Managing Service and Repair with Blue Link ERP

For many wholesale distribution businesses that sell equipment, industrial products, automotive inventory, HVAC products or similar items, they also have a service department for managing inventory service and repairs, regularly scheduled maintenance and for handling warranty items. This service and repair work is typically a small percentage of the company’s revenues and requires fewer resources and attention than the wholesale distribution side. Service technicians may perform work either in-house or on-site or offer both options depending on the product requiring work. Although in this situation, service and repair management is only a small aspect of the company’s operations, it is still important to have software functionality and processes for managing the work. Unlike true service-oriented businesses that need advanced functionality, wholesale distributors with service departments will benefit from an inventory and accounting ERP solution with built-in service and repair features such as Blue Link ERP.

Getting Started

Blue Link recommends that each piece of equipment or inventory that you sell that may require repair or service work, have a serial number. This will allow you to track which specific items presented issues that required work. If you don’t currently use serial numbers, this can be easily set-up in Blue Link.

To track service work within Blue Link ERP, you must configure the different types of service in the system as non-inventory items. Each company will have to define its own service-related items depending on the work. Examples include labour, service, warranty, maintenance, analysis, repair etc. Each non-inventory service item will then have to have an associated set of UOMs. These could include timeframes such as hours, half-day, full day etc. Each time an employee sets up a non-inventory item in the system, they need to define it as a service request item or labour item, or both. For example, the non-inventory item “Rotate Tires” might be a service item, whereas the non-inventory item “30 Minute Initial Analysis” may be both a service item and a labour item.

Creating a Service Order

To create a service order in Blue Link, first, you choose the customer that is requesting the work and then you select the type of work from your pre-determined list of service and labour items. You also have the option to add notes and a description of the problem for each order. Once you have inputted this information, you must choose what equipment or inventory item the service is for. Depending on the nature of your business, you can choose from a drop-down menu based on what equipment the customer in question has previously purchased, or you can set up a new piece of equipment if the customer never bought the original from you. If you need to set up a new piece of equipment, you’re not creating a new inventory item, but rather a separate piece of equipment strictly for tracking purposes.

As you begin to add repair parts to the service order, you must associate them with the service being performed. For example, you might associate the part “Oil” with the service work “Oil Change”. For warranty type work, the parts that get associated with the service category are usually included at zero cost to the customer.

Once you create a service order, you can generate a work order which gets sent to your service department/technicians. Then, once the service is complete, an invoice is created from the work order which has the exact same information as the work order, just displayed in a different format. Alternatively, Blue Link allows you to customize the invoice to hide certain aspects of the work order if you don’t want customers to know the cost of certain items

Although Blue Link is a great fit for wholesale distributors that operate a small service department, the software is not geared towards full service-oriented businesses. If you’re in the market for a new ERP solution, but are not sure which system will be best, consider the following questions as part of your software evaluation process.

  • What percentage of your business involves selling product compared to providing services?
  • Do you generate most of your revenue from the sale of goods or from providing service work?
  • Is service performed in-house or on-site?
  • How many service trucks and/or technicians do you have on the road?
  • How many service calls does each truck/technician make every day? Every week?
  • How do you manage and schedule your service technicians who are on the road?
  • Do you manage recurring service calls (i.e. yearly scheduled maintenance)?

To learn more about Blue Link ERP and whether our software is the right fit for your wholesale distribution business with service requirements, contact us.

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