When your service techs are set for success your customer experience is seamless. Watch this webinar recording where we are joined with Jeff Schmit from Valet Pool Co and discover the power of:
- ❯ The Customer Portal
- ❯ Digital Door Hangers
- ❯ Site Profiles
- ❯ Customer Text & Email Notifications
Watch last months webinar for 7 Service Tech Best Practices - Your service managers and techs need all the help they can get once the busy season hits. Give them the tools they need to streamline your service division.
Want more LOU? Join one of our upcoming webinars or request a demo.
STEVE: Good evening, I'm Steve Ruscigno, I'm coming to you live from Vancouver, Washington, our Evosus headquarters, and we've got a very special guest this week here today, which is Jeff Schmidt from Custom Pools. He's the general manager there. Jeff, thanks so much for joining us today. I know you've been in the industry for a couple of decades, so tell us a little bit about you and your business, if you would.
JEFF: Absolutely. Thank you for having me and putting these together. I know they were very helpful as we made our decision and as we implemented everything. I've been in the industry since 2003 and have worked with different software platforms. We've really taken a liking to LOU because of the cloud-based and just all the evolution that's been happening as you guys have implemented new things. But I started back when we used paper copies for everything and we had file folders on file folders on file folders. And so now we're making a push to go paperless, not really for the environmental reason, more so for the ease of use for the customers and for our employees. And so LOU is helping us do that. But so we've seen it from the early software implementation all the way to now, what we see with LOU.
STEVE: Great. Well, that's a great segue into today's topic where we're going to talk about streamlining your service and improving or enhancing that customer communication and making that -. I'm a hot tub guy for 20 years, you're a pool guy for 20 years, so let's just have some fun. So the first thing I'm going to do here is I want to talk about kind of the customer portal. It's a really cool feature LOU has. So I'm going to go ahead and share my screen here and we'll pop into LOU. So you got the LOU dashboard here. So when you log into LOU, this is what you see. I'm sure it's very similar to what you're looking at, Jeff. But the first thing I want to touch on is kind of the customer portal and get your thoughts on that. So I'll pull up a customer here, I'll go into the customer profile, it's got all the information about the customer, billing, shipping address. It's got a map. It's Google integrated with maps. I've got all these tiles down here that are specific to the customer only. But the thing I want to do is I want to look at what the customer sees from their portal side. So if I click this view portal button here, it now takes us to the customer's account. So this is what the customer sees. It takes you outside of your database so they can only view and affect any of their account situation. So you see here the customer's information on the left, the company's information on the right, if they have a balance due, any appointments they have, they can confirm them here, they can look at their history of invoices, their purchase history, any orders they might have. They could also look at their upcoming appointments and then they can actually affect their communication preferences for here. So maybe they don't wanna get a text and an email, they just want an email or something. The customer can control that here. And again, a big one here is balance due. So really cool feature that if this customer goes on their portal, of course we can send them the link right from LOU, takes them to their portal, takes them to this screen here, they can actually make a payment online right on this screen. So Jeff, how have you found this feature useful to you?
