Gone are the days when tools, a phone and a truck are the only essential ‘business tools’ for trade business owners. Now, a trade business owner’s vocabulary should extend as far as software platforms to include cloud accounting systems, job management systems and customer relationship management systems (to name a few), and for many trade business owners the prospect of this can be quite daunting.
Although, the notion of having software platforms in your trade business can seem overwhelming, the benefits of doing so are exhaustive. Implementing software platforms in your trade business will improve productivity and efficiency, save money, reduce errors and aid your relations with both your customers and your employees.
So, you know the benefits, but how do you make sure you’re getting the maximum ‘bang for your buck’ from these software platforms?
Here are 5 tips that will help you gain the most you possibly can from software platforms in your trade business.
1. Do your research
How do you know if your business is big enough to start using software platforms?
The answer is, it already is!
No matter the size of your business you will always benefit from software platforms.
If you can wrap your head around particular software platforms now, while your business is smaller, then you will be able to use them far more seamlessly as your business grows.
There are some great options for smaller trade businesses.If you do your research you will even be able to find software platforms tailored to suit your specific trade service.
2. Save time by developing systems
You’ve become the master of your trade and now I’m sitting here telling you that you have to also master software platforms in order to most efficiently run your trade business… Ouch!
It’s no secret that understanding how to use software platforms can take time (and a whole lot of patience!). And, when you multiply this ‘time and patience’ by the number of employees in your company you’ve got yourself a near nightmare situation.
So, how can you make this process easier!?
Unfortunately, science has not yet developed a way for implanting knowledge into someone’s brain (haha), so for now we will have to improvise with the second best option. This option is to develop systems.
Systems are documented simplified ways of doing tasks. In our business we have made them into easy to follow, one page visual step-by-step flowcharts.
As you are learning how to use particular software platforms notate each step for every given task. When you go to train your employees you use these flowcharts in conjunction with your instruction, then they can use the flowcharts to refer to if they need help with the process again. The only errors you will have in your business is when someone doesn’t follow the systems.
We teach our Lifestyle Tradie members to do this in their business. Having systems relieves trade business owners of a lot of pressure and time because they are not continually retraining people or answering unnecessary questions.
3. If you’re using it, use every bit of it
When you decide to use any software platform in your trade business make sure you use them to their full potential. Learn the ins-and-outs of them. If you are going to invest money in them then you need to make sure you’re getting a return on your investment.
Stop saying ‘yep, I’ve adopted technology!’ when the reality is you’ve only scratched the surface of what your software platform has to offer, adopting only about 10% of the product. Take the time to understand the software platform in its entirety making full use of their training through videos, live appointments or better still, find another tradie that has a business similar to you and who uses the same product and see if they will teach you!
We know that showing our members how we use our job management system within our trade business, how it applies to our every day operations (both on admin side in the office, and on the iPad with the tradies in the field) has been a life saver!
4. Consider the costs but don’t necessarily let them rule your decision
We eliminated 3 days worth of admin work literally overnight when we implemented a new job management system that connected seamlessly with a cloud accounting package in our trade business. Incredible!
Think about that in saved money, not to mention the fact that it freed up time to work on three days of other far more important activities.
This is a prime of example of ‘spending money to make money’.
Yes, it is extremely important as a trade business owner to consider the costs before implementing software platforms in your trade business. But, you should also make a careful assessment as to whether these seemingly large initial costs will actually be deemed quite small when they lead to increased savings.
If you are honestly feeling the pinch financially then it’s up to you to make a decision based on your individual circumstances. Equip yourself with an understanding of the costs of these software programs and the value they would bring to your company. If you can see the value but can’t fork out the money, perhaps you could start with one software platform e.g. a job management system, and over time implement the customer relationship management system.
That said, if you are in debt and can seriously not afford these software platforms yet than certainly wait. Your priority is to clear the debt you already, have not to make more.
5. Keep up to date
So, you’ve implemented cloud accounting systems, job management tools and customer relationship management systems (tick!), you understand the ins-and-outs of them (tick!), and you’ve developed systems for them for yourself and your staff to follow (tick!).
At this stage you would also understand why I rant on so much about the benefits of having software platforms in your trade business.
The next step is to make sure you stay on top of any additions or changes that may occur with these software platforms as they evolve and develop. If possible get notified of changes via email, or simply make sure you keep track of when changes are made. Staying on top of these developments and sharing the knowledge with your team, will keep you from slipping behind.
Consider these 5 tips to using software platforms such as cloud accounting systems, job management tools and customer relationship management systems. They will help you maximise their benefits and ensure you are getting value for money.
- Join our Kick-Ass Tradies Facebook Group, for access to trade business specific conversations, tips and resources, plus a like-minded community of tradies.
- Book a 15-minute Game Plan Call with Andy, owner of Dr. DRiP plumbing and co-founder of Lifestyle Tradie, to clarify your priorities and get clear action steps.