How a service company in Florida successfully manages their explosive business growth with MSI’s Service Pro and NetSuite ERP
Change can be intimidating. When companies are looking at new technologies to manage their field service operations, it might seem like it’s easier to do nothing than implement a new system.
But if you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. By doing nothing, service companies that have outgrown their systems risk disrupting their growth — and their bottom line.
Service companies looking to use integrated field service management should look to other companies that have already made the switch to learn from them. We recently sat down with such a company to discuss their experience replacing their outdated systems with MSI’s field service software for NetSuite.
We talked with Doug Sorantino, Vice President of Operations at Commercial Residential Aluminum (CRA), to discuss CRA’s transition from manual processes in QuickBooks and Excel to NetSuite-connected service.
About Commercial Residential Aluminum (CRA)
- Multiple locations serving Sarasota and Florida’s Gulf Coast
- Manufacture, install, and service pool enclosures, gutters, fencing, and more
- Dozens of technicians and installers in the field
Seamless integration eliminates duplicate data entry
What were your processes like before implementing NetSuite and Service Pro, and what are they like now?
Doug Sorantino, Vice President of Operations, CRA:
When we approached the technology upgrades to our business, we were using multiple systems. We used QuickBooks for our financials and an old, antiquated ERP system for our manufacturing routing.
The most important thing to CRA with this whole venture is how customizable the systems are to fit our unique business. We’re sort of a hybrid company in that we manufacture, install, and service.
We had a lot of redundancy in the business. Our order entry team would create an order, and they’d have to retype the information as much as three times. Time and attendance was another system to capture time slices from our field technicians.
NetSuite and MSI’s Service Pro have made a world of difference for us. Our growth really started to skyrocket about three years ago, and our business has tripled in size in the last four years. It’s allowed us to know where our assets are at all times. When we catch those emergency situations, we know where our trucks are and we know where our technicians are. We’re able to execute moves which obviously increases revenue. We’ve been able to turn our work to cash in a much quicker timeframe, and track our inventory and productivity at a much higher level. It was one of the best decisions CRA ever made.
“We’ve been able to turn our work to cash in a much quicker timeframe, and track our inventory and productivity at a much higher level. It was one of the best decisions CRA ever made.”Doug, Vice President of Operations, Commercial Residential Aluminum
You mentioned you were previously entering information in many different areas. Are you now able to enter information one time and use it throughout the entire lifecycle of the orders and customer projects?
Now, the redundancies are gone. We enter the information once, and it’s fed into MSI’s Service Pro and all our different applications within NetSuite. We can create service orders and warranty orders in MSI’s Service Pro and that information flows back to NetSuite. The same goes for the accounting and time management information for our weekly processing.
Service process automation supports business growth
So that’s really improved order management, it seems. How has your team’s experience with scheduling changed with MSI’s Service Pro for NetSuite?
One of the reasons why we chose MSI’s Service Pro for NetSuite application was the scheduling platform. We’ve taken the schedule board even a little bit further so we can track our manufacturing processes as well.
Our schedulers will tee up appointments for our measure team. They got to go out and premeasure a deck for cage. They’ll tee up the warehouse as far as production goes when we’re we’re going to start fabricating.
More importantly, we’re now able to track and pay our field technicians based on the work they perform. We have two types of technicians that are paid differently. Now we’re able to separate them and track them individually with configured departments, classes, and product types. The scheduling visibility now is real time, and we can project out and measure our capacity better. It’s just been a game changer for CRA and our growth.
“The scheduling visibility now is real time, and we can project out and measure our capacity better. It’s just been a game changer for CRA and our growth.”
When you had multiple systems, I imagine there may have been some disconnect between teams with different data from different systems. How has a fully integrated system helped to make sure that everything is well orchestrated?
With the customers we have, it’s important that we invoice right away. MSI’s Service Pro and NetSuite help us do just that.
One of the customizations we did in Service Pro was adding an Actual Install Date field. When a tech completes an appointment that has the word install in it, Service Pro adds the date in that field. When that date pushes over to NetSuite, it tells our AR and production management team this job is complete, inventory can be fulfilled, and an invoice can be generated.
This change has made invoicing and fulfilling work orders just an automatic process. We’re literally invoicing in real time. Jobs done that day are being invoiced the same day. It’s been a great addition for us, because otherwise it might take weeks for us to get an invoice generated.
“This change has made invoicing and fulfilling work orders just an automatic process. We’re literally invoicing in real time. Jobs done that day are being invoiced the same day.”
Company-wide access to real-time job statuses improves customer experience
In what ways has NetSuite and MSI impacted your customers’ experience working with you?
When a customer calls about a specific order, we’ve got all this information right at our fingertips, company wide. And we’ve seen bottom line improvement because of it.
From our receptionist to our scheduling team to our sales team, anybody can go in the system and update a customer on where somebody is at and the status of the job. And when a job is incomplete, we know why because the notes are in there and the photos are in there.
When a technician completes a job, they take a few pictures of the site using Service Pro Mobile. At these job sites, there’s multiple trades working on a house when it gets to the final stage. Having the photos has really cut down on the costs that we’ve had to absorb because a customer says, “Your screen panels were ripped.” Well, here’s a picture that shows it wasn’t ripped when we installed it. It’s likely the damage occurred after we left the site.
What’s your advice for other companies looking to upgrade their field service management technology?
The one thing that I would highly recommend is no matter what you choose, make sure it’s a system that communicates with each other, like MSI’s Service Pro and NetSuite.
Having everything in one system, even though the operation side of the business may be logged into Service Pro and not NetSuite, the data still flows both ways. And they still have everything at their fingertips.
Make sure it’s going to be connected and the data is in real time. That way, you don’t have any gaps in the information you need.