With the construction market down, the service sector is up. With this in mind, contractors that have traditionally served this area—or companies that have switched focuses in the down economy—can turn to technology to improve customer relations and boost efficiencies in business.

Many technology providers—and even contracting companies—have been making moves in the past couple of months to address the needs of the market and provide solutions that work for construction. Most recently, Fireman’s Contractors, www.firemans-contractors.com, Fort Worth, Texas, a commercial contractor providing services in the pavement and parking lot maintenance industry, launched new construction software to beta testing.

The platform, Firebase, is designed for service businesses and provides functionality for accounting/invoicing, CRM (customer-relationship management), business development, and more. The product is compatible with the Apple iPad, allowing field contractors to generate estimates and gain customer sign-off at the jobsite.

Service contractors are always on the move, which means a good technology platform needs to be on the go as well. Technology providers are coming to market with mobile capabilities that will allow construction companies to manage business where they work—in the field.

In particular, many service organizations have been looking to the cloud to manage data—and technology providers are offering solutions to help businesses do just this. For example, Jonas Construction Software, www.jonas-construction.com, Richmond Hill, Ont., came to market with Jonas Premier earlier this year, a cloud-based system for construction-specific ERP (enterprise resource planning).

In the same vein, Dexter + Chaney, www.dexterchaney.com, Seattle, Wash., released Spectrum Version 14 earlier this year as well, which is the company’s first release of the product into the cloud, giving contractors the option to avoid hardware purchases and internal maintenance costs.

Flexibility of technology is key in today’s industry. Service contractors need solutions that will work the way their business works. The cloud offers a level of flexibility to construction.

For specialty contractors that don’t want to change from existing ERP (enterprise-resource planning) or financial systems right now, service modules that can be used as a standalone solution or integrated with existing financial solutions could be a good option.

At the end of April, WennSoft, www.wennsoft.com, New Berlin, Wis., introduced Evolution. Built on the Microsoft xRM Framework, and delivered with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the product includes the capabilities needed to manage work orders and field service and can integrate with existing financial systems.

For service contractors, the key to good business is quality customer relations and the ability to keep the business very mobile. Technology is moving in this direction as well. It is just a matter of looking for specific functionality that is tailored to meet your business needs.

Want an inside look at how one service contractor took its business to the cloud, increasing mobility and improving customer relationships? Check out the digital issue May/June issue ofConstructech or order a copy today to learn more.