For the plumbing contractors that we know — and in our business, we’ve gotten to know quite a few plumbing contractors — there’s no doubt about their priorities when a new call comes in. They want their customer service reps to answer quickly, efficiently, and accurately, record all of the essential job information, and get that call booked and assigned to a tech ASAP.
The reason for this urgency is clear: Every moment that passes between the time a new customer dials the number of your plumbing service and the time your CSR gets them onto the schedule is an opportunity for that customer to take their business elsewhere.
Business owners who try to handle scheduling and dispatching without the assistance of plumbing scheduling software increasingly find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to winning and keeping customers, not least because manual scheduling processes can create a lot of frustration.
Often, CSRs will put prospective customers on hold while they examine the whiteboard or spreadsheet on which their company’s schedule is laid out, looking for availability. Sometimes, they’ll have to call their dispatcher to check availability. By the time they come back to their customer — if their customer is still on the line — they’re likely going to be dealing with someone who’s already losing patience.
In the event the proposed times don’t work for the customer, the CSR has to start the process all over again, giving that (now annoyed) customer another opportunity to hang up and call a competitor.
Even if the CSR manages to book the job, they’ve often already started off on the wrong foot. Poor customer experience from the jump can negatively impact customer relationships going forward and reduce the chance of success for the tech once they actually get to the home.
Another disadvantage of handling scheduling and dispatching without plumbing software lies in the fact that customer service reps are often the most junior, least experienced people in a plumbing shop.
They’re not generally well-acquainted with business strategy, like the how and why of prioritizing certain kinds of jobs depending on the season or the weather. And, particularly if they haven’t been on the job long, they may be prone to miscommunication with dispatchers and customers, as well as to spending a lot of time trying to understand the scheduling board.
These factors can easily add up to significant slow-downs and errors, disrupting the booking process and further hurting customer experiences.
It’s no surprise, then, that many plumbing contractors are turning to scheduling apps to solve their scheduling and dispatching challenges. However, scheduling apps vary in their ability to meet contractors’ needs.
One of the biggest drawbacks to some of the less advanced plumbing scheduling apps and field service management software (FSM) is that they tend to replicate the problems of the manual approach. For example, many such platforms require call bookers to navigate through multiple screens and interfaces to book jobs and communicate with customers, techs, and dispatchers. The effect is often to mirror the very inefficiencies and errors that scheduling and plumbing dispatch software should eliminate.
In this post, by way of contrast, we’re going to walk you through the scheduling and dispatching features of our product, ServiceTitan. We’ll show you exactly how they work, and point out the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which our software gives our subscribers the edge over plumbers using other scheduling apps.
To make it all easy to digest, we’ll break things down into three basic categories:
Want to see how ServiceTitan works to streamline your plumbing business operations? Schedule a call to get a live, one-on-one walk through of the features we describe throughout this article.
How ServiceTitan Helps Plumbing Contractors Optimize the Scheduling and Dispatching Process from the Office
ServiceTitan gives CSRs a leg up on efficiently booking calls and increasing average ticket prices from the moment their phones begin to ring. Before they even pick up, our software automatically supplies the name of the caller. That way, CSRs can greet them by name, setting them up for improved customer satisfaction from the beginning.
Via an automated process, ServiceTitan also furnishes CSRs with the caller’s address, as well as with specific details about their property — like the age and size of their home — which can provide clues to valuable sales opportunities.
ServiceTitan allows business owners and managers to guide each and every conversation with a workflow of fully customizable drop-down options, ensuring that their call bookers ask the right questions and gather all of the information that they need as efficiently as possible.
(In the event that anything does go wrong, our Call Recording feature allows supervisors to replay a CSR’s conversation with a customer to verify the facts.)
When a CSR is ready to schedule a job, ServiceTitan removes the inefficiencies and mistakes that frequently come along with scheduling and dispatch boards — which can be chaotic, imprecise, and hard to read — with our cutting-edge Adjustable Capacity Planning functionality.
