Monday, February 6, 2012

Choosing Software for your Maid Service

Update 2/20/2012 - I would love to beef this article up becuase it is one of my post popular.  If you have any opinions on the software, especially the newer ones I am not as familiar with, PLEASE add some some comments.  I also did not want to give names of who uses what becuase I am not sure my friends want to be contacted for references on software but if you are comfortable feel free to admit ahow you are in the comments.
One of the questions I see over and over is what software do people recommend.  I was fortunate to serve as the vendor relations chair for ARCSI so I was introduced to many of the software vendors in our industry.  As recently as 10 years ago there would have been very few choices.  Just 5 years ago you would have had 3 or 4 choices of software providers.  Now there are many more options. 

All of the software providers below have plenty of functionality to meet your needs.  I am not going to try to describe each application in great detail because this article could go for 10 pages and not cover all the details.  Instead I am going to give an overview and point you to their websites for more information.  I can name at least one company that uses each of the applications below so you can be confident that all of these applications “work” and it is just a matter of picking the application that is best for you.   If I am missing any providers please leave me a comment and I will add them. 

Client Server versus a Cloud Service 
Client Server is the traditional model where software is sold to you as a product.  Usually you buy a license for each copy of the software and you have continuous rights to use the software.  You may be asked to buy upgrades or purchase a service agreement that gives you support and on-going upgrades.  The data is stored on your computers in your place of work.   You get to keep all your client data under your control and you will never lose access to the software although changes to the underlying operating system may force you to make an upgrade.  Using the software anywhere off your network is normally difficult or requires additional software.   Backing up the data is very important because if your server crashes you will lose all your client and historic information.

Cloud computing is based on making software a service instead of a product.  The software and all of the data is stored on servers owned by the service provider and you access them via the internet.  You normally have to pay a monthly or annual fee to use the software and as soon as you stop paying you will lose access to it.    This software is normally has less up front expense, but it can cost more over time depending on the monthly service fees.  The service provider normally backs up the data to give you additional protection.  However if the service provider has any system disruptions, it is possible you will not be able to access you data.  In addition, if you lose internet access, you will not be able to access your client data.  On the positive side, these applications can be accessed anywhere via the internet and to use application via mobile devices. 

Software Providers

Service CEO – This is a Client Server based application.  The software was originally developed for Maid Pro although Maid Pro no longer has any ownership in the company.  This is the application I use although when I made the decision 5 years ago there were far fewer choices.  I found Maid Easy and Service CEO to have many similar features and coming out of corporate America, I found Service CEO the most comfortable for me to use.

Service CEO Web – Service CEO has introduced a web based solution of their software.  This is a newer application and does not yet have all the functions of the client server application but most users find it easier to implement.

Maid Easy Software – This application was created by independent maid service owners to manage their own business.  Maid Easy is a client server application.  It has many of the same features as Service CEO and many people know use this application and rave about the support.  I did not like the interface as much as Service CEO but I was coming from corporate America and was used to applications like Lotus Notes and Siebel and Service CEO felt like those applications to me.  For many years 80% of the owners I met used with Service CEO Client Server or Maid Easy.  This has begun to change with the introduction of all the web based solutions, but you will still find these are the largest companies and the users of each are very loyal to their chosen application.

Thoughtful Systems – Thoughtful systems has been in business for 22 years and they use client server based model.  I actually know the least about this company because I had already made my decision on software before I knew they were in business but one of my best friends in the business swears by them.

Service Tycoon – One of the many new cloud  based providers.

Service Sidekick – Another Cloud based provider.

Schedule View – This is a client service application that was originally designed for medical centers but one service owner I know has adapted it to residential cleaning with quite a bit of success.

Service Proz - I really know very littel about this company.  This company and the one below I do not know anyone personally that uses the software.   It does not mean they are bad companies, it just means I have very little data on them.

Clean Sweep – This company seems to do most of their business in Canada.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pointers.