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Saturday, 31 January 2009 19:00

USE TECHNOLOGY IN THE RECESSION TO CRUSH COMPETITORS AND DOMINATE YOUR MARKET

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USE TECHNOLOGY IN THE RECESSION

RECESSION IS A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY. Yes, It puts a squeeze on your business, but it also puts a squeeze on your competition. Customers are more thoughtful about how they spend their money. They will look closer at what you can offer.

Recession is an opportunity to stand out and shine. Economic hardship is the time when excellence is recognized and rewarded.

Many companies are expected to go under during this recession. The company that offers the best service at the lowest price not only gets to survive now, but will have the advantage of reduced competition once the economy gets back to normal. That means this is the time to get out your competitive edge and wow the market.

Navigating the recession is like playing a game. You have opponents and challenges, and when the game is done, there will be winners and losers. How will you win this recession? “Technology always gives you an edge over companies that don’t use it and I think that is probably accelerated more right now,” says Linda Pendergrass, Director of Performance Manager of Cavalier Services, a building service contractor in Fairfax, VA.

TECHNOLOGY – YOUR EDGE
How does a building service contractor stand out? They all offer the same services, and they draw from the same labor pool. You will not stand out by merely offering great cleaning. The fact is all competitive cleaning operations offer great cleaning. Your competitors are doing great cleaning or they would not still be in business.

Other industries deal with the same problem. All grocery stores sell the same groceries, so how does one chain stand out from the rest? All phone and Internet companies offer the same services – so how does one stand out? Your competitive edge comes in the same way companies in other industries get their competitive edge: customer service, effective communication, mindshare and reasonable prices. It is about more than the cleaning you provide – it is about the experience you create.

Joseph Jenkins, President of BearCom
Dashboard Report
Dashboard Report
You cannot improve performance unless you measure it. Online tracking software helps you with trend tracking – analyzing performance over time so that you can be more effective with employee accountability, performance improvement and client retention.
New Inspection
New Inspection Services
you perform are the basis for measurement in online tracking software. Not only track inspections, but use the same measurements to track client communication, giving you comparative data to assist in performance analysis.

Building Services in Salt Lake City, UT, clarifies this point: “The key is to do an excellent job, do extra things for free, take care of needs so [your customers] have no desire to go anywhere else.” Traditionally, improving in these areas means hiring more support staff, which means paying more salaries, which means increasing your prices, which means turning away potential customers. However, you can use technology to manage your customer service, communication and mindshare while maintaining or lowering your costs.

This means you can have the competitive edge without having to pay increased salaries – a perfect scenario for business success. Jenkins, a long-time user of online tracking software, says, “From the beginning, tracking software has helped reduce our costs. It has always reduced the amount of time and number of people we need for customer service, which means less time filling out forms and more time assisting clients.” “When things are tough like this, our tracking software really makes us look more professional,” adds Stewart Wurm, Office Administrator for Mr. Clean Maintenance Systems in Bloomington, CA.

ONLINE TRACKING SOFTWARE— THE ALL-IN-ONE PACKAGE
Many software solutions are available for BSCs – so many that it can be overwhelming. Online tracking systems are the best place to start looking. They are designed to streamline the peripheral work of cleaning. They manage inspections, complaint tracking, customer service, reports, job scheduling, time tracking, inventory, and other timeconsuming jobs.

Bob Pulley, director of operations of ISS Facility Services Aviation Division in Denver, CO, explains how their online tracking software has helped them. “[It] does two important things for us. First, it’s an internal control that helps us monitor our service performance for our clients. Second, it provides data for our clients, showing them our coordinated efforts to provide them with the service they expect.”

Clear, effective and quick communication is a huge part of customer service. Pendergrass says, “We have new customers who, I believe, chose us because of Clean- Telligent’s [online tracking software]. We have other customers who have kept us because they knew it would be easy to communicate with us through it. I recently did a demo of the technology we use with a prospective customer and they were impressed that we could help them improve their internal communication processes.”

Wurm shared a recent story that illustrated how his company’s online tracking software made an impact with one of his customers: “We had someone send us a problem they were having with a store, and it was taken care of within 20 minutes. The store manager expressed delight at having it taken care of so quickly. We’re using technology where we can cut production costs to make us more efficient and make us a little leaner.”
PDA Inspection
PDA Inspection
Perform detailed on-site inspections on a handheld device (PDA) without an Internet connection. Easily identify problem areas in a building. Rate the service, show the location, make notes, and even take a picture. Once uploaded, inspection notifications are immediately sent out, and results are viewable by all those you allow (including clients).

Another important factor in customer service is giving your clients the peace of mind that they will be receiving quality performance. Bob Pulley says, “Quality control is a large segment of all contracts in the cleaning industry. They want to know how you’re going to do it, how you’re going to monitor it and how it will benefit them.”

Online tracking systems go a long way in assuaging customer concerns about quality control. Jenkins says their online tracking software “helps with inspections, informing us about the status of the buildings we clean. We are immediately aware of any buildings below our standards, and we can get them back up where they need to be.” Pulley adds, “It’s imperative to have good, open and frequent communication with your clients in this questionable economy.”

WIN WITH TECHNOLOGY
Business is competitive. Your decisions will determine whether you win or lose. How will you maintain the communication, customer service and mindshare needed to set you apart from your competitors? Online tracking software is the quickest, easiest and best solution. When the recession turns around, the businesses left standing will reap the rewards of a renewed economy. Make the commitment to excellence for the sake of your business, your customers and yourself. Mike Fletcher, Regional Manager of The Budd Group in Greenville, SC says it best: “[Our online tracking software] is starting to put us above competition. You can win in this recession. Win with technology. Win with online tracking software.

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Services Magazine

Michael Jenkins, President, CleanTelligent Software

Michael Jenkins is president of CleanTelligent Software, a software company trusted to help build and preserve relationships. With over 30 years of experience, Jenkins is internationally known as an educator and consultant in the software and service industry. He is a noted subject matter expert on quality, revenue, retention, and productivity. Visit www.CleanTelligent.com or (877) 272-4648.

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