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Category: Field Service Management

Case Study: Ressac Implements Sage Intacct with ServiceTrade Integration

For more than 85 years, Ressac has established itself as a high quality, low-cost commercial contractor for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems. Specialties include low-rise office parks, mall retail, and big box retail sites.



Ressac recently implemented ServiceTrade to improve their service management and customer service. While this solved their challenges on the service side of their business, they were still using an outdated version of Dynamics NAV, a server-based accounting platform, to maintain financial records. “We were so focused on making improvements to the service side including customer service and earning more revenue that accounting was an afterthought,” explains Nick Rohan, CEO at Ressac. “We lacked real-time visibility into our financial information,” he says, “and we had to double key everything.”

With no transparency into financials such as working capital and cash flow, decision-making was more like guesswork. In a very competitive industry, and with a profit margin as low as 5-7%, it was critical to know the current situation when making business decisions. And since data wasn’t being shared between the accounting system and ServiceTrade, the finance team carried a large time burden related to too many AP and AR manual processes.

“Connecting to the old accounting system was cumbersome,” Mr. Rohan explains, “and we had a lot of issues getting into the system.” And with no AP approval process in place, service managers had to approve purchases, which took them away from more strategic job-related activities and created time-consuming invoicing of their clients. Additionally, data siloed within spreadsheets led to inefficient and time-consuming reporting processes throughout the organization.

Ressac desired a cloud solution that could streamline its AP workflow and approvals and provide real-time visibility into its multiple locations’ financial results. Sage Intacct’s financial management software was selected and was seamlessly integrated with ServiceTrade to eliminate many hours of manual data entry and reduce costly errors inherent in their old system.



Nick recalls, “We relied heavily on ServiceTrade’s recommendation of Sage Intacct. When we looked at various systems,” he says, “what sold us on Sage Intacct was the reporting.” And selecting Wipfli as the service partner was easy. Wipfli provided full-service implementation, integration assistance, and ongoing support through a collaborative team approach as Ressac navigated through the process. “We liked the feeling from Wipfli, and had confidence in the team we were talking to,” explains Nick.

Everyone worked together to ensure a smooth integration. “The ServiceTrade integration is behind the scenes, so you don’t really notice it,” reports Nick. “With the Sage Intacct and ServiceTrade integration, we’re operating differently now,” he says. “The time we’ve saved on double data entry allows us to code our transactions, which allows for better financial reporting.”

With real-time visibility and transparency into their financial results across their multiple CA locations, Ressac now has the “right information at the right time” to make critical business decisions. “We’re getting more information out of our systems and doing a lot more meaningful work,” he says. The improved financial reporting means Nick Rohan and his team can easily see where their financials stand on a day-to-day basis.

What’s more, according to Nick, “the thing we really enjoy with Sage Intacct is our ability to access it anywhere from a browser, whether we’re at home or out of town. We can get in and see our daily runs and see how cash is doing,” adding, “it’s been fantastic!”

Overall, with Sage Intacct in place, Ressac taps into deeper financial and operational insights and is able to tackle more strategic issues, keeping the whole organization focused on their customers. Now the pressure of competition is less of a burden as Ressac has the insights its team needs to “grow strategically in existing markets and into other regions.”



Key Requirements

Key Challenges

Key Outcomes



ServiceTrade can help whether you’re looking to integrate your current accounting system with our application or explore a new accounting solution. Call your representative to talk about the best way to start weighing your options and understanding the scope of integrating ServiceTrade with your accounting or other operational applications.

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Is your service company’s training program missing something?

“I read the book and followed the instructions.” These words from Samwell Tarly in the third episode of the seventh season of Game of Thrones stood out to me. Sam is a student in a university where he’ll gain an education in medicine, science, and history. In the real world, students gain a general understanding of basic subjects in our school systems and universities.

In technical schools, relevant educational teaching is augmented with specific skills-based training. With the growing skilled labor shortage, figures like the immensely likable Mike Rowe challenge us to shift the pendulum back from pushing everyone to seek a four-year degree to encouraging skills-based training for a large number of students.

