- April 28, 2021
- Posted by: Marisa Palmieri Shugrue
- Category: Accounting Advice
It’s 2021, and by now most professionals in the pest control industry are prepared to work remotely or Zoom at a moment’s notice. That’s great news, but there are still many processes pest management firms are doing manually.
The accounting team at PCO Bookkeepers has the benefit of seeing the inner workings of a lot of pest control companies: what works, what doesn’t work and what things companies are doing to get an edge.
Here, PCO Bookkeepers Managing Member Brian Post shares his perspective on a few pest control automation tools he’s seeing companies implement to improve their productivity and profitability little by little.
His advice for implementing these tools? “Create a game plan,” he says. “Know your numbers before looking into these things, find out what your company really needs and then adjust accordingly. Biting a little off here and there is the best way to do it.”
1. Streamlined bookkeeping
For QuickBooks Online users, Post recommends syncing external accounts and taking advantage of the “banking screen.” First, connect all your bank and credit card accounts. Then make a plan to review this screen on a regular basis.
“Bookkeepers can pull everything they need right off that screen,” he says. “It’s a useful tool for creating efficiencies.”
For example, bank accounts and credit card transactions are automatically checked off if they’ve cleared.
“The reconciliation process probably goes from a couple hours to five minutes,” Post says. “Just creating a process of clearing that screen out every day or every other day will certainly streamline the bookkeeping process.”
The screen also shows both your bank and register balances, so if there is a discrepancy you can see and address it quickly if needed.
2. Outsourced payroll services
Outsourcing payroll services to ADP is one area where PCOs can potentially save time, depending on how they’re currently handling payroll. There are a variety of service levels, ranging from small business payroll to fully outsourced HR, depending on the company’s size and needs.
When it comes to automation, ADP issues garnishment checks to the proper authority automatically, Post says. That’s not the case with other payroll services, which may require your office staff to manually calculate and cut checks for child support, for example.
ADP also handles tax filing for you, and if there’s an error, they take care of it.
“Not having to worry bout misfiling or quarterly or year-end filing makes life much easier for an entrepreneur,” Post says. He adds that PCO Bookkeepers has a dedicated ADP rep. “It’s just another person in your corner to take care of something a business owner shouldn’t really need to worry about.”
3. Outsourced, 24-hour customer care
Some pest companies swear by outsourcing their after-hours calls, texts, emails, chat and other inbound leads to modern day, pest industry-specific “answering services,” like Slingshot or Grit PPO. Others even choose to use these services for handling overflow calls at peak times and outbound sales or AR management.
“From an automation standpoint, it could remove or limit the amount of people in your office doing those things,” Post says, noting that companies often love or hate these services, depending on how they weigh the cost of potentially missing sales or customer service calls after-hours.
4. Text messaging and review gathering
Research shows how important online reviews are and that customers want the convenience of texting their service providers. Platforms like Podium offer a service to webchat and text your customers and also prompt them to leave reviews through text messaging.
“Most people are going to look at their phone as opposed to their email these days,” Post says. “So it’s good to have a way to communicate effectively with your customer on their phone and automate some of that process.”
5. Automated payment and expense tracking
When used together, an online accounts payable service and a receipt tracking app can be a powerful automated system, Post says. PCO Bookkeepers often recommends that its clients consider Bill.com and Dext (formerly Receipt Bank).
The benefits of Dext include real-time receipt tracking data, which gives you clarity into expenditures while also meeting the IRS requirements for receipt retention.
“Come an audit, you’re able to pull those with a few clicks of a button,” Post says.
Regarding Bill.com, you can set up vendors for automatic payment, eliminating the need to write manual checks.
“All you have to do is click a couple buttons,” Post says. “With our service, we tee that up for owners so they know how much is due and when.”
6. Purchasing and inventory management tools
Some pest control companies are also automating the purchasing process with tools like Procurify, which is a procurement and purchasing software.
Among other things, it allows staff members to make and approve purchase requests easily on an app.
This software might be overkill for single location firms, Post says, but he is seeing some multibranch pest control companies benefiting from using it. If a program like that is too expensive or complicated for a small PCO, he recommends simply creating an internal process for tracking and approve purchases.
Managing inventory also falls within this realm. The distributor Veseris has an inventory management app that some pest control firms use to fill this need.
“The cost of ordering chemicals and having them go out the door is a major KPI for both pest and lawn companies,” Post says. “It’s something I recommend everyone find a way to keep an eye on.”