PE talks to James Chillman, UK Country Manager of Fergus, the job management software which has launched in the UK and aims to give electricians a better work/life balance.
Q. Where did the idea of Fergus come from?
Fergus was created by Dan Pollard, an experienced plumber from New Zealand who has run his own business for decades. Dan had become increasingly frustrated by the difficulty he had keeping up with admin and often found himself snowed under. His work/life balance suffered as a result.
Using his own experiences, he sought to develop a system which saved time, streamlined admin and helped people get paid. In short, he wanted to help users to recapture their quality of life and spend more time doing the things they enjoyed.
The result was Fergus, named after his trusty best friend, Fergus the dog (pictured above). Since then, the business has grown and after significant investment, we’re now in eight countries serving over 18,000 trade companies and counting.
Q. What problems does it solve?
Despite the digital revolution being over 30 years old, more than 75% of tradespeople still use manual systems and processes to manage their business. This is inefficient and can lead to a poor work/life balance. It hampers cash flow, lowers profits, can be confusing and causes significant stress for the business owner.
Fergus streamlines and connects all the different aspects of a business. From initial quoting, through managing jobs, materials and contractors, to invoicing and chasing late payment, the software can help business owners keep track of all areas of their company by making processes more efficient.
Q. How long does it usually take to learn to use the software?
It doesn’t take long, and our customers can vouch for this. If you can spare an hour for a demo and initial walk through you will find it is very simple, yet it can save you hours of admin time.
Q. What are its main features?
It’s packed with features to keep on top of a job from start to finish. For instance, you can create quotes on the spot, send out invoices or chase late payment with automated SMS messaging. The visual calendar gives a complete overview of what jobs are booked, the dates they’re booked for, and their progression.
If you have a team, they can be assigned to a job in seconds by just dragging and dropping their name on it. They’ll automatically receive notification via our App, so there’s no need to phone or meet with them. You can see where your teams are, where they’ve been, how long they’ve been on a job, and whether they’ll make the next one on time!
Bigger jobs can be broken down into milestones, which makes managing costs and progress easier. Changes can be instantly made to a job. The cost and purchase of all materials can be logged, templated gas and electricity certificates can be filled in, while hazards and on-site incidents can be logged, and sign-offs recorded. The App summarises each job, too. So, if it’s going over budget or taking longer than expected, it’s easy to see why and fix it.
All aspects of the business are controllable within the easy-to-use status board. And they all work seamlessly together so, for example, quoting and invoicing is made simple and pain-free.
By uploading price books, material costs will appear in quotes automatically, and can be adjusted by creating tiered mark-ups for different clients or job types. Mark-ups can be added to materials for smaller jobs, or discounts can be offered where beneficial, such as for repeat customers.
Q. Can Fergus help a business to grow?
By helping your business to run smoothly and efficiently, the software reduces stress and the likelihood of burnout. By streamlining admin, revenue is optimised. More time can be spent attracting new clients and doing paid work. Invoicing and chasing late payments is made easy and balance sheets are healthier too.
Q. How much does it cost?
We have a ‘Free’ plan which is a simplified version of the software, with no commitment. A ‘Basic’ package at just £20/month significantly reduces your admin time and any duplication on jobs and then the ‘Professional’ package at £30/month is a fully-fledged trade toolkit giving you in depth insights into your business.
For more details about Fergus and to book a free demo, click here