ABOUT LEGACY FIRE APPARATUS
Legacy Fire Apparatus was founded in 2014 by co-owners Ben and Jennifer Brown. As you might guess by its name, Legacy Fire Apparatus has dedicated itself to the fire industry and its vehicles, handling everything from replacing light bulbs and repairing pumps to taking the entire box off the back of a truck for refurbishing work. They’re located in Sherwood, Illinois, and are opening a second shop in Cedar Rapids.
WHAT LEGACY FIRE APPARATUS NEEDED
Like many shops, Legacy Fire Apparatus depended on the time-honored mixture of pen, paper, and QuickBooks. Most of their work lived on clipboards until it was time to invoice – and then Ben spent hours transferring all the critical information (or almost all of it, as it happens) into QuickBooks.
They were losing time and money. Jennifer and Ben knew that as they expanded, they needed a system that would help them manage more than just invoicing.
“We looked at three or four [systems], and Fullbay seemed to cover most, if not all, of what we were looking for.”
CHALLENGE #1 TRACKING PARTS
Anyone who’s depended on pen and paper can sympathize: Keeping track of what parts are used in which repairs can get hairy when you’re having a busy day (or week, or month) at the shop. On top of that, Legacy Fire Apparatus wasn’t always entirely sure which purchased parts went on which rig.
The shop did excellent work, so it continued to grow, but Jennifer admits their somewhat haphazard parts tracking system slowed their progress. “I don’t want to know [how much we lost in parts before Fullbay]. I am 300% sure we gave away a lot of parts.”
“Sometimes it takes a week before you get an invoice and by then the fire truck is gone back and you’ve invoiced them and…whoops! You can’t go back and say ‘Oh gosh, we forgot that we put this part on your truck. You need to pay us for it now.”
CHALLENGE #2: GETTING ONLINE
Jennifer handled the majority of the billing and administration work from the basement of her home, so she could work and watch her two young children. All paperwork had to go through her…which means everything had to be faxed. “The techs would fax over their applications,” she recalls, “their driver’s license, their timesheets, everything.”
Depending on paper and older technology took a toll. A tech might be able to take proper notes in the field, but they still couldn’t get those notes to Ben right away. The business continued to run, and things got done, but they were constantly falling behind.
CHALLENGE #3: INVOICING
Invoicing for Legacy Fire Apparatus went something like this: Each truck that arrived in the shop had a clipboard assigned to it with a service order sheet atop it. The techs would write down the number of hours they spent on that particular job, along with parts used, the diagnosis, necessary repairs, completed tasks, recommendations, and so on. If they received invoices from parts distributors, they would attach these to the clipboard, as well.
It fell to Ben to take all that paperwork and handwriting and get it into QuickBooks. He’s a full-time firefighter and travels often for work; invoicing always had to wait for him to get home. If he was gone for two weeks, invoicing waited for two weeks. You can imagine the kind of strain that put on revenue.
“Of course, you had the inevitable loss of paper. And that is, of course, loss of income.”
The crew at Legacy Fire Apparatus knew they needed to get some kind of system in place. “We looked at three or four,” Jennifer recalls, but the features they offered were haphazard. One app might offer web access but not invoicing, or invoicing but not parts management. The great hope was that Fullbay would take over and streamline both their processes and the seemingly endless paperwork.
NO MORE PART PROBLEMS
Ben and Jennifer no longer spend long hours puzzling over whether parts were ordered for one rig or another. “The service manager actually orders all the parts [through Fullbay]. The techs let him know what’s needed. They still put it on the ticket, but he marks when he orders it and marks when he gets the quote for it.”
Because Fullbay has a space right in the workflow to order parts, techs no longer have to remember to write down a part number on a piece of paper. They plug it in as soon as they reach that field. Jennifer admits that it took some time to get there: “We trained up on that a lot,” she says, “so our guys would know to just put in the part!”
“Because of Fullbay, we are now billing for all parts used on repairs and it is saving us thousands of dollars!”
Legacy Fire Apparatus is no longer at the mercy of their fax machine or Ben’s work schedule. Techs carry tablets with them and update the job in real-time as they work. Jennifer and Ben can track when a tech is returning from a job and add drive time to a service order
Jennifer reveals that she has Fullbay on her phone. “I really only work mornings, so if I get a call in the afternoon, I can pull Fullbay up on my phone and check out whatever the customer is asking about. It’s so helpful!”
The customer portal has been a big hit with their clientele. “They love the idea that you can just put in a service request anytime day or night. They love that it tracks all of their preventive maintenance. They can go in and see their invoices, what’s outstanding.”
“Everything is so much better [with Fullbay]. It’s so wonderful!”
INVOICES ARE EASY
Fullbay lets Ben handle invoicing when he’s on the road; as you might imagine, steadier billing means a much steadier cash flow. Because Fullbay automatically converts service orders into an invoice, there’s no time wasted trying to decipher handwriting or track down which part went where.
“Fullbay has totally turned around our bottom line,” Jennifer says. “It’s improved our profitability and helped us grow.”
A GROWING LEGACY
Legacy Fire Apparatus started using Fullbay in November of 2017. At press time, nine of their employees use it, and they have already started using Fullbay at their new location in Cedar Rapids too. With the troubles of paperwork and fax machines far behind them, the future is bright for Legacy Fire Apparatus.