How smart use of technology helps power your business
Get back to what matters.
It’s probably safe to say you didn’t start your business just to spend your nights and weekends buried in admin work, deciphering paper work orders with messy writing, and putting your typing skills to the test to get through a backlog of invoices.
Despite the many software choices available out there to help run your business, there are still a lot of folks relying on notebooks and carbon copies to stay organized, and sending manual text messages to communicate scheduling details to their customers and team.
Those times when business owners do embrace technology, they’re often only dipping their toes in, combining pen and paper with single-feature software tools such as online calendars, spreadsheets and invoicing apps. They’re still experiencing a lot of double-entry headaches and things are slipping through the cracks because the calendar where they schedule jobs doesn’t connect with their invoicing app.
What does this disconnect mean for your business? Here’s how one property management business owner we spoke to put it: “When we lost $30,000 in misplaced invoices in 2015, we realized we needed help.”
Sound familiar (but hopefully not as extreme)?
The smart use of tech can help you get back to what matters and why you started your business in the first place