When was the last time you visited a butcher shop to get your meat and poultry? Then a bakery to get your bread and rolls? Followed by a farm stand visit to stock up on vegetables? If you’re like most people, not recently. Instead, people get nearly all their food at a supermarket. Why? Because it’s efficient. Everything you need is in one place, saving you time and hassle.Great alarm industry service software should be like that, with nearly everything you need in one place.
The Norm: Software Solutions Cobbled Together
But as we talk to dealers that are struggling to streamline things, we often see a hodgepodge of software and tools: QuickBooks, Google Calendar for appointments, a merchant account for credit card processing, Dropbox for document storage, Docusign for esignature, a quoting tool, perhaps a mobile app for field service, and a whole bunch of spreadsheets. Too much work!!
Gradual Slide Toward Service Software Chaos
This hodgepodge didn’t happen overnight—it evolved over years, as needs arose. “Hey, it’s hard to manage our documents on our local network, let’s get a Dropbox account.” Then a year or two later: “We need an esignature tool!” But in the end, staff is burdened by having to visit the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, and other niche stores around town.
We get it. Once these accounts and processes are established, it’s very difficult to change things. But if you find the right alarm industry service software—and an experienced company to support you with a conversion—you can get nearly all your “stuff” in one place.
Not Nirvana, But Way Simpler
At that point, your service and support get better. You can reclaim many hours that had been consumed by the ‘back and forth’ among your various tools. Your work life gets much simpler and your team is happier. Simple is good. Simple means more time for sales efforts and pro-active customer initiatives. Having Simple means more profit.
“But It Doesn’t Cost Much!”
Many of the hodgepodge tools / software mentioned above are fairly inexpensive or free…at least in the sense of upfront purchase price or monthly fees. Cheap stuff is worth every penny!
‘Cheap’ nearly always ends up being expensive—lost production, wasted time, mediocre customer support. It’s insidious, not easy to see because it happens over time. Things are getting done as these “shiny new things” are layered in. But eventually you wake up, go to work, look around, and say “it shouldn’t be this hard!”
Cornerstone’s Software to the Rescue
Comprehensive, well-built alarm industry service software should change all that. As we at Cornerstone developed our software over the past 20+ years, we decided to build in certain features. But in some cases, it made more sense to integrate with partner companies that provided specialized software or services.
Built-In for Ease of Use
Several features of our software needed to be front and center for ease of use and to optimize workflow:
- Complete customer record & data fields
- Online payment portal tied directly to subscriber invoices
- Quotes & prospect management
- Calendar for job & appointment scheduling
- Service tickets
- Inventory & purchase orders
- Remote access for field techs
- Collections module for slow-pay follow up
Industry service software should have plenty of customizable fields. Our dealers can easily store and search for subscriber information and eliminate dependence on paper files. Our Alarmpayments.com payment portal is an invaluable customer-facing option to get paid quickly.
Go with the Flow
For efficient workflow, alarm industry software needs to have a logical and easy process. In Cornerstone’s system, an accepted quote is instantly pushed to a work order, creating a calendar appointment that is then easily assigned to techs. The techs can complete the work using our field tech remote access tool, then get paid on the spot. Likewise, for collections, we built a complete module for this critical function, so there’s a clear ‘last step’ and ‘next step’ to get the dollars in.
Integrations that Leverage Partner Platforms
Not every function should be built in. Supermarkets sometimes rent out square footage to specialists like plant and floral vendors. As we looked at e-signature options, it was clear that we didn’t need to invent a wheel. That wheel had already been built by companies like Formstack and Docusign. We can’t replicate those platforms, so instead we built an integration to Formstack, easily accessed within our software. Our integrations include:
- Document management (Formstack)
- Monitoring platforms (Stages, MAS)
- Address validation (USPS)
- Texting (notice of service appointments, collection reminders)
- Third-party collection agency (ARM Solutions)
- Accounting (QuickBooks, journal entry export)
Find Your Friction, Then a Software Remedy
My advice to dealers is this: find your friction. Get your team together, and talk through the things that seem painful, clunky, and too much work. Quality alarm industry service software can often remedy that pain. At Cornerstone, our plans include adding both built-in features, and new integrations, that reduce friction and make our dealers more productive.