The next time you head in to your garage door dealership’s office, take a look around. Are desks overflowing with paperwork? Is the same information entered into various books and computers over and over? Is paperwork often misplaced or important sales leads frequently lost? If this sounds all too familiar, it’s time to consider streamlining your operations using software — software designed to provide tools to keep your overhead low as the economy starts to pick up.
Through the use of specific software tools, many garage door dealers have reported a 15 to 20 percent overall increase in office and field productivity. Sound too good to be true? It’s not: this is the result of having the ability to quickly retrieve customers’ history, schedule and dispatch service calls and new installations, and due to eliminating the besetting duplication of daily paperwork.
But if you’re overwhelmed by the software options out there and think you don’t have time to review the products on the market, you’re not alone. To help get you started on what could be the best step toward increasing your garage door dealership’s productivity, here are four key features to look for when reviewing software:
Scheduling Automated calendars are powerful tools that streamline your daily scheduling of service calls, installations and sales appointments. Going paperless means eliminating cumbersome schedule books and ditching the manual scheduling boards that can lead to erased or misplaced orders. Automated software calendars allow everyone in the office to quickly review the calendar on their own computer screen. Each time an appointment is made or updated, everyone with access can see the changes and additions instantly. This keeps everyone in the office informed and on the same page throughout the day. You can also plan ahead and view future appointments, as most automated calendars will allow you to schedule appointments several days or even weeks in advance.
Customer History It’s critically important for your staff to have any customer’s information at their fingertips when he or she calls. At a minimum, your software should allow you to track all of the customer’s quotes, service calls, installations and installed equipment history, and any other previous communications. This information should be instantly available to everyone in the office using the search function. Employees can input the customer’s name, address or phone number. For example, if you wanted to see what type of door was installed at a customer’s home, you could pull up the customer on your screen and click on the installed equipment tab to see the components that were installed. This makes it simple to provide replacement parts for service calls.
Advertising Tracking Many door dealers spend significant dollars on Internet and Yellow Pages advertising. An owner should have the ability to see the number of leads generated by each advertising source, as well as the number of quotes and sales dollars generated for any specific date range. The software should also be able to track the original advertising sources and profitability of each new customer.
Synching Capabilities Nothing is more frustrating than having to input the same information into various sources again and again. This is one of the biggest time-wasters in any office, and the garage door dealership is no different.
Let’s review an example to see how software can streamline a common scenario: A customer calls requesting a spring replacement. Is this a new customer or an existing customer? With a garage door software system you ask for the customer’s name/address and easily find the existing history or start an entry if it’s a new customer. For new customers, ask how they got your phone number, and enter that into your system for advertising tracking. Once you pull up a new service call form, you can quickly complete the request for a spring replacement and schedule the appointment on your automated calendar. With a touch of a button you print the work order for your service technician. The service call has now been scheduled and is being tracked as an “open” work order. When the service technician brings the completed paperwork back into the office, the order is “closed,” and the parts and labor are automatically recorded for inventory purposes and an invoice is created in your QuickBooks software.
Portability Another valuable time-saver is the ability for your sales people and technicians to view and update their appointments while they are in the field. Using lap tops allows them to provide quotes while they are in front of customers and receive new appointments while on the road. Think of the travel time and gas time saved, not to mention eliminating the frustrating possibility of missed calls to out-of-office techs.
By incorporating quality software in to your garage door business, you will eliminate 80 to 90 percent of the duplicate paperwork and reduce overhead while streamlining your office operations.
Don Harrison is a senior partner at Fireline Systems, developer of DoorPack Software, which is designed specifically for garage door dealers. For questions or additional information visit www.DoorPack.com or call 800.890.8614.