Canvas

Case Study: How a Supply Chain Business Uses Paperless Estimates, Work Orders and More

By Jason Good on October 29, 2015
Tags: Case Studies, GoCanvas Subscribers - Who is Using GoCanvas?

Custom GoCanvas Mobile Apps Used to Go Paperless 

  • Time Cards (Several of them)
  • Lawn & Garden Equipment Service
  • Forklift Service/Work Order
  • Forklift Pickup
  • Estimate/Quote
  • Estimate/Quote – Trade In

Case Study Highlights

  • This supply chain and materials handling company is saving $117,000+ annually with paperless work processes.
  • GoCanvas is integrated with their back-office system, Softbase (www.softbasedev.com).
  • Jobs dispatched to mechanics using Softbase and GoCanvas Dispatch feature.
  • Used equipment inventory available to salespeople in the field via GoCanvas Reference Data feature.
  • Mechanics and salespeople can use GoCanvas offline when they do not have data connectivity for their devices.

Background

Bahrns Material Handling & Equipment Company is a supply chain business (focused on materials handling) that was founded in 1966 in Effingham, IL. Customer service has been the primary focus of Bahrns since the beginning. Many of their employees have been with Bahrns for over 25 years and have helped the organization expand from a single location to multiple locations and multiple businesses under the Bahrns name.  Initially they served customers throughout Illinois and some adjoining states, but they quickly saw the opportunity the Internet provided and now provide warehouse supplies to customers throughout the world via their website.  Booms, cranes, dollies, lift tables, pallet trucks and much more can all be provided by Bahrns to get your warehouse whipped into shape.  Logistics is critical to the world we live in today and operating an efficient, properly-outfitted warehouse is where the rubber meets the road for many businesses today. Bahrns has the insight, expertise, and equipment to get any warehouse optimized for maximum efficiency.

Visit Bahrns at www.bahrns.com or www.bahrnstoyotalift.com to learn more about their businesses and the services they offer.

Before Canvas

Like many GoCanvas subscribers, Bahrns operated their business processes with analog tools like multi-part carbonless paper forms, pens, and trucks. There were two different three-part carbonless forms for their forklift repair service where their mechanics documented the work they had done. Those mechanics also reported their time each day on a two-part carbonless form. There was also a two-part form for their used equipment inspections, and a basic, one-part form for the sales department to submit quote requests.

Their mechanics traveled around with large clipboards that had compartments in them to store both blank and completed forms. The mechanics would have to drive all of their completed paper forms (except the lost ones!) back to the office at the end of each day so customers could be invoiced by the accounts payable group or quoted for additional services. Forget about being real time; typically none of this happened until at least the next day. All paper forms (except the lost ones!) were stored in a filing cabinet. If there was ever a question from a customer then the paperwork had to be dug out of the filing cabinet.  If it wasn’t there then they were out of luck (And so was the customer).

There were a number of holes in this system that pushed Bahrns to look for another way:

  • Lost service forms and purchase orders meant the customer just never got invoiced. Bahrns would write off that business.
  • Mechanics and salespeople always had to drive back to the shop to return their paperwork. Any “next steps” were delayed until the paper form made its way back.
  • Bahrns was not always billing customers for the time they were paying their mechanics for. Bahrns would write off this business, too.
  • It took a few days for customers to get quotes for trade-in equipment. Sometimes it didn’t get done at all.
  • Work Orders that were illegible or missing information were put in a separate pile. They would then have to sit down with the Mechanics or get them on the phone to review each one. At least 10 per week ended up in this pile requiring 5-10 minutes each to resolve (About an hour per week minimum).

Solution 

In February 2012, Bahrns addressed these challenges by turning to GoCanvas, the global leader in mobile apps for businesses. Thousands of organizations leverage Canvas’s mobile app platform to replace cumbersome paper forms with highly customizable mobile forms (We call them apps!) that improve their data collection and productivity.

Businesses can search from over 20,000 mobile form app templates in the GoCanvas Application store that can be completely customized with the online, drag-and-drop App Builder tool.  Using that same tool, many businesses elect to build their own from scratch.  Factor in features like Dispatch, Workflow, the PDF Designer, uploading your price and customer lists, and integration with other systems and GoCanvas changes the way work gets done.

Set-Up

Tara Funneman, the office manager at Bahrns, knew there had to be a better mousetrap and she found GoCanvas while searching the Internet.  This was at the end of 2011.  She reached out to us and got connected with Kalliopi Vlastos at GoCanvas.  Kalliopi supported Tara as she built out her initial apps on GoCanvas.  “I downloaded GoCanvas and immediately began designing and found it easy to use and when I would hit a snag I would call their support team.  And to be completely honest – that is what sold me on Canvas”, says Tara.

