I’m constantly amazed at the amount of M&E, HVAC & Facilities Contractors that are turning over more than £2 million that still run their entire Businesses with essentially basic manual systems.
Are You A Whiteboard & Spreadsheet Business?
Let me explain. I was recently invited to a potential client who were having growth & profitability issues at their West London offices (the usual small Business/Industrial type unit) They had a number of vans dotted around the car park, their ground floor had a storeroom that housed maintenance stock, tools and other equipment and their offices were on the first floor.
Nothing spectacular to note other than a big whiteboard on one wall, listing down various jobs, locations, technicians, order values etc.
Getting to Know What they Do
As part of our getting to understand their Business, we ask what type of work they do, where they work, who they work for, turnover, how long they have been established etc.
We then asked about how much work they get from new Installations, how much from Maintenance and what margins they expect. Who gives them the majority of their work. All in all amounting to a Business turning over around £3.2 million. All well and good I thought. Until I asked about the systems they use to manage their customers, the sites, the projects, the maintenance contracts, the engineers, the finance and the profitability. Bottom line they didn’t know their numbers. They certainly could give me the numbers instantly.
If you have ever watched Dragons Den, then you will know that any potential entrepreneur has to know their numbers before entering the Den. If they don’t then sure as eggs the Dragons will all say I’m out! A bare minimum is last years Turnover, Profit, Overheads, and Projections for the next 12 months and 5 years.
Multiple Spreadsheets running their Business
What amazed me was the sheer number of separate Spreadsheet based systems and individual systems they used to do this. Yes they had a Finance package that they used for invoicing and purchases, but the rest was a manual and taking up so much time and to make matters worse they had several different people just handling certain parts only.
There was no single joined up system that could manage their entire Business. They had no real idea how much profit they were making from projects or their their Service contracts, the additional works being ordered, where their technicians were, when they were finished on their last job, what materials they used, what extra works were required, the site assets being maintained etc. All in all a real shambles!
How could this business still be getting new orders, turning over more than £3 million, yet they had no real clue as to their profitability? They had unnecessary part-time staff entering data onto spreadsheets and their technicians were pretty much left to their own devices and would manage their day based on what they were told the on the day, or sometimes the day before.
Complete Field Management Software to the Rescue
Our challenge was showing the Owner & Directors what they were doing wrong, (getting their acceptance of this) and showing them that by spending a low monthly subscription, they could have a complete Field management software package that handles every aspect of their Business. There are plenty of these software systems around but most are designed for running a static manned site and have multiple modules that can be configured to suit the site, and they are exceptionally expensive.
We are often asked to evaluate different Field Management software systems and in our opinion the most comprehensive all around is Simpro Through one simple dashboard you can manage every aspect of your Business, and also connect the Field technicians to Customers, their work schedule, Asset lists, spare parts and provide instant quotes too and then synchronise with their office system through the Cloud based software. It will also connect to 3rd party accounting systems meaning that Invoicing through the system is a breeze. You can get a free 30-day trial too!
We are pleased that 6-months on they now have a complete picture of their Business, they know what profit they are making, who their customers are, the site information, the work they need to undertake, where their engineers are, how long the engineers are allocated, they even have an in-built CRM system managing their contacts and opportunities, and a Customer Portal where they can view all the historical activity including Invoices, Job Sheets, Certificates, accreditations, RAMS etc.
Reduced overhead & More Profit
The whiteboard and spreadsheets have gone, and they have reduced their overhead by reducing the part-time staff.
M&E, HVAC Business Growth Consulting is our speciality and helping to identify where things have been going wrong or could be done better. We now have an ongoing relationship to assist with their Building Services Marketing.
There are countless companies where Business processes could be done better, making them more efficient and more profitable and improved Control over all the jobs – whether installation, repair or maintenance. Often the excuse of “we are just too busy” is what we hear, and being busy is good but it could be improved significantly.
Want to know what we can do for your Business? Get in touch 01252 413596 or email