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The exponential growth of a Hertfordshire-based heating, plumbing and electrical business has been driven by field service management software from BigChange.

By equipping engineers with mobile devices, connected in real-time to a centralised job management system, SC Duncan Heating Plumbing and Electrical has fuelled efficiency gains and boosted customer service levels. This has resulted in an 8-fold increase in its workforce and has allowed the company to expand its operation to service domestic customers and extend into renovation and general building services. As a result, SC Duncan has quickly established itself as one of Hertfordshire’s premier private residential property services businesses.

“I have a background working in large service companies, using a number of bespoke and off-the-shelf systems – good and bad! To underpin our expansion, it was clear we needed an all-encompassing piece of software that could assist with every aspect of the customer journey,” commented James Tranham, Managing Director of SC Duncan. “So, the first thing I did was to engage with job management software providers and seek recommendations from other users. I knew I needed a solution that put the customer at the heart of every aspect of the system, yet also had the regulatory and compliance aspect rigidly embedded in all its workflows.

“I am thankful to say I picked BigChange, which has been fantastic from the outset. BigChange has everything we need – a complete solution for the customer journey from booking and confirming appointments right through to invoicing. The reporting is also excellent, but the overall winning aspect is its simplicity.”

James Tranham, Managing Director, SC Duncan

SC Duncan was originally founded by Samuel Campbell Duncan in Stevenage in 1973. With increasing demand from private customers, James Tranham joined Samuel’s grandson John to form SC Duncan Heating Plumbing and Electrical and more recently SC Duncan Construction. SC Duncan implemented the BigChange job management platform, which incorporates customer relationship management (CRM), job scheduling, live tracking, field resource management, job finance and business intelligence in one simple to use and easy-to-integrate platform, to support its business transition.

“We pride ourselves on delivering a traditional local service underpinned by cutting edge modern delivery and BigChange is at the heart of this,” Tranham concluded. “As we continue to increase the of range services we provide and the geographic area we cover we know that BigChange will be with us at every step.”

Morgans Plumbing and Heating has grown its business by more than 600 percent since implementing BigChange field service management software. Using BigChange, Morgans has achieved the highest levels of automation with the platform underpinning every aspect of the business including workforce management, customer communications, reporting and invoicing.

BigChange has also removed the need for home-based engineers to visit head office on a regular basis with digital job sheets, automated scheduling and up-to-the-minute stock control, saving Morgans both man-hours and mileage.

“Right from the outset I knew the only way to grow the business sustainably was with automation, and BigChange ticked that box and more,” commented Steven Morgan, Director of Morgans Plumbing and Heating.

“Before BigChange we were little more than a one-man band, with paper worksheets and no control of workflows, stock or costs. We now cover mid and north Wales, Shropshire and Cheshire and have plans to expand further up the west coast to Scottish borders and further down into south Wales and the Cotswolds. This ambitious expansion simply wouldn’t be possible without BigChange.”

Morgans is a Gas Safe and OFTEC registered, and Worcester Bosch accredited, family-run business, which installs, services and repairs all oil, gas and LPG appliances. Based in Welshpool, Morgans specialises in boilers – gas oil and LPG, can provide expert advice for oil tank, planning, installing and maintaining, and are on hand 24/7 for all emergency plumbing requirements.

Morgans selected BigChange after an exhaustive market review of available solutions during which different packages were benchmarked against an extensive wish list of requirements. Having been using the job management solution, which incorporates customer relationship management (CRM), job scheduling, live tracking, field resource management, financial management and business intelligence in one simple to use and easy to integrate platform, for some time, Morgans is under no illusion as to the important role the platform has had in the business’ geographical expansion and positive customer feedback evidenced with consistent 5-star reviews.

“BigChange has been a critical part of our success so far,” continued Morgan.

“It saves us time and money every single day allowing us to focus on what we do best – which is being available to deliver the highest service possible, in the shortest amount of time and with the tools and stock we need to do the job.”

Morgans Plumbing and Heating

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Despite the COVID-19 pandemic having a damaging effect on many field service businesses, the HVAC market growth shows no signs of slowing down. In 2020, the global HVAC market was valued at $127.4 billion and is expected to expand at an annual growth rate of 5.9% over the next seven years. 

