Latest News from BPCA

13 September 2017

Apptastic! Smarter pest control at your fingertips

Feature technology | PPC88 September 2017

The digital software arms race has never been so competitive. For smaller companies, choosing the right application to help drive that bottom line up can be a challenging activity to undertake. Ben Massey takes a look at the options...

Speed view

  • Digital tools can make your tasks easier
  • Some applications take longer to set up than others
  • Applications and software are generally run on a pricing scale, making them good value for money

Applications or ‘apps’ are digital software programs designed to save a user’s time (and therefore money) so they can focus on what they do best. So, if you don’t know your Trello from your WUFOO, or your Fiverr from your Yelp, this article should give you an idea of what is out there to support your daily routine.

Why adopt technology?

apptastic phone

It’s worth understanding why you should adopt new technologies, especially if you represent a company that does not have to manage a large team. If you find yourself making the following statements it might be time to consider some app help:

“Yes, I will get a copy of the service report to you electronically, but it’ll have to wait until I’m back in the office.”

“I want to regularly communicate with my customers,

“I want to regularly communicate with my customers, and not just when we are visiting.”

“I need to submit this invoice but I haven’t got time today.”

“Filing, filing and more filing!”

“Where is that piece of paper/logbook”

“Surely they’ve invented something that can make this easier?!”

“I really don’t want to spend another evening doing more admin!”

Price

Most single function applications are scalable in terms of price. Most offer a licence or per-user charge, which means that they turn out to be cost effective no matter what size of business you have. In fact, a number of the apps in this feature are free or offer a free trial so you can try before you buy.

What apps are out there for pest controllers?

Marketing and communications

Marketing and comms apps

If you’re constantly flicking between social media platforms to manage customer interactions, we suggest using a management tool like Hootsuite for a one-stop shop. If you have customers who have opted to receive communications from you, we also suggest emailing them through an application like Mailchimp – you might want to introduce a new member of staff or let your customer base know you’ve just been CEPA Certified®!

In addition to updating your details on BPCA’s ‘find a pest controller’ tool, we also suggest making sure your company details are listed on Yelp and Google My Business. It pays to reference your BPCA membership to stand out from the competition! Make sure you utilise the opportunities that listing applications give you with regard to photos of you and your team, links to your website and social media feeds, and those all-important reviews from real customers.

Fiverr is an alternative addition to the ‘essential applications list’ for the professional pest controller. It is a directory of freelance professionals who you can contact for tasks such as copywriting, design, video, translation and even programming! Finally, in MarComms we also recomended our members look to engage a quality chat tool for teams that work across multiple devices – Google Hangouts is great for this.

Fleet management / mileage

 Fleet management milage apps

Trackm8 and appyfleet are two applications based out of the UK that allow you to track your vehicle’s movements and include features like expense reporting, traffic alerts and scheduling visits. Both apps offer a simple, easy-to-use interface and have freemium models for the individual user as well as more advanced ‘fleet management’ software. MileIQ can also serve the needs of the professional pest controller by automatically logging mileage and is free for the first 40 drives each month.

Project management /operations

Project management apps

Project management applications are particularly useful to stay organised. Applications like Trello and Basecamp ensure you keep a track of your strategic objectives, schedule operational tasks, and assign them to relevant colleagues.

Bitrix 24 is slightly different in that the application is able to deliver basic project management tasks, but additionally offers useful tools such as annual leave planners, document management and HR forms management. For versatile cloud-based document management, that integrates across a range of applications, Google Drive/ Docs is also popular.

Some members of the Servicing Committee also use Evernote in place of a notepad as it also works across multiple operating systems (macOS, iOS, Windows and Android).

Online forms 

 Online form apps

Completing service reports by hand not only takes more time during the visit, but there is the follow-up administration to consider. It is important to take it into account the time it takes to set up your forms online, and carry out adequate testing before being fully operational.

Of course, depending on the usability of the software, some forms will take you longer to get into shape than others. Applications that can support getting your forms into a digital format are Formotus Pro and Formatize. iPestPlus is also worth a mention here. It is a digital pest control reporting app produced by Russell IPM that delivers features such as an interactive data, online logbook and spatial mapping, all produced from the swipe of a finger (or two) on site.

For a straightforward ‘lets move my form online’ objective, GoFormz seems a simple solution and is able to adopt a company’s existing report template, even if the form wasn’t originally designed for online use.

GoFormative is an application used mainly in the education sector which has a useful ‘live’ component that allows a main user to intervene electronically.

Wufoo and Formatize seem to be slightly more complex apps, but arrive with the added benefit of being able to take payments within the form, which is really useful in the domestic market.

