Field Service Software: How to Start or Change with Minimal Headaches

By Fox, Harold | Landscape & Irrigation, November-December 2017 | Go to article overview

Field Service Software: How to Start or Change with Minimal Headaches


Fox, Harold, Landscape & Irrigation


Field service software implementation or change is a major undertaking. It is a task that you should invest months in executing, after making a product choice that may have taken many more months of software evaluation.

After choosing your software, the best practice is to begin your setup customization a minimum of two to three months in advance of your off-peak workload. Different software will have different methods of operation, setup, vocabulary and feature set if you are migrating from another platform.

If you are a first-time user, the myriad of features that will make your life easier, more effective, and drive your business in the future take time to learn. With new features available, many new users will find they want to keep more jobsite data, automate more office tasks, and implement mobile use, adding to setup time and the learning curve.

Accounting programs and field service software often link with each other, making sales items, employees, customers, vendors and expense information a one-entry process. Because of this link, a meaningful cleanup or reorganization of your accounting general ledger, payroll items, inventory, billable services, payroll codes and such should be undertaken during the year preceding your planned field service software implementation.

Since approximately 80 percent of green industry companies use QuickBooks, preparation is easy to execute. QuickBooks allows easy renaming of income and expense categories, as well as moving them to different parent categories if needed. If your company has multiple revenue sources--such as design build, maintenance and irrigation with dedicated crews, and equipment--utilizing QuickBooks "classes" allows you to track income and expenses by what is more commonly known as divisions or departments.

QuickBooks needs tweaking out of the box from a reporting perspective for green industry service companies, and is easily modified with excellent results. This is because green industry companies don't manufacture products; seldom maintain year round, high quantities of inventory; and production labor with taxes and insurances is one of the largest expenses.

Cost of Goods Sold, or COGS, is one item not properly understood by many service company owners. Get rid of it, because your tax preparer can pull and combine needed numbers from your profit and loss statement to enter in the COGS section of your business tax return. A more accurate term to use is "materials." Sure, shrubs, sprinkler heads, flowers, mulch and more are sold as an item, but as a service company, they are sold along with the labor to install them. As a result, your two parent or major expense categories should be production expenses (variable costs) and overhead expenses (fixed costs) making for quick man-hour cost of production calculations. Production expenses should contain subcategories for:

* Production vehicles and all related expenses for insuring, maintaining, fuel, depreciation and interest on purchase loans.

* Production equipment, and all related expenses for insuring, maintaining, fuel, depreciation and interest on purchase loans.

* Job materials.

* Subcontractors.

* Production labor payroll, plus all employer taxes, benefits, and payroll based insurances such as workman's comp, general liability, etc., meaning policies they use audit results to determine premium.

Overhead is all other expenses to keep your doors open, such as the people and things inside a working office, equipment yard, warehouse, garage, marketing, cell phones, continuing education, office supplies, business licenses, etc. …

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