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.


If you don’t know the score you can’t play the game.

My dad was my coach and mentor when I started my first business in 1969. He loaned me $20,000 and coached me on the numbers so I could pay it back. It took me about 4 years, but it was worth an MBA. I would have to have all my financials by the 5th of the month and we would sit down and look at the numbers every way known to man. When we “computerized” in 1978, we stretched VisaCalc to the limits. With only 48k of RAM in our TRS 80 Model 1’s that wasn’t very far. I had one sales report that ran from Friday night to Monday morning – if it didn’t storm or the computer didn’t reboot. One of my fondest memories was when Lotus 1-2-3 came out in the 80’s and dad and I took a class together to learn how to use it. The computer became my best friend. We looked at the score all of the time. We added metrics to help us understand what was driving the numbers and how to improve them.

Static spreadsheets, as good as they are, are no match to dynamic computer generated reports and dashboards. We became obsessed with reports. We drove my poor sister Jane (the “Ja”in JaRay) crazy writing reports. In order to get good reports, we needed more fields to report. We added “Callbacks” – free job reports. Of course then we had to add variables to define what a “free” or no charge job was. Was it a case where the tech screwed up and we had to do it over under warranty; was it a continued job without a ticket; was it to gather information for a bid; did one tech do the job for another or did they do their own callback; were multiple techs involved, etc. Did we pay a commission or incentive? At last count, there are over 90,000 variables defined over the last 30 years and an almost infinite number of reports depending on how you run them – commercial vs residential, by work done, employee, customer, customer type, sales volume, job counts – shared jobs, bid jobs, free jobs, “won” jobs, media campaign, phone ordered, landing page ordered, preventative maintenance, production time vs driving time, overtime – you get the picture. They enable you to know what types of jobs drive the most profitability, compare work across branches and companies and know best practices. The more integrated products (GPS, Phones, RealTime Forms, M2M, etc.) you use from Famhost, the more valuable your dashboards will become.

We want you to know what is driving your profit and alert you to trends (good and bad) that might sneak up on you. All JaRay users have Famalytics as part of your system. What you do with it and what data you want is up to you, but this is an incredibly powerful tool. It comes with some standard graphs and metrics and you can set up different dashboards for your different users depending on what is critical for how you want to run your business. If you would like us to design special dashboards for you or your managers, just let us know. There is a fee for professional services to design your graphs if you don’t want to do it yourself, but sometimes that is cheaper than doing it yourself. Then you have your dynamic dashboards the way you want them. Your personal dashboard has what you need for your eyes only “Just the facts, ma’am – Joe Friday” without requiring you to sift through mountains of reports waiting for someone to run the numbers for you. Sometimes when you depend on other people to give you information, the numbers tend to get skewed or filtered – but that is another blog.

Ability to choose

The Famhost and JaRay systems are designed to help our customers, not control them. Some software systems require you to buy everything whether you want to use it or not. Our model is that you pay for what you use, when you want to use it.

One of the biggest differences is the way our mobile platform works. If there is one thing that I’ve learned over the past almost 50 years that I’ve been in business it is that every business is unique. It has a different management style and the owners are in different seasons of their lives. You can’t have one size that fits all. We are compiling some videos that show the options. If you would like access to them or would like a demo, please give us a call. 800-658-1676.

WWETT Show Attendees

WWETT 2017 kicks off February 22 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. Phillip (my youngest brother) and I drove down last night and we’re getting things ready. Phillip runs the plumbing division of our family’s Roto-Rooter franchise. Here are the Famhost team members who will be joining us:

Tom Farmer, another brother, and his wife Deanna. I’ve wanted Tom to join the Famhost team since 2005! He is a senior member of the American Society for Quality (ASQ), a professional affiliation he has held for over 20 years and his specialty is Customer-focused Strategic Planning, Process Management and Team Building. What a joy it is for me to work with so many family members as we continue to make Famhost a world class system.

Ron Nibbelink comes to Famhost with 30+ years of experience in software design and development. Ron specializes in solutions that provide business intelligence – insightful success metrics and analytics to help business owners focus on opportunities for improving quality, profitability, and growth. He looks forward to helping our customers leverage their data to uncover and focus on business improvements that matter most.

Melinda Miller has been with Famhost since 2005. If you’ve come to our training seminars, you’ve met probably met her. She serves as the company’s focal for user manuals and training aids to promote the use of JaRay best practices. Her youngest daughter, Hailey is my co-boss. We have all these little kids running around our office now. What an incredible blessing it is to work in an environment our sole mission is to help people.

Jane (my sister) and Ray Jantz have decided to stay home this year so that Melinda could come. We’ve also got three new programmers that they want to work with and are right in the middle of a couple of new integrations. This is an incredibly fun time as we roll out our new mobile applications.

James Thorne brings to Famhost almost 10 years of sales and marketing experience. He has a diverse background with national companies, large privately owned ventures, and a great understanding of the banking industry. James appreciates the importance of businesses that provide specialized service, and his goal is to make things as efficient and smooth as possible for their customers.

Brooke Mueller is pure excitement and you will love her! Not only does Brooke have a great deal of knowledge in the areas of sales, bids and contracts, customer relations, and business support, but she truly cares about people and remembers important things like birthdays, work anniversaries, and has fun with them . . . like Paula used to do. Brooke assists in the coordination of Famhost’s sales-related processes and customer interface and doesn’t let things fall between the cracks. She is the epitome in satisfying customers’ needs to exceed their expectations.

Come and meet the members of your team! Booth 6318. Let’s do something great together.