Built specifically for the pest control market, a purpose-built app like iPestPlus is also worth a look.

No-brainers

Setting up digital software takes time to get it right, so be prepared to spend time building, testing and troubleshooting.

Thinking of purchasing a solution for your business? We recommend speaking to at least two current clients to understand their experiences.

The apps referenced may provide additional functionality to what this article has presented. For up-to-date information, you should contact the software provider directly.

I was after a digital card-based system that I could use for job management and planning purposes. There’s loads of different ways you can use Trello for this and I have multiple Trello ‘boards’ for multiple projects.

Phillip Halpin, Managing Director of Countrywide Environmental Services

Glossary

Application. Typically a small, specialised digital program downloaded onto devices.
Automation. Use of digital technology to perform a process in order to accomplish a workflow or function.
Cloud-based. Software and data held online and accessible to users on demand via the internet.
CRM. Customer Relationship Management System. A system to record all customer details, contact records and activity information.
Integration. One system talking to another without the need for manual inputting.
Operating system. The set of software that controls the overall computer system.

Why use a single system?

Using a single system, which has been produced for servicing type companies, has a number of benefits. Firstly, all your activities and contacts (i.e. your data) are in one place making it easier to manage and improve the level and consistency of information on your clients. Secondly, you only need to understand how one system works, not five or more. Finally, it may well prove to be cheaper in the long run, especially when you add the time going from application to application!

Single solutions are often really good at doing a range of tasks well, but are unlikely to be able to compete with likes of Mailchimp, for example, on the quality of their email management tool. In broad terms, it’s the specialist versus the generalist conundrum. The most important thing for you, as the operator, is to consider if the application will meet your needs now, and support the development of your business efficiently and economically over the next few years. As a heads-up, should you adopt a single system it’s likely you will need to make some changes to existing processes to fit with the new system.

ProductHeadquartersTop three FunctionsCost for five
technicians (P.M)
Extras

 ServSuite CMYK

SERVSUITE

USA

Mobile app
Form development
Barcode scanning
£140-200 Pay as you go; no contracts; 1GB of storage; free email and live chat support; unlimited support (includes telephone); free updates; regular backups; cloud technology

In development:

Sales team app
Remote monitoring app
Client logbook

Service tracker CMYK


SERVICETRACKER


UK
*Mobile App (Cross platform)
Inspection Analysis
Built in CRM
*£170-£200

Free email and live chat technical support; free updates; regular backups; cloud technology

In development:

Real time route planning and scheduling
New user interface
Finance software integration

Service M8 CMYK


SERVICEM8

Australia

Mobile app
Add ons (extra functionality)
Per-job pricing

£104 based on
400 jobs per month
Pay as you go; no contract; no set-up fee; unlimited storage; free email and live chat support

In development:

Automation


Pest scan CMYK

PESTSCAN

The Netherlands

Floorplan management
Audits and client recommendations
Customer focused
£110

Unlimited support; no set-up cost; free updates

In development:

Franchise / branch
management
Route planning
More CRM functions

Pestfriend logo cmyk

PESTFRIEND

UK – part of
Servsuite
Site reporting
Barcoding of pest
control units
Quotes and invoices
TBC see website Pay as you go; free email/ digital support; unlimited support (includes telephone); free updates;
regular backups; cloud technology; no set-up cost

*edited from information published in printed PPC 88 Publication

Single solutions

Australian provider ServiceM8 claims to be one of best field service management solutions because it understands and simplifies the processes required for businesses to get work, complete work, and get paid, in a powerful and easy-to-use mobile app – however, most providers said this or something similar!

We contacted all of the referenced providers and asked them what they felt were their best three features about their product, what they have in development now and, most importantly, what the cost would be (based on five technicians). Those that got back to us are presented below, but the likes of PestApp and Pestpac are still worth looking at, if just for window shopping.

Summary

Anecdotal feedback from members favours single solution packages. Personally, I believe that the most value in a single solution will benefit a company that is looking to move from a smaller organisation of around two or three technicians into something more. It is worth noting that all software options offer a range of additional functions we don’t have space to list, as well as more worthwhile extras.

It’s important to do your research with each supplier. If you can enter into a free trial, you will be able to see what is available, and how easy (or not) the system is to use. We also recommend speaking to at least two current clients to understand their experiences of the product.

WHAT SHOULD WE REPORT ON?

PPC will always do its best to investigate topics based on your suggestions. Email us.

Editorial team

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Ben-Massey-Staff-bubbleBen Massey
Marketing and Communications Manager

15 September 2017  |  PPC88

Source: PPC88

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