider, we were contracted by BigChange and we immediately saw how the system could help our business. The BigChange system has allowed us to do everything we couldn’t do in the past. We used to face various challenges at every step, but with BigChange we have been able to significantly optimise and automate our operations.

With BigChange we have transformed the way we do business. The workflows, Alerts and system process automation have added so much value. When we are faced with an operational challenge, we look to the system to find a solution. The system breeds consistency which is fundamental in any business.

We run on the BigChange flag system, which has built major staff member accountability. It offers our staff a full understanding of what their responsibilities are. Each flag has its own procedure, which answers the fundamental ‘WHY’ question, especially amongst our millennium team members. This has also simplified how our line managers measure performance. As the saying goes, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

BigChange: How has your time working at Celsius shaped your vision to be more globally aware and receptive to diverse customer needs?

Michael Cairns: We currently operate in England and Scotland and through the BigChange collaboration network, we are looking to expand nationwide, while also resolving workforce turnover. Having to delegate responsibility and having the systems to simplify how we do business, has enabled us to think about developing staff to better fulfil their roles. By having clear systems and processes our staff can operate more independently and work to the best of their abilities.

BigChange: What advice can you give over to small and medium sized businesses trying to scale up operations?

Michael Cairns: Surround yourself with a good team and Learn from making mistakes. You must be aware of the trends that are driving the market, it can really impact your overall success.

Your team is your biggest asset, having a company of engaged team members is challenging to achieve, it takes years to properly understand what makes people come to work. When your team know what is expected and have a clear vision of where the company wants to be, the business owners job becomes a whole lot easier. Set goals and reward success when you achieve your goals. How can any business properly grow, unless the team have clarity around the fundamentals? By doing this, we have built a team that are engaged, loyal and dedicated to helping our business grow.

Lastly read books, like the E- Myth Revisited by Michael E Gerber. This book changed my whole thought process around business.

BigChange: What major trends are most likely to make the most impact in the next 5-10 years, in your view?

Michael Cairns: Customers ability to obtain information quicker, as people’s lives become busier.

Additionally, of all the breakthroughs impacting the industry, Uber-style driver tracking features have made the most significant effect on improved customer satisfaction, driving increased transparency. With this and other methods to solidify communication, we’ve increased the tools and information our team can use to solve customer issues the first time.

Through massive and industry wide innovation and ease of access via the web, people will no longer be waiting for a price offered by a contractor. The customer journey will start earlier and the customer will want instant price quotes (much like how amazon operates). The customer is very educated, more than ever and you can’t cheat them. Customers want a polished website which is geared towards instant payment and connects directly with engineers. That said, with all the technical innovation, our customers still want a personal service.

Quality of service and accessibility to technology will shape the growth of businesses in the plumbing and electrical sectors. In the end people want a personal connection based on good service and quality customer service. We don’t make things complicated; we try to help them resolve their issues. We don’t over promise and under deliver.

We’ve taken a lot of inspiration with how BigChange does business, we see CEO Martin Port as an innovator and a mentor who is always happy to give advice. BigChange have helped us to better engage our staff. We feel the simple things are important. It’s not just technology or smoke and mirrors that drive business, its investing in your staff and building quality customer service.

GasTech, the nationwide supplier of heating and cooling systems and services has deployed the latest mobile technology as part of a new cloud-based management system.

GasTech engineers have been equipped with rugged tablets that are connected in the real time to central management systems; part of a 5 in 1 solution from BigChange.

GasTech supply, install and service heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems for commercial and industrial premises across the UK. Operating 24 hours, 7 days a week services, the BigChange technology has revolutionised GasTech’s business by eliminating paperwork and providing live operational information for improved control, productivity and service.

With headquarters near Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, GasTech was first established in 2005. Prior to implementing BigChange, GasTech used a PDF-based system for completing engineer reports and forms but it did not provide data or any tracking and gathering reports was proving time-consuming and inefficient.

Craig Firth, Director at GasTech says:

“With our growing workload we knew we needed to completely change the way we managed our service operations and in particular we needed to reduce the time engineers spent filling out forms,”

Craig continued:

“We undertook extensive research into the available systems on the market and it was clear that BigChange was very easy to use and would take away the administrative headaches from engineers so they could be more productive.”

JobWatch is used by engineers for everything from risk assessments to method statements, procedures, boiler and appliance manuals, job cards, quotations. It allows engineers to manage their work themselves knowing that the central office system will always be fully synchronised, whether night or day.

The GasTech fleet is equipped with BigChange vehicle tracking which provides useful real-time data for customer services and historic records for management analysis and proof of service. GasTech engineers also have immediate access to useful data such as the customer history with records of previous work on site and they can also see what parts are available throughout the company, including stock held on other vans.

Craig added:

“With BigChange we have a real-time paperless solution and there are significant benefits especially in the reduction of administrative work. We no longer have to chase engineers for their reports, everything is immediately available,”

“For customer service, the system is very helpful. It allows us to provide a smooth, seamless service and little features like automated text messages telling customers that an engineer is about to arrive are really great.”

GasTech also appreciates the benefits of fast and accurate invoicing, reducing disputes and the ability to raise quotations in an instant is proving really useful. This allows the company to get quick agreement for any additional remedial work while the engineer is already on site.

Final thoughts:

“With BigChange we are simply more efficient and professional. Jobs can be scheduled off a phone or tablet in an instant and when extra work is needed on site it used to take up to a week to get together a quote for additional work. By then the engineer may have been long gone. Now we can get a quote issued the same day,”

BigChange Gastech office and tablet

BigChange

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