JEFF: We use this a lot because a lot of the customers that we've been integrating, we've purchased two companies over the last, each one each last winter and they both were still sending out paper invoices, and to be able to get the customer on the phone and let them look at their balance due, and if you can go and actually, I don't know if you can view that invoice, there's the link on the righthand side if you want to be able to view that, but they can go in and see exactly how they got to that. So there's a bit of a transparency question, if people doubt technology or were a new owner and they're used to dealing with someone else for 30 years, we can take them right in there and we do this over the phone with them a lot until they get comfortable with it, but we can show them, all right, we were out to service your pool on this date, here's that invoice and you can see right there the service was done on 2/1/2023 and we did a diagnostic call and that's why that's [inaudible 00:04:35.17] so them being able to see it. And then, not that people don't like giving out a credit card, but they can just do it securely right from that portal to make that payment, right where he's about to click and where he's hovering over. And so it's just meeting them where they are a little bit more. People don't necessarily want to call you to take you off task, you know some people will be like oh, I was gonna call, but I know how busy you are. Okay, well, here, you can do it when you're in your pajamas from home and get the answer that you need and you didn't have to call anybody, you were able to pay the invoice, you didn't have to read off a credit card to someone who then put it into a system. And it makes us more efficient because I'm sure a lot of people that have taken credit cards over the phone, you write it down, you put it into the system, maybe you wrote down the number wrong or you keyed it in or you got sidetracked, it's just now you've got to call that customer back. This is just streamlining that, leaving the power in their hands so there's not a security question. I mean, here in Minnesota, we're not allowed to have credit cards written down on slips, technically. That's a PCI violation, that is. And so you're just taking those risks away from your business and again, making the customer feel more comfortable. They can see exactly, it's very transparent. Oh, they have a question on it, you know aside from this, they can go back one screen and go to the message and just send you a message, hey, I was looking at my invoice and I have question on that. Now we can track that we answered that concern that they had or that question, it's in their messages stored in LOU so you can go back and see, okay, what have we talked about with this customer? What messages, were they internal messages, were they messages with them? They're all in LOU, so it gives you that platform to house all of that.
s; Right, awesome, cool. Thanks for that, Jeff. So the other thing I kind of want to segue into here is the digital door hanger. So another cool feature in LOU is you're able to send a digital door hanger to kind of let the customer know what you did when you were out in their backyard, any follow-up notes you want to leave for them, next visit notes, that sort of thing. So that's triggered out of our work order outcome so I'll go ahead and just go into a work order here for this same customer, and if I go to this create work order outcomes, so this is basically the field for when you want to put the door hanger. So you can type any notes you have to the customer, you know, thank you for your busines, we did this, this, and this. You can also include in this door hanger any kind of water test readings and then any next visit notes, you could just toggle this on and type in whatever notes you want the customer to be aware of for your next visit. You can actually add some extra labor down here if that was the case. And then when you go ahead and complete that work order, it's going to trigger an event which will send that electronic door hanger to the customer. So have you found those helpful at all, Jeff?
JEFF: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, one of the biggest things for the service department, at least up here in Minnesota where we are, is people, because we've got such a short season, they always want to know what did the guy's find, or what the crew find when they're out, or have they been there, what time are they coming. And so this allows us to answer that question without a whole bunch of back and forth, because as someone who's always been based out of the office, I haven't been out in the field as much, I was having to call them, get the answer, call the customer back just to provide that, and if they had a follow-up question, you're like, okay, now I've got to go back again. This gives the ability to send them the door hanger, lets them know, hey, we are out, we did this, it's complete. We're going to be coming back because we found this. Or maybe everything's complete, enjoy your pool. And then it gives them that ability because they got the door hanger, they can message us right back. So if they have a question, they go, oh, I still want to know this. All right, click one button and get into their portal and message back to it, and they can get back to us. So it's streamlined and made it so we're not playing the game of telephone as much. It's streamlined the ability, a lot of times we are preemptive to strike a little bit because they don't feel like they need to call and ask, have you been there, they've already been notified, we have been there and everything went well, or we have been there and we found this was an issue with your heater and we're going to be coming back. Now they're not sitting there wondering and waiting, you let them know they can go back about their day and your technicians can continue on with their day. And technicians don't want to answer their phone, they don't want to be getting calls from the office, and so this is a way for them to kind of just keep things moving.