However, although market growth is good news for business owners, it does mean that competition is fiercer than ever. To stand out and attract customers, you’ll need to look at how you run your company and identify any areas for improvement.

In this article, we’ll explain how to run an HVAC business and share how a job management platform can set you apart from your competitors.

How to Run an HVAC Business Effectively

There are many components to running an HVAC business; however, we’ve outlined the top three things you need to take into account below:

1. Plan

Companies that plan ahead grow 30% faster than those that don’t, so it’s essential that you take some time to put together a solid HVAC business plan. To begin, you might want to consider the following questions:

  • What is your unique selling proposition?
  • What is your vision for the next five years?
  • What is your target for sales, gross profit and net profit? If possible, you should break your profits down per department.
  • How many service calls should you aim to attend?
  • How many installations should you aim to complete?
  • How many technicians, installers, salespeople and back-office staff will you require?
  • How much business should you aim to get from repeat customers?

Then, you’ll need to project your cash requirements for each month. Calculate how much money will be coming in and compare it to your outgoings — is your remainder positive? If not, you’ll need to figure out how you will earn the additional revenue required.

Remember, having a steady cash flow is vital for any business, so you must ensure that your customers always pay on time. Otherwise, you will find it challenging to meet operational expenses and take on new projects that contribute to company growth. By investing in a job management platform, you can send electronic invoices the moment your worker has completed the work. Plus, with a range of simple, digital payment options available, your customers can pay on the same day, giving you peace of mind that your finances are in check. 

2. Collect Data

According to research from Aberdeen Group, the best performing field service businesses are driven by data and report a 7% decrease in operating costs. So, if you’re not already analysing your company’s stats, you should be.

The type of data you’ll want to collect will depend on your business goals. For example, ordering parts is crucial for running an HVAC business, but you could be spending far more than you should if you don’t have access to relevant, accurate data. Perhaps your workers forget to sign parts in and out of storage, or maybe their writing is illegible, and you can’t see what they’ve used. Either way, you’ll soon notice that the numbers aren’t adding up.

In comparison, job management platforms give you complete visibility over your operations and provide you with access to real-time data so you can make better-informed business decisions. So, not only will you be able to see how much stock you have available so you never accidentally over-order, but you can also take a closer look at whether the rest of your company is running as efficiently as possible.

3. Recruit the Best Talent

In stark contrast to the booming HVAC market, there is a serious shortage of talent. As more experienced workers reach retirement age and leave the workforce, they’re leaving behind a gap that 70% of field service organisations expect will severely impact operations within the next five to ten years.

Consequently, it’ll be the companies that can hire the best talent that will survive and grow in the years to come. But, to attract Millennial (1981-1996) and Generation Z (1997-2012) workers, businesses will need to modernise their ways of working. These tech-savvy generations will expect to work for companies that provide digital tools that enable them to work efficiently and deliver excellent services.

Therefore, now is the perfect time to undergo a digital transformation and become an early adopter of field service management software. With a platform like BigChange, you’ll be able to provide seamless communication between your field-based workforce and your back-office staff by equipping technicians with a mobile app. 

Using the app, workers can complete risk assessments and workflow documents, check the customers’ files for important notes, view their schedule in real-time, send digital invoices and accept payments — all from their mobile devices. By streamlining your processes and making it simple to complete each job, you’ll find that people will want to work for your company over those that continue to operate ‘the old way’.

Following Best Practices with Fleet Management Software

Job management technology is a must-have for HVAC businesses to thrive in a highly competitive, talent-short market. Platforms like BigChange give you the power to transform your company and manage business-as-usual tasks all in one place, saving you time and money to put back into activities that contribute directly to business growth.

Running an HVAC is simple on BigChange

Manage your entire operation on a single platform. 

BigChange transforms how your HVAC business operates, giving you the power to manage scheduled maintenance and respond to urgent reactive jobs more effectively. 

Give your team everything they need, from site directions and workflows to digital safety certification, and share live data with your back office as required.

