I suggest you ...

The 100% PERFECT SOLUTION for having MULTIPLE Phone Numbers and Email Addresses instead of using SUB CONTACTS !!!

Introduction: I have been spending the last MONTH brainstorming ideas for how to best optimize/clean-up the issues with sub-contacts not being “real” contacts (as far as the RS system is concerned) (see list of details below). I am very happy to report that I have a 2-stage overhaul solution that will ABSOLUTELY FIX EVERY LIMITATION/PROBLEM that exists with contacts, sub-contacts, and “business” contacts. I’m (almost) not joking when I say I should be paid for figuring this out. I call it: Linked-Contacts

References: These are the problems that exist that drive me crazy, and I know everyone else hates too:
- Sub-contacts of a business almost always need to reference data from the “main” contact (office phone, address, etc) which requires entering the same data multiple times into any sub-contacts. This requires excessive re-entry of information that is overridden when a new sub-contact is assigned to a ticket. (http://i.imgur.com/md7lfsx.jpg)
- Sub-contacts do not pull a CID lookup, even when set as the assigned contact for a ticket. (very annoying)
- Sub-contacts do not support customized phone numbers other than Phone and Mobile. (very weak. What about office numbers with extensions?!)
- Sub-contacts of a business often need to exist twice – as an individual and a business sub-contact, even though the info is the same.
- Sub-contacts have no way to reference their relation (assistant, mother, accountant, co-owner, etc) to the “main” contact (without changing their name, which is retarded)
- Sub-contacts do not support “sub-businesses” – like companies with multiple offices (eg. separate medical offices with shared staff)
- Sub-contacts for individuals (like family members in the same home) seems logical, but is super messy and is impossible to keep organized.

Deduction: I consider sub-contacts to be “piggyback” contacts and are a poor solution to connecting/grouping “real” contacts together. I know this is a serious overhaul of a module, but it CAN be done – and the sooner it’s done, the easier it will be. Sub-contacts as a feature needs to be ELIMINATED, even if that means we have to manually re-enter all data that is currently stored as sub-contacts. I would normally say “depreciated”, but it’s so horrible that I really think it needs to be taken out back and shot.

Metaphor: Sub-Contacts are Windows Vista, and “Linked-Contacts” are Windows 7. (Okay, enough mean words…)

Application: Instead of seeing “Sub-Contacts” in another contact’s page (which are required to be created/edited from within that “container contact”) – you would simply be able to “Link” contacts that already exist together (http://i.imgur.com/EbSSEpG.jpg). You could very quickly link or unlink related contacts to either a business “container” account, or even to other individual customer accounts (useful for families).

STAGE 1 – “LINKED” Contacts:

1. Every sub-contact that currently exists needs to be converted to a “real” contact – meaning they have their own customer page, their own phone number, their own email address, etc. (In reality, sub-contacts all should have this, but may not because they live in an imaginary world where they are not bound by the same security checks as real contacts.)
2. Businesses should not be attached to a “main contact”. As it stands currently, the business name is more of a “nickname” for the customer than what it should be – a CONTAINER! A business is nothing without a contact, and most contacts are not the business. (The only appropriate example is a sole proprietorship who never has plans to have another employee – good for them.) Otherwise, businesses are a “folder” for the employees – which are the “files”. (these metaphors are brilliant, I know)
3. A business and a contact are not the same thing. A business needs to be created differently that a contact. (While I love the convenience of being able to create a contact and have them associated with a business instantly, you should not be able to edit both the contact and the business as one).
4. Businesses should have their own “customer page” but should not be able to have any data (tickets, estimates, etc) assigned to them directly. The account page for the business would show all “linked-contacts”, along with ALL data (communication logs, tickets, invoices, estimates, etc) for EVERY one of the linked contacts, all in one central place (like a container).
5. Creating a ticket for a business would force you to choose one of the linked-contacts as the assigned contact. You would not be able to create a ticket just for “The Business”. This would ensure that someone is always responsible/assigned to the businesses ticket.
6. The business would be allowed to have address(es), and phone number(s) – which would automatically associate to any linked-contact that is assigned to a ticket for the business.
7. Individual contacts could be used for individuals as a personal account – showing only the contact’s private data (tickets, estimates, communication, etc). However, if a ticket is made for the business (with the linked-contact set as the assigned contact) that data would be linked only to the business container account, and would not show in the individual’s private customer account.
8. Any ticket/data that is associated with a business account would reference the business’s information, in addition to the linked contact – specifically the CID lookup feature. Meaning, the system would be aware that a ticket is “for” a business “on behalf” of a linked-contact.
9. Business “container” accounts would be able to link to other business container accounts – useful for businesses with multiple locations, but different owners (like franchises). You would be able to see that a call may come in from “Taco Bell Largo” but it’s actually going to be billable to “Taco Bell St.Pete”, which is part of the same franchise, but has a different owner and set of assigned contacts – which would help eliminate accidental association with incorrect contacts.
10. Individual accounts could benefit by linking multiple family members together. Even if they don’t live together, it’s nice to associate people who are part of the same family – especially when they sometimes pay for other family member’s invoices.
11. Although families would not be a part of a “container” account (like a business), you would have the ability to view ALL data related to all of the individual linked-contacts – in case one of them is referencing a ticket for a family member. This would be very helpful for cross-referencing work across different accounts.

