AAA Furnace and Air Conditioning Company is a large HVAC service company located in the heart of Silicon Valley. Founded in 1957, AAA installs, maintains, repairs, and services residential and commercial HVAC systems. When Cloud Consultancy partner Victoria Cameron was called in to help, the firm was struggling to make their business processes work using QuickBooks Enterprise. It quickly became apparent that their transaction volume was much higher than is ideal for QuickBooks and that they needed more custom features than QuickBooks provides. However, since they had spent a significant amount of time and money converting to QB from another accounting package, the decision was made to stick with Quickbooks and use Method:CRM to make it work for them.
A time-test workflow looking for the right technology to improve efficiency
When a customer called, AAA would gather the customer’s information and create a work order, and since they did this while on the phone with the customer, they tried to do it as quickly as possible. At the end of each day, they created a report with the service schedule for the following day. Paper copies of each work order were printed using a dot-matrix printer on pre-printed multi-part forms. After the service was performed, the technician would bring one copy of the paper work order back with the customer payment information. At this point, the office staff called up the original estimate, turned it into an invoice, created a payment and then applied it. At each payroll period, they needed to pay their sales reps commissions based on a variable commission structure.
QuickBooks on its own did not have the flexibility to do the job
They encountered numerous problems trying to enter work orders using a modified QuickBooks Estimate template. Searching for existing customers and adding new ones was a cumbersome and time consuming process. With over 1,000 orders a month, their order volume frequently overwhelmed QuickBooks and their transaction volume was going to quickly reach the QuickBooks Enterprise data file limit. Because they didn’t have enough control over custom fields and mandatory fields, the work orders were not always filled out completely and accurately.
The workflow after a service call was also full of frustrations. When they converted a work order into an invoice, they could not easily see what the original work order number had been. Since the payment information was attached to the work order, this led to time wasted searching the QB database. In addition, the process of finding the work order in Quickbooks, converting it to an invoice, creating a payment, and then applying the payment to the invoice was time consuming and required duplicate entry of data – which inevitably led to mistakes. In addition, if a call came in while a staff member was in this process, they could not start a new work order without losing their work on the order they were editing.
Finally, they were not able to pull the information they needed out of QuickBooks in the format they wanted. Sometimes this was because they didn’t have enough control over custom fields, so that they couldn’t get the scheduling reports they wanted. And in the case of their commission reports, it was simply not something QuickBooks does well.
Streamlining the order process with custom work orders
Using Method:CRM, Cloud Consultancy was able to create a custom workflow solution for AAA that allowed them to keep using QuickBooks longer than would otherwise have been possible. Cloud Consultancy partner, Victoria Cameron created a custom work order system that allowed the staff to improve their speed and accuracy when taking orders. Diane McCabe from AAA says: “ We love the customizations that Victoria did for us. The custom fields are perfect!”
There is a custom order entry screen that prefills the order date and order number, presents a drop-down menu of available service dates, allows the staff member to easily look up a customer or add a new one, allows them to quickly tab from field to field (no point-and-click with a mouse to slow them down), and makes sure that all required fields are filled out before the system accepts it.
When the service call is completed, the process of invoicing and applying payment has been reduced to a few clicks and minimal data entry, all on one screen. The original work order can be searched for by numerous criteria and is converted to an invoice by clicking one button. The work order number is then prominently displayed on the new invoice. Work orders that have been converted to invoices are clearly marked as ‘invoiced’ and cannot be re-invoiced. Payment information such as the customer name and address is pre-filled so that all the staff member needs to do is enter the credit card or check information and click a button to process payment. A workflow that had been taking up to 15 minutes has been reduced to one or two.
Cutting QuickBooks transaction volume in half with Method
Work orders are now created and processed entirely in Method, reducing the load on the QuickBooks data file. Transactions are not sent to QuickBooks until an invoice is created, and the entire process of creating a QuickBooks invoice, entering a payment, and applying it to the invoice is done automatically by Method. In addition the limitations of desktop based software don’t exist in SaaS based Method; It doesn’t matter if two or twenty people are entering an order at the same time.
Getting the information needed in the format desired
Method’s Report Designer allowed Cloud Consultancy to create printed work orders that exactly matched AAA’s pre-printed multi-part forms. Their daily scheduling reports contain exactly the information they need, sorted by the fields they designate, and printed in a format that is most useful for them. We created custom outbound telemarketing lists sorted by zip-code and a custom report that lists all of their repeating service calls. They have a custom proposal form that automatically fills information from the order entry screen.
Additional customization improves efficiency
AAA uses outbound telemarketing to generate orders from existing customers, and they need to calculate commissions each pay period. We created a commision screen for them that allows them to call up a list of paid invoices for a pay period for all reps or one at a time. On the same screen, they can calculate commissions and edit them as necessary. They can then print a commission report, mark the commissions as paid, and even export to Excel when if desired.
Because so much of their system is completely custom, Cloud Consultancy used Method to create a searchable help center that is specific to AAA’s processes. All of their workflows are documented and staff members can find out how to do everything from creating a new work order to how to un-block pop-ups in Chrome.
At Cloud Consultancy, we love QuickBooks, but we know that it doesn’t solve every workflow need for every business. Using apps like Method:CRM, we design custom workflow solutions that enable your business to run smoothly and efficiently. If you have a business process that is not being properly handled by your current systems, please contact us and let us help you.