When On-Demand Becomes Business As Usual

On Demand Workers

Ten years after Apple introduced email receipts at the Apple Store, a plumber can deliver an electronic receipt via email to build a solid customer relationship. Rapid adoption of new consumer expectations, such as paperless receipts, the ability to order a meal for home delivery, and schedule an appointment with a handyman or pet masseuse (there are such things), has set the stage for a new era of local commerce.

“We’re trying to bring practitioners into the modern era,” said Matthew Cowan, CEO of service business automation developer Breezeworks. “It’s not just about on-demand. We give service providers more granular control when filling holes in their schedule.”

BreezeWorks targets the 2.2 million on-site service businesses in the United States that have fewer than 20 employees, offering a suite of business and fleet management services. Since BreezeWorks presented at BIA/Kelsey NOW in June, the company has added a new web client to its original mobile app.

“We found that for our target organizations, the mobile real estate in our app was too limited,” Cowan said. Service teams, BreezeWorks found, always include someone back at the home office who needs a PC-based view of the schedule, appointment details and other information that does not fit conveniently in an app. Uber’s approach, to focus everything about its user experience on the individual provider in a mobile app, isn’t necessarily a comfortable fit for small companies. “In many cases, it’s a spouse who needs to see the service provider’s schedule. They don’t want to scroll through screens to find out when [their partner] will be home for dinner.”

Cowan related that BreezeWorks’ scheduling, payment and customer engagement tools are popular to many more small businesses than he’d expected. Besides the service workers, such as plumbers, roofers and babysitters they expected, photographers, tutors, therapists and even pet masseuses are using the tool.

Breezeworks has also expanded their application programming interface (API) to enable additional modules and integration with additional payment and other services. “Historically, we wanted to be in control of the user experience,” Cowan said. “We’re no longer so rigid,” adding that future versions of BreezeWorks will include more “assistive” tools for helping maximize the worker’s limited time.

“On-demand isn’t the point,” Cowan said, but it is one more context in which small business needs to operate successfully. In many communities, instant delivery of services, goods and, particularly, meals, has become must-have checklist items for the SMBs. For BreezeWorks, their initial launch stage is ending as this new aspect of consumer expectation takes hold. Now, even the plumber can and should, if they wish to stand out as a service provider, deliver convenient scheduling for the consumer, as well as deliver a paperless receipt by email. Cowan points to the receipt as the first step toward re-engagment with the customer, a key to building repeat business.

Cowan said he’s concentrating on growth and adjusting his plans for a larger market than he anticipated.The local economy is changing faster than previous generations of technology have transformed Main Street. On-demand and SMB automation are already table stakes.

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