I worked in the Logistics field for seven years and watched a major company go through the process of switching from company drivers to independent contract drivers. They had a gigantic fleet of cars and vans to deliver and pick up packages and bank correspondence and went all over the Great Lakes region. There were many times that packages were missed at the terminal, or they were delivered to the wrong person on the route. Another issue was that GPS software was in its infancy in the late 1990s when I started working there.
Although I haven’t driven as a Courier for 12 years, I’m always contemplating the idea of going back to it, at least on a part-time basis. At one point during those years, I also thought about starting my own Logistics company and toyed with the numbers and ultimately decided against it. I got my hands on the Service Fusion software package recently and let me tell you something, after some time with this, I’m seriously reconsidering that decision that I made all those years ago!
Table of Contents
- Service Fusion
- Initial Setup
- Field Service Management – Overview
- Field Service Management – Accounting & Bookwork
- Field Service Management – Field Technician app
- GPS Fleet Tracking
- How Would Service Fusion Help You?
- Pros of Service Fusion
- Cons of Service Fusion
Service Fusion is a small suite of software that is geared towards the contractor and service industry. Repair shops, delivery shops, appliance repair, basically any service industry that delivers products is a game for this software package. The package contains the main Field Service Management software which focuses on the main pieces of the day-to-day running of operations with a separate Field Technician mobile app to help your workers on-site. There’s also GPS Fleet Tracking software to keep an eye on the company vehicles and there’s ServiceCall.ai which ties into your main software with an integrated phone system.
Getting everything set up was pretty simple as all it takes is contacting the sales agent at Service Fusion to establish what you need for your business, and they send an installation agent to your business to get everything established and running smoothly. The best part of this whole process is that you pay nothing for installation, the only money that you part with is for services you use, but we’ll get to that a little later. The set-ups take a little longer if you’re getting the phone system and GPS tags on your fleet vehicles.
Field Service Management – Overview
This software is the main program with Service Fusion and the perks here are almost too numerous to count. The layout of this is great and everything just makes sense as to where the data is on the screen. There’s A LOT of information available to you with just a couple of clicks of the mouse. You can schedule deliveries, jobs, estimates, and other items easily with just a few clicks and typing your data in. You can also automatically send out SMS text messages to drivers when their schedules are changed or to relay any information that is needed while they’re out and about. This same ease of use also extends to maintaining a customer contact list. The customization of the data for these lists is exhaustive as you can keep track of everything that they’ve purchased, any service plans they’re signed up for, any personal notes or details unique to them, etc. This small detail of keeping notes can pay HUGE dividends with personalized marketing later on as you can customize your approach to what the customer likes and will react to. Good experiences will spread like wildfire and germinate good experiences with referred new customers. I love the note-taking ability for each customer for this very purpose.
Field Service Management – Accounting & Bookwork
This software also keeps your invoicing straight with payable and receivable accounts and integrates with Quickbooks (Desktop & Online versions) for staying on top of things. Service Fusion synchronizes with Quickbooks and pushes updated data over with every change in Service Fusion. This feature helps bookwork and keeping numbers accurate which is great to have for end-of-year statements and tax season. Tax audits aren’t fun and I have the unfortunate ignominy of going through one, thankfully I kept good accurate records and got through it with no changes on my return. With Service Fusion and Quickbooks, you should have all of your bookwork accurate with every move you make (purchasing or receiving).
Field Service Management – Field Technician app
This is what you would need if you ran a business with a fleet of drivers out in the field. Each Field Tech can install the app on their smartphone or tablet and have the ability to communicate back with the office while they’re on the road or on-site. While using this app, field workers can create new orders or estimates and accept payments from customers on-site. The integrated payment processing engine can run credit cards and even have customers sign the tablet or phone screen with a stylus or their finger to confirm payment.
Field workers can also clock in and out of the system and provide status updates back to dispatch on orders or repairs. Another cool feature is the ability to take pictures and upload them to an office server to take before and after photos or other uses. You can also access the customer list and see any notes that have been provided for a particular customer. Pretty cool stuff and great information to have when you’re engaging with a customer face-to-face. You can also have customized menus and task lists to follow as well. The task list is a great feature to have when you’re in the installation field (Cable, Satellite, Fiber Internet, etc.) you could just check your tablet to see if you’ve done everything on the to-do list when conducting an installation. To tie this in with my Logistics past, Service Fusion also provides turn-by-turn directions to the site which would have been groundbreaking to have back in 1998.
This system integrates with Service Fusion to provide an all-in-one platform for customer service and support. ServiceCall.ai is an integrated VoIP (Voice over IP) system which displays the name and number of the person who is calling with many in-call customizable options. During the call, the agent can pull up how many times the customer has called in the past and what the reasons for the calls were. The agent can also take notes during the current call and pull up detailed notes of any previous calls that the caller has made. You can also keep track of any referred calls or customers and send/receive text messages with the customer in-call. The customization doesn’t stop there as you can also create customized menus for individual callers, perhaps those who often call for orders or service calls. You can also set up a “direct line” to a technician as callers can be patched directly to the tech that they wish to speak to. It’s a pretty nice system overall with a lot of features and options to use, you can even push calls to Voice Mail if the agent desired is busy with another caller.