STEVE: Yeah, awesome. Cool. Thank you for that. Now the next feature I kind of want to talk about here is our site profile. So why are site profiles important? Well, they give you a lot of important information about where your technicians are going, right. So if I go into this customer I've been playing with here this afternoon and morning, I can see they have a site profile for a hot tub in this case. So I can click into the site profile, you know, I named it hot tub, they might have a pool, they might have a sauna, whatever, so you can make different site profiles for the different, you know, whatever they have, product they have in their backyard. So in this case, it's a hot tub site profile, so I put the water volume cubic feet up here, just a little trick I learned is we don't talk cubic feet volume in this industry, we talk gallons, but in order to have that water testing work correctly, you have to have the cubic feet, right? So, quick Google gallons to cubic feet gives you that amount, right? So in this case, I like to put on this first line of the site profile for the attribute the gallons and then what they are. So that's what our technicians are used to dealing with, is gallons, right? And then if they have any pets, you can put that information in there, if they have a gate code or any special, any special information that you need to know about that homeowner or that property you're going to. Have you found any use for these site profiles, Jeff?
JEFF: Yeah, we predominantly use it for gate codes or garage access codes, those are the main things we come up with. We've had the same technicians in some way or another, but as we start to scale now, we're finding the need to put, you know, the automatic cover switch is located here because otherwise we get technicians out there that are like, okay, I'm in the yard, but where's the key switch to open this cover? It's like, oh yeah, it's up on the deck by the back door. Oh yeah, that would have been great to know so I wasn't wandering around like an idiot or whatever they, you know, and so we've been using kind of more site-specific things like that. Pool equipment is around the left side of the house, so they know, you know, or hey, park here. We've got some pools at pretty large compounds, if you will, and so it's like, you know, letting them know, park down by the service garage, so you're not wheeling all your stuff clear across the neighborhood just to get to where you could have made it a lot easier. So as we scale and we've got, we don't have the tech that's gone out to that same house for 10 or 15 years, and we bring new people and we're working to unload our seasoned technicians brains in here and have them put these notes in because the whole idea is that you don't need that one specific tech that's done it forever, that you can send anybody in they're able to succeed in that yard.
STEVE: Yeah, no, great point. Great, you know, your techs out in the field have visibility of this obviously on the LOU schedule app, we're not going to be showing that today, but all this information that you have on this customer transposes into stuff your technicians can see out in the field, so that's a very cool feature. The other quickly I want to touch on a couple features which are the interviews and checklists. So I know we talked about this, Jeff, and you guys use these. So I'm just going to go into a work order here. As you're creating the work order, you have an opportunity to do this interview there, but in this case, this work order's already been created so I've set up some generic interviews in here. Someone calls in and says, my pool's green, my hot tub's not heating, or jets aren't working, I don't have any power, or whatever the situation is that you guys deal with a lot out there, I recommend these interviews because it's really kind of a quick troubleshooting thing that one of the hardest jobs in any of your companies, I guarantee you, is the people that have to answer the phone to schedule service calls, right? It's never a happy person, usually something's going on. So if we can do a quick troubleshooting interview questions on that initial call, not only does it kind of get us the information we need, but then it transposes again out into the field so the technician can see the questions and answers that you went through over the phone with these folks, then they're not asking the same questions again. And then I want to show one other thing quick, and then I want to get your input on this, Jeff, and this is checklist. So this is great for anyone that's got seasonal employees or new employees, and I have a checklist here created for a pool opening. So you can see here, it's just simple questions of steps that should be taken to do a pool opening or pool closing or pool cleaning or hot tub, whatever you do, you can make these checklists. So technician, again, they hand this information to them, they quickly go through these things. They can say, yep, I did it. They can type, no, so I can go, yep, yep, yep, yep. Ooh, there's the yep. And so you can see, you just go through, go through all these steps. The nice thing about this too is not only does it make sure that all your technicians do everything that you want them to do out in the field, it also, again, sends to the customer. So the customer can now go through and see exactly what you did, all the steps you took there to open their pool in this case. I know over the years, I had a lot of customers that would call in and be like, was your person even here because we didn't really have the ability to communicate with them. So have you found these two features helpful in both scheduling a service call and then obviously performing that service out in the field?
