Starting and running your own plumbing business can test your sanity at the best of times. In today’s fast-paced world, you must keep up with demand and ensure your customers are well taken care of.
Most plumbers run their business without the benefit of much technology. Many don’t see a direct need for any – why fix something if it’s not broken, after all?
But the truth is, automated scheduling is more critical than ever to keep up with your competition.
Recent research suggests that the home services market is multiplying, with an estimated value of $370.86 million in 2021 and projections to reach a whopping $1,826.35 million by 2030 – an astounding growth rate of 21.14% each year between 2022 and 2030.
That means more demand, more owner-operators, and a wider selection of professionals that customers can choose from. Those customers want fast service and convenience, and few tools give plumbers that edge more than 24/7 online scheduling.
What Is Scheduling Software?
First things first. Scheduling software is a type of tool used to help plan the work activities of employees or contractors. It can be used for scheduling shifts, setting up appointments, tracking deadlines and more. The goal is to maximize efficiency by ensuring projects are completed on time, and everyone’s workload remains balanced.
For plumbers, scheduling software can be a great way to organize their business. Plumbing is a demanding job that requires precision, attention to detail, and quick response times. Scheduling software allows you to better manage meetings, service calls, and repairs so you can focus on providing top-notch customer service.
Source: GoSite Booking
One of the best features of scheduling apps is their ability to customize time slots – lengths of time, types of job, etc. This means you can create a personalized work schedule that fits you and your contractors’ needs – helping you find and manage the best times for each job, whether you’re handling maintenance requests or emergency services.
Scheduling Needs Unique to Plumbing Businesses
Plumbers have specific scheduling needs that differ from other home-service businesses. These include:
- Appointments outside of standard business hours. Plumbing services often require appointments outside of typical 9-5 workdays, such as weekends and late evening calls.
- Scheduling expensive parts in advance. Plumbers need to be able to accurately schedule time and materials to ensure they can provide the right parts for each job on time.
- Giving yourself plenty of time to prepare for difficult or lengthy jobs. Many plumbing jobs require a lot of upfront planning and preparation, so it is important for plumbers to be able to schedule as much lead time as needed.
- Scheduling multiple technicians. Plumbers often need to coordinate the work of multiple technicians on various jobs, so it’s essential for them to have a system that can easily manage this.
- Tracking customer history. To ensure the best service and accuracy, plumbers need to be able to track customer history and preferences, such as what type of parts they prefer or any previous issues with their plumbing.
Source: Finances Online
- Scheduling emergency calls. Emergency plumbing calls require a fast response time, so it’s essential for plumbers to have an efficient system in place to handle these situations.
- Coordinating with other contractors. Plumbers often need to coordinate their work with other contractors, such as electricians or HVAC technicians. This requires a system that can handle multiple job types and scheduling needs.
Considering all these needs when selecting your plumbing software, you can ensure the best fit for your business.
6 Key Features To Look for When Choosing Scheduling Software for Your Plumbing Business
As a plumber, you know your industry best; as such, you must find a scheduling app that meets all your business needs. Here are six key features to look for when choosing scheduling software for your plumbing business.
1. Online Booking Capabilities
This should go without saying. A growing portion of your customers love being able to schedule a service within minutes of finding you online.
Did you know that the number of people searching online for local plumbers is literally tripling yearly? It’s essential you find a system that allows customers to book service appointments quickly and conveniently without having to call or email your business. More importantly, adding online scheduling gives you and your team time back to do other, more personalized tasks.
Look for the following features when choosing online booking software:
- A user-friendly interface that makes it easy for customers to select dates and times
- The ability to customize appointment types (e.g., 30-minute slots or 1-hour slots)
- Simple calendar syncing (Google or Outlook)
Source: GoSite Booking
2. Taking Down Payments, Deposits, etc. at Time of Booking
If it takes you time and money to gather job supplies and send a crew, it’s often a good idea to take a deposit when a customer confirms their appointment. The right booking tools will offer you this feature as needed.
Here are some other key benefits of taking payments upfront:
- Encourages early payments. You can offer discounts or other incentives for early payments, encouraging more people to book with you.
- Add clients to your business more efficiently. Taking payment upfront means that customers don’t have to go through the added step of providing payment once they arrive at their appointment. This makes the process more efficient and streamlined for both parties. Once the job is done, you can just charge their card or account on file.
- Reduced booking cancellations. Making customers pay a deposit encourages them to show up as scheduled or face penalties if they cancel without notice.
Using your booking software for deposits helps get the necessary finances ahead of time, gets people excited about their upcoming services, and gives customers peace of mind knowing they have secured their appointment.
Plus, it makes it easier for you to manage and track payments with less paperwork involved.
Mobile friendliness is a key factor with any new scheduling app. In today’s digital world, almost everyone has access to a smartphone or other device, and recent statistics support this trend. More customers than ever shop on their mobile devices, with nine out of ten of them making purchases on their phones.