Want to find out more?
Discover how BigChange can make your business grow stronger here and arrange a free demo today.

In 2020, plumbers were the most in-demand tradespeople, with 64% of people saying they required plumbing services at some point during the year. As such, there’s never been a better time to win new business and scale your company.

But, to run your organisation successfully and turn a profit, you need to know how to create financial documents correctly. In this article, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to write a plumbing quote and invoice. We’ll also discuss how to calculate the VAT rate on plumbing services, so you know how much tax to add to each job.

What is the VAT Rate on Plumbing Services?

If your taxable turnover is likely to be over the current VAT threshold of £85,000, then you must charge VAT on your services, otherwise known as ‘output tax’. Currently, there are three rates that a plumbing business can charge, which are as follows:

Standard Rate

The standard VAT rate on plumbing services is 20% and applies to work such as:

  • Domestic repairs and maintenance
  • Work to existing structures
  • Work to newly-built structures that don’t meet the zero rate criteria

Reduced Rate

There are certain situations where you can charge a reduced rate of 5%, for example:

  • Installation of energy-saving materials
  • Renovating a property that has been vacant for two years or more
  • Residential conversion work 

Zero Rate

You do not need to add VAT to invoices for zero-rate plumbing services, which include:

  • Services for a disabled person
  • Work on new build houses
  • Work on qualifying buildings if you are the main contractor — usually, these buildings are used for charitable or non-business purposes

For more information on VAT rates, visit the GOV.UK website.

How to Write a Plumbing Quote

Before you begin putting together a quote, you must examine the issue to assess the job’s complexity. Failure to carry out this vital first step could result in unexpected problems and additional hours of work. Your customers won’t be happy if the project falls behind schedule, and your bottom line will take a hit. 

So, visit the location, take notes and then send your customer an estimate that includes these details:

1. The Rate for Your Services

To set a rate for your services, you’ll need to calculate how much you require to pay your bills and make a profit whilst remaining competitive. Many plumbing businesses choose to quote their services in minimum blocks of time. Two hours is enough time to install a new sink, for instance. 

Subsequently, it’s a good idea to make a price card and rate list as a starting point. You can then tweak your prices depending on each customer’s requirement. Also, don’t forget to factor in any additional time you spent inspecting the problem initially, as that will have cost your team time that they could’ve used to attend to another job. 

Luckily, pricing your work needn’t be a headache. With a field service management system in place, you can create a digital rate card and price list that you can easily tailor to your clients’ projects at the touch of a button. 

2. Additional Fees

When putting together an estimate, you should always cover any other expenses you or your team will incur whilst carrying out the job. Your additional fees can include the following costs:

  • Travel; you can either charge a fixed rate or calculate your mileage
  • Union dues, pensions and insurance don’t need to be itemised, but you should include them as part of your hourly or base rate
  • Emergency call-outs that cover weekends, holidays or after-hours work
3. Supplies and Materials

More often than not, plumbing jobs require you to provide supplies and materials that add to your overall costs. So, once you’ve completed your initial inspection of the problem, you should make a note of the items you think you’re going to use and price them up. 

Your technicians should turn up at the job with all the proper equipment so they can fix the issue the first time, which is why you must be thorough with your list. Fortunately, field service management software is designed to give you visibility over how much stock you have available and ensure you have enough to carry out the work.

The platform allows you to assign supplies and materials to particular jobs, meaning no one on your team arrives at a job without the right gear. Plus, you will be able to see exactly how much stock you’ve assigned to the project, enabling you to calculate the total cost quickly.

Aside from your quotes being more accurate and straightforward to create, you’ll find that your first-time fix rate increases and your technicians can attend more appointments each month.

How to Write a Plumbing Invoice

Once a technician completes a job, it is a legal requirement to send your customer an invoice. Typically, invoices establish details such as what services your plumbing business provided, how much the customer owes you and the payment deadline.

Creating accurate invoices enables you to maintain your bookkeeping and helps prevent disputes or late payments. Here are the key elements you must include on your invoices:

1. Contact Information and Company Logo

Did you know that 75% of people recognise a brand by its logo? Therefore, it’s worth taking the time to add your logo onto each invoice you send so your customers know that the invoice has come directly from your organisation. 

