Organization is key to beefing up service revenue

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Monday, September 13, 2010

SEATTLE—There’s no doubt that fire companies value the revenue they get from service and inspection, and that many are looking at ways to beef up their service revenue. What kinds of things does a fire company need to consider as they go about this?

According to two fire companies contacted by Security Systems News, the organizational aspect of service work is the key to success. Both companies have found that Web-based inspection reporting and management systems (both use the Building Reports product) have improved the efficiency of their service operations.

Dan Schuler, owner of Alexander Gow Fire Equipment here in Seattle, does a little installation, but says the bulk of his work (95 percent) is in inspection of fire suppression and alarm system.) He specializes in the marine market here, doing inspections annually for the Coast Guard and some commercial fishing, shipping and cruise vessels.

The 16-employee company has 11 inspectors/installers, who up until a year ago typed up inspection reports using Microsoft Word. “We really wanted our employees to keep track of inventory and inspections in a more thorough way,” he said. The decision to go with an inspection reporting and management systems has worked well, Gow said. It’s rid the company of most paper involved; gives customers easy access [through a web link] to both their inventory and their reports; and, it’s easier for inspectors to input and manage the information.

A major benefit is that reports are more accurate. “If you know you’ve got 100 fire extinguishers and 100 smoke detectors, and [the inspector] misses three or four devices, it [the inventory report] tells you,” he said. Moreover, “it tells you where [the devices] are.”

Jason Beck joined Fire Safety Solutions as a service manager about a year ago, charged with growing the service business of this 42-employee fire installation company based in Dallas.

He introduced the company to Building Reports, and said it’s saved manpower now that the paper is gone from the process. The management system also helps his inspectors do reports “that go beyond what NFPA requires ... you can give a breakdown of everything you [or the customer] might want to know about the devices in the building, the make, model, how old it is.”

That’s helpful for scheduling repairs as well as ensuring the customer knows ahead of time about the need for upgrades and replacement.

His company has plans to extend the system on the security side of the business as well. “Then we can offer the customer a whole package, anything they need to know about cameras, DVRs, fire alarm, extinguishers, everything they need to know about the building as far as life safety is concerned.”