***** SEE COMMENT SECTION FOR CONTINUATION OF “STAGE 2” (ran over text limit) ******

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Ryan (CTO, Pinellas Computers) shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

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  • Ryan (CTO, Pinellas Computers) commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    @George - Definitely. Like I said, this is after hour and hours of revisions and mock-ups. I tried to take what was great about other products like ConnectWise and SalesForce, while keeping the simplicity and scalability that RepairShopr offers. Thanks!

  • George Harb commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Ryan, I'm glad you wrote this up. I'm just starting to mess around with RepairShopr and this was the first thing for which I was preparing to give feedback. And as I started to type, your post came up. It got my votes. Thanks for writing it up.

  • Ryan (CTO, Pinellas Computers) commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    ***** CONTINUATION OF “STAGE 2” (ran over text limit) ******

    STAGE 2 - Phone number and Email address – “POSITION” and “CLASSIFICATION”:

    Problem: Currently, phone numbers have no way to specify what the “best” contact number is. Sure, you can set an Office, Mobile, Home, Other; but which one does the customer prefer? I have no idea! (http://i.imgur.com/9NCKBET.jpg) And as far as email addresses – forget about it! Oh, add another email account? Sorry, I’ll have to make another “identity” as a sub-contact, just to have a place to enter another email address. Ugh!

    1. Phone numbers should be specified with a preferred order – primary, secondary, etc. Heck, after primary and secondary, it would be fine to just have “additional”. It’s just a matter of not calling 3+ different numbers in an attempt to “guess” which phone the customer is most likely to answer.
    2. The phone “type” should be a descriptor, not a sort mechanism. Since you specify position of preference with “primary” and “secondary”; the phone type is really just a supporting detail. It should come after the phone number, just so you know what type of phone you’re calling. In all honesty though; who cares? If the customer said “this is my best contact number”, then I don’t care if it’s a satellite phone – either way I’m calling it first! Examples:

    Primary Phone 727-545-7462 Mobile
    Secondary Phone 727-868-0201 Office
    Additional Phone 1 727-391-4611 Home
    Additional Phone 2 727-391-4612 Fax

    3. Having phone numbers in a specified preference would do wonders for using {{tags}} in templates. Because right now you can only call specific phone “types” – there’s the issue of not knowing what customers will have a {{mobile_phone}} or others that will just have an {{office_phone}} (which isn’t even an option!). Maybe they have two phones both classified as {{office_phone}} – Oh no! How much easier would this be: {{primary_phone}} {{secondary_phone}} {{additional_phone_1}} {{additional_phone_2}} etc. AMAZING!
    4. Easily scalable, and reasonably easy to convert – just make all current “Phone” numbers become “Primary Phone”, and set “Mobile” as “Secondary Phone” or “Additional Phone”. It will need some cleaning up, but it will be so much better for future organization and feature changes/additions.
    5. So that’s all great, but now scale it – MULTIPLE EMAIL ADDRESS SUPPORT WITH POSITION PREFERENCE! Exact same concept as the phones: {{primary_email}} {{secondary_email}} {{additional_email_1}} etc. Examples:

    Primary Email rmack@mail.harvard.com Personal
    Secondary Email robert.mack@macklaw.com Business
    Additional Email 1 mackrob@gmail.com Home
    Additional Email 2 mackalice@gmail.com Spouse

    6. This would be extremely easy to convert – just set all current email addresses as “Primary Email” and then it just scales from there.

    Closing: I have seriously spent A MONTH OF BRAINSTORMING and 3 HOURS OF TYPING writing this up tonight and making mock-up images. PLEASE consider this seriously. It is absolutely superior to the current contact storage/organization system. I know it’s a good bit of work, but it WILL make things easier in the future and more flexible for adding new features. THIS IS THE BOTTLENECK that is putting the friction on moving forward with other projects. I cannot help any more than this.

    RS Users: PLEASE VOTE FOR THIS! IT’S GENIUS! For the love of God, PLEASE!

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