Notifying the Customer

At midnight on Thanksgiving morning 1992 (18 days after dad died and I became manager by default of our family’s Roto-Rooter franchise), my brother Mark called me to tell me that there were still two jobs on the board. . . both promised for earlier in the afternoon. He wanted me to call the customers to tell them we couldn’t make it. Mark hated to tell customers “no.” None of the techs wanted to take any more jobs.

After yelling at my brother, I called the customers hoping that they had called someone else. Neither had. They were not happy. Both had company the next day, their toilets didn’t flush and YES, they still wanted us to come out. I called the tech who I figured would complain the least and talked him into doing the jobs if I would be the 2nd man. I had never actually been on a job before and he probably thought it was worth it to give me a little “training.” The first was a vent job. The roof was steep, but the job was uneventful. The second job was 30 miles West of town and we found the problem to be a broken off soil pipe at the house. It was windy and the temperature was in the single digits. Carl didn’t have the part he needed, so I told him that I would dig the hole (yes, with a shovel) if he would make the 60 mile round trip to get the part. There was little protection from the wind and I was pretty cold by the time he got back. I think the customer was afraid of me and wouldn’t let me in the house to warm up.

I am preaching to myself on this one. Customers have things to do other than wait all day for a plumber and deserve to be contacted. In my example above, automating a response wouldn’t have helped, but in most cases, giving the customer a courtesy text or email goes a long ways. The way we may want to communicate with our customers can change due to many circumstances, including how the job is dispatched, whether you have enough technicians to do the job with the right skill sets, and whether it is “do over” job, estimate, emergency, commercial customer, contract job, etc. So, as with most things in JaRay, you have a choice.

  1. Texting a note: You can set up automatic text messages that sends to the customer at the time you schedule a job or when you dispatch it. Set up the text messages in 6ADS. If you have texting, you are already ready to go and there is no extra charge.
  2. Send texts with Links to websites or website pages. Automatically email or text a message with a link when the Job is scheduled, dispatched or finished. The URLs can be created by our website developers or yours. If you create a page using the Famhost Website Developer (or any other software) and just insert the links at 6NQB. If you have JaRay email, you are already ready to go and there is no extra charge.
  3. DispatchETA This is a new Famhost option which enables you to upload your employee photos and send them to your customers when you dispatch. It 

    calculates the distance from the driver to the customer using GPS. The driver can also be shown on the dispatch map. The customer sees a timeline of when the diver will arrive. You can also provide buttons to your customer for your social media like Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc. so your customers don’t have to download anything or remember their passwords. Oh, and you can even give them links to websites, coupons, and even videos! Go to 6AC and check the “Use Dispatch ETA” box. There is a $15 one-time setup charge per tech. You can also purchase photo id name badgesbadge_front using the same photo you upload for $10 per tech. There is no monthly or additional charge.

  4. helps location-based businesses improve their star ratings and online reputation by connecting Google, Facebook, and dozens of specialty review sites into JaRay. When a job is finished, the customer information is automatically sent to There is no additional charge from us, but you do need to subscribe to Go to 6AC and check the “Use” box.
  5. JaRay also integrates with which also helps collect more online reviews and increase your rankings in local search engines. There is no additional cost from us, but you do need to subscribe to Go to 6AC and check the “Use” box.

What cybercrime costs U.S. businesses

Famhost was one of the first companies in the world to host an enterprise application. We’ve been hosting the JaRay software since 1999. Initially, customers were very concerned about going to a hosted platform because they felt that their data would be more secure on their own servers. Now everyone wants a hosted system because they understand the potential risks. But are all systems the same?

Cybercrime is now more profitable than the global drugs trade. Check out this infographic.


Many of our security processes and encryption processes can’t be disclosed, but we don’t open customer uploaded digital files on the same servers or platforms as our processing servers. Your employees can’t even directly connect to data or programs, they just see the screens that our servers produce.  You can control what data they can see from any device. Data can’t be compromised by disgruntled employees or by cyber criminals. Famhost has never had a data breach in the 33 years that we have provided your software. That is a track record very few software companies can claim.