On the job – especially in service companies where a lot of training occurs – is teaching about the interconnectedness of every role in the business being skipped in the effort to get people working productively as fast as possible? Are staff members being taught only about the trees and nothing about the forest?

I bet you have a pretty well-defined training program. How much teaching goes on during that program? Do you take the time to teach your employees why the tasks they’re performing are important? Does everyone understand how the quality of their work affects operations, customer service, and overall profitability?

Sam is in a long-term educational program but was feeling the urgency to learn a few skills. He took a simple approach to learning these skills when the structure of the long-term education program wasn’t getting results fast enough – he read the book and followed the instructions. The lesson for us in Sam’s going rogue is to balance teaching and training.

At ServiceTrade we offer both teaching and training. In our blog posts, at conferences, and in The Digital Wrap we teach about the value of customer engagement in a service business. We teach service managers why online engagement is the best medium for informing and engaging customers. We teach business owners how it’s possible to give their customers an experience that has characteristics of the great customer service we all enjoy from Amazon and the convenience we find in the tools from Google.

When ServiceTrade offers training, it is specific task-oriented instruction in how to use technology and our application to efficiently run a service organization, provide helpful information online to customers, and earn more revenue for providing good outcomes for a predictable price. Training takes the form of online courses in ServiceTrade Certification and in live training sessions led by our services team either in person or online. But even our task-oriented training has teaching moments so that students understand the why behind the tasks we’re about to show them how to perform.

You can’t only teach and you can’t only train. Success comes from a foundational understanding through teaching and training specific skills atop of basic learning. Read the book and follow the instructions. Sam is the most unlikely hero, but with the right learning and a surprising amount of courage, he is just that. What heroes can you uncover in your skilled labor when you help them learn?

Looking for a good book to read? You’ll find helpful instructions in The Digital Wrap.

WFH (Working From Home) FTW (For The Win)

There’s some sort of bug working its way through our sales team this week, so everyone who doesn’t feel 100% is working from home. The rest of us appreciate not being exposed to sickness while those affected remain productive in their home office. That’s just one reason why having a flexible working environment is a good idea.

working at home has advantages

Service businesses that use SaaS and other modern technology have the freedom to offer such conveniences to their employees. If you’re looking for a low-cost perk to offer employees, run a pilot program of working from or dispatching from home and see what works and what doesn’t. Some ideas for a paperless office:

I can’t say that the risk of employees abusing the privilege is nonexistent, but if your expectations are clear it becomes the employee’s responsibility to work ethically and do their job. I bet you’ll find that many will do their work even better in appreciation for the trust and the convenience. Here’s some evidence to back that up (source):

  1. According to Gallup, remote workers log an average of four more hours a week than their on-site counterparts.
  2. People who work from home get more sleep and are more attentive, according to Penn State University.
  3. A typical business can save $11,000 per employee per year by letting them work from home 50% of the time according to a study by Global Workplace Analytics.
  4. Meanwhile, Gallup found that people who work remotely 20% of the time are more engaged in their work.

Many of us at ServiceTrade work remotely from time to time.  Some examples:

One thing that stood out to me at the 2016 Digital Wrap Conference was watching several owners of our customer companies log in to their ServiceTrade account to check in on what’s going on in the field. You simply don’t have to be in the office to know what’s going on in the business and to keep it efficiently moving forward. Today’s technologies offer many employees the freedom to do their work or dispatch from home, the coffee shop, or even on vacation if an emergency pops up. Why not offer this as a low-cost perk to your employees?

5 incredible ways driverless cars will change service contracting

Driverless cars are coming and we are all going to feel the impact. There will be winners and there will be losers. While the transportation industry undergoes a massive transformation and sheds its workforce, service contractors will harness the new technology and available labor. Service companies that are ready will grow. Those that aren’t will be left behind. Here’s what to expect.

Hire from a new labor pool

When semi-trucks, delivery vans, and taxis don’t need drivers and all of those jobs disappear, the unskilled labor pool is going to overflow. With no new demand for unskilled labor and a massive increase in supply, economics tells us that the cost will go down. Hiring low-skilled workers is going to get cheaper and easier. This won’t solve the skilled labor shortage, but you will have a huge selection of candidates to fill entry-level and apprenticeship positions. Prepare for this labor glut by building an effective and scalable training program for new employees.