Your company name and contact information must also be in a large font at the top of the invoice. Next, you should include your customer’s name and address to ensure that it reaches the right person or department. 

With modern field service management software, you can handle invoicing directly on the platform and create personalised documents in seconds. For example, you can add your logo into a pre-designed template for a professional-looking invoice. 

The template also pulls through all required information, including the customer’s address, and automatically adds it into the appropriate fields. As a result, there’s less margin for human error and a reduced chance of late payments. 

2. Invoice Number, Issue Date and Due Date

When used correctly, invoice numbers make it simpler for you to organise your sent invoices, track pending payments and keep a record of your income for tax purposes. The number should be unique, around three to five digits long, and clearly visible on each invoice.

Then, you must add the invoice’s issue date, showing the customer when you sent the payment request. Clients have a certain number of days after the issue date to pay the invoice, which you must indicate by including a due date.  

3. An Itemised List of Services and Parts

Customers should be able to see what they’re paying for, so you must include the information below:

  • A description of the job carried out, the number of hours it required, your hourly rate and the total amount billed
  • Parts required to complete the job, quantities, price per unit and the total amount

Remember, technical plumbing terms make sense to you, but customers will not share the same knowledge. Keep the descriptions simple, so there is no confusion on their end — if they need to ask questions or clarify details, it will delay the payment. 

You can keep a more in-depth description of the work in your CRM (customer relationship management) system for your own record. CRMs document all interactions you have with your clients, including any notes your team makes about the job, so you can refer back to specific details whenever you need them.

4. Before and After Photos

Since plumbing is a highly skilled trade, it’s crucial that your technicians take before and after photos to demonstrate the work they did. Customers may not understand how the plumbers fixed their issues, or the plumbing may be in areas they cannot access, like under the floorboards. Sharing photos provides your clients with peace of mind that their problem is resolved.

Using a state-of-the-art field service management platform, your technicians can take photos on their mobile devices and instantly attach them to the customers’ profiles. As such, both you and your clients will have a complete record of what the plumbers did. If there are any further issues down the line, it will be much simpler to look back through the job history and resolve the problem.  

5. The Total Amount Due

Although you’ve already created an itemised list of the costs, you must also provide your customers with a total amount due on a separate line. Ideally, the total should be in bold so that it stands out.

Getting the total correct is paramount to ensuring you get paid on time. Any disputes will cause a delay in the payment process, so you should always ensure that it’s right the first time. Many field service management systems include an invoicing and payment feature that automatically pulls accurate details and costs into a pre-made template.

By digitising your invoices, you not only save time on arduous administration tasks but also lower the risk of human error and thus get paid by the deadline. That’s a win for both your back-office team and your cash flow. 

6. Payment Terms

In addition to including a due date, you must also clearly state your payment terms:

  • Late fees: Once an invoice becomes overdue, you are allowed to charge late fees. However, you should tell the client exactly how much you charge in such situations. 
  • Accepted payment methods: Tell your customers how they can pay for your services. For example, if you’re using field service invoicing and payment software, people can pay from their mobile devices the minute they receive your electronic invoice. 
  • Guarantees and warranties: If you’ve included a warranty on any parts or you offer a money-back guarantee, you need to specify the terms. For example, how long is the warranty valid? Stating these details in writing mitigates the risk of disputes further down the line.
7. Personalised Note

According to research by PWC, 42% of people say they would pay more for a friendly customer experience. Consequently, it’s a good idea to include a brief, personalised note at the bottom of your invoices.

It’s not a legal requirement to add a note, but it is a friendly touch that will make you stand out from your competitors. You can thank your customers for their business or even use it as an opportunity to request feedback and referrals.

Customers will appreciate the kind message and be left with a more favourable impression of your plumbing business, meaning they’ll be more inclined to use your services again in the future.

Field Service Management Software Unclogs the Quoting and Invoicing Process

Eradicate the time-consuming aspects of quoting and invoicing by adopting a cutting-edge field service management platform like BigChange. The system interlinks your CRM, asset management tool and pricing information so you can put together an accurate quotation in a few clicks. 

