“For a service industry business, I would say that simPRO covers all areas of the business that you would ever need it to. By integrating it with your accounts package, the two platforms really are all you need to keep all activities within one place.”
Peter Farnell, Director
Southport, Merseyside, UK
A previous system lacking end-to-end workflows
When Peter Farnell bought Knight Systems in January 2020, he knew he wanted to bring simPRO on board within the first 12 months. The goal? To help the business expand into larger projects while maintaining the existing database of loyal customers. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Despite the general uncertainty that came with the pandemic, Peter still wanted to prioritize implementing simPRO in order to streamline maintenance workflows and continue driving recurring revenue from maintenance work, even during lockdown.
“It’s obviously slowed things down a bit, but we’ve received regular revenue from the maintenance element of the business, and our loyal customers have been fantastic,” Peter explained.
He knew that simPRO software was “an absolute certainty” for Knight Systems’ future, regardless of how the COVID-19 environment continued to evolve.
“I first saw simPRO [about] two years ago at my previous company,” he said.
“I immediately fell in love with it because it’s a complete workflow system all the way through from lead, to invoice, to recurring invoice, converting at each stage.”
Knight Systems already had a strong customer base that served as a great foundation for business growth. But they were using a server-based system that Peter explained as “unreliable with very few updates or integrations with other software providers.”
“It was quite clunky...and it wasn’t a workflow system,” he said.
“It could only generate a few reports that wouldn't even satisfy our governing body, and that’s about it.”
“I knew I wanted to invest in something else, and I knew that would be simPRO.”
With that, they signed up in May 2020, and Peter assigned a simPRO champion from his team to work with a dedicated simPRO Implementation Consultant to hit the ground running on implementing the software.
Central view of total business performance
Despite the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, prioritizing the simPRO implementation helped Knight Systems reach essential goals in an otherwise daunting time.
The goals? Knight Systems needed to monitor margins and costs in more detail, improve the ordering process, and enhance stored asset information (particularly from older sites) when carrying out maintenance visits. They started by transferring over a large volume of existing customer information, including customer sites and contacts.
“The biggest challenge for our office team was the customer database and bringing that across,” Peter said.
“We had a spreadsheet from our previous system with all of our contacts, and we imported that into simPRO during one of the training sessions.”
The sheer volume of customer data they needed to import into the new simPRO database initially seemed intimidating. However, Peter found the spreadsheet import template simPRO provided during implementation, vital to ensuring all customer information remained accurate. This helped set the business up for a successful implementation.
“While we took a bit of time to get used to how that data import works, it’s worked very well; we made sure we got all the salutations, surnames, and first names, contact numbers, email addresses all in the right place,” Peter explained.
“It’s critical to get all of those fields and boxes correct since communication with customers needs to be right.”
With the support of their dedicated simPRO Champion and simPRO’s Implementation Consultant, Knight Systems met all of their goals for implementation and successfully migrated all customer data.
After go-live, Peter’s team gained greater visibility into current and future business performance from simPRO’s reporting features. They found immense value in the Xero integration and discovered improved forecasting abilities via Maintenance Planner.
“We have 15-20 income accounts in Xero, and they all align with the same income accounts in simPRO. I can analyze areas of the business where we are doing well, or maybe not doing well, and look at margins at each level to see how we’re performing and how we can improve,” Peter explained.
Another simPRO feature that proved invaluable for Knight Systems? Maintenance Planner.
Maintenance Planner helped Peter’s team set up their recurring invoices and recurring jobs in simPRO all at once, a vital piece that allowed the business to continue to drive the maintenance work that proved crucial during lockdown. Now Knight Systems can easily send 100-150 monthly recurring invoices and maintain service contracts with customers while also eliminating wasted time previously spent manually pushing invoices through one at a time.
“Once you enter in those recurring invoices initially, you can forecast a lot better for the year,” Peter said.
Another impressive feat? Knight Systems completed successful implementation remotely - which speaks to the value of close collaboration between Knight Systems and the implementation team at simPRO.
“The experience with simPRO from sales to implementation was efficient, transparent, understanding to [the] business, thorough, and supportive,” Peter said.
“The implementation involved migrating over 1,300 customers and over 2,200 contracts.
“Due to the large number of clients, operations had to continue during implementation. However, the team has reacted well, and we have had great support from simPRO.”
Word of advice?
Focus on what you need from simPRO right away
Peter said that getting the core simPRO features set up correctly and understanding how the software worked at a basic level helped set the business up for success.
“simPRO is a very powerful program, and you can sometimes get consumed in areas of the build or software that are not applicable to your business right now but will be in the future as you grow,” Peter explained.
“Focus on the functions that you need right now to operate your business and then gradually implement the changes, features, and benefits to your business that simPRO can bring.”
You can learn more about other businesses that implemented simPRO during COVID-19 in our blog post here.
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