Reduce fleet management costs

Do you consider your technicians good drivers? Do they speed, accelerate too fast, brake too hard, and get in the occasional fender bender? Of course they do. You don’t have to worry about that with driverless cars. Your driverless vehicles will be involved in fewer accidents, use less fuel, and put less wear and tear on your fleet thanks to their better-than-human driving record.


Simplify parts delivery

Moving parts from your warehouse(s) and parts houses straight to job sites will be much faster and cheaper. Uber already offers a low-cost delivery service in some cities and driverless cars are expected to further reduce prices of local delivery. As I wrote in another blog post, the cost of delivering parts directly to your techs is already a lot cheaper than the opportunity cost of your technicians driving around picking up parts. Driverless cars will only make this option more practical.


Gain technician admin productivity

What are your techs going to do with all that time in the car if they don’t have to drive? Put ‘em to work! They’ll have plenty of free time in the truck to prep for their next appointment or wrap up the administration for the previous job. Turn windshield time into productive time.


Sell the Program

When you show customers how you take advantage of technology to reduce costs and provide better customer service, you’ll stand out from the competition. We call this Selling the Program. Driverless cars are a perfect fit for the program. They’ll enable your company to reduce costs for you and the customer while also opening up productivity for improved customer service. Besides that, how cool do you think it will be to take your customers for a spin in one of your new driverless trucks?


Driverless vehicles will be as transformative as the internet and successful service companies will adapt quickly. Just like the companies today that still use fax and paper to communicate instead of internet-enabled technologies, there will be Luddites and slow adopters of driverless cars. They will get left in the dust. Companies that are prepared will dominate.

Service Hazard (Infographic)

What’s holding your service business back? Is it double data entry and other accounting inefficiencies in the back office? If you solve those problems, are you going to create more value for your customers, make your techs more productive, and differentiate yourself from the competition? Nope. Accounting doesn’t drive better customer outcomes. So, why do accounting issues get all of the attention? Well, it’s easy to fall into the trap of prioritizing those back-office problems because they are in your face every day. They are like a thorn in your foot; very obvious. However, they are just the tip of the iceberg. Under the water is something much more deadly.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I decided to show you what I’m talking about:

Field Service Management Hazard


Hiding under the surface is what’s really holding you back. Scattered customer service data slows everyone down. The symptoms are pervasive, and the costs are enormous. Why do you think the front office is always behind, techs waste time on callbacks, and sales is struggling to win new customers or make upsells? Well, when service history, customer quotes, contact information, recurring service schedule, and asset details are all stored in different places, it’s no wonder there’s so much confusion and so many slowdowns. Instead of a central system that helps your team collaborate, you’re stuck with ad hoc calls, emails, conversations, txts, and paper.

On top of that, when your service information is disorganized, it’s impossible to give your customers any visibility to the value you provide. When you don’t even know exactly where your techs are, what they are doing, or what work they’ve completed, how are you supposed to share that information with your customers? Remember what it used to be like to schedule a taxi? It was miserable. Calling the taxi dispatch took forever, you’d have no visibility to where the taxi was, no idea what they were going to charge you, and they may not even show up. It’s no wonder Uber is dominating that entire industry. All it took was a change to the process that removed risk and aggravation for customers.

Icebergs perfectly demonstrate what’s going on with most commercial service contracting businesses. It’s easy to get stuck thinking about back-office problems. They are the tip of the iceberg. But, hiding below the sea is a mess of customer service data that is slowing down the entire organization and limiting your ability to provide a better experience to your customers. When you organize that data and move it to the cloud, you can cut your costs and Uber your competition.


