A & S Kingdon Ltd have been in business for 40 years, proudly serving the communities around Sidmouth, Devon. The company has grown significantly from when Alan and Sue Kingdon first started out, now employing a further 9 engineers and 3 admin staff. However, whilst experts in their respective field, effectively managing the growing number of engineers, customers, and invoices had become challenging. A friendly recommendation and piece of advice from a fellow plumbing company would change everything.
Lisa, who manages the office, explained how they found out about Commusoft at a Worcester Bosch training course, “We got chatting to a really friendly company there about the challenges in our business – and they said ‘Oh you need Commusoft!’ Somebody else in the room then turned around and added, ‘Yeah, it’s brilliant!’ ”
“It was really nice to get a personal recommendation, knowing that there’s nothing in it for them.” However, the team weren’t ready to make the jump, worried about how much time it may take to move onto such a system. Lisa will later tell us how wrong she was about that concern: “It was easy to be honest!”
At this stage A & S Kingdon Ltd weren’t using a job management software at all. Lisa refers to their process for handling jobs and their schedule as being in many different places, with “lots and lots of paper”.
“I tended to use an online calendar, but my boss already had a paper diary established that she preferred, so we used both. We’d give [engineers] printed job sheets, but sometimes they would just use scraps of paper to track what they were doing”.
The challenges that A & S Kingdon Ltd were having were very similar to other field service businesses their size:
- Losing papers and documents and having no backup records. “You lose that piece of paper and you knew nothing”.
- Wasting time with inefficient processes was also a problem. “We used to have service reminders in an Excel sheet, gas safety checks in another, and we had some on paper – we had it 3 times for one thing – it was really bad!”
- Finally, over-reliance on individual staff. “We also had the issue that only the person who was dealing with a job would know what was going on with it.” This was detrimental to working as a team and for bringing on new staff members. “My boss, Sue, could look at the paper diary and know exactly what was what, but we couldn’t understand it”.
Before coming aboard with Commusoft, A & S Kingdon Ltd had hired a new member of the office team who had used a job management system in the past. Lisa elaborates, “She really gave us the push, telling us we’ve got to do it now. ‘You’re doing things five times for one task – you can’t go on like this!’ she said – and she was right”.
They took the advice and decided to make the move. “I’d heard many good things [about Commusoft] and I’d read some reviews online, so I gave their team a call”.
6 months after implementing Commusoft
Lisa describes the impact Commusoft has had on the business: “It’s now so much better, everything is in one place. It saves so much time and everyone can see what’s going on. It’s even reduced some of our bills for things like stationery, stamps, and certificate pads. But really it’s mainly about time!”
A & S Kingdon Ltd estimate that by reducing paperwork they’ve managed to save 80% of their admin time per week, allowing them to become a more effective team. “We are so much more efficient with our time”, explains Lisa. “The amount of hours we used to spend just putting job sheets out on the old system!” Thanks to mobile notifications and real-time job status updates, office staff can simply drop a job in a gap in the engineer’s diary without having to call them first to confirm. Lisa adds, “I know if they’ve accepted a job and can see when they’ve arrived too. Once I add the job I don’t think much more about it – I kind of take it for granted now!”
Invoicing customers faster than ever
The business has also saved significant time on invoicing, “One service invoice used to take 5 to 10 minutes, but now it literally takes 30 seconds. It’s so quick and easy with the Sage accounting integration”. This in turn has given the business better cash flow, says Lisa: “We get invoices out much quicker to customers and get paid faster too – sometimes paying the same day”.
Better tools for engineers
Office admin isn’t the only area that has radically improved, engineers now have access to everything they need through the mobile app too. Despite the engineers being a little apprehensive, Lisa thinks it went down really well with them. “It’s brilliant that they can see what’s in their diary and it gives them a little more control”. They’ve also found success with the digital certificates and automatic timesheets (an engineer favourite): “They all use the certificates really well. Plus they told me they no longer have the dread of doing their timesheets at the end of the week, or on a Sunday night, if they haven’t done it when they should have”.
Intuitive and straightforward implementation
Lisa too had been nervous about the change to start with, but Commusoft’s training team made getting up to speed with the system simple. “It was easy to be honest, Nisha, who did our training was fantastic. I definitely thought it would be harder and take more time than it did”. The team also found Commusoft intuitive and straightforward, “It basically teaches you itself, it’s that obvious how it works. I was scared I’d have to hold my team’s hand the whole time, but I haven’t had to at all!”
Commusoft has also allowed staff more flexibility in how they spend their time and given the business chance to evolve. Lisa’s boss, Sue, who used to manage the paper diary, now has time to chase up unpaid bills and has even been able to cut back on her hours. Lisa tells us this wouldn’t have been possible without Commusoft: “I wouldn’t be able to deal with the plumbers and take over Sue’s responsibilities without the software”.
The team benefits go further than that too, with other staff members now able to manage the office when required. “If I’m ill, the team can take over and know exactly what’s going on,” says Lisa, “they basically did my job for the day!”. With an intuitive all-in-one system it means hiring and training new staff is easier too. “I could actually teach someone my job now, which wasn’t really possible before. It gives us much more flexibility in how we manage the business and the team”.
We’ve seen how Commusoft has saved A & S Kingdon Ltd countless admin hours, improved engineer communications, and given the team more flexibility, but how has it impacted their customers?
A more professional customer experience
Lisa is certain, “It’s definitely better for the customer”. For example, “they love getting their invoices by email, which I didn’t think they would”. The same goes for digital certificates, “They love that they get their certificates a lot quicker now”. Ultimately, for the customer relationship, it comes down to professionalism. “When they call up, you know exactly what’s been going on in their work history”. Lisa continues, “From the customer’s point of view we look like a more modern business, moving with the times, which customers are increasingly wanting now”.
Where do A & S Kingdon Ltd go from here? With regular updates to the system and a readily available support team, Commusoft continuously has more to offer. As Lisa says, “There’re still features we haven’t started using yet, so there’s always more we can do and improve upon in the future”.