In today’s building services contracting industry, the need for sophisticated computer systems has never been greater. As the industry continues to progress, BSCs are faced with a growing number of software applications that can make both their businesses and lives run more efficiently.
Services Editor Lisa Kopochinski recently sat down with three software professionals—Michael Jenkins, president of CleanTelligent Software in Provo, UT; Jill Davie, marketing and communications manager with TEAM Software in Omaha, NB; and Donna Hopkins, director of sales of A&B Express Products LLC, dba Express- Time in Petal, MS.
We asked them to offer their thoughts on what applications BSCs should be aware of and implementing into their business. Here is what they had to say.
What IT applications and software applications does your company offer that are of benefit to building service contractors?
Michael Jenkins: CleanTelligent is a Webbased customer service and quality management tracking software. With CleanTelligent, perform on-site inspections, track communication with clients, create job schedules, manage work orders, measure performance, track trends, track employee time, track inventory and much more. Reports assist in training, work loading and accountability of employees. BSCs have reported increases in revenue and client retention, and a reduction of costs from using CleanTelligent.
Jill Davie: TEAM has software for bidding and estimating; telephone timekeeping; project/work scheduling/work ticket profitability; budgeting; inventory management; receivables and payables; payroll, human resources; general ledger and financial statements; job costing; employee and customer self-service services; data hosting; custom programming; project management; and training and implementation.
Donna Hopkins: ExpressTime offers an affordable easy-to-use automated timekeeping and management software program. It decreases payroll; has text, e-mail and paging notification; voicemail; is user definable; multilingual and exports hours into various payroll applications with a plethora of definable reports to choose from. It is marketed and used by a building service contractor for building service contractors.
Please explain the different functions of these applications?
Jenkins: Inspections: Inspections can be performed on handheld electronic devices such as PDAs, Pocket PCs, Smart Phones, Blackberrys, etc. With this flexibility it takes mere seconds to record what needs improvement, detailed notes, a picture, the exact location and how bad or urgent the situation is. Deficiencies are turned directly into work orders and sent to those responsible for correcting the problem, facilitating immediate individual correction.
Companies can use measurement ratings that fit their specific business processes or external requirements (i.e. LEED Certification, APPA Guidelines, CIMS Certification). Managers can know the real-time condition of the cleanliness and health of their buildings.
Communication: CleanTelligent provides an online portal for BSC clients to submit information and surveys. Notifications immediately go out to those responsible and escalation to upper management starts. Clients get quick responses and BSCs can track completion of issues reported.
Tracking: Once data has been recorded and communicated, over time it becomes more powerful—if you are tracking it. With CleanTelligent, everything from productivity trends to deficiency trends emerge out of the woodwork and companies have strong and relevant data on which to base business decisions.
Job Scheduling: With CleanTelligent, companies can workload and schedule daily job services and/or periodic services that need to be completed.
CleanTelligent can also track employee time, supply usage and equipment maintenance using bar codes.
Davie: TEAM’s software performs a variety of functions. For bidding and estimating, it allows a user to workload a building in order to estimate costs and arrive at a selling price for potential clients. It also generates reports needed for professional proposals.
With respect to telephone timekeeping, it allows employees to clock in and out of job sites with any telephone. It captures timekeeping information and alerts a supervisor if an absence occurs or if the call is coming from an invalid location. It provides project/ work scheduling/work ticket profitability by scheduling one-time or recurring tasks in order to generate work tickets. And it can view and manipulate scheduled work on an interactive calendar and track the profitability of each task/work ticket.
For budgeting, you can create labor budgets down to the site location level for each position. This information is used in actual vs. budget reports. For inventory management, it can create purchase orders, track items to be drop shipped or sold, and track quantities on hand.
For receivables and payables, it allows you to create recurring invoices. Accounts receivable is seamlessly integrated to work scheduling and inventory for easy billing. The software also generates payroll checks, direct deposits and calculates all payroll taxes.
