Liquid and Gas Ltd is a residential maintenance company who cover domestic issues for real estate, including painting, decorating, plumbing, heating, electrical work, gas leak inspection, electrical tests, damp and mould issues, and joinery. For anything that goes wrong inside the property, Liquid and Gas Ltd are the people who go out and tend to the problems. They also do commercial gas related work. We spoke to Kale Grieve, director at Liquid and Gas Ltd, to find out how he’s managing his workforce at the moment.
How big is the company?
“At the moment we have about 10 employees and 4-5 subcontractors.”
Whereabouts are you based?
“Orton at the moment. Then I’ve got offices in Skelmersdale as well.”
When did you start using Okappy?
“Less than 12 months ago.”
How did you initially discover Okappy?
“I was looking for a dispatch software, as we were getting bigger and bigger. I was managing everything myself, which involved getting the work and distributing it to the guys. We were growing and growing, and managing the workload in the way that I was just wasn’t sustainable. I needed a software which could efficiently do it for me, instead of me trying to remember every single job that we had!”
Were you using a paper-based system before?
“Do you know what? It was just me which was very very draining! We were using email to send a job through. Sending guys to the job was the easy part, but actually recording what was happening on site was the part that was a challenge. It involved being able to relay that information back to real estate or to a customer. A lot of it was done through memory, or calling the engineers to confirm details. We didn’t have a proper papertrail! But now, we have a digital paper trail with the Okappy app.”
What's been the main difference before and after using the system?
“It's black and white for us. We wouldn't be able to function without it now because, obviously, since then we've expanded. My business can run without me. Prior to that, there was just no possible way for that to happen - I had to be there. I couldn't take time off for a holiday. When I was off, the whole company was off. When I did take some time off, my phone wouldn't stop asking for information regarding work and jobs - it was just non stop. But now I can leave that to others, as all the information is on the Okappy system.”
Could you give any figures or numbers to describe how much you've grown?
“Yes, we've now got twice as many staff since we started. We’re constantly expanding! The business growth is something that Okappy has aided, but it's not solely down to Okappy. Okappy has helped us to expand more smoothly due to having a more streamlined process.”
How much time has it saved you on average? Do you have any idea of hours per week?
“It’s saved me as an individual, around 20-30 hours a week, which is over half my working week! Overall for the company, it's a lot more than that.
Before we had Okappy, sometimes all I would do is work and sleep. Now, I have the time to go out on site a lot more - it frees me up a lot more. When I finish work, I finish work. As opposed to “finishing work” and going home to continue working all night. It's massive for us. Absolutely massive.”
Has the time given you space for thinking about how you want to grow in different areas of the business? For example, are you investing more in marketing now?
“I've never advertised. I have companies call me up about my website and stuff like that, but we don't need it. We grow through getting positive ratings on feedback from tenants. Now we've got Okappy, we're a lot better with time keeping. We have better access to the details on the site to call them up and let them know if we are going to be delayed. Obviously, the improved reliability has resulted in helping us grow. And I'd certainly say it's helped us get more contracts and work better within our current contracts.”
Do you have a favourite feature?
“I know my guys like the address capabilities - the way that we can just click on the address and then we're on our way. And the ability to just click on the phone number and text or call them to say, "Listen, we're on our way back." That's massive for us.
For me, it's more the ability to have a meeting where I can just switch back and go, "Okay, you went to 13 Tylney Street last week. I'll get that from the archive and check the work order and job sheets,” which I can then send off to my tenants, customers or the landlord to show them the real state of their property. The landlord may not have seen their property for years, but I can show them the images of what's going on inside by sending a job sheet with attachments from the job!
I love the job sheet side of it, whereas the guys who are out and about like the instant access to contact details on the map view where you can just click on a button and it directs you which way to go.”
How has Coronavirus affected your business and has Okappy helped you adapt?
“Well, we've got a lot less work just because tenants have prioritized more of their own health than whether the tap's dripping or that light switch doesn't work and stuff like that. Obviously, a lot of our guys are furloughed and we’ve been using more subcontractors. We've been affected massively from it - it's just been me and a skeleton crew really. We currently have only one person in the office."
How would things be different if you didn't have Okappy during Covid-19?
“Just harder to get money in really! Okappy has 100% helped with the cash flow side of things. Without job sheets, it would be a hard task for me - a lot of invoices would get left unpaid. But with Okappy, we can easily remind them with the job sheet to send the payments through. Without Okappy, we’d probably have less invoices being paid to help us get through this period.”
Last question, then. What would your message be to anyone thinking about using Okappy?
"We can actually - right now - log every single job on the database. At the click of a button, we can send guys to certain jobs. They can find the job information easily and add important details to the job sheet. I used to spend 30-40 hours a week calling guys to try and get information. But now, it's all there for me on the app!
I now work so many less hours a week. I can actually go on holiday and enjoy myself. I don't have to be constantly on the phone every minute. It's made my life so much easier. I don't know what we'd do without it. Using Okappy is a no brainer!"
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