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January 25, 2021

 

Converting Your Pen and Paper HVAC Business into a Digital HVAC Business in 2021

Still using pen and paper? Find out how to start transitioning to a digital system in 2021.

The world around us is rapidly moving away from pen and paper. These days, small businesses around the country must go digital to keep working and bringing in revenue. At Smart Service, we’ve helped countless companies make this transition. The tips in this article come from our experience helping customers face this uphill battle.

Getting Started

First, you need to assess everything you currently do and clean up the unnecessary clutter that tends to build up over the years. In the HVAC industry, you can’t simply throw away all of your documents, as that would create a disaster when a customer needs help with a warranty and you don’t have access to their equipment records. Narrow down your piles of documents to the most important ones and get them onto your hard drive!

Some of you may already teeter between the pen and paper world and the digital world by using QuickBooks to keep track of your customer information. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean all of the most important information is stored there. When we onboard new customers, we often see QuickBooks setups that store contact information and previous invoices (with some basic work description information), but no warranties or critical equipment information. 

If your company needs to transition to a digital format, make use of some of the software tools that other businesses have employed. Microsoft Office Excel represents a huge improvement to a filing cabinet system. Where your trusty filing cabinet has done no wrong for half a century, the people working in the office can’t sift through decades of paperwork as efficiently as they could open an Excel Spreadsheet and use “Ctrl + F” to find a specific serial number in a list of 10,000 serial numbers. Let software take away some of the headache!

Lightening the Load

As the old adage goes, “you have to spend money to make money.” When the task at hand grows too big for your current team, hire outside help! Other businesses can assist with manpower intensive tasks. Search your area for people looking for part-time data entry jobs or consulting firms that offer these services locally.

A person hired for these tasks can scan documents into a PC using a small, inexpensive document scanner, which will convert them into PDF’s for later use. 

Breaking Up Documents

Taking the time to break the paper documents you have into categories can help provide much needed structure for digitizing records. Software solutions like Smart Service centralize all of your documents and data in one place, and allow you to integrate these into your QuickBooks for a more seamless transition.

If your documents are just random assortments of information, it’s not a bad idea to transition the relevant details into their own sets of files. In this situation, think of the customer’s equipment information. If you don’t have a system to track their equipment specifically, but you’ve tracked model and serial numbers on their invoices, you can separate that information out to make it easier to locate using something like Excel.

Don’t Overwhelm Yourself

The transition from paper to digital mediums can be an arduous task for anyone, so it is important to find the areas you’d like to improve upon first, then circle back for any leftovers. Ideally, you would want to sort out the customer list and any additional service locations.

QuickBooks makes things a breeze. You can find a template of the customer information and use some of the advanced importing tools to import them into QuickBooks. Make use of the “Customer:Job” for service locations, and then create new jobs under the appropriate levels to keep things organized properly.

You can find more information on QuickBooks Desktop and their import options at this link: 

https://quickbooks.intuit.com/learn-support/en-us/import-or-export-data-files/import-and-export-data-in-quickbooks-desktop/00/203723

If you use QuickBooks Online, you should use this link instead: 

https://quickbooks.intuit.com/learn-support/en-us/manage-lists/import-products-and-services-from-excel/00/185613

An additional note for people looking to start using QuickBooks: make sure you investigate your options. QuickBooks Desktop offers a multitude of features unavailable to QuickBooks Online users. If you have a very large company, generally speaking, the desktop solution will be a better solution. For more information, check out our article on the different versions of QuickBooks.

The Human Element

Regardless of the options you choose, remember that automation still requires a human touch. Software can lighten the office staff’s load considerably and give them new options for maintaining your business, but you can also muddy the waters with unnecessary bells and whistles. Start out small and work your way up in scale. 

A Final Note

If you want a do-it-all solution to this problem, read up on Smart Service and find out if our software will alleviate your issues. It offers high levels of functionality, has an active development team pushing out customer requested changes and fixes for anything that our customers run into. We also offer assistance in getting your data transferred into our software, training on how to use the software, and we have an award-winning Help Desk that provides the best support for each of our customers.