When I was a teenager, I worked with a group of contractors. It was a total disaster. It was impossible to find out who needed to be where, what the list of tasks was at any site, and where the next job was. I only lasted three days before getting fired (that’s a story for another day), but I counted about half a dozen times each day when the driver would call asking for directions. And after a job was finished, invoices were either sent the next day, or taken by hand and duplicated for The Boss. If you work in the trades or services industries, I’m sure you’re nodding along already in silent recognition: this way of working is a nightmare.
This is where ServiceM8 comes in. ServiceM8 removes the headaches of duplicating invoices, scheduling jobs, and managing your people. It makes it easier to get contractors from one job to the next. And most importantly, it helps you make more money.
Setting up my account was easy. The account creation wizard walked me through all the steps about my business, asking me what sort of work I did, whether or not I had people working for me, and how I wanted to handle taxes and line items on my invoices. Once I answered all the questions, the account was quickly created and I began the walkthrough process of creating jobs and invoices.
It’s easy to add staff, and once they have the iPhone app installed, you can even see where they are and assign them jobs based on their proximity to the job’s location. I’d recommend adding any staff you have before creating jobs, and ask them to download the iPhone app to speed things up.
The only other thing you’ll want to add is an inventory of services and products. If you specialize in heating and cooling systems and parts, you might want to add those systems and parts as part of your inventory. That way, after one of your skilled workers is done at a job, they can quickly add those parts and their hours (and you can add special rates for after-hours or rush work) as line items on an invoice.
Invoices are automatically created once you’ve selected the appropriate line items, and a client can pay for and sign them right on the spot—or you (or another administrator) can approve them manually.
One of the things that I love about ServiceM8 is adding a job. When you add a job, you can easily add all the details about the client. If the client is already in ServiceM8, their details will get auto-filled (and you can import all your existing clients via .csv or plain text). If the client isn’t in the system, ServiceM8 will create them for you and remember them for the next time.
After that, you can punch in the job address (if it’s different from the billing address). You can add a note to the job, declare how urgent the job is, and add a task list for it (including requesting before and after photos). From there, you can assign the job to whoever is available.
If the job is urgent, you might need a contractor who’s free right away. Out of the four contractors who work for you, you can see immediately on the schedule that two of them are busy with other jobs. If the remaining two have the iPhone app installed, you’ll be able to see who’s closest to the job. For the sake of this example, let’s say that Janice is only 1.4 miles away—and you’ll also see that she doesn’t have any other jobs for the next three hours.
Once you assign Janice, she’ll get a notification on her phone that she’s got another job in the pipeline. She’ll be able to view the job, see the task list, and get turn-by-turn directions to the job address from her phone.
Once she gets there, it’s just a matter of doing the work like she’d always do. As Janice completes the work and checks the tasks off, you’ll get immediate updates on the administrative side of things right in the ServiceM8 dashboard—so you’ll always know where a job is at.
Janice finishes the project and takes the final “after” photo, which is saved in ServiceM8 as part of the record. After that, she simply creates the invoice and asks for a signature. The client can use their finger to sign on the iPhone, and the process is complete. Janice is ready for the next job, and so is ServiceM8.
I want to talk a little bit about ServiceM8’s iOS app. Early on in the on boarding process, I was encouraged to download the app. It bears mentioning that ServiceM8 is designed to be Apple-first, and it really shines on the iPhone and iPad. The screenshots in this review are compiled from my time in ServiceM8’s web app demo (which gives you a great look at how ServiceM8 feels once it gets busy), and from my own time using the website to create and play with my own account. The web app was designed for admin work, so you might use it if you’re the business owner—or your assistant will spend a lot of time here.
That being said, the iOS apps were all made with Apple’s design guidelines in mind. The apps look different from the web app, and much more like what you’d expect in an iPhone or iPad app. This is important for some of you, because it means you’ll be able to run your business from your iPad. The iPad and iPhone apps let you create jobs, assign work to nearby contractors, and create invoices and quotes on the go. Your mileage may vary, but I had no issues using the iPad app to do everything I would have expected it to do, and no qualms with recommending it for any iPad-first tradesmen or services business owner.
ServiceM8 astounded me with its purpose-built functionality for trades people and services business owners. If you run a group of contractors, or you’re a sole proprietor in the trades, ServiceM8 will streamline all your existing processes and jobs—and help you take on more of them in any given day. For me, ServiceM8 removes the headaches I remember having in my brief tenure in this industry.