GPS Fleet Tracking
This is a separate application within the software suite and is geared towards those companies who maintain a fleet of vehicles. This is perfect for the Logistics and Trucking industries as they both have large fleets of company vehicles and trucks. When you order the GPS Fleet Tracking package, you have to state how many transponder tags you would need as each vehicle would be outfitted with one. With the tags set up, you have the ability to keep tabs on every single driver in your fleet. You can have a live picture of where each driver is at that moment with 90 second updates. You can focus on a single driver to see where they’ve been and to notate behavioral patterns. Why has that Ford Focus been in the shop twice in the last month for issues? Perhaps the driver was traveling at an unsafe speed to meet a deadline? With this software, you can have all the data at your fingertips like a Black Box on a Commercial Airliner. One positive to note here: How much safer would your drivers be if they knew that they were being monitored?
How Would Service Fusion Help You?
I can definitely say after being in the Logistics business for as long as I was, Service Fusion would be a gamechanger for the industry. I could visualize having a small fleet of drivers (8-10) who use our fleet of delivery vehicles to get the job done. I could see myself using the ServiceCall.ai along with the main software to converse with outside clients and contracted customers dealing with fast turnarounds and shipment times. Logistics as an industry is getting more complex as the technology grows. Amazon and their Prime service has both spoiled their consumer base expecting two-day shipping and also made the industry less safe with drivers making crazy dashes to deliver items on time.
With the integrated GPS and turn-by-turn directions, you could easily map out routes that made sense and made the most out of expediency. Less time that drivers are out means less gasoline burned up with deliveries and overall savings in the company’s pocket long-term. The drivers could use the Field Tech app to get detailed information on customers along their routes and make updates to deliveries in real-time. They’d also have the option to text message back to the Terminal or to the customer directly with pertinent information related to the delivery. Having GPS tags on every fleet vehicle means that when a consumer calls up asking where their package is, you could confidently state not only how long it would take, but where the driver actually is at that moment! Again, this kind of technology just didn’t exist 20 years ago.
I wish I could take this software and technology and jump into a time machine and go back 20 years and make it a go of it on my own with my own company. I could really use these features and benefits to get the most out of what I had to work with both supplies and driver-wise. I think the long-term usage and the money saved in various ways (GPS, in-call marketing, customized marketing, etc.) would really pay off in the long run.
Service Fusion displays a live status of their Cloud systems and operations so that you’ll know if there are any outages or disruptions of service. They also have phone support and email support to answer any questions or address any issues with their service.
One cool thing about Service Fusion is that there’s no wildly astronomical price for the software or for a license for a set period of time. Service Fusion is tier-based on a monthly price and doesn’t have any limits outside of the tier or any extra fees outside of what you’re already aware of when first signing up for service. There are three tiers of service charged on a monthly basis: Starter, Starter Plus, and the Pro package. The Starter package starts at $99 / month, The Starter Pro package is $199 / month and the Pro package is $349 / month.
The Starter tier carries the main office services with on-site mobile photo upload and inventory management being optional at $50 / month. Job costing is also optional at this tier at $60 / month and the field service mobile app is a one-time set up fee of $689 and monthly costs of $65. ServiceCall.ai is a separate optional service at this tier with additional costs involved.
The Starter Plus tier carries everything that the Starter tier has except for the inclusion of on-site mobile photo upload, inventory management, and job costing into the package. The Pro tier comes with all services inclusive as part of the package. The only service that’s an additional charge per month regardless of which tier you choose is the Custom Documents Module which costs $40 / month.
ServiceCall.ai prices are listed as $25 per user on a month and GPS Fleet Tracking is $49 for each transponder tag (one-time purchase) with a flat $20 monthly charge for the service.
Pros of Service Fusion
- 100% Web-Based Software which runs on any internet enabled PC, Mac, or tablet
- Three monthly tiers available for service
- All-in-One Contractor’s Solution for day-to-day running of business
Cons of Service Fusion
- Highest tier of service is very expensive ($349/month)
- Optional services are expensive on an al carte basis on lower tier packages
Value for Money
Ease Of Use: 5
The screen layout of the software and the integration with Quickbooks makes Service Fusion a breeze to use after a short learning period. You have vast amounts of data available to you to help with almost all aspects of the business. Lots of time went into the development of this software and it shows with the user interface.
Customer Support: 4
What good is the software without proper support? Service Fusion has phone support and email support along with an online live system status page showing any system incidents of note.
The great thing about this entire suite of software is that they are all interconnected and bring a staggering number of features to help with business. Between the main software with Quickbooks integration, the ServiceCall.ai phone system, and the GPS Fleet Tracking…almost all of your bases are covered feature-wise.
Value For Money: 4.5
As with most things in Life, more features equates to more money spent out-of-pocket. The lower tiers are adequate for smaller businesses or larger businesses looking to get their feet wet with the software first before fully committing. The Pro tier brings everything you would need for a large business with many drivers. Large businesses would have the required monthly cash flow to spring for a package at this price point.