Becoming Real

Yesterday my brother youngest brother Phillip and I drove from Wichita to Indianapolis for the annual Wwetts show where we come to see our customers and friends. It is the one time per year when Phillip and I can spend time alone and I have come to cherish it. Phillip doesn’t talk very much and likes to drive. I like to work on my computer without distractions and have become an avid fan of Uber and public transportation.

As most know, we come from a large family. I enjoyed my childhood and was the oldest of eight children. Three of my sisters were between me and my three brothers, so I didn’t get a chance to really know my brothers because of the age difference. Our littlest sister, Rita was the cute baby of the family that everyone cherished as a special gift. Even though I bunked with Tom, I didn’t realize how smart he really was. Phillip was the one we teased. Mark was the one who made everyone laugh. Now Mark is gone. I’m three years older than my dad when he died. I stayed at Phillip’s home after his wife was killed in a farm accident right before our daughter Paula died suddenly from a kidney infection that went septic. That was when we became real to each other.

When dad died, our family dynamics changed, but we were impacted with the way he lived. The more I think about it, the software we developed over the years came from his desire to help his fellow franchisee owners and it wasn’t just Jane that developed it. She wrote the code, but the vision behind it was his. It became ours. Over the 25 years since dad’s death, we’ve developed the software as a gift to mom and then to all of the families we work with. Our extended family’s shared life experiences have drawn us closer and I’ve come to realize how important people are. Not for the value they bring, but that they are valuable in themselves.  In this intense scene from It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey reminds the Board of the bank his father founded, of the mission and dream his father valued.

Our customers have become foremost our friends. The software just gave us a reason to help them with their day to day business problems. But more than that, we’ve been able to help and comfort them when they have “real” problems. The problems that make us real. One of dad’s favorite stories was the Velveteen Rabbit. “When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real.” In this 5 minute segment, Margery Williams understood that. You can’t be real if you don’t become vulnerable. I’m not as old and wise as the skin horse, but I’m starting to learn that when you are real, you don’t mind being hurt. Once you become real, you can’t become unreal again.

It is the little things that are the big things to me. Phillip and I talked like brothers who are comfortable with each other do. A sentence and then an hour of silence, and later another sentence. It takes us a while to chew on things. He told me of the time Terry Kelloway from Parksville came to spend time with him shortly after Connie died. Terry came in person because he cared and was willing to be real. I am thankful for so many things, but mostly for the quiet times when I can chew on things.







What happens when the Internet stops?

My mom loved dispatching. She liked the excitement and she liked the control. I have vivid memories of her yelling words that no child should hear when there was a computer glitch. Telling her that we needed to reboot a router or that it wasn’t our fault was not acceptable. So, over the years, I’ve been obsessed about data access and integrity. In our 40 years of taking care of our parent’s – and extended family of customers’ confidential data, we’ve never been compromised. We have all kinds of backups and use them regularly to restore data that a user may have deleted or changed and then wanted it the old way. We’ve taken every conceivable precaution to protect data, but if a dispatcher can’t instantly know where to send a tech or what jobs are on the board because their Internet went down, it can be quite stressful. The JaRay system includes (at no extra charge) some automated systems that backup up the dispatch board to the dispatcher’s local system. We can authorize your IT staff or we can set up each user for you. The system has many security controls because we certainly don’t want a dishonest employee to install it on their laptop and see your customer information! If an employee wants us to install it, we require that the owner of the company authorizes it.

JaRay Local Dispatch LogThe JaRay Local Dispatch program constantly updates log files on your local computer in the background. We are masters at tiny file sizes, so it will work even if you have a terrible Internet connection. A log of all of the Jobs currently being done and waiting to be done in each of your companies is updated when something changes in JaRay. It gives the dispatcher all the information they need to dispatch the jobs. It even includes the jobs on the board for the next day. So Contracts, discounts, permit information, work ordered, billing and contact info for both the job and billing are all included and updated.

JaRay Local Dispatch automatically installs and pops up when you start your computer. We used to have it log in and minimize automatically, but now we make the user click the connect button so they know that everything is working as it should. Because the system is rarely used, we’ve found that people forget about it and we’ve had issues where they thought it was running but wasn’t because someone changed some setting on their local computer. The local “IT” person may not have understood the importance of this feature. The dispatch log runs outside of the JaRay window and doesn’t require a JaRay license. However, it has to be assigned to an employee that has a security license. We track and control the machine that it is installed on and can turn it off if needed.

