Due to feedback from the recent International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA/Interclean) show in Chicago last October, Services magazine is proud to feature another technology article.. This time we are focusing on the financial aspects of software programs that are available to building service contractors.
Services Editor Lisa Kopochinski recently talked to five software professionals— Jill Davie, vice president of sales and marketing for TEAM Software; Donna Hopkins, director of sales for ExpressTime; John Graham, president and software architect for MITC; Michael Jenkins, president of CleanTelligent; David Esquivel, AVP National Accounts for American EPAY Inc., and Patty Laarveld, Business Development Manager for American EPAY Inc.—and asked them to provide information on the software they offer that BSCs will find beneficial, particularly in today’s tight economy. Here are their thoughts.
What applications does your software program offer—from a financial perspective— that would be of benefit to building service contractors, especially in this tough economy?
TEAM: TEAM’s core management system, WinTeam, includes financial management modules built specifically for building service contractors. It includes accounts receivable, accounts payable, general ledger, financial statements, payroll, job costing and fixed assets. These financial modules are tightly integrated with labor and operations management modules so that time-intensive processes such as payroll and billing are easy and accurate. For example, because our accounts receivable module integrates with our work scheduling module, any extra billable project work is flagged for billing and easily populated to an invoice as soon as the work is complete. This ensures that items get billed in a timely manner. It also ensures that extra work over and above the contract gets billed to the customer. TEAM’s On Screen Job Costing module is also a very powerful tool for analyzing profitability. It allows you to view profitability at each account based on a particular time frame. It takes all revenue and expenses into account, including labor, materials and any other direct costs you may have. You can drill down to see the details of each revenue or expense item so that you can get a good handle on which accounts are the most/least profitable and why. By understanding your best and worst performing accounts, you can make adjustments so that all of your accounts are very profitable.
MITC: The most important task for any business, especially in a recession, is cost-control. Building service contractors can control their biggest cost by tracking and managing time and attendance and payroll. This represents 50 to 75 percent of their cost structure. This has always been important. Now it is a survival issue.
MITC’s best-selling product in 2009 was Time and Attendance. Growth came from building service contractors who switched from systems found to be ineffective or expensive or from contractors who realized that the hidden costs of continuing to use paper timesheets and outsourced payroll was undermining their competitiveness.
ExpressTime: ExpressTime has many features that just make good financial sense. The accountability of time worked using our system has saved our customers thousands of dollars vs. time sheets or other timekeeping methods. Payroll dollars are saved by accurate timekeeping of employees and payroll does not take days, which is time that can be used growing your business. Payroll dollars saved also lower your general liability and workers’ comp insurance. ExpressTime also has some great budget features to help you stay on track.
CleanTelligent: Client retention is the very basis of a financially sound business. Clean- Telligent offers a client communication system that has proven to increase customer satisfaction time and again. Joseph Jenkins, president of BearCom Building Services of Salt Lake City, Utah states, “Since implementing CleanTelligent, our client retention has improved by more than 300 percent!”
CleanTelligent turns client complaints directly into work orders. If the work order is not completed in a given amount of time, it is escalated to management. Nothing slips through the cracks and everything is clearly documented for review.
CleanTelligent also offers inspection and tracking tools proven to increase productivity and reduce costs. Tim Conn, director of operations for Anago Cleaning Systems said, “The productivity of our operations personnel has increased by 25 to 30 percent through their use of CleanTelligent.”
The number one expense in the cleaning industry is labor and no one can afford to waste time. CleanTelligent gives companies the ability to easily measure performance through handheld devices and a Web-based interface. With a few clicks and/or barcode scans, you can measure time, quality and quantity of performance. Not only can companies correct deficiencies as they are found, but they are able to monitor performance over time. With this solid information readily available, inspectors know which buildings need the most attention and cleaners know on which to focus. With CleanTelligent, productivity goes up and costs go down.