JEFF: Yeah, we've actually used both of them. So I'm going to back up and kind of go in order here. When I started in the industry, I didn't get to answer the phones for a year. They wanted me to learn so much because they didn't want me to, they wanted me to be useful to that person when they were calling, and this helps expedite that process. And it also, and I'm talking about the interview right now, it also empowers your folks that are on the phone because there is a point, we're trying to make money doing this, and there's a point where currently I know too much for my own good when it comes to how do you prime the pump? I can spend 15 minutes on the phone walking them through and getting the bucket and doing this, turning the valve, filling the line up. And that's not the point of taking the service call, the point of taking the service call is to help them through something if it's simple and not want to say stupid, but simple, and if they need to have a technician come up, they're having the information to provide to your technician to go up there. So there is a point with the interview where you say where the last statement is essentially you need a service call, I can schedule that for you. And you empower your person on the phone to be able to not get swallowed up on that 35-minute technical phone call. They got the information they needed, it's going to transpose to the work order now for the service tech so they'll have what they need, and they can move on to their task where it's taking another phone call. But sure, it's keeping the process moving. So that's why I love the interviews. We're going through setting up a lot of those right now because as we scale, we want to be able to bring people in and be like, oh, you don't get to answer the phone for a year until you can do this, that and this. No, as long as we can teach you LOU, we can get you through the process then. So that's a big thing with the interviews. The checklists are huge, especially for openings, closings, and revolving service. Yeah, for people to go out there and customers always, there's that old adage, like, oh, they were only here for 15 minutes. It's like, well, yeah, but they've done this for 10 years, that's why they can be there for 15 minutes. They're experts. And then so you're able to show them the checklist. You know, it had, you know, yeah, they put your plugs in and they took your baskets out and, you know, whatever goes into a winterizing a pool or a weekly pool check for your company. It builds value because you're showing them we're the experts and we did all this stuff, and I love it even for our seasoned techs because a lot of times they've got other things on their mind or they're, you know, they just came from a really tough job or whatever, and it just is a good check and balance and then it's transparent to the customer that all those items were done, and if you have questions, certainly ask us, but you need not. And even with our weekly revolving ones, we take a picture of the pool and they get the pictures that we send. So, you know, here your pool is perfectly clean and there was no leaves in it, here you can see that, and here's everything we did while we werre out there. So then they're going, OK, I do understand that even though these guys, this company is more expensive than the others in town, I'm not having to chase down if they did what I asked them to do, if they did a good job, they beat me to the punch and told me that this is what they did, here's a picture of it, and I know I can swim when I get home today or whatever.
STEVE: Yeah, no, great, great stuff. It sounds like it's really helped you kind of improve that customer experience. So, good job. So, the last thing I kind of want to touch on today is just that whole customer messaging, right? So, we can email or text them right out of LOU, and I want to just kind of show you what that looks like here. So, if you go to set up in LOU and then there's a customer messaging feature here, these are all the things that you can do to trigger events to send an email or a text or both to a customer. How are you all using this feature, Jeff, to communicate with your customers via text or email?
JEFF: We do a lot of it with email. So we're confirming appointments so you see the schedule confirmation, schedule reminder, the customer portal message so that you actually trigger it by when you're in that customer's profile, there's a button you can press to send them via a link to their portal. But we need two that things I would advise and Steve will slap my hand if I'm talking on of turn here, but if you are using the text feature, I would advise you to put something in there of like do not respond to this text, because it's kind of like when you get an order confirmation for email, like if you reply to it, it kind of goes to nowhere, you get a bounce back. So if it's texting them, a lot of times people think they can just text right back and you get that message. And LOU, correct Steve, LOU is not able to take an incoming text or this point?
STEVE: Great best practice right there. Add some sort of verbiage to your text message or email message so that you basically direct them how you want them to communicate back to you. Great point, great point.