Break the Profit Vise

Service contractors, you’ve got 2 huge problems. First, skilled workers are expensive and hard to find. We call this the “Skilled Labor Squeeze.” Second, small-time competition is undercutting you on price. We call these fly-by-the-night operations “One Truck Chuck.” With expensive labor driving costs up and cheap competitors driving prices down, you’re stuck in a profit-squeezing vise. So, what are you going to do about it? It may seem crazy, but the answer is to organize your customer service data.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Take a look at this blog post from a couple weeks ago about the inefficiencies hiding in most service contracting businesses. Basically, customer service data, the information necessary to provide world-class service, is usually scattered or locked up in an accounting system and filing cabinets. Data like service history, scheduling information, equipment failure records, and customer contact information, to name a few, are stored in a hundred different places and in a hundred different formats.

Effective collaboration makes technicians more productive and helps customers understand why you are different and better. If your information is locked up and inaccessible by technicians and customers, you’re especially vulnerable to the Skilled Labor Squeeze and One Truck Chuck. Why? Let’s break it down:

Administration, callbacks, and downtime are extreme wastes of tech time that are all caused by messy customer service data. Taking calls to answer questions about the work they performed last week is a waste of time. Calling the office or other techs to understand service history at a location is a waste of time. Going back to a location to gather data that was lost in the office is a waste of time. Coming back to the office to drop off paperwork is a waste of time.

Real-time collaboration of centralized customer service data in the cloud eliminates all of that waste. When skilled labor is more difficult to hire than ever, it’s critical to keep field technicians as productive as possible.
If your only vehicle to inform customers about what you do for them and why you’re important is an invoice, Chuck is going to steal your customers. In their eyes, you and One Truck Chuck look the same. You need to show them how you are more valuable. Queue the customer service data!

Once your data is organized and accessible, you can differentiate yourself from Chuck by collaborating with customers and providing visibility to the quality of your work. You can show them how thoughtful your program is. You can show them the pictures and videos that demonstrate equipment failure. You can show them how you save them money by keeping your techs productive working on their equipment instead of wasting time on administration and callbacks. You can show them how you help them make better decisions because they will have better information.

You will stand out against One Truck Chuck when you collect and use service information in helpful ways for the customer.
Organized customer service data enables collaboration. Collaboration makes techs productive. Collaboration creates value for customers. This doesn’t work when the data is locked up in an accounting system. This doesn’t work when data is scattered across spreadsheets, email inboxes, and paper. Organize the mess, free the data, and start collaborating.

Scattered Data Could Sink Your Ship

Every day, we talk to service contractors that think the biggest problem with their business is double-data entry into their accounting system. We tell them the same thing every time. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface, it’s hard to see the hundreds of small, but cumulative inefficiencies caused by scattered customer service data. Organizing that data will lead to leaps in efficiency and bounds in customer service.

By “customer service data,” I don’t mean accounting information. I’m talking about the data necessary to provide top-notch customer service and efficiently deploy your most expensive resource, skilled technicians. Data like service history, scheduling information, equipment failure records, and customer contact information to name a few.

Where is your customer service data stored? Multiple spreadsheets and Word documents on a server? Paperwork, files, and whiteboards? Pictures and videos on phones and random computers? Even worse, an accounting system that isn’t designed for customer service that only a few back-office staff have access to? Furthermore, how is that information communicated throughout your team? Email and text? Phone calls? Fax and snail mail? Cup and string?

Let’s dive a little deeper and take a look at how scattered data makes your team slow, inefficient, and prone to error.

Back Office

Bookkeepers shouldn’t be chasing wild geese. Hunting down coworkers to get the information they need to correct invoices, complete payroll, and record costs is a waste of time. And, it’s easy to blame sloppy front-office staff and technicians for the mistakes and oversights that they have to deal with. However, sloppiness is not the root cause of the problem. Instead, consider the inevitability of data getting mismanaged or lost by the front office and technicians when there are so many systems in place to store and communicate it. That means more time spent chasing the data, and less time spent billing the customer.

Front Office

The front-office team, typically responsible for scheduling, customer service, and quoting, is the biggest victim of scattered data. Accounting systems are either unable or are poorly equipped to help them manage customer service data. In that vacuum, they implement a patchwork of paperwork, software, and processes to accomplish their goals. The resulting hodgepodge slows everyone down and is prone to error. Here’s what I mean

Q.) What did we do last time we were at that location?