She started with one service tech and one salesperson. They started using GoCanvas out in the field as her “guinea pigs”.  They provided feedback as they were using GoCanvas.  “Since the online designing of the apps with the GoCanvas App Builder is so easy many times I could make the changes while they were on the phone or in my office. We had the entire service and sales staff on board in no time at all.”

After Canvas

Bahrns operates very differently today than it did back in 2011. Lots of processes have been smoothed out and they operate as efficiently as they advise their customers to operate their warehouses.  Over 1,200 GoCanvas Submissions (forms filled out) are made each month by over 25 employees using the service. That is a lot of paper saved and a lot less confusion compared to using handwritten documents.

Service Apps/Work Order Apps (They have several)

  • Using Canvas’s Dispatch, API and Reference Data features, jobs are assigned to mechanics inside their business software which then pushes out the appropriate GoCanvas App to the appropriate tech on his/her mobile device. The tech receives a notification on his/her mobile device, is told where to go and what to do, plus the customer’s information is automatically populated (Reference Data) so the tech does not have to type it in.
  • Pictures are included so customers can easily make a decision about whether to move forward with the work.
  • These pictures also help in documenting damage that might have been caused by abuse and are therefore not covered by a Guaranteed Maintenance program. 
  • The data is transmitted immediately back to the office for invoicing or other additional steps that need to be taken.

Timecard Apps (They have several)

  • Timecards are now filled in as they do the work. Users punch in and punch out of jobs throughout the day.
  • A single timecard is filled out throughout the day so Bahrns and the tech know how much time should be billed to the customer for each job.
  • Timecards are submitted electronically each day using GoCanvas. It is easy to know who has and has not submitted one.
  • Timecard data and data from the corresponding Work Order must align.  Customers clearly know how much time was spent on their equipment.

Estimate/Quote Apps (They have several)

  • Their salespeople use GoCanvas to provide quotes for used equipment Bahrns has in stock. Reference Data is updated so the salespeople know what is in stock and can add it to their estimate. It auto-populates all the pertinent information about each item so salespeople don’t have to type it out.
  • Now they can create an estimate on their iPad and the customer can view it on-screen and sign off on the purchase right on the spot. They pull images of the used equipment right off of their website and those can be included in the estimate document created by GoCanvas.
  • If a customer has a trade-in then the salesperson or tech uses another GoCanvas App to capture information about the trade-in (especially pictures!). That is transmitted to the office right away where the value of the trade-in must be figured out before a quote is provided.

Impact

Bahrns has seen a tremendous impact on their business over the years.

  • Service jobs are rarely written off now that they are capturing and transmitting data electronically. Lost paper forms are a thing of the past. “We discovered a lot of unbilled work orders. If the tech would lose a paper or forget to turn it in it wouldn’t get invoiced unless someone went looking for the information”, according to Tara. $10,000 worth of write-offs is recouped each year that was lost to their paper process.
  • Huge time and cost savings since mechanics and salespeople don’t have to drive back to the office to manually transmit paper forms. There have been savings in fuel consumption costs, too. Mechanics can return home without having to make extra trips to the shop. This also has the additional benefit of reduced environmental impact.
  • Back office personnel gain back an hour of time due to fewer errors, blank fields, illegible handwriting, and other paper issues.
  • Customer service is better than ever! Quotes are delivered much faster in real time. Service forms are found easily and can be re-emailed to customers right away. Jobs are completed sooner since data is transmitted electronically. “If the customer happens to need a copy of it all we have to do is send them the digital version of the work order.” 
  • Timecard data is more accurate now that time is captured on the job instead of mechanics doing it from memory at the end of a pay period.  No more end of pay period chaos to get people paid.
  • Jobs are billed more accurately and Bahrns is doing less work for free. Errors in time are noticed right away instead of after a customer has already been billed.
  • Cash flow is accelerated. Jobs can be finished sooner. Customers can sign-off on work right on the spot. There are a lot fewer disputes and billing questions.  “Now that we use GoCanvas the customer can actually be invoiced before the tech is even back to the office.”  Since the work was just done they remember it all and don’t question the work as much. Plus more detail is provided to customers on the Work Orders since using GoCanvas so they are less likely to dispute or question the pricing.
  • This has all resulted in a huge competitive advantage for the company! A paperless supply chain business can be a reality with GoCanvas!

Now What? Check Out the Case Study! 

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