Then, once your technicians have completed their jobs, they can instantly generate invoices on their mobile devices and share them with customers in seconds. The invoices pull through all essential information, from final costs to photographic evidence, so your clients can check that they’re satisfied with the details straight away.

Plus, with BigChange Pay, making a payment has never been simpler. Instead of waiting days, or potentially weeks, to receive an invoice payment, your customers can pay the same day using a range of convenient online methods. 

Your clients will appreciate the speedy service, and you’ll free up more time to focus on doing what you do best. 

Make Quotes and Invoices for Your Plumbing Business in Seconds with BigChange

Create financial documents the fast way. 

With BigChange, you can generate and share invoices, quotes, estimates, purchase orders and credit notes in seconds. Our easy-to-use templates pull through pre-saved line items and automatically calculate job costs, so you don’t have to spend time manually inputting data. 

Want to find out more?
Discover how BigChange can make your business grow stronger, arrange a free demo today.

Despite 2020 being one of the toughest years in recent economic history, growing a plumbing business was still a viable business endeavor. In fact, 23% of the people surveyed in the UK said they hired a plumber in 2020, making them the most in-demand tradespeople in the country. 

If the plumbing industry can thrive in 2020, imagine what’s possible in the future. No matter what year it is, though, the question of how to get more customers is still a top concern for plumbing business owners. 

Like in other fields, getting more customers requires you to know the marketplace and stand out amongst the competition. Having an excellent online presence, working with top-of-the-line plumbers, and utilising an online all-in-one workforce management software are all fantastic ways to grow your plumbing business. 

In this article, we will discuss how to attract more customers and how workforce management software like BigChange can improve your marketing and business operations.

How to Get More Plumbing Customers: 4 Top Tips

1. Create a Website

Since plumbing services are always in demand, it can be tempting to forgo creating a website, but these companies are missing out on getting more customers. 

While some companies can sustain their organisations by leaving their business cards around town, a website will enable you to tailor your company’s advertising and offerings directly to your customers’ needs. Using a field management CRM (customer relationship management) system like BigChange will enable you to keep track of every interaction you’ve had with your clients, from bookings, phone calls, invoices, to customer satisfaction surveys. Not only that, your CRM can inform you of what industry the majority of your customers work in, where they’re located, and their feedback. 

You can then use this client data to tailor your website to your customers’ requirements and even provide special offers tailored to the most in-demand products and services.

2. Claim Your Listing and Get Reviews on Google

It’s no surprise that having good reviews on Google, where customers can see your business’ location, is one of the best ways to grow your plumbing organisation. 

If you haven’t already done so, make sure you claim your business on Google immediately and add your phone number and website to your listing. From there, you can use your CRM to go through previous customer satisfaction surveys and contact people who were happy with your work to see if they would write you a Google review. 

The more positive reviews you receive on Google, the more trust you will instill in prospective clients.

3. Expand Your Reach Through Collaboration

Individual plumbing jobs are a great way to get new customers, but most businesses seek out larger jobs and projects whenever they can. Securing larger contracts often requires building your contacts in your location and industry, something many organisations simply don’t have time to do. In fact, 41% of people say they don’t have time to connect with other professionals in their field. 

Fortunately, field management software like BigChange makes networking more straightforward. The BigChange Network gives you access to a list of other global professionals and provides you with collaboration opportunities. 

You can list your company on the network for free and begin receiving requests from other providers immediately. This way, you’ll be able to work with other businesses on larger, more profitable projects without needing to hire additional resources. 

In addition to accepting plumbing jobs, you can also list jobs that you have available, including the skills required to perform them. As such, you can begin informing your clients that you have extra services at your disposal in the case that they’re looking to hire a field service team for a larger project. 

The BigChange Network also provides members with the chance to network through monthly virtual meetings, which allows organisations to build professional relationships and share tips on how to grow a business.

4. Provide Great Plumbing Services

One in three customers say they will walk away from a brand they love after one bad experience. With this statistic in mind, it’s imperative that you ensure your team always delivers a positive experience to your customers. 