Another major financial benefit of Clean- Telligent is the edge it gives to companies during the bidding process. Numerous companies have reported that CleanTelligent has been instrumental in winning big contracts. Scott Murray, with BG Service Solutions said, “Total revenues within our division have more than doubled in the past two years, and we credit our success to CleanTelligent.” According to Murray, the company spends about one-third of their proposal time explaining how CleanTelligent will resolve the ongoing problems that the customer has experienced with past cleaning companies. CleanTelligent has been called a “huge selling piece” by many of our clients, putting them far above their competition and making their bottom line a lot more appealing.
American EPAY: Capturing employee time and attendance is still a manual process for many building service contractors today who have distributed labor forces. According to the American Payroll Association (APA), 21 percent of payroll errors are attributed to time reporting, and tracking employee’s time can help cut overtime costs by 70 percent. The benefit of implementing products from Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) organization offering time and attendance solutions, such as American EPAY, greatly impacts the accuracy of reporting time and this benefit can be measured by the ROI, which provides profits on a company’s bottom line. Our solutions illuminate BSC’s time and labor management with reduced cost, increased revenue and improved efficiencies. American EPAY offers a Webbased workforce labor management system called Blueforce.com. This Web-based software package not only includes the normal time and attendance package (timecards, timesheets, integration with payroll providers and GLs), but American EPAY also offers useful tools for managers on the go and in the field. Real-time budget reporting, alerts, work orders, and messaging work together with all of American EPAY’s products. In addition, scheduling and time-and-materials billing modules are new features we released in 2009.
Blueforce.com’s dashboard offers a quick snapshot of timesheets, who is punched in, who is late, if a site is on budget or over budget, which employee is approaching overtime, and the Dashboard will display many alerts, messages or action items. It’s a business-intelligence tool at your fingertips, saving the BSC time, which equates to bottom-line net profits.
Our real-time alerts provide our clients with many financial benefits. Alerts can be sent to an e-mail address or as a SMS text message to a mobile phone. By receiving an alert, a BSC can be “proactive” and make adjustments—e.g., when an employee doesn’t show up or is late, when labor budgets are exceeded, or if an employee is about to reach overtime, to name a few. Having these alerts in place affords our clients to be more profitable, competitive and keep their promises to their clients.
Why should BSCs purchase their software from you?
TEAM: TEAM has 20 years of industry experience. The software was designed for the unique challenges BSCs face. From working with companies for 20 years ranging in size from 25 employees to 50,000 employees, we have learned how to assist companies gain efficiency to help them grow and attain maximum profit. By offering a completely integrated labor, operations and financial management package, our customers have the convenience of working with one vendor for their software needs. We take great pride in the excellent level of customer support we provide and the willingness of our customers to share information and ideas among themselves at our user conference and other industry events.
MITC: MITC’s global reach and depth of expertise guarantees access to an unrivalled range of affordable and effective software and services. MITC is a worldleader in providing software to building service contractors in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United States and United Kingdom. MITC is an independent software company with no associations or financial arrangements with any provider of building services.
More than 1,000 companies worldwide, with five to 10,000 employees have selected MITC to control costs, save time and improve competitiveness. We provide modular solutions to support all the needs of a building service contractor—timekeeping, payroll, accounting and operations— with integration technology for all other software from Quick- Books to Great Plains. Building service contractors can use an individual MITC software application to address a particular need or an integrated system from time and attendance to general ledger.
ExpressTime: We understand the needs of the building service contractor because the software was designed out of need for our own local janitorial company. We keep up with what is going in the industry and make every effort to accommodate the needs of the building service contractor. We have great customer service and keep our product affordable by not charging for unnecessary features that some of the other generic timekeeping companies do. We were literally made for this business.
CleanTelligent: CleanTelligent has been developed over the past 11 years with more than $2.5 million invested into its continued production. Due to the importance of the confidentiality of data, all programming and customer support is held within the walls of our offices in Provo, Utah. With thousands of users across several countries, CleanTelligent is growing fast and supporting many BSCs in their financial stability and growth.
