Advanced service management technology lets homebuilders take on unique industry challenges
BY MARK STOVER
Modular homebuilders increasingly look to new innovations to boost operational efficiency and improve communication with internal teams, homeowners and vendors. One key tech tool that saves time, reduces costs and facilitates a better overall customer experience is web-based service-management software. With a single, integrated warranty management system that records homeowner service requests, generates work orders for vendors and tracks vendor performance, homeowners and service providers can enjoy 24/7 anytime, anywhere access, which streamlines modular home customer service operations and increases homeowner referrals.
One unique industry challenge originates from the fact that modular home products can’t be purchased from a retailer. Almost every product is a custom order, which can result in long lead times. Given that manufacturers and homebuilders don’t have open, integrated systems, the wait periods often come with a lack of consistent, clear communication, which is problematic for efficiencies and customer service. Advanced service management softwares put manufacturers, subcontractors and builders on the same page through one shared portal where they can view, manage and update the status of their work orders, create accountability and exponentially improve communication and efficiency.
The best tech solutions, no matter what industry, are easy to use, meaning no major onboard- ing time investment is required and quick, on-demand, mobile-friendly execution is a constant. Many software platforms are very complex, like trying to navigate from an airplane cockpit, with long learning curves that require multiple trainings or dedicated system knowledge experts. And a lot of service management solutions are part of an “all-in-one” system, requiring builders to purchase more than their company may need.
In the past few years, Silverpoint Homes has used a variety of service management systems with only modest success due to ineffectiveness in the field. A mobile-friendly solution is absolutely vital to effective service management in the modular homes industry because all employees, whether in the office or the field, must have the ability to report, track and manage work orders and standardize inspections and other requests in a single system.
With software integration becoming easier and more streamlined every year, Silverpoint was able to choose what we consider “best in breed” for our service management needs while easily integrating the product with our existing accounting system.
Software customization is critical because each modular homebuilder has its own particular hurdles to overcome. Finding a service-management system that could be tailored to address Silverpoint’s specific needs was huge. For example, how work orders are created, viewed and accessed is very important, so a quick-step process was created to generate work orders that included the ability to upload a photo and display additional notes about various tasks.
To further improve communication, Silver- point wanted to create reports that showed what work orders were open or closed during any given time period. Because of the software we use, Silverpoint can notify a manufacturer if an issue is taking too long to fix and otherwise react to a job status to ensure greater responsiveness and efficiency. An additional benefit with service management softwares is the ability to optionally connect builder specific modules for increased connection between sales, marketing, customers and project management.
Adaptability and versatility are also key for how a service-management system works with other applications. After all, few builders obtain all of their software applications from a single vendor. An open, well-documented API is absolutely essential to allow different systems to work together and to minimize duplicate data input, making it easy and inexpensive to develop integrated data-sharing solutions.
When there is a system question or problem, a homebuilder should be able to get an answer quickly. With the larger software systems, there were so many different customer reps covering different tasks that it was hard to know whom to contact. With the right software system, requests are handled by the support team quickly and seamlessly.
That goal of convenience and connection applies to customer service, which in today’s modular home industry means self-service. Customers demand a quick, automated and detailed system, not the old way of calling during office hours, leaving voicemails and filling out paper forms.
A platform that is easy to use and provides 24/7 communications will not only improve customer service, it will also increase referrals.
Using an antiquated, mismatched service-management system, including Excel docs and printed forms and folders, is no way to achieve success and ensure proper customer service in the demanding business of modular homes. Moving to overly complex, non-intuitive systems that don’t integrate well is not much of an improvement either. With a user-friendly, versatile and customizable web-based service management software system, modular homebuilders can save time, boost accountability, and improve customer service and manufacturer relationships.
Mark Stover is general manager at Silverpoint Homes in Beckley, W. Va. The versatile homebuilding industry professional manages the daily operations of the 23-year modular home provider, including sales, service and subcontractors.