If you’re running a plumbing business, it may be difficult to manage every single interaction your employees have, but what you can ensure is that they’re always well-briefed on any job they’re scheduled to complete. 

Unfortunately, using paperwork, spreadsheets, and multiple different applications can make it easy for communication errors to come about. As a result, important information about a plumbing job can get lost, duplicated, or recorded incorrectly, which makes it difficult to deliver a consistent service to your customers. 

Thankfully, workforce management software can help you keep all essential information in one place. From appointment bookings, job details, invoices, payments, and even geofenced locations, you can equip your plumbers with everything they need to impress your clients. Not only that, your back-office staff will also have access to the job information including real-time data on the assigned plumber’s location and job status

Workforce management platforms like BigChange also feature an app that your plumbing staff can use on the go. They’ll have access to all the job information, communication with the back-office staff, and lists of any tools they need in the palm of their hands. Consequently, they’ll never have to arrive at a job unprepared again, giving your customers a positive impression of your business.

Get More Plumbing Customers with BigChange

With a never-ending demand for plumbing service, now is the time to strategise. 

Setting up a website, claiming your business on google, collaborating with other providers, and providing excellent service are all sure-fire ways to grow your plumbing business. However, every one of these steps is much easier when using an all-in-one workforce management software. 

BigChange’s workforce management software comes with a CRM that gives you a snapshot of your customers, their industries, and locations that will help you create a compelling website suited to their needs. 

Discover how BigChange can help you grow your plumbing business and arrange a free demo today.

Whole house energy efficiency company Union Technical, has achieved international accreditation and compliance with the latest government standards using field service management software from BigChange.

The retrofit contractor, which works with energy companies, housing associations and local authorities across the UK, recently achieved ISO accreditations for its working practices. Using the BigChange complete Job Management Platform, Union Technical is also one of the first to adapt and comply with the new Industry Standards PAS 2035.

Suzanne Coyle, Director of Glasgow-based Union Technical commented:

“BigChange has been part of our journey for many years and has helped us transition from start-up to nationwide service provider with a team of over 100. In the last 18 months the impact BigChange has had on our business has been exceptional.

She continued:

“BigChange helped us respond to the challenges of COVID and the impact this had on day-to-day working practices, using BigChange, our field-based teams were able to conduct initial home visits, site surveys and installations, capturing photographs and non-contact signatures without risk to themselves or the homeowners. 

“BigChange was also an integral part of our ISO success and has been fundamental in our ability to adapt to and comply with the new standards for retrofit projects, which came into effect this summer and are designed to protect the customer as our industry scales-up to deliver services to around 27 million homes over the next thirty years.”  

Using the single platform CRM, Job Scheduling, Vehicle Tracking, Mobile Workforce App and Online Portal, Union Technical manages every customer interaction. From identification of households that could benefit from energy efficiency measures through first point of contact to installation, every communication is recorded, and all data logged, in real-time, to the central BigChange system. Field staff, armed with tablets, follow prescribed workflows to assess a property’s suitability for improvement considering potential risk factors and individual circumstances. 

Using BigChange, customer service advisors review captured information and make an initial assessment before booking a full, whole-house survey. Data captured at this stage is then reviewed by the Retrofit Co-ordinator and used to assist in creating a design specific to that property detailing the improvement requirements and options. BigChange is also helping Union Technical evaluate and monitor works and create custom reports for both internal management and stakeholder engagement. 

Coyle concluded:

“We continue to take a whole-of-house, whole-of-lifetime approach to our services and BigChange does it exactly the same, from start to finish, for every job at every house, BigChange helps us capture the right information, at the right time and makes it easy to access and easy to report on.”

Union Technical Office

Celsius Plumbing and Heating has built a reputation as one of Edinburgh’s leading service companies having identified an opportunity amongst homeowners for the type of professional plumbing and heating service normally reserved for demanding ‘big contract’ commercial clients.

Formed back in 2007 Celsius emerged out of the financial crisis as one of a new breed of small businesses in an industry previously dominated by large companies.  The challenge for Celsius was working out how to achieve the desired levels of service as a relatively small and new player in the market.