A.) Let me dig up the file. I can’t read the tech’s handwriting, so I’ll send him back out.


Q.) What was the problem with my equipment and when can I expect a quote to fix it?

A.) Someone else takes care of quotes. They are on vacation so I’ll have them call you back in a week.


Q.) When is a tech supposed to be on site?

A.) Check the calendar. Oh wait, that calendar is out of date. I don’t know.


Q.) Can you get that file for me?

A.) No, the server is down.


Skilled labor is the most expensive and coveted resource for service contractors. Technician downtime and missed opportunities can be attributed to disorganization and miscommunication of customer service data most of the time. The ball gets dropped somewhere in the multitude of channels used to tell techs where they need to go, when they need to be there, and what they need to do. When the work is done, the information about what was discovered or completed is slow to travel back to the office, if at all and is often unintelligible. That means more communication with the tech to find out what happened and more wasted time.

All of our customers thought that double-data entry was their biggest problem when they first approached ServiceTrade. A couple months after implementation, they gained visibility to the underside of the gigantic iceberg that was slowing down their business. However, after 6 months of using ServiceTrade, that iceberg turned into an ice cube when they were finally able to streamline their customer service data.

Field Service Management Hazard

Bust Customer Service Data Out of the Silo

Integration is a popular topic at ServiceTrade. More people are coming up with ways to integrate their customer service data with other operational programs – their website, CRM, accounting, or marketing programs. Once shared across applications, data becomes information that can be used by people throughout the company. Are you thinking about all the ways that your customer service data can be used in different departments?

If these groups don’t have access to your customer service data, give it to them and see what they can do.  These ideas should be just a beginning.


Account Management



Service Managers

Owners and Senior Leaders

As an owner or leader in the company, the best thing you can do is give people access to data and encourage them to use it. Heck, if you’re a ServiceTrade customer, office users are free, so there’s no reason not to open accounts for these users today. You might be amazed by the ways they can turn data into useful information for your company and its customers.

Also read:

How Service Companies Send Appointment Reminders

Everybody sends upcoming appointment reminders: Your doctor, your hair stylist, the vet. Are you sending them to your customers? If so, is it a phone call or an email? How informational is it? Is it boosting your brand image?



Why Service Contractors Should Send Appointment Reminders

Whether for your business or for your vet, lost appointments are lost money. Confusion happens, appointments fall off of schedules, and people get flakey and forget. So it makes a ton of sense to remind customers about appointments. In case you need convincing:

There is a good back-story about how ServiceTrade appointment reminders came to be.

The Story

When Service Link was created, we only thought of it as an after-service online report. A few months after it launched, we started to hear from customers who were sending Service Link before the appointment, too.  

It was a brilliant idea! Service Link included the list of services that were scheduled. It arrived in their customer’s inbox in a nice, mobile-friendly, branded email.  So we supported their innovation with a few small changes to make it explicitly clear that what the customer received was about an upcoming appointment.

Using Service Link in this way was one of the most eye-opening ideas that was shared at the Digital Wrap Conference. More than half of attendees surveyed said they’ll start using Service Link in new ways.

How it Works in ServiceTrade

My quick Google search today returned dozens of appointment reminder software vendors. Lucky for ServiceTrade users, they don’t need to integrate with another solution, they can use what’s already built into the application.

James Jordan covered Service Link appointment reminders in the last Bearded Briefing. Here’s how it works.


Innovation is Part of a Digital Wrap

Innovation was a big message at the Digital Wrap Conference. Shawn Mims explained that innovations come at all sizes to fix small to large problems. It’s hard to imagine a more simple innovation than using an existing feature in a new way.

An appointment reminder is one of the MIPS (Marketing Impressions per Service (read post)) that are part of your Digital Wrap. This simple alert:

ServiceTrade customers are innovators who use technology in unexpected ways. Those customers solved a problem by looking to the software they were already using. There’s a good lesson here that if you find yourself with a problem, take a look at what you already have in place for how it might be part of a solution.

And if you’re using ServiceTrade to solve a problem, let us know about it!  Our customers constantly surprise us with their innovative problem solving.

