Software Program Brings Ease of Use to Small Contractor

Easy-to-use business management software makes small company look like a big-shot outfit — and increases customers' satisfaction along the way.
Software Program Brings Ease of Use to Small Contractor
Park Lane Plumbing owner, Ann Lane, looks over the Jobber field-service management software on her computer at her home office in Sherwood Park, Alberta. Lane has found the use of the software to be easy and has helped the company become more knowledgeable to its customers. (Photo courtesy of Park Lane Plumbing)

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Ann and Len Lane run their small company, Park Lane Plumbing Ltd., out of their rural home in Sherwood Park, just outside of Edmonton in the Canadian province of Alberta. But thanks to Jobber business management software, the three-person operation provides its customers with the kind of professional data management and dispatch services normally associated with large-scale, big-city plumbing outfits.

“For a small business, we tend to look very professional because of Jobber,” says Ann Lane of the business, established in 1986. “The average small business that’s run from home might send out handwritten invoices and might not have good recordkeeping. I know that’s what it was like for us in the past.

“But our invoices are customized with our logo and we email them, not mail them,” she continues. “Our customers know we have a professional system that tracks their jobs and invoices. We’re certainly willing to spend a little money to look this good.”

The Lanes’ business primarily centers on commercial service plumbing for property managers who run shopping malls and condominium complexes. Most of the customers have been using Park Lane Plumbing for years, so keeping a detailed history of previous work is critical, she explains.

“Having that history is priceless to them,” Lane explains. “They may have some of the information on their own but not to the level of detail that we have. At a glance, I can call up all of the relevant information for a specific customer: any active work, past jobs, previous quotes, invoices — even photos of jobs. Sometimes customers want to know what was done on a previous job, and with Jobber, it’s easy to find out. They love it when they call and you know the exact date of the last service call or the serial number of the backflow valve that was tested, for example.”

The city of Edmonton requires annual backflow testing for commercial properties, and Jobber makes it easy to track the tests — and remind customers when they’re due for a test. “The customer never has to wonder when it’s time to do the test,” Lane says. “As a courtesy, we remind them. Property managers have a lot to do, and they love it that they don’t have to remember when to schedule a test. The Jobber system captures all that information beautifully.”

The ability to add photos to customers’ records — and invoices — adds another level of customer service. When Len Lane, a plumber with 35 years’ experience, or the company’s apprentice, Kyle Antonano, take photos on jobs via a Jobber app, the images get automatically added to the customers’ job files, she notes.

“The pictures they take flow into the invoicing,” she says. “Sometimes building supervisors make the service call but the property managers get the invoices, and they want to be able to explain the problem to tenants. Or sometimes they need photos to make insurance claims. We used to give photos to customers on a stick (zip drive) or email them, but sometimes the files were too big. Now, I do it all directly from Jobber.”

The software also makes dispatching easier. When Lane receives a service call, she uses the Jobber system to send a work order to Len’s or Kyle’s cellphone — no phone call required. In addition, Lane can include all relevant customer information to make the job easier for the technician. Providing all that information without having to make a phone call and verbally explain a job dramatically minimizes the chances of omitting vital information, she points out.

After a job is closed, Jobber automatically sends Lane a reminder to create an invoice. Then she closes the job and invoices it. She emails invoices to customers, sometimes on the same day the job is completed. That allows Park Lane Plumbing to get paid faster, as opposed to mailing out invoices. That, in turn, increases cash flow — a critical component of running a successful small business. Moreover, Jobber syncs up with QuickBooks accounting software, Lane notes.

The company used to rely on another system for dispatching, invoicing and tracking customer data. But it was very complicated and probably better suited for a large company. “It was like looking at a giant Excel spreadsheet all the time,” she explains. “And if I accidentally hit the wrong button, it messed things up.

“But you can’t mess up with Jobber,” she adds. “I could sit down with any average Joe and teach them how to use it. It’s very intuitive and very clean and 100 percent reliable. Once you get on top of it, it’s an absolute piece of cake to use.”

Lane says she was concerned about converting from the old business management system to Jobber because she didn’t want to lose all the customer data she’d worked so hard to compile over the years. But the conversion was seamless. “It’s a very clean, simple system to use,” she says. “I loved it from the get-go.”

The annual cost of using the Jobber software varies from customer to customer. In Park Lane Plumbing’s case, the annual fee is just under $600 — money very well spent, Lane says. “The instant access to customers’ work histories makes me look so knowledgeable and professional — customers love our attention to detail,” she says. “The bottom line is that Jobber just makes me look good. It absolutely sets us apart from other businesses.”


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