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     Mechanic's Flat Rate
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     Estimating

Mechanic's Flat Rate

The Flat Rate and Time & Material module controls five different book creation and printing systems from one central location. The Mechanic's Flat Rate Book, the Installer's Book, the Salesman's Book, and the Estimating Book use a simple, consistent interface so you don't have to shift mental gears or learn the system more than once. Defined jobs can be copied or moved between books as often as desired. Tailor each book to the needs of the men carrying it. The system takes the guesswork out of generating competitive, profitable estimates on any job, no matter how complex. At the core of the Command Post 3000 Flat Rate system beats the heart of a highly accurate estimating system, which is why it can so readily be used for that purpose.

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SDS Command Post 3000 Mechanic's Flat Rate
 
SDS Command Post 3000 Flat Rate Central
(Click to Enlarge)

 

SDS Command Post 3000 Mechanic's Flat Rate Book
(Click to Enlarge)

Service Dispatch Systems was arguably the first company to develop a six-tier flat rate book (which has since become something of a de facto industry standard). The Base Tier is followed by six tiers that are priced using an ascending scale of markup that you predetermine. A final column to the right of the 6th tier is the "Add-On" column, which reflects the price of the job if done concurrently with other work being handled on the site. The full cost breakdown for each tier is laid out in detail on this screen (which is used for developing and defining jobs). Ultimately, two of the tiers will be chosen when it comes time to print copies of the book — one representing the standard charge, the other a discounted charge (usually reserved for customers with service agreements, etc.).

SDS Command Post 3000 Flat Rate Global HVAC Percentage Change
(Click to Enlarge)

Command Post 3000's Flat Rate Tier Control is where you provide key information that the internal estimating engine uses to develop competitive, profitable pricing for each Flat Rate job that you define. All relevant business costs are applied and accounted for in Flat Rate pricing, so that the mechanics literally "pay their own way" in every respect. Note the allocation of designated percentages off the top of the job price to various disbursement funds for each mechanic, such as for his vacation, his insurance, his tools and training, etc. Any time you change a parameter on this window (such as adjusting tier markup percentages), you will want to apply the change to all the Flat Rate jobs that make up the particular book you're manipulating using the Global Change function. Like everything else in the program, the Global Change runs lightning fast, recomposing a book containing over 500 jobs in about 7 (seven!) seconds.

SDS Command Post 3000 Mechanic's Flat Rate Book
(Click to Enlarge)

Of course, a Flat Rate job is usually more than mere labor hours: parts and equipment are often part of the package. Adding inventory items to a Flat Rate job is simple, because you use the exact same technique as you do when you're actually IN the inventory module. The only difference is that the backgrounds are color-coded purple instead of green, to let you now you're in the Flat Rate module. Once the inventory items are added, the system applies the appropriate markups to them that you've defined for both taxable and non-taxable items. You also determine whether markups are applied individually (preferred) or collectively (more rare, but sometimes desirable). When you sell a Flat Rate job, Command Post 3000 deducts the appropriate items from your on-hand stock automatically.

SDS Command Post 3000 Flat Rate Print Module
(Click to Enlarge)

Printing any of the Flat Rate books in the system is simply a matter of choosing the style book you want, choosing the appropriate tiers (if applicable) and header / footer text, a page range and copy count, and using the special custom print papers available from Service Dispatch Systems, Inc. to create one of the most professional-looking selling tools currently on the market. The top three choices in the list refer to books you're likely to show to your customers, while the bottom three are all for in-house use. Not all of the in-house books are suitable for general viewing, since your markups and profit margins are not for public broadcast. Each book, then, is the right kind of tool for the appropriate persons in your organization. The software is optimized for duplex-capable network printers, which are highly recommended for any serious printing applications.

SDS Command Post 3000 Flat Rate Print Module
(Click to Enlarge)

Once a book has been chosen (in this example, an unitemized Flat Rate book without the 3rd Add-On column), all that remains is to select which tiers you want have appear in the standard and discount columns of the book. Because the professional pre-printed Flat Rate paper available from Service Dispatch Systems uses an emphasized color for the second column, it often makes more sense to set the discounted rate to the right of the standard rate, but you're always free to set up your books differently if you wish. The two tier numbers in this example (4 and 2) will actually become part of EVERY Flat Rate job in the resulting book, becoming the last two digits of each job number. For example, if a Flat Rate job's normal number is F1318, it will appears as F131842 in the printed book; the last two digits reflect which tiers were used in calculating the listed prices. When keying in this job number during the invoicing stage, the program automatically determines which of the two last digits applies (based on the presence or absence of a service contract) and instantly applies the correct price to the invoice line item.

SDS Command Post 3000 Flat Rate Report Designer
(Click to Enlarge)

You can always get a preview of a Flat Rate page before it prints, scaled anywhere from 100% to 25% (in the example to the left, the page is scaled at 50%). Once you're happy with the page's appearance, you can fire it out to your printer. The preview routine doesn't provide a background image of the special custom papers that these pages were designed to be printed on, so you see all the printed objects suspended on a white background.

SDS Command Post 3000 Install Contract Screen
(Click to Enlarge)

With most installation companies, getting costing and sales commissions paid on a timely basis is hampered by the lack or tardiness of material coming in from the field, coupled with poor communication between salespeople, the office, and the field staff. Tracking begins in the salesman's flat rate book, which generates the estimate and the breakdown for the system. All material is printed and relayed to the construction manager with a complete inventory and equipment breakdown. A flat rate job number is assigned to every new system, which is then pulled from existing jobs and tweaked to meet the needs of that individual customer. Using the job number permits immediate costing, which pays the salesman, pays the mechanics, pulls stock from inventory, and gives the owner an immediate breakdown of profit. You often encounter jobs you regretted taking on, but with this system that should only happen once, because it can identify and eliminate jobs that aren't costed properly, while preventing your salesmen from being either underpaid or overpaid. This only scratches the surface of how Command Post 3000 puts control back in your hands.

 
 
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