When we first started hosting the JaRay application in 1999 (the year before Y2K!) our customers struggled with connectivity. The Internet was just stable enough to give everyone a taste of what was to come. But if it rained in New York, folks in Alabama couldn’t log in. Is that where the term “Cloud” came from? I remember telling a customer that we would be happy to convert them back to having their own on-premise server. The response was “No way! Before, if we had a problem it took several days to get a tech out here and fix it. Now we know it will just come back up.” Our customers responded so well that in January, 2001 we decided to no longer put new customers on their own servers. It was just too painful. Our customers are plumbers, craftsmen, and trades people; not computer technicians. They liked having us do the backups, updates, and security for them. They liked being able to login from any device from any location.

Now, no one wants to host their own business critical applications. The Internet is stable and wireless technology is simply expected just like turning on the tap to get a glass of water. But there are still the moments when something happens and you can’t log in – usually at the worst possible time. We haven’t forgotten our roots and understand how important it is to know what jobs have been dispatched and where your techs are going. Many of our customers do hundreds of jobs a day and have been paperless for decades. We also understand how important it is for the tech to be able to write and invoice, inspection form, or bid when they are at a jobsite that has limited or non-existent cell coverage. Techs can still fill out invoices and even look up job history without being connected. I’ll write about that in my next blog, so please subscribe!

Because the Internet is so stable and our system is so solid, the tendency is to forget about  doing any sort of backup to local systems. If you can’t log in from their office network, you can log in from their phone or hotspot. Worst case, you call us and have us dispatch a tech or fax them the dispatch log. If you install the JaRay Dispatch Log on your local computer, you don’t even need to do that. During major catastrophes, you can transfer all their incoming calls and computer system to anywhere you want. We’ve even set up a FedEx Office and Regis as temporary call centers. We want you to have control over your business.

I was looking at some old videos we did of the wireless Anoto pen technology and the modem we built to transmit the Bluetooth data from the pen to a cellular encrypted connection to our software portal which sent it to various servers, verified and unencrypted the data. It was and still is pretty cool. We’ve always been on the “bleeding edge” of technology and will continue to do so. The tablets and smartphones of today give us so much more power. I can’t help but wonder what is coming next.

We live and breathe wireless data. Let’s talk. – Call us if you haven’t installed the JaRay Dispatch Log. 800-658-1676 and ask for Jacob. – Note that we must verify with the owner or a C-Level manager.



Year end review and future plans

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. – Albert Einstein

JaRay Software Inc. began as a legacy of love for our parents and continues in the service we provide for our customers. It was conceived by our dad and born in the late 70’s.  Even now, 40 years later, we remember how excited he would get when we added new features. We were one of the first companies in the world to host an enterprise application in our own “cloud” in 1999 – the year the Internet opened to commercial traffic. We take security seriously and participate in all of Homeland Security’s certification programs. In the last 4 decades, no data breeches have occurred, and we continuously add the latest in security technology. Famhost is not vulnerable to the recently announced Meltdown and Spectre processor exploits.

In 2001, we set up our server farm, started integrating other products and trademarked the Famhost and JaRay brands. BizYak (Integrated phones and media tracking), GPS, Digital Pens, and Credit Card Processing were our first integrations.

Here is a quick recap of some of the new features that were added in 2017:

  • Famalytics enables you to set up you own Key Performance Indicators with graphing and reporting functions across multiple branches. Dynamic graphs can be set up for any metrics you decide to track with drill down daughter graphs for any date range, job type, CSR closing ratios and much more
  • We’ve speeded up our mapping and added new search and view capabilities. You can now track any asset, vehicle, trailer, phone or tablet and see it on the same map as your jobs.
  • Technicians and managers can simply send a text message to get history, vehicle and tech locations, schedule jobs and other functions depending on their security levels.
  • We added the ability to print to local and network printers, create PDFs from any reports and email right from JaRay. Users can have different html signature files. All outgoing email is logged and controlled by user rights. We also added the ability to BCC and report non-delivered email.
  • We’ve added employee information and added employee vacation schedules.
  • You can now set the jobs up for auto dispatching from a queue when jobs are completed.
  • Mobile invoices can be prepopulated with special pricing and agreed upon job information from contracts. Forms can be prefilled with bid information for multi-day jobs.
  • We improved navigation throughout the JaRay system and made it easy to change the sizes of the JaRay screens and show more rows and columns on reports.
  • Mobile workers can now process refunds on credit cards from the field and process checks.
  • Mobile workers can now listen to recorded phone calls regarding bids and scheduled jobs if desired.
  • Inventory restocking parts lists can be generated from the forms and purchase orders associated with jobs update on the mobile application.

More recently, we have completed development and testing of Famhost phones and are now deploying them. The phones include gps tracking, support, management of Internet and apps, unlimited airtime, logging of activity, all incoming and outgoing calls are recorded so that any communication (photos, texting and voice) can be attached to the customer records. The phones eliminate misunderstandings regarding bids and keeps all conversations professional.

Our mobile application can now create and add multiple photo pages, contracts, bids, and even change terms and conditions depending on location, type of job, or amount. We are not a cookie cutter system where we tell you what you can do. You can have it your way. You can design and track what you want and pay for only what you want to use.

Looking back on 2017, I see that we made great strides in automating processes and workflows. We didn’t realize it at the time, but our work over the past several years is positioning us to utilize artificial intelligence, voice, sensor, and other technologies which will completely change how software works.

We are excited about 2018. Many of the new products we are introducing have taken years to develop and are in beta testing now. I predict that computer software as we know it now will change drastically. We have a Jibo in our front lobby that recognizes who comes in and is getting more intelligent daily. At home, Alexa is available for Internet searches, music, news and weather reports. Siri and Cortana have already started changing the way we use computers. Google and Bing Maps are much more powerful than Garmins and Tom Toms ever dreamed.

Every product we are currently developing is being designed to provide information to any device, any platform. Apple, Windows, Linux, and even eventually your customers TV, Alexa, Siri, or Cortana.

Here are a few of the products that are in beta. If you would like to start using them, just let us know.

  1. Dispatch ETA is our first version of a customer portal. When you dispatch a job, the customer will get a link via texting or email on any device. Nothing needs to be installed on the customer phones or tablets. Your customer will get a photo of your tech with a timeline so that they can see when they will arrive. You can even play the jingle on the customer’s phone. But most importantly, your customer can easily create reviews on your social media. As we continue to develop the portal, the customer will be able to look up history, view good, better, best options pushed from the technician, get a copy of the invoice with terms and conditions, photos, bids, inspection reports or any other digital file that the technician wants them to have. They won’t need to touch the technician’s phone or tablet to sign their ticket.
  2. Famhost RealMail enables you to send postcards for service contracts, mail invoices, bids, and letters automatically based on work flow or artificial intelligence. A post card can be sent as a reminder automatically, a year after service work was done or a thank you letter could be sent a couple of days after a certain type of job. As your JaRay system gets more intelligent, just like the Jibo in our office, all customer mailings could be automated. No more stamps, postage meters, stationary or expensive toner. No more last minute (on overtime) printing and mailing. Mailing right now is as easy as printing.
  3. Famhost Fax enables you to fax invoices, bids, and reports right from JaRay or from your technician’s mobile applicaiton. You can send and receive purchase orders, bids and automatically attach them to your customer records without printing or scanning.
  4. Financing, can be offered right from your technician’s phones or tablets. Don’t lose jobs just because the customer doesn’t have the funds. Simply offer good, better, best option with a monthly cost or zero interest. You have total control over the options, and it is all integrated into JaRay just like Credit Card and check processing.
  5. Social media and advertising tracking. It isn’t enough to just know click counts and estimate revenue. Famhost enables you to see the metrics you need to know including revenue, average ticket, and closing ratios for both CSRs and Technicians and call backs.