JEFF: Yeah, but we find it very useful just to kind of keep them in the loop on little things, all of our invoices, so it's nice to have the language pre-written right in there so when the triggering event happens, it populates that. I'll be honest, we have people that work here that are great at how they communicate and how they write an email, and we have people who write emails similarly to how they talk and so it's very casual and it's oftentimes improper. So this is a way for us to control that and kind of get that message to people clearly. A lot of the people we're working with are quite affluent and so if we send them a message with a bunch of slang in it or improper punctuation and things like that, it reflects poorly on the business and we're trying to sell them a high-end experience, and if they're getting something that is not communicated that way, it's not as good of an experience. So it's a way for us to kind of control that narrative a bit more. That's what I like it for. And people do choose, in their portal, hey, I'd rather get text messages, I never look at my email, I'd rather get text messages. And that's fine, because you can meet them where they are on their preferences, but it's just dialing in those messages has helped us just to communicate with people.
STEVE: Yeah, great point, great point. So let's take a quick pause here and reach out to our wonderful panelist there, Shannon, to see if there's any questions out there for Jeff or myself.
SHANNON: I don't have any new questions. I did answer a question when you say you can message a client with a digital door hanger, is that an email, text or just in the portal? And the answer is it's an email or a text depending on your customer's message preferences.
STEVE: Okay, great. Thank you for that, Shannon.
SHANNON; You're welcome.
STEVE: All right, so Jeff, I gotta ask one last question. I've seen your history, It's very impressive. You guys run a great business there, you and Charlie. What made you decide on LOU? I know you were on another program at one point, I know you did extensive research, but kind of what was the thing that really made LOU click for you?
JEFF: Well, a lot of it had to do being around cloud-based, being a cloud-based system. Charlie and I kind of looked at things and said, okay, we've both worked in this industry for a long time, now we're venturing out to kind of put our own stamp on it. We always wanted to be technology forward, and LOU allowed us to do that both internally and with the customers. And we talked to a lot of people who went with LOU and people who didn't, and some that didn't, and they said, oh, we wish we would have gone this direction. This is what we don't like about the program we decided on. And I had 15, 14 years on a different platform and so I knew more about what I didn't want, and then kind of getting to go in and go through what LOU offered and have those conversations about what Evosus was planning for it, okay, this is what we've got now, in Q4 of 2022, we're going to be trying to roll this out and having those conversations and the ability to make suggestions for things to implement, I mean, even as recent as yesterday I was sending in updates that I was like, okay, it would be really nice if this could happen. Not that it's making or breaking our experience, but it would improve it, it could improve it for a lot of people going forward. So just realizing that Evosus was kind of like-minded in the technology, in the vision for technology that Charlie and I have and how we want people to experience owning a pool. We build pools as well up here, but we always tell people the relationship owning the pool and experience there is what makes or breaks it. You can build a great pool for someone and if it's a pain to manage it or to deal with the company that services it, you're not going to tell your friends to get one. And so we're trying to come up with how do we meet those people where they are, make it fun for them, make it easy for them, and having a customer portal was one of the top things that kind of pushed us over. Like, okay, they can go in, we can be very transparent with them and they can see at any point in time when we're coming out or what we did last spring. Oh, that's right, they came out last year and they did a bunch of work. What was that? Oh yeah, they put a new heater in and a pump and a filter or whatever. They can go back and see their history or we ordered this, but they don't remember exactly what it was. So it's having that portal that they can interact with was a big deal for us.
STEVE: Great, well, thank you so much, Jeff. Congratulations to you and Charlie. I know you're in a serious vertical growth pattern right now, so congratulations for that. Thanks for joining today, thanks for your insight, I think it was huge. Anyone that is interested in more information about LOU or you want a custom one-on-one demo, you can reach out to us at email@example.com. That's L-O-U at evosus.com. And again, Jeff, thank you so much for your time today and good luck this season, man. You're going to kill it.
JEFF: Appreciate it. I appreciate it. Thank you.
STEVE: All right, thank you. Take care everyone.