In the highly competitive building services industry, any edge over the competition is valuable. Technology is helping building service contractors to work quicker and more efficiently, and communicate better with customers and employees alike, and one fast-growing area is inspection software.

Inspection software allows BSCs to perform detailed inspections with various clients based on exact contract specifications — but also includes features for job scheduling, trend tracking, and communications with clients. BSCs who use the software report increased productivity, retention and sales, benefits from quality control and management standpoints and a marketing advantage over their peers.

Inspections lead to improvements

Not only can contract specifications be entered into particular inspections, but custom questions can be set up so that inspectors are doing more than just checking the basics, says Joseph Jenkins, president of BearCom Building Services in Salt Lake City.

“We’re also checking safety, checking janitor closets, checking material safety data sheets, other safety concerns that we have and want to make sure that are addressed while we’re at the facility,” Jenkins says.

Part of the appeal of inspection software is its wireless capabilities, meaning the site is accessible and updated instantly via the Web. Art Rose, president of Mr. Clean Maintenance Systems in Colton, Calif., is in the process of testing out newly purchased software, and says after talking to customers about its inspection and wireless capabilities, they were elated to have their BSC using it.

“They were all over it, they’d love to have that. It just needed to be simple,” Rose says.

The software needs to be something that doesn’t require much time or effort to use, so that anyone in the customer chain of command can sit down at a computer, log in to the program on the BSC’s Web page and file questions or complaints.

Inspectors can type in additional notes such as client comments and plans of action, and the client can sign off on the inspection right away. The client receives a copy of the inspection via e-mail once it has been completed. Additionally, the software has helped BearCom learn where its weaknesses lie as far as what areas of buildings are being missed.

“It allows us to do trend-tracking to graphically analyze our weaknesses based on the deficiencies that were found so we can continually improve our company,” Jenkins says.

Fixing deficiencies has helped the company improve its inspections scores, which are now at about 98 percent.

“Our inspection scores continue to get better because we were addressing concerns and finding out things before our clients find out about it, which is very important,” Jenkins says. “We don’t want to wait until our clients tell us.”

Command center

Mr. Clean Maintenance Systems was already keeping track of complaints through e-mail, and doing inspections, but Rose liked the idea of having many options from one source — sort of a command center through which things can be kept track of on a daily basis.

“When I found out there was a software that incorporated all that plus a customer could go in and create a work ticket that would be billable, and order up additional work, it just made sense to me to have it all come together,” Rose says.

In comparing client retention before and after implementing the software program, Jenkins says it has definitely made a difference, improving to 300 percent with the program.

Customers want to know not just that a BSC is doing a good job, but that it’s also constantly trying to improve, Jenkins says.

Additionally, the software is a good sales tool that will make a BSC stand out against competition.

“The icing on the cake is, we can make a presentation to a prospective customer and may be landing a contract over someone that doesn’t have that to offer,” Rose says.