aACE has long been the best-kept secret in ERP software – and some of our customers consider aACE to be such a competitive advantage that they don’t want the secret to get out! That’s the case with one midsized cleaning business in the Midwest, who preferred to stay anonymous for fear that their competitors will find out about the solution that’s given them such an edge.
This anonymous, family-owned company serves commercial buildings in multiple states. They functioned well for a time on Checkmark MultiLedger and a custom FileMaker system—they had a set paper-based system as well as a cash collection cycle. However, too much paper, a complicated job system, a vast amount of area to cover, and a long payroll cycle eventually had them turning to Doug Jacobs of SmartDog Solutions, an aACE partner, for help.
Doug was a former aACE customer, using aACE 4 for his previous business Restylers’ Choice. He had customized aACE to best fit his business needs, so he knew the kinds of customizations that could be made. His direct experience with aACE was just what this cleaning company needed.
The cleaning company’s owners knew that paper wasn’t the most efficient way to go about recording numbers. They weren’t able to expand their business in the way they wanted because their system was taking too much time. In 2019, they met with Doug, who showed them aACE. They were excited to automate their system and go digital.
By mid-2019, after their Discovery Process was complete, they began using aACE and haven’t turned back since.
Challenges & aACE Solutions
Jobs and Recurring Transactions
The cleaning company began transitioning to aACE in stages, starting with the accounting functions in 2019. Like many businesses, their plans changed in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be even more of a challenge than their extensive paper system was. “The pandemic hit. Obviously, in March 2020, their business dropped off drastically. They weren’t working in the office. It prolonged this implementation by an extra 18 months or so,” says Doug, who worked with them throughout the entire process. The customer was delighted with aACE’s accounting features, but had to put a temporary hold on going paperless.
After they were able to re-focus on digitizing their business, Doug had to understand how their job management worked. Each Monday, the cleaning company’s owners would print out jobs for the following week. Managers would then bring the printouts to employees in the field. Transporting and distributing those papers from Cleveland to Dayton took roughly 3.5 hours for managers. It would take about one week for an employee to get his jobs, as managers would have to travel to deliver the jobs manually. In short: lots of unnecessary manual tasks.
aACE’s flexibility was their ultimate solution. Doug created a field service app for the company’s mobile technicians, enabling them to receive their jobs on-the-go. “We’ve been able to generate the jobs on Friday afternoon, at three o’clock. The guys log into their app any time after that and the jobs just download,” Doug says. “There’s no mailing, there’s no printing.” This app was not only completely customized to fit this particular customer’s business needs, but it could also be used in the future for aACE customers with similar needs. aACE’s flexibility thus played a huge role in allowing the cleaning company to begin going digital.
And not only did the field service app eliminate the need for paper jobs, but it also enabled the jobs to be used alongside recurring transactions. This enabled the cleaning company to finally leave the days of manual job management behind, Doug explains: “Now they’re able to automatically generate orders on a schedule through recurring transactions, and then they’re automatically creating jobs off of those.” Doug details. Best of all, there’s no paper required.
Cash Collection Cycle
The organization’s cash collection cycle was also a hassle for the owners. Because they were printing and transporting papers, the process took close to three weeks. Doug illustrates the lengthy process: “A billing cycle took a week to prepare ahead of time, a week to do the work, and then a week to collect all the work. Then the work had to be invoiced the following Tuesday.” The invoicing process involved importing their invoices from their custom FileMaker system into MultiLedger. The process took seven hours of manual labor to complete.
Through aACE, that entire communication and collection cycle has been automated. When a job is marked complete, the field service app notifies aACE. Through aACE’s optional job automation preferences, aACE then closes the job for the technicians when all the tasks within the job are completed. “When the job’s completed, aACE then automatically makes an invoice and charges a customer’s credit card,” Doug says. “It’s just been a complete streamlining of their business, of their cash creation cycle. So it’s been huge.”
Now the cleaning business is focusing on their payroll system for their employees. Kathy Jacobs, also of SmartDog Solutions, explains their payroll situation: “Their biggest pain point was working through payroll. How could they take their data and get it into the payroll system that they use?” she recalls. The mobile technicians were tracking items such as cash collection methods, mileage, hours, and commission details. “They were doing it all by hand,” Kathy notes. Because of the manual process, payroll took the owners three to four hours to complete.
Using aACE reporting and their field service app, the company has begun tracking these items in a more streamlined fashion. “Everything is being tracked. It’s freeing up their owners so they can grow their business.” Kathy says.
With the addition of aACE and their field service app, the company has been able to automate time-consuming processes. A prime example of this is their job management and cash collection processes. “With aACE, we’ve cut the whole thing to less than half,” Doug describes. Their staff no longer has to deal with stacks of papers and transporting those to other technicians and managers. “The amount of work they have to do to structure their week, and then what they have to get done is much easier than dealing with a big pile of papers,” he continues. With less effort towards a manual, paper-based system, technicians can focus on their jobs.
With automation, managers also have an easier time keeping track of the technicians’ work without having to review papers. “Reports are being generated from the jobs that go to the managers. At a glance they can see job assignments, and track KPIs like sales totals and number of jobs completed,” Kathy explains. Since the managers don’t have to transport papers, they now have more time to focus on other duties within the business.
Their payroll system, too, has been enhanced. They begin by entering in all the information into ADP, then importing it into aACE for accounting. aACE does the accounting by utilizing the General Journal module, creating new journal entries to keep track of their information.
Now they’re working towards doing the opposite: they want their mobile technicians to be able to enter data into aACE, then that data can be imported from aACE to ADP through reporting. “We want to bring their payroll process down to an hour or so,” Doug says. While this has not yet been completed, progress is going well. “We’re just on the cusp.”
Employee Mobility and Consolidation of Software Programs
With the field service mobile app, mobile technicians can easily track their jobs, mileage, hours, and more. Combined with automation, the mobile technicians are able to have everything with them while they move between jobs. “They’re getting their jobs on their phone, then they mark them complete, then they get the signature from the customer,” Doug explains. “They indicate how much cash they collected, if any. And they mark it done. Everything communicates right to aACE, so they can move on with their day.”
Not only is the consolidation of tracking details into one app helpful for the mobile technicians, but the company executives are pleased with the consolidation of programs as a whole. Before aACE, the business used a custom FileMaker system and MultiLedger: two separate programs to keep track of orders, jobs, and finances. “And these are all things that they did manually, but they were all separate processes,” Doug says. Separate processes meant disorganization and lengthy tasks.
Everything is now located within aACE and the mobile app. “I think the killer feature to them is the overall integration of everything,” Doug describes. “The biggest difference is that they’ve consolidated all these different programs down into one program. And the whole process is just integrated from start to finish.” Instead of jumping from one software package to another, all their records and details can be found at the heart of their organization: aACE.
The Efficiency of a Partner-Based System
The cleaning company’s owners worked alongside Doug and Kathy Jacobs in order to make their software dreams become reality. This was all possible because of the partners’ previous experiences in not just the business world, but with aACE. Here’s what Doug had to say about working with this customer as an aACE partner:
“I’m in constant contact with them, constantly working to find ways to improve their businesses. That’s part of our value proposition because we were running our business for 10 years on aACE. We know how to use it in the real world. And because I customized my version of aACE, we also know where the optimizations could be.”
“We spend hours with a client going through aACE and learning not just what aACE can do for them, but what they do as a business.”
“We put a lot of value in that Discovery Process because it really helps us learn a person’s business, their challenges, and things that maybe they don’t even see are challenges.”
Interested in learning more about what aACE can do for your SMB? Read our feature highlights to see how aACE can help you take your operations to the next level.