In its simplest form, this takes the shape of a clean, intuitive scheduling interface like the one shown in the screenshot above. Rather than a mess of moving parts, call bookers are presented with binary choices generated automatically based on the kind of job they’re looking to schedule.
A given work block is either available, or it isn’t, eliminating the kind of back-and-forths with dispatchers that can lead to lengthy hold times, disgruntled customers, and lost opportunities.
The simplicity of this workflow disguises its underlying sophistication.
Our advanced capacity planning schedules are fully customizable, so that they can be embedded in advance with the priorities of business owners. In other words, what a CSR sees on their screen reflects the carefully laid strategy of their employer: what kind of jobs they want to take and how many of them, how long they want to allot to each job type, and more.
For example, around the holidays, most plumbing and HVAC businesses will aim to reduce the number of maintenance jobs they book, giving themselves flexibility to handle more seasonal big-ticket work, like heating system replacements. Similarly, during slower times of the year, those same companies may well overbook their schedules with maintenance plan visits and check ups, knowing those home service calls can be completed in a jiff.
With ServiceTitan, entry-level employees don’t need to understand any of this to reliably and efficiently execute according to the preset needs and preferences of their boss.
Our plumbing scheduling app further automates the booking process by ensuring that only techs with the skills required for a given job can be assigned to that task. That way, plumbing contractors can be sure that the right tech is dispatched to the right job every time. Employee availability is also updated in ServiceTitan in real-time, so there’s no chance of double-bookings.
As a result of this streamlined workflow, one ServiceTitan user saw their average call duration go from 5 minutes to 3.5 minutes, dramatically increasing the number of calls their CSRs could handle each day while simultaneously improving the customer experience they were providing.
Although a number of other plumbing software solutions give users the ability to adjust their schedules to account for things like seasonal fluctuation in job type and quantity, this functionality generally isn’t seamlessly embedded in the call booking process, as it is with ServiceTitan. Instead, more manual input is demanded of CSRs, requiring them to toggle between multiple screens — an opportunity for mistakes and delay. In contrast, our binary approach makes it virtually impossible to err.
As a rule, ServiceTitan seamlessly integrates all of the core functions that plumbing service providers rely on to keep their businesses operating in top form. This approach extends to scheduling and dispatching: once a plumbing job is booked, it appears automatically on the Dispatch Board, which CSRs can reach directly through the scheduling interface, without changing screens.
Each entry on the dispatch board, shown above, comes complete with essential job management details: type, arrival window, technician assigned, customer information (like name and address), and more. These fields are fully customizable.
When a customer texts to confirm an appointment, that information gets automatically reflected on the dispatch board, too.
But nothing is set in stone. The ServiceTitan dispatch board is fluid and dynamic. CSRs and dispatchers can re-assign techs, reschedule jobs, change routes, and much more. Depending on their preferences, they can accomplish such tasks via drag-and-drop or user-friendly right-click menus. They can also add helpful notes to an individual job to give the tech a heads-up. (For example: dog on site.)
Job progress, GPS tracking, and time tracking are also visible through the dispatch board over the course of the workday, so that office employees always know what’s happening in the field.
Among the many features that distinguish ServiceTitan from our competitors is our advanced API, which allows dispatchers and CSRs to communicate via SMS text message on their computer screens with techs using mobile phones while they’re out in the field.
By eliminating the need to switch between screens, ServiceTitan allows office employees to streamline their workflow, reducing the chances that they’ll miss an important message from a tech simply because they forget to check their phone.
Our software also provides for mass messaging among co-workers, right through the dispatch board for further collaboration and ease of business management. Office staff can send a message to a particular group or team, or to everyone at the company. This feature is quite unusual among plumbing apps, and has become a favorite of our subscribers.