Regarding human resources, our software tracks and accrues all benefit information for employees and also includes an equipment tracker. For general ledger and financial statements, this includes charts of accounts, customized formatting of financial statements, and general ledger budgeting.
Our software also calculates profitability for each job site based on all revenue and expense that happens at that job for a given time frame.
Our employee and customer self-service software is a Web-based, customized portal for employees to view and print pay stubs, view scheduling information and run reports. Supervisors can review and approve timekeeping information. Our customer self-service software allows our customers’ customer to log in to view/print invoices, view scheduled work, and request work.
Hopkins: The worst nightmare for commercial janitorial companies is that 8:00 a.m. call from a disgruntled client whose building was not serviced the night before. Express-Time was developed to keep that exact thing from happening. ExpressTime will send out notifications alerting supervisor(s) that an employee has not clocked in, arrived late or has left early either by text message, page, e-mail or all of the above. This feature can single-handedly save an account.
Tracking employees is easy with the caller ID feature, which allows the user to verify where an employee is calling from and restrict calls from unauthorized numbers with our blocked call feature. In addition, supervisors can call or log into the program to verify the status of an employee or building.
The voicemail feature allows supervisors and employees to communicate. This feature allows administrators to leave messages to all employees (standard version), to a building, or to an individual. The employees can also leave messages to their supervisors. This feature is ideal for calling in supply orders or leaving an urgent message to an employee for a special client request.
Our budget/statistics feature is a powerful tool that allows management to analyze the labor cost of each client. It includes comparisons to target (budgeted) hours and percentages of revenue, as well as labor percentages and supply expenses among many other things. Determining the cost for a job is one of the primary elements to increasing profits. It’s an excellent tool that gives the user a way to measure growth and address problem areas.
The scheduling feature aides the user in the process of planning, scheduling and managing employee times per building. Schedules can be created using either the employee name or the name of the building to accommodate schedules for floaters or fill in positions. Data from the schedules can be reviewed in a multitude of ways using our report feature.
Our report feature allows the user to create comprehensive reports by date range and to group information by division, area, status of employee, etc. This multiplies the various combinations of possibilities in producing the report needed. In addition, payroll reports can be generated and exported into various payroll formats. The user feature allows administrators to limit user access within the program. User permissions can be set from full access, no access and read-only per user. There is no limit or extra charge for user permissions.
In addition to the above features and the ones we haven’t mentioned, when used properly ExpressTime will save time and money, which overall affects the user’s bottom dollar. We have a great support team that is always available to help and we train users to get the most out of our program and the most return on investment.
Do you offer services/programs for various-sized cleaning companies? If so, how do they differ?
Jenkins: CleanTelligent is scalable to any size of company.
Davie: Our solutions are very scalable. Our smallest customer has only a few employees and our largest has more than 50,000. All of our solutions are available to companies of any size.
Hopkins: The ExpressTime automated timekeeping system consists of three software applications. We offer an online version hosted by the ExpressTime; the standard version you can purchase and host yourself. In addition, we also have an Enterprise version available for large corporations with offices in multiple states.
How has business been for you this year with the recession?
Jenkins: Because CleanTelligent helps companies thrive during the recession, CleanTelligent users have doubled in the past year, and we are still growing rapidly.
Davie: Luckily, business has been good. We are hearing from some customers and prospects that the recession has really affected them and therefore they are really watching their spending. But we have just as many customers who have very positive things to report. In the last 30 days or so, our sales activity has picked up.
Hopkins: We, as a business, are doing well. Suffice to say, our economic issues are real and have led to dramatic cuts in many budgets. Unfortunately it’s the building service contractors that are getting hit as it seems to be one of the first places corners get cut when money gets tight. ExpressTime is an affordable way to monitor cost and allows BSCs to maintain a level of service they are accustomed to giving but within the constraints of smaller budgets.