As technology continues to improve, you can depend on us to keep you current and keep your data safe. The structure of our software now makes it much easier to integrate into different accounting packages including QuickBooks Online, Reputation Online, and E-scheduling from your own websites, sensors, chat, and new technologies utilizing artificial intelligence. We are excited about the future and look forward to serving you into your next generation.

Famhost Phones

For over three years, JaRay mobile workers using BizYak have been able to text messages and commands into JaRay. They can look up job history, send photos of their drivers to their customers and customers can send photos into the office. Customers send pictures of their hot water tank model number, faucets, and anything they want to your office. Many JaRay users send back photos and information to their customers using the BizYak program with SMS or MMS texting. Coupons, a photo of the technician, and even photos of different types of equipment options are exchanged more and more. The technician can call a customer and their office phone number will display on the customer’s caller ID  instead of the technicians mobile number. They can fill out invoices, create Purchase Orders and Bids, do inspections, manage inventory and even process credit cards all over the phone using a Famhost app. Mobile phones have become a standard tool in the way we communicate.

These options are well tested and used by hundreds of JaRay users. They work on any phone on any carrier. But many of our customers struggle with overages and the high costs of phone plans, so we’ve put together a winning combination of software and hardware options.

Famhost Phone
Famhost Phone Specs

The Famhost Phone utilizes the latest in communication technologies. It is more than just an integration into different apps and has more functionality than phones on other carriers. Everything that happens on the phone is automatically logged into JaRay. Every conversation, both incoming and outgoing is recorded automatically. The phones even report their location every 5 minutes if they move and are displayed on an overview map which also shows the all the jobs and their status. Managers can simply text a command to see the location of the tech on their own phone and even the job they were dispatched to.

I’ve got a storage unit full of various mobile devices, phones, tablets and accessories that have been acquired for the past 20 years in our quest for getting data from the field, but this is the first time I’ve ever felt comfortable enough with a mobile phone to offer it as a service and bundle it with the accessories needed to make it a solid and dependable solution. The phones and networks are finally rugged and stable enough to be dependable.

The Famhost Phone is the ultimate mobile worker’s communication tool and includes all of the hardware and software that a technician needs to do the job right. The Famhost Phone is currently available only to customers that are already using the Famhost Real Time Forms and are using the JaRay Software system.

Before you sign up on a long term plan with a cellular carrier, give us a call and let’s talk. You will be glad you did. We’re here for you. 800-658-1676 @famhost.

CloudLinkit for Storing Video

Upload video and photos from your phone or tablet and attach the files to your records in JaRay.

LoginThe web based CloudLinkit enables JaRay users to easily attach any type of digital document, scan,  photo, spreadsheet, letter, video, or mobile form to anything in JaRay. That includes customer billing or jobsite masters, employee files, equipment and vehicle files. You can easily view the documents from JaRay, download to your local computer and open or email a link to the document to your customer right from JaRay. This gives you control over who can access the document with the famous JaRay security and if an  employee leaves your company you can instantly prevent them from logging in simply by deactivating them in the employee file.

All of the files are stored in the cloud and the cost is insignificant. (only $49.95 for the first 250 GB and 24.95 for each additional 250 GB per month. It’s easy to upload photos and video from the field using your phone or tablet or from your laptop or desktop.

Video can be automatically converted to  MP4 when you upload it so your customers don’t have to install any apps on their computers and they can play the video from their phones or tablets. This saves the time consuming step in your office of having to convert the files yourself using a 3rd party program. You can even set the links up so that they can only be accessed for a certain period of time. The MP4 is compatible with virtually any device. By storing your videos in the cloud and attaching them to the customer record, you have access from any device anywhere any time.


You can also email files straight into JaRay. Simply put the record number of what you want to attach the document to in the subject line.

All JaRay users have the CloudLinkit option if you are recording phone calls, using MMS texting, or Real Time Forms or even the older Go Formz options.

If you need a more powerful  solution, JaRay also integrates with the InteliCloud doc management system which enable you to scan documents from most newer devices and simply select where they go right from the device. You can even redact areas on the documents and set up workflows to cut labor costs and improve efficiencies.

IntelliCloud from Intellinetics on Vimeo.


Short videos can also be attached automatically using RealTimeForms. For more information, check out the user manual online or just give us a call at 800-658-1676.