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ServiceTitan Scheduling and Dispatching Features via Mobile Device
As we have written previously, technicians using our field service mobile app — via Android, iPad, iPhone, or another iOS device — enjoy access to a wide range of functionality. They can:
Listen to recordings of conversations between customers and CSRs
View customers’ service history
Send text notifications to customers to confirm and revise arrival times or follow up
Facilitate flawless plumbing estimating
Provide homeowners with Good Better Best presentations
Collect signatures on work orders
Help customers apply for financing
Take credit card payments
And much more
Unlike other FSMs, our mobile app provides offline functionality for access to all the tools and data that techs need to do their best work even when there’s no internet.
Our mobile scheduling and dispatching features are also designed to be calibrated precisely to the individual needs and preferences of plumbing company owners.
For example, plumbers can choose to give their techs full visibility into all of their assignments for a given day or week, or they can confine their techs’ view to the next job or two on their agenda.
ServiceTitan can also be set up to allow techs to self-dispatch — simply by clicking a button in the upper right corner of their screen, as shown above — or programmed to limit dispatching authority to office employees.
Similarly, to track job progress, ServiceTitan can be set up to register when a tech comes within 100 feet of a job site, automatically beginning the work-in-progress portion of the job cycle. Alternatively, business owners can choose to allow techs to enter their start-of-work time themselves.
Have Customers Book Directly Through Your Website with Our Widget Feature
As millennials enter the real estate market, an increasing percentage of homeowners are showing a clear preference for web booking when it comes to hiring service companies for things like plumbing, HVAC, and electrical work.
That’s why we’ve added a Web Widget feature to our software’s toolkit.
The widget — which appears as a text box in the lower right-hand corner of a potential customer’s screen — allows homeowners to book new jobs quickly and painlessly without ever having to talk to anyone on the phone.
Customers simply select the service category they are in the market for:
And then zero in to identify their issue type, adding a brief or detailed description:
The widget then collects their contact information and address:
From there, they can choose an appointment time that’s convenient for them:
The scheduling availability that appears in the web widget booking interface perfectly reflects the customized advanced planning capacity that plumbing business owners have already set up.
In other words, the availability that customers can select from on the web is the same — reflecting nuanced strategy of the owner’s scheduling preferences — as what CSRs provide by phone.
Once a customer has input all of their information, all that’s left for them to do is review the details and book. Jobs scheduled through the ServiceTitan web widget are automatically booked into the plumbing dispatch board, and customers can manage their booking completely on their own, using text and/or email to reschedule, update, or cancel.
Make Scheduling and Dispatching Challenges a Thing of the Past
Among plumbers, it’s no secret that trying to handle job scheduling and dispatching manually — with a welter of chaotic spreadsheets and dispatch boards — presents significant challenges and frustrations. It can contribute to missed business opportunities, inefficient day to day operations, poor customer service, and a less-than-stellar bottom line.
As service businesses increasingly turn to technology to give them a leg up, this is true now more than ever. Without the assistance of plumbing business software, it’s getting harder to compete.
But plumbing scheduling and dispatching apps aren’t created equal. Many of the less advanced CRMs that are now on the market tend to mirror the shortcomings of the old-fashioned method of scheduling and dispatching. Unsurprisingly, these products are prone to replicating the same mistakes, delays, and business losses they were supposed to fix.
In contrast, a cutting-edge platform like ServiceTitan can help contractors in large and small businesses overcome these hurdles — allowing them to save time by streamlining their operations, increasing their close rates, improving their efficiency, and growing average ticket prices to improve their bottom line.
As we’ve illustrated in this post, our plumbing service software accomplishes these feats via three key areas:
Office functionality for CSRs and dispatchers
Mobile software features for techs out in the field
A web widget interface to facilitate seamless online bookings
Want to see how ServiceTitan works to streamline your plumbing business operations? Schedule a call to get a live, one on one walk through of the features we describe throughout this article.
ServiceTitan Plumbing Software
ServiceTitan is a comprehensive plumbing business software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and achieve growth. Our award-winning, cloud-based platform is trusted by more than 100,000+ contractors across the country.