Mobile system eliminates data entry, cuts billing time

Mobile system eliminates data entry, cuts billing time

Michigan-based Maintenance Resource employs 30 technicians specializing in a variety of repair services–electricians, heating and cooling experts, restaurant equipment technicians, plumbers, painters, tile setters, carpenters, driveway resurfacers–all serving the company’s 15 Midwestern routes.

While Maintenance Resource has been successful fixing other companies’ problems, company president John Weeber soon discovered he had a problem of his own–paperwork. Technicians would fill out work orders in the field, but they couldn’t hand them in until they returned to the shop, which sometimes took several days. Paperwork would get lost or, worse, materials receipts would arrive after the customer was already invoiced.

“I started to think there’s got to be a better way to do this than all this paperwork that’s floating around all over the place,” Weeber says. “We needed a better system.”

The company turned to the FieldMaster Pro for QuickBooks solution, an Internet-based service management system from Aereon Solutions, running on mobile computers and printers from Intermec Technologies Corp.

Using Intermec 760 mobile computers, technicians can create, print, and transmit a work order on site, allowing Maintenance Resource to bill customers on the day of service, as opposed to several weeks later.

When a service call comes in, a dispatcher assigns the job to a technician using the FieldMaster Pro scheduling board, sending all the details through the Sprint CDMA wireless network to the technician’s mobile computer. Technicians can access service histories, complete work orders, and log job notes on the mobile computer and then send the information back wirelessly. Work orders are automatically entered into QuickBooks, with no additional data entry.

Upon completion, the technician prints a work order using an Intermec PW40 workboard printer. Customers can sign off on the job right on the mobile computer, closing out the transaction.

After nine months in operation, Weeber estimates the company has gained an additional two hours of billable time per technician, per week–more than enough to justify the cost of the system. Eliminating redundant data entry also saved the company the cost of one full-time administrative position.

“I have all the information in seconds at my fingertips,” Weeber says. “The system lets us run more efficiently, and it’s a great selling tool for the company as well.”

There are currently 15 technicians using the system, with plans to add more this year.

Weeber says his next step is to develop an Extranet site so that customers can access their own service histories and plan equipment budgets with more timely information.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Advanstar Communications, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group