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Cleaning Up Inefficiency

Plainwell, Mich.-based Modernistic Cleaning & Restoration provides commercial and residential carpet and upholstery cleaning services, along with air duct cleaning and emergency water restoration services. The company takes pride in its ability to provide fast, responsive service—capabilities that have been enhanced by the deployment of a cloud-based, made-for-mobile field service automation solution for their 50+ users. While Modernistic had already adopted online scheduling and quoting for its customers on the front end, getting work order requests to the company's field technicians was a laborious, manual process. Each day, administrative staff would print carbon copy work orders that would then have to be manually cross-checked with information in the existing work order management software. "They would have to check them again because things would get added to the work order after we'd printed the document," says company president Rachel Hitow. "We would double-check those work orders, and then check them again in the morning before we handed them off to the technicians." The technicians would be handed stacks of paper work orders each day. Once they completed their assignments, they would update the work orders in the field, and then turn the paper forms back in at the end of a shift. "Then the accounting team would go through and enter all of the notes, the price changes, and additional items into our back-end system," Hitow says. "There were a lot of touches for each work order." Double-checking the work orders took two hours at the end of each day. The data entry required once the work orders were returned for invoicing took one employee six hours to complete. Hitow knew the company needed a mobile solution to streamline this process in the field and in the back office, but when the company began searching for a system in 2010 there wasn't a single solution that fit their needs. Finally, in 2013 after evaluating several dozen systems, Modernistic found the answer to its field service challenges in FieldAware. FieldAware is a cloud-based and mobile field service management solution. FieldAware's Web application provides customer management, work order processing, scheduling, dispatch, task tracking and asset management functionality. The solution also includes a native mobile app that works on smartphones and tablets based on the iOS and Android platforms. Hitow says that FieldAware's cloud-based architecture was appealing because it would provide greater flexibility and availability.

"With our previous solution we had to do a daily off site back-up of our data," Hitow says. "Last year we had a situation when the industrial park where we are located was evacuated, and we couldn’t access our work orders for an entire day. With a cloud-based solution, we have access to our data no matter where we are." With the previous solution, managers had to be in the office to view or generate work orders. "When we do emergency service after hours, we had to do that without having access to the work order management software," Hitow says. "Now all of our on-call managers have everything right in front of them." "It is also extremely intuitive and easy to use," Hitow adds. "When we had our first training session with 24 technicians, I expected it to take all day to run through the sample jobs we had set up in the system. It only took two and a half hours, and even the technicians who were less technically savvy were able to easily learn how to use it." FieldAware is also flexible enough that Modernistic was able to add custom fields to track lead sources and to ensure that every customer was notified of the company's room size limit for carpet cleaning, along with other items unique to Modernistic's business. The company deployed the FieldAware solution in March of 2014. Now, 30 of the company's field technicians use the mobile app on Samsung Galaxy tablets, while another 25 employees use the solution in the office to schedule and dispatch technicians.

Real-Time Updates from the Field

As customer calls come in, customer service staff enter the information into FieldAware. The jobs are then assigned to a specific technician within the solution with the help of the map view function in the system, and sent to that technician's tablet. Each day when the technicians arrive, they pick up their tablets and have immediate access to the work orders assigned for that day. They can make any changes to the work order directly on the tablet, complete the assignment, and collect payment using the GoPayment app from Intuit. They also update their status on the tablet as they work through their schedule. As the technicians complete their work, recent data is cached by the mobile app, while historical customer data is retrieved on demand. This helps make the application faster and more responsive in the field. "The fact that FieldAware had a mobile app was an important consideration," Hitow says. "Other solutions require that you log into a mobile website, which is not always accessible, or the app required cell phone service to view the data. The technicians can work in disconnected mode, and the app holds their changes until they get back into coverage." Once work orders are complete, administrative staff push the data into QuickBooks to generate invoices, a process that takes just minutes. The solution gives Modernistic's management complete visibility of their operations. Using the FieldAware reporting functions, Hitow can also see where the crews are and how many jobs have been completed, on a minute-by-minute basis. "Without having to call them, we can see in real time where they are in their schedule," Hitow says. "We used to have the technicians call the office multiple times per day so that we could keep track of what was happening in the field. Now they don't have to call at all unless there is a problem."

Rachel Hitow