CleanTelligent is more than just software. When you sign up with CleanTelligent, you receive support from a personal trainer who is a CIMS-ISSA-certified expert, a marketing consultant assigned to help you win bids, and a Web site design programmer who assists in branding CleanTelligent to your company. Our industry experts will assist you in reaching the financial goals of your company.
Companies using CleanTelligent have reported greater increases in revenue, more reduced costs and better client retention than with any other janitorial software on the market. Whether a company wants to become CIMS-certified or land that million-dollar contract, Clean- Telligent helps companies reach all major financial objectives.
American EPAY: American EPAY is a well-known service provider to many of the top BSCs in the industry. Our installations include janitorial service contractors, property management, healthcare, retail, hotel, universities and the like. Janitorial is our niche. We focus on providing time and attendance solutions for distributed labor so BSCs can focus on what they do best—providing building services to their book of business.
American EPAY partners and integrates with brand name payroll and accounting providers such as ADP, Ceridian, StratEx, JD Edwards/Oracle, and Quick- Books, which are well-known to the BSCs in addition to any other payroll providers. American EPAY is ISO 9001:2008 certified and is a member of the BSCAI, ISSA, and the APA.
Are there different functions required depending on whether the cleaning company is small or large?
TEAM: Because our software was designed for the BSC industry, we have solutions for any size company. It is up to the customer to decide which functions within our software they choose to utilize.
MITC: All cleaning contractors need to focus on controlling payroll costs. MITC offers scalable and modular solutions for any size of contractor. For larger building service contractors, integration becomes more important.
ExpressTime: We offer ExpressTime online or you can host it yourself. These versions work the same except where your data is being stored. We have large and small companies using it both ways. We also have an Enterprise version if you are a nationwide corporation and would like to track all of your locations.
CleanTelligent: CleanTelligent is scalable enough to completely satisfy the needs of a one-man operation up to a worldwide company. Small companies using CleanTelligent have the ability to grow and become more competitive. Large companies using CleanTelligent have ability to easily manage quality and personnel throughout their organization and across multiple states and countries. With the proprietary way we organize information, CleanTelligent is a great fit for everyone.
American EPAY: Oftentimes it depends on the client vs. the size. Going to an automated time and labor system from a manual one requires ownership of the project from the top down. To us, whether the client has 4,000 sites or 40 sites, it all boils down to following a set and defined implementation process. Doing so delivers a positive outcome for all parties involved.
2009 has been a tough year for our industry. What do you foresee for 2010?
TEAM: We are very excited about 2010. The tough economy has forced companies to take a hard look at their processes, specifically, what they can do to save money or add profit to their bottom line. TEAM has many tools to help companies in both of these areas and we have seen a recent increase in sales activity of these software programs. Although 2009 has been a tough year for many BSCs, moving forward, we feel that BSCs will be more efficient and customer focused because of it.
MITC: 2010 will be an opportunity to reposition and restructure. The unprecedented economic problems that first arose in 2007 will continue. The federal government stimulus plan will keep major elements of the economy afloat in 2010. The critical time will be 2011. Then the current stimulus ends and everyone from state governments to banks will have to stand on their own feet.
Certain sectors of the economy and certain regions are stronger than others. Building service contractors looking to expand will focus their energy on the stronger market sectors and regions.
ExpressTime: I think we will continue to grow. Now, more than ever, companies are realizing that our system can really help make them more efficient and save them money. ExpressTime will solve a lot of problems whether we are in a recession or in a thriving economy. As our economy is not going to change overnight, we have to be the ones to change the way that we do things.
CleanTelligent: Economic hardship is the time when excellence is recognized and rewarded. While many companies have buckled down to “wait out” the recession, others have been aggressive in their marketing, innovating and positioning in the industry. Companies that have innovated by using CleanTelligent are thriving during this recession. I believe the gap is quickly increasing between companies that use technology and those that don’t.
American EPAY: American EPAY attended eight tradeshows in 2009, and the attendees are looking for products and services that help companies cut down overhead costs. Specifically, labor is the largest expenditure in overhead. That being said, in order to be competitive today, organizations are turning to technology to streamline processes and increase productivity, efficiency and effectiveness. We foresee building service contractors embracing and utilizing technology, in order to stay competitive in the market in 2010 and the coming years.
