Throughout the pandemic, the survival of businesses – especially the survival of small businesses – has increasingly depended on the ability of businesses to manage the great digital shift.
The pivot to performing back office operations and taking online payments has not been universal.
More than other verticals, home services – think plumbing repairs or lawn services, for example – are always reluctant, relying on paper checks or even cash payments.
In the last section “Next three years”, wholesaler FinTech Director Laura Collinson told Karen Webster that these smaller businesses are finding increasing value in managing their work and cash flows through digital applications.
The pain points are quite obvious, Collinson said, as inefficiencies continue to hurt entrepreneurs’ bottom line.
“It takes a long time just to keep track” of planning, workflows, invoices and payments, she said. While we have been paying a large number of service industries for years, from restaurants to fitness studios, with cards (and contactless options), home service companies have been relatively slow to adapt, facing rely on a range of applications and software. to tackle the complexities of running a business on a piecemeal basis.
But changing consumer expectations are prompting these small businesses to modernize, Collinson said.
A growing number of younger, more digitally savvy owners want to interact with their electricians, plumbers, and even dog walkers through digital channels. And while customers may have focused on only essential repairs during the initial throes of the pandemic, demand for other services like residential cleaning has started to accelerate.
“In many of these industries, we’ve seen an acceleration of three to five years, as measured by the adoption of digital tools,” said Collinson. “A lot of what’s ‘blocked’ are the behaviors that were ingrained on the consumer side,” because so much commerce has gone online. Small business owners are following suit.
FinTech is emerging in home services. But these small operations, usually made up of three or four people, need help managing their cash flow, finances, and the work itself, without juggling a range of solutions.
In doing so, Collinson said, small businesses, moving beyond analog processes, are joining the connected economy.
Business management as a service
In essence, Jobber operates a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform of field service / business management for small home service businesses. Collinson said it frees customers from the confines of manual and paper-based processes, keeping track of everything in one place and automating day-to-day operations.
She said Jobber has helped more than 100,000 home service professionals serve more than 12 million homes in more than 47 countries.
The platform itself helps businesses accomplish tasks spanning planning, invoicing, customer relationship management, online card / payment processing, reporting, and consumer and business finance.
As the pandemic hit economies hard, she said, the company already had contactless functionality built into its platform, allowing businesses and customers to interact digitally and entrepreneurs to be paid. Last year, the company built financing into its offerings, working with Stripe Capital to offer online financing and instant payments to provide working capital for home services if they need it.
Instant Payments dramatically shortens the time it takes for digital payments to settle into the provider’s bank account (from days to seconds), Collinson said. The funding option extends Jobber’s relationship with Stripe, which was already the payment engine for Jobber Payments. In terms of mechanics, Jobber’s Card Reader allows businesses to take credit and debit payments in person, on site at a job site.
With a nod to small business finance, Collinson noted that cash flow in the industry can be very unpredictable and seasonal, so access to working capital can be essential for running day-to-day operations ( borrowers repay loans as a percentage of income).
The company is expanding its offering to include online tips, a feature in beta testing. This feature will make it easier for companies themselves to attract, retain and motivate staff amid the current labor shortage, she said.
“Tipping is a win-win solution here because your employees feel good and [end] customers get even better because there’s an ‘extra’ layer of care in the workplace, ”she told Webster.
Describing the streamlined workflow that Jobber enables, Collinson noted that customers can receive a quote from a home service provider and with a few clicks can pay a quote deposit or request funding from the BNPL provider (buy now, pay later) Wisetack (in partnership with Jobber) – which in turn ensures that the service provider captures the work and its associated income.
“We provide a single operating system where a business can access everything it needs without a complicated technology stack or analog set of processes,” said Collinson.