Click Your Way to Better Cost Control

Click Your Way to Better Cost Control
Total Activity Control software from Clear Computing

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Many of you already have computer software to track business finances, but watching the money at this stage tells you only about what has already happened. Add route- and schedule-tracking software, and you may see why your business spreadsheets look the way they do. 

Perhaps you can handle scheduling in your head. Some people do. On the other end of the spectrum is Russell Reid Co. 

Based in Keasbey, N.J., the company has five service centers, four in New Jersey and one on Long Island that support operations in New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware in addition to its home state. It has 250 employees, including 135 drivers, and more than 100 trucks of different types. 

Russell Reid provides all types of service for non-hazardous liquid waste. Its technicians will clean grease traps, haul industrial wastewater, and clean storm systems, among other tasks. The portable restroom operation handles about 12,000 services per week along 200 routes. 

To manage all this, the company uses PC Scale’s Tower software, which was originally created for the solid waste industry, says Howard Steinman, vice president of operations for Russell Reid. The company customized the Tower system for its own needs, for example, to account for trucks that hauled gallons of waste instead of pounds and to allow for a greater variety of trucks. The software allows real-time GPS tracking of trucks if a dispatcher needs to find the truck closest to an emergency or to tell a customer when a technician will arrive. Combined with Motorola MC65 hand-held computers and software from XRS Corp., Russell Reid dispatchers and managers can see in real time when a technician arrives, when a job is done, and how many minutes were spent on it. 

“We’re big into understanding the numbers,” Steinman says. “You have to create profitable routes at the start of the day and try to complete them as best you can.” 

There are many software options, and before you purchase it may help to define what information you want from your computer. Steinman suggests answering these questions: 

  • Do you want real-time GPS tracking?
  • Do you want to track mileage?
  • Do you want daily productivity reports that show the revenue and expenses associated with the work on each route? 

Here are some software options you might consider to help streamline business operations: 

  • Total Activity Control software from Clear Computing is available as a cloud-based system and choice of accounts. Pricing is based on a per-user basis with month-to-month subscriptions. The system can be accessed from home, the office or vehicle, enabling outside sales staff to read and update customer information. Data is held on a secure, continually backed-up server.
     
  • iButton technology from EZTrakR Systems features one-touch billing, one-step QuickBooks integration and customer list matching. The iButton records each delivery and automatically generates a monthly charge. Multiple billing options, such as 28-day, advance or arrears are available. Additional costs, such as damage waivers, are itemized, while delivery and pickups are automatically added to the first or last invoice. Pro-rated charges are customizable. The bundled software system offers service validation, route optimization, inventory control and many other reports.
     
  • The hand-held mobile display from FoundOPS enables users to track client information, service history and create recurring service schedules. Drivers can be dispatched by dragging and dropping jobs, or by allowing the routing algorithm to determine the most efficient route. Job information and updates can be sent to smartphones or tablets to technicians in the field, along with turn-by-turn directions to the site and customer information. The device also records service reports and tracks route progress and GPS location. Completed jobs are automatically invoiced in QuickBooks with complete billing information. The entire system is hosted in Microsoft Cloud.
     
  • Summit Rental or Service System software from Ritam Technologies is available in five versions, from Lite to Premium editions. The Lite edition, designed for startup companies or those needing only specific functions, generates route sheets or keeps track of dispatching. The Plus edition adds route mapping, work order and scheduling functions, while the Pro edition includes customer billing, sales reporting and accounting. The Deluxe edition includes extensive reporting and inquiry screens, user and menu security and links to QuickBooks, PeachTree and other accounting systems. The Premium edition includes advanced mapping integration, inventory bar code-type scanning, GPS/AVL (automatic vehicle location) integration, mobile apps for route management, dispatching and customer ordering.
     
  • Web-based scheduling software from ServiceTask is designed to manage customers, dispatch crews and schedule jobs. An overview screen enables users to view a summarized list of all jobs for the day and recent activity in a live feed. The customer dashboard keeps track of customer details and contact information with custom tagging, notes and email reminders. A jobs view enables users to create and customize jobs that can be set to recur at any interval. Filters and universal search let the user organize jobs into a custom report that can be printed or emailed. The calendar view allows for drag-and-drop scheduling. It can be color-coded and organized by crew. Schedules can be printed, emailed or synced to an external calendar. The program comes with RouteTask, which imports jobs for the day and automatically plans the most efficient route. The program integrates with QuickBooks. The application is accessible from any device with Internet connection. All data is backed up and SSL-encrypted. 

(All software listings from Pumper Product Focus, October 2012.)

How has tracking and scheduling software benefited your portable restroom company? Post a comment below.



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