Also read:


A Tribute to Dying Technologies

James mentioned to me the other day that the VCR (for the kids, that stands for video cassette recorder) is no longer being produced. This brought on a wave of nostalgia. I remember my sister and I being so excited those times that our parents rented this new thing called a VCR and a stack of VHS movies to get us through another frigid Illinois winter weekend. We were staycationers long before it was cool.


But there’s another technology that I’m less sorry to see go – one in particular that just REFUSES TO DIE: The fax machine. The first time I remember saying it was 2013, it went something like this: “It’s 2013, I’m not faxing anything to anybody.”

Flash forward three years and I’m still getting instructions to fax paperwork to some companies and organizations. I wonder if those companies ever stop to think about the impact that relying on old, aggravating technology like a fax machine has on people’s perception of their brand?

What relics of the past could your service company be holding on to that are doing more harm than good? Is it the fax machine? Scheduling on a whiteboard? The telephone? Word template quotes? The dreaded triplicate invoice form?

5 Dated Technologies to Usher to Their Grave to Liberate (and Modernize) Your Service Business

1. Free yourself from the fax.

The replacement for your fax machine is a few rungs up on the new technology ladder. I use the Office Lens smartphone app to snap photos of each page of my document and compile them into a single PDF that can be emailed. The scanner feature on the office printer works for longer contracts. If your recipient insists on receiving your document through their fax machine (bless their heart), you can use the FaxFile app to send your digital files to their outdated hardware. Please kill your fax machine this year if it’s still hanging around.

2. Get off the phone for things that are better done online.

Shawn recently explained how he and other millennials tick. One of the things he mentioned is that they hate talking on the phone. I don’t think that’s exclusive to Millennials because this Gen-Xer feels the same. Telephone calls are seen more and more as an annoying interruption in people’s workdays. If you’ve caught the person at a bad time, they may not be paying attention to the information you’re sharing and not write down the appointment time you’ve just agreed to, or understood all the services you’ll be providing while you’re there. Online communication, whether through email, mobile apps or web tools are less disruptive, more informative, and create a better customer service experience. Phone calls won’t and shouldn’t go away, but they should fade away as one of the primary communication tools for your standard service operations.

3. Stop buying paper.

We’ve talked a lot on this blog and in The Digital Wrap about how companies should go digital with their customer service and send all of their service reports, quotes and invoices in digital formats. Have you gone paperless?

More than just replacing a paper version of a form or a file with a digital version, truly reap the benefits of going digital by streamlining each step of your processes that led to the point of the paper being produced. The paper is often the endpoint of a number of steps that can be done more efficiently and cost effectively by using digital solutions along the way.

4. Bust your scheduling system out of isolation.

Does a schedule change result in a ripple effect of using all the outdated technologies on this list? Phone calls to techs, printing new schedules, printing new work orders, faxing new quotes to the customer? If it takes that much effort to communicate schedule changes, then your schedule is living in isolation. Instead, it should be in an application that has a built-in megaphone that broadcasts updates to all interested parties (management, techs, and customers) when new jobs have been added to the schedule.

5. Retire that outdated website.

Take a quick look — is the copyright date in the footer of your website from the VCR era? An outdated website that obviously hasn’t been updated in years – or never completed in the first place – is a red flag to potential customers. It says that you don’t use your website as a customer service tool. That you don’t have a modern back-end to your website that your team can use. That maintaining your reputation isn’t a priority.

Creating a new WordPress site doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, and maintaining a WordPress site is easy. I’ve taught both my sister and my best friend who have zero website experience how to log in and update their websites anytime they need. They would agree – if they can, you can!

If I am to believe what I’m reading, email will be the next tool to face extinction for its lousy signal-to-noise ratio, its time consumption, and its disruptiveness. Start thinking next about how you rely on email for your business operations and what web- or app-based replacements you can put in its place.

These tools and technologies are being replaced with better, online, mobile systems. Before they are completely dead, they rattle around hurting the reputation of brands that use these aging technologies to run their business. So make sure that when customers interact with your service company, it’s through efficient, helpful, branded, online mediums that show them that your company is of this century and one that is easy to do business with.