​Back to Basics: Keep Organized with Work Orders

Work orders are a business best practice that help you resource and schedule efficiently, while also acting as a guide for employees on the job.

Meet (our fictional friend) Brian.

Brian runs a lawn care company and he recently started using work orders as part of managing a sudden spurt in growth.

Although he usually discusses the scope of each job with both clients and employees in a phone conversation, Brian has learned the hard way to get things in writing.

“There was that time we worked on the wrong quadrant of a 2-acre property,” he recalls. Neglecting to include an important job detail due to miscommunication can lead to costly mistakes and wasted time.

“It’s all about managing expectations,” says Brian. “A work order containing line items that clearly outline each aspect of the job ensures that we’re all on the same page. That way no one is disappointed.”

What is a work order?

A work order is a document that outlines details about an upcoming job. It’s an internal tool, used as a reference point between a customer and a business, and between employees and departments within a business.

Although it can have elements of a quote or an invoice, a work order is a stand-alone document that describes the work to be done on a specific job.

Who uses work orders and when do they come in handy?

Service businesses in particular—such as those in the general contracting and renovation, landscaping, cleaning, snow removal, and pool maintenance industries, just to name a few—frequently use work orders to outline work for employees or contractors completing jobs in the field.

Typically the workflow looks something like this: A customer calls a service business and describes the work they need done, an employee might visit the customer’s property to assess the issue and create a quote, and once the customer accepts the quote, another employee schedules the job and creates a detailed work order so that the person who’s performing the work knows exactly what to do once they get to the job site.

What information do work orders contain?

  • Order or tracking #
  • Contact details for the client
  • Order deadline or appointment time
  • Specifics about the job to be performed including: exact location, tasks, equipment, materials
  • The estimated cost of the work—broken down by task or item
  • Notes from conversations with a customer

Why use work orders?

Scheduling employees and ordering materials becomes much easier when you’re working from detailed work orders, rather than guesstimating based on memory or incomplete notes scribbled in a notebook.

You can create and work from paper work orders, but paper has its limitations. You can lose paper work orders or spill coffee on them, and if a work order is in a truck with your employee, but your customer calls you for an update, you can’t answer their questions in the same phone conversation.

Using software like Jobber allows you to create digital work orders that you can access and modify from your office, home, or anywhere with an internet connection. Your team can check the Jobber app on their phone to see the same up-to-date work orders as they arrive at each job.

Jobber word order

Here’s an example of what a work order looks like in Jobber.

If your customer calls for an update, you can see if your employee has marked a work order complete, left any notes for follow-up, or attached any photos as evidence of a job well done. If a customer calls to add in another task, your employees see the update in the Jobber app in real time. No more phone tag, or miscommunication.

You’re always in the know about employee progress so that you can plan the rest of your day, and make changes to tomorrow’s schedule accordingly. Until an employee marks a task, visit (in the case of jobs that span multiple days), or entire job complete, you know that a work order is still open and ongoing.

Bottom line

As your client list, service offerings, and team continues to expand, work orders are an excellent tool to stay organized internally, and they are a professional best practice when it comes to communicating with clients and managing their expectations.

‘Get it in writing’ is a popular phrase for a reason, and work orders are one such instance where it pays to record job details before you get to work.

Get organized

Jobber makes work orders easy

Our job feature allows you to create and customize detailed work orders.

Learn More

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