The solution was to adapt new cloud and mobile technology to bring, for the first time, large company service levels to the domestic market. Celsius realised technology could provide a level playing field for smaller businesses wanting to grow.  The first task was to move away from the cumbersome paperwork that burdened businesses like Celsius and the company made an initial switch to digital working with a system that was later replaced.

Michael Cairns, Director of Celsius Plumbing and Heating said:

“Over time we began to realise our first software supplier was not meeting our expectations and support was frustratingly slow, by chance we came across a completely new system that looked fantastic.  Although the product was still evolving, the company behind it clearly had the vision and ambition to build something that would be clearly streets ahead of the competition.  So, in a leap of faith, we signed up.  That was back in 2016 and the company behind the development was BigChange.”

Celsius was one of the first adopters of BigChange and the company has played a key part in developing the system for the heating and plumbing industry. The company has since transformed its business with the 5-in-1 field service management software system; a cloud-platform for CRM, job scheduling, mobile working, vehicle tracking and management reporting. BigChange also integrates with Xero account software giving Celsius completely seamless digital solution from job booking to completion, eliminating paperwork at all stages.  

Engineers are equipped with rugged Samsung tablets running the BigChange mobile app.  This provides useful workflows to take engineers step by step through the correct procedures onsite. Digital job cards and inspection sheets are enhanced with photographs and GPS location data for proof of service and compliance. Celsius also use the BigChange ‘No Touch’ app allowing customers to remotely sign off work from their own smartphone.    

Cairns says:        

“The BigChange mobile app really is a ground-breaking innovation for service companies like us, it is so easy to use and customise that it can be used for absolutely every task, completely eliminating paper and ensuring consistent reporting from everyone. And it’s synchronised in real time with our central BigChange management system so we have complete visibility of everything going on, 24/7”.

Celsius believe the greatest business benefits come from automation of tasks that previously took a huge amount of time. 

“BigChange now automates a raft of key processes to significantly improve our business performance, boosting our productivity, customer service and sales. We’ve also set up over 100 alerts allowing us to keep our fingers on the pulse 24/7,”

says Cairns.

Previously Celsius would call around customers when their boilers were due for their annual service. It took a huge amount of time and numerous attempts to get hold of people and secure a booking, especially when dealing with tenants. The whole process has now been automated with the software generating appointment offers.

“Running a service list was a frustrating and slow process until we automated the communications using BigChange.  The system now automatically generates scheduled appointment offers making it very easy for the customer to just say ‘yes’. As a result there has been a huge improvement, with our service booking success rate increasing from 20 per cent to 90 percent,”

“BigChange has improved job allocation, scheduling and provided a much slicker paperless reporting process.  We used to average 6 jobs a day but now we are doing 7 or 8 meaning that our engineers are often 30 percent more productive.”

“In the office the productivity gains are even greater. With a single, paperless system, BigChange has not just cut administrative work but, through automation, we have significantly reduced the customer calls we make. Saving all that wasted time – we are certainly 40 per cent more efficient – it has in effect freed up two members of staff to focus on important things like customer service.”

BigChange vehicle tracking provides a live view of whereabouts of all engineers and customers receive ETA messages auto-generated by the system.

“Customers love the system, It’s really easy to book a date and time online and with ETA notifications on the day they know when an engineer will arrive; they don’t need to waste time hanging around wondering when someone will turn up.” 

Celsius has also used BigChange to improve and automate quoting which has significantly improved both the speed and level of quote acceptance and through instant access to product information and pricing, upselling is now much easier.     

“The BigChange Road Crew support is excellent.  We were increasingly frustrated with our previous software supplier taking ages to return calls; now we can call anytime and someone picks up straight away.  Everyone is very professional and helpful.”

Celsius Office

Heatforce, the Cardiff-based national heating company, has used the latest mobile technology to boost its independent customer service rating by 25 percent in just 6 months.

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Gas, heating and boiler engineering company Moorhouse Heating Limited (MHL) has transformed from a regional to national business following the introduction of a new mobile workforce management technology from Leeds-based BigChange.

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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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