Here are a few more convincing reasons why mobile friendliness should be top of mind when selecting your scheduling app:
- Flexibility. With mobile-friendly scheduling software, you can access and update information on the go, ensuring maximum flexibility while out in the field.
- Quick communication. An app on iOS and Android allows you to communicate with customers, vendors and team members in real-time.
- Streamlined processes. Mobile-friendly scheduling software helps keep your processes efficient and streamlined by automating tasks such as job notifications, customer invoicing, dispatching and more.
Overall, having smartphone-compatible software is essential for any plumbing business looking to grow and thrive in the modern age. By leveraging the power of mobile, plumbers can streamline their operations while building stronger customer relationships.
4. Easy Rescheduling
Being a plumber means dealing with the unexpected. From emergency calls to last-minute changes in schedule, it’s essential for any plumbing business to have easy rescheduling options that can quickly and efficiently adjust appointments.
Scheduling apps are an effective way to ensure that all of your team members are on the same page when it comes to organizing their workflows. When looking for the best fit, ensure it offers features that simplify rescheduling.
The best software will be mobile-friendly, allowing you to switch appointments from your smartphone with the swipe of a finger. This makes it easy for your team members to stay dialed in and on top of their tasks.
5. Automated Appointment Reminders
Appointment reminders make it easier for customers to remember their scheduled times and allow them to adjust if necessary.
Source: GoSite Booking
This also helps reduce no-shows and late arrivals, which can have a negative impact on overall business efficiency. These computerized nudges save both time and money by ensuring that plumbers don't miss out on potential clients due to scheduling issues or forgotten appointments.
6. Connected Digital Features
With connected digital features, plumbers can streamline their work and save time by integrating the scheduling app with other applications they use daily. Here are some of the standard digital tools that your new app might sync with:
The more applications you can use (or integrate) with your chosen app, the more time you’ll have to do other things, like building your business.
- Accounting systems like Quickbooks
- Client relationship management systems (CRMs)
- Payment processing systems
- Automated invoicing solutions
- Calendar applications
- GPS systems
- Time tracking solutions
- Loyalty programs and rewards apps
How To Implement Plumbing Software Solutions
1. Show Your Team How To Use It
When implementing any new computerized solution, it’s important to remember that success depends on the team's ability to use it effectively. Take the time to show your team how to access and use the software and explain any features they may not be familiar with.
This will help everyone understand the available tools and set them up for success in their day-to-day tasks.
2. Find New Ways to Use Booking Links and Processes
One way to get the most out of your new scheduling tool is by finding new ways to streamline booking processes with links and automated processes. You can easily set up a link on your website so customers can book appointments online.
While you’re at it, why not set up automated emails or texts that remind them of their scheduled time? This helps you save time and makes it easier for customers to make appointments.
3. Train Contractors and Customers To Use It
It's important that both customers and contractors know how to use scheduling software for several reasons. It ensures that everyone has access to the same information, making it easier for customers and contractors to stay organized, efficient, and on the same page.
Here are some tips for training customers and contractors on scheduling software:
- Provide clear instructions. Make sure you explain any features or functions of the software so that everyone can understand them easily.
- Use visuals. Use screenshots, videos or handouts to explain and demonstrate how to use the software.
- Offer practice sessions. Allow customers and contractors to interact with the software in a safe environment where they can ask questions without feeling rushed or intimidated.
- Follow up. After initial training, check in regularly to make sure everyone is comfortable using the scheduling software correctly.
With patience, simplicity and understanding, you’ll be bringing everyone up to speed on your new scheduling tool in no time.
4. Keep Your Digital Calendars Clean and in Sync
An organized digital calendar guarantees you never miss an appointment or job. It’s also important to ensure that your calendars are aligned so you don’t double-book yourself or forget about any events.
To do this, double-check all your devices are connected and updated with the same calendar app, whether it be Google Calendar, Outlook Calendar, etc. Next, make sure you check your upcoming appointments, reschedule any missed ones, and allow enough padding and travel time between more complicated jobs.
Doing this will help make sure that you always have a coordinated and up-to-date digital calendar.
5. Monitor Success (Fewer Double Bookings, Fewer No-shows, etc.)
So, once you've got your software up and running, how do you know it's working? Monitoring your success with a plumbing software solution is easy. First, make sure you have an easy-to-read dashboard.
This will show important information like how many jobs are completed daily or weekly, customer satisfaction ratings, and revenue earned from each job. Remember to keep track of your total double bookings, cancellations, and no-shows too.
Then, set up alerts to inform you when certain thresholds are met so that you can quickly respond to any issues. Lastly, keep track of your profits over time so that you can identify areas where the software could be improved to maximize efficiency and profitability.
How You Can Benefit From Plumbing Scheduling Software
By implementing scheduling software for plumbers, you can take the hassle out of managing your appointment book manually. With an automated system to handle things like customer inquiries and service requests, you can free up more time for yourself and your team – leading to a smoother, more efficient business.