I T & SOF TWARE
Connected business in or out of ‘lockdown’
GGP Magazine talks to Elton Boocock, MD of Business Pilot, who argues that connecting every aspect of
your installation business, is a lifeline during lockdown – but simple ‘good practice’, outside of it.
The assessment of how well business was
prepared for the impact of COVID- has
been limited. The fact that there has been
little time to do this, suggests that many
One of the few studies, a poll of compliance
professionals in big blue-chips, offers some
interesting observations. First, 10% of those
surveyed, said that their businesses were illprepared
(the positive here at least, is that the other
% had at least done some preparation).
% of respondents rated their company’s
response as excellent or good, with business
continuity plans in place. Of those who ranked the
response of their businesses as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’,
8% reported that they didn’t have a business
continuity plan in place, compared to % of the
So, if blue-chips (companies with between ,
and , employees) struggled, how did smaller
businesses fair, including those closer to home in
the window and door industry?
“Anecdotally, and from the conversations we’ve
been having, while a lot of businesses have adapted
very successfully and quickly to lockdown, very
few were what I would describe as ‘adequately
prepared,” says Elton Boocock, managing director
of cloud-based business management tool,
Business Pilot. “The biggest challenge by far, was
the set up for remote working.
“There are two elements to this for installers. The
first is how do I manage my systems remotely? How
do I generate leads, price jobs, place orders, manage
installations, payments, finances etc. The other is
how can I work, carry out installations, safely and
within the guidelines set by government?
“The answer to the first is straight forward –
you can, if you’re systems are joined-up digitally,”
he continues. “The answer to the second, is
more complex and dependent much more on
what government and regulators are saying – but
regardless, getting the first part right will help.”
The challenges for installers during the downturn
have been clear from the offing. This includes
concern about the integrity of their supply chains
and the complexities of delivering work within the
limitations of restrictions on movement.
What is clear, however, is that installers are
now making tentative steps to return to work and
adjusting to a new commercial landscape.
“You’re fitting and surveying teams are going to
have to go out to site – there’s no way around that,”
explains Elton. “Getting back to work in that sense is
about putting in place the controls and new working
practices which keep your teams and customers
safe but which also convince homeowners, that they
should let you back into their homes.
“Everything else can be done remotely, from
lead generation through to placement of orders,
through effective integration of every aspect of your
business through the cloud.”
This, he adds, is good practice even in ‘normal
times’. “If everything you do is integrated, it’s
trackable,” says Elton. “You can see where you’re
making money or losing it. Coming out of lockdown,
your focus has to be on building back your reserves.
To do that, you need to know which jobs are
profitable, which aren’t and why?”
Business Pilot allows installers to do this. It’s been
designed to give installers complete visibility of
each and every aspect of their operation from lead
through to aftercare and everything in between,
including installation scheduling.
Drag-and-drop capability, links to drawings,
specifications and images, site video, supplier
orders, cost of install, helicopter and detailed
analysis of profitability – and well, just about
anything you could ever possibly need is accessible
Every change is tracked and duplicated
throughout the system making day to day
management of your operation simpler but also
delivering new insight into your business. This
includes a ‘true’ indication of profitability per job
including the factors that have contributed to it, for
example pricing, time on site or call backs.
“We didn’t see COVID- coming when we
started out but we did see a requirement for
continuity planning,” continues Elton. “It didn’t have
to be anything quite as dramatic. We were thinking
your broadband or power is down, there’s a flood or
fire – things that can and do happen in business.
“If everything is integrated, it’s hosted securely in
the cloud, accessible through a single secure log-in
– it’s not that those things don’t matter but they stop
being a crisis.
“Covid- has evidenced a far greater value in
When social isolating is going to come to an end
is in a sense ‘anyone’s guess’, however, some social
distancing is likely to be with us until the end of the
“We’re using the same technologies as your
accountancy software probably is if you’re
running Xero or Quick Books or email and office
programmes (Office ¢6),” continues Elton.
“Your business is there on multiple servers, each
mirroring the other, backed up over and over again
and synchronised in the cloud.
“Your business is connected from start to finish,
from lead to order, to scheduling to post installation
cost analysis and financial reporting. That’s simply
good business, inside or outside of ‘lockdown,” he