Vari-Therm Ltd is a leader in installation and maintenance for the industrial and commercial refrigeration, heating and gas pipework sectors across Ontario, Canada. A large part of our HVAC business comes from commercial grocery store refrigeration jobs in and around the greater Toronto area.
Our business was established in 1977 by my father-in-law, and I came on board as President of the company a few years ago. We both divide operational tasks evenly and oversee all activities around our field technicians.
We currently have 12 technicians on the road who use the Praxedo mobile application daily. They are highly trained professionals that use the most advanced electronic diagnostic and trouble-shooting equipment and materials available on the market.
As a leading HVAC contractor in the area, we pride ourselves on being able to identify problems for our customers. With our large inventory of new and replacement parts, we repair problems with their systems quickly and efficiently, no matter the time of day.
The main reason was to digitize our business processes.
Before I took over my father-in-law’s business, everything was done on paper which was really time consuming. We had 3 papers in fact that needed processing. One was the copy we handed over to the customer onsite, and the others were brought back to the office by the service technician. Once back at the office, paper needed to be labelled with the mailing address and invoiced back to the customer by scanning it and sending them the pdf.
All of this translated to a lot of waste, piles of paper and back and forth trips from the field to the office. The digital transformation we were able to achieve thanks to Praxedo also resulted in immediate savings on our invoicing process which used to cost us hundreds of dollars at the end of the year.
I also needed to get everyone on the same page.
Both my father-in-law and I needed access to specific dashboards configured to our business as well as the ability to track our technicians’ activity in real time. Keeping an eye on how jobs are progressing was something I was unable to do before.
We have a few people in the office that use Praxedo’s web platform, including my father-in-law and myself. My father-in-law assigns our technicians to new work orders and handles all of the dispatching. I use it to oversee everything including billing.
We have 12 technicians at the moment who use Praxedo’s mobile application for several things:
To respond to emergency jobs – we consider ourselves an emergency service where we can be dispatched on the fly. The real-time synchronization is put to good use here, since any last-minute changes that are made to their schedules can be instantly seen while on a route. For example, they can instantly confirm with the dispatcher that they can take a new service call right from the mobile app.
To log all information in one place – they fill out work orders and add images such as before and after shots, pictures of leaks and equipment that needs to be repaired.
To view work order history – rather than calling me every time they’re on their way to service equipment to get information on the history of the repair, they have all of that data at their fingertips.
To manage inventory on spare parts – the app gives them stock availability info such as where the part is being stored and they can log the materials being used so we can all accurately monitor supply levels.
We get paid so much faster
The first thing that comes to mind is the speed at which we can now send our invoices. Before Praxedo we had to wait until the following Thursday to bill our clients for the work that was done 2 weeks prior. Now we send out the invoice the same day and get paid faster! Timely payments help us smooth out our cash flow and eliminate any gaps.
Speaking of which, the automation of the tool ensures that every completed job has been invoiced and/or paid, whereas before we could not verify whether or not a job was closed out by a technician. We just assumed they did the job. Now, every job is accounted for and nothing goes unnoticed.
We have eliminated almost 200 calls made to the office per day
Our technicians in the field used to call us for every little thing. To get customer information, to let us know they were on a job, to learn about work history and to know what materials to take with them. That resulted in me having to handle a lot of calls during the day, when I could have been doing more important things with my time.
Praxedo serves as a central repository for technicians to have access to all of the data mentioned above, so they don’t need to call me anymore. They can finally work smarter, not harder.
The customized forms also simplify their jobs immensely. When they have leak checks, maintenance work to do, or need to quote on a job, the forms they use are fully formatted, leaving no room for error. We’ve tailored the work order reports to our business, so my technicians know exactly what information needs to be captured and they can fill them in quickly and easily with the mobile app.
We can track technician activity at all times
We can monitor our techs and know exactly how much time they spend in the field. When our mobile team updates their status on their mobile apps, it allows us to view the “work time” to “actual time” ratio in the field.
The digital map functionality gives me insight into where my technicians are at any time. This is a huge benefit since I can literally pull up on the side of the road to assign and dispatch them to new jobs with no hassle. I used to have to use a physical map with pins indicating where each technician was, but it obviously was impractical and wasn’t updated automatically in real time.
Additionally, if a technician is on vacation or off on a certain day, the tool allows us to identify that person and virtually blocks them from being assigned to any work orders.
We can notify customers on the status of a job
Sending automatic messages when a technician changes their job status is a great feature to raise customer satisfaction. Real-time notifications keep our clients updated and make them feel valued.
Time saving and faster billing.
The tool has made everyone’s job so much easier both in the field and at the office, and our billing process is faster than we ever expected it to be. All of the information is there in the tool, reliable and ready for invoicing as soon as the job is done.