What are your company’s plans for 2010 when it comes to software? What, if any, changes will you be making?
TEAM: We have many changes and additions planned for 2010. We will be completing a major upgrade to a new programming platform for WinTeam, which includes powerful new reporting features, a brand new look and feel for all of our screens and enhanced customizable billing options. We will also release brand new versions of eHub, our employee and customer selfservice program. The customer self-service program will include automated work-flow features and will also allow you to provide your customer with easy access to their invoices through an e-mail with a link. All the customer has to do to view and print their invoice is click on the link. The employee self-service module of eHub will also take on a completely updated look and feel with user-friendly features that allow supervisors to review and approve timekeeping records for payroll.
MITC: In 2009, MITC introduced new software and services to directly help customers manage the recession. For current customers, MITC now provides a free annual cost-saving audit to help them benefit from 20 years of experience working with building service and security contractors. MITC hired additional staff from top quality business schools in the United States and the United Kingdom to provide this service, helping building service contractors identify hidden costs in their organizations. To complement this service, MITC created new software using powerful financial graphs to identify adverse or positive trends within customers’ businesses. This service and software portfolio will be expanded in 2010. MITC wants to help customers be the most competitive in their markets. That way, we all prosper.
For potential new customers, MITC has developed new services and software that helps identify the real costs of current operations, the potential savings of change, the software and services to manage the transition and secure a full return on their investment. MITC will expand these services in 2010 via free regional workshops.
In 2010, MITC will expand its financial services. Cash flow is always an issue for building service contractors. The unprecedented financial crisis has restricted access to home equity lines of credit, credit cards and bank financing. MITC appreciates that having identified potential cost savings, finding the financial and human resources to make the transition is not straightforward. In 2010, MITC will be offering customers new financial options to spread the costs of a transition over the return-on-investment period. That way, any investment in new technology is cash-flow positive from day one.
CleanTelligent: CleanTelligent is continually built upon the needs of our customers and automating their business processes so they can realize the financial benefits they desire. We have open communication with our customers on new features they would like and what will benefit them the most.
A few of these new features include an enhanced Blackberry device interface for quality inspections and picture capture (including the new touch screen Blackberry devices), barcode scanning for time tracking on standalone devices, additional bidding, estimating, workloading and proposal generation features, additions to reporting with new and improved custom report writer options, and more customized field options for each module. Most importantly, instead of having to change your business processes to use CleanTelligent, CleanTelligent is designed to wrap around your business processes and automate them so you can achieve greater financial stability.
ExpressTime: We are very close to having our inspection piece done and should be rolling it out this year. We think this is going to be invaluable for our customers. We have also been beta testing our texting feature and very soon it will be released to everyone.
American EPAY: With the help of our clients, we have identified areas where we will make enhancements on our biometric device called the Walter™ T6. Scheduled to be released by the first of the New Year. Some of the features that sets it apart than any other biometric device; the T6 can display multi-media with its large 10-inch oversize LCD screen, with built-in speakers and headphone jack, which can be used for onsite video training. We are the only company with a patented printer built into the time device. The thermal printer saves companies money by printing pay stubs, work orders, and messages on site. The Walter™ T6 can replace the need for onsite computers, laptops or handheld devices to access the Blueforce. com to submit timesheets. Additionally, it has a Web camera to verify along with finger image reader that the correct employee is punching in and out, as an extra validation, which will provide a BSC to process I-9s (hiring in the field).
Later in 2010, American EPAY will be releasing new software for the Walter™ T6, which provides employee self-service and the ability to provide BSCs to process I-9s (patent pending); hiring in the field. Our dashboard Blueforce. com will have enhancements added to our scheduling and billing features, along with accruals, absence management, and budgets.
Lastly, iPunch™ provides employees the ability to punch in and out on site through a PC or laptop. However, our very robust Fonen™ (telephone application) is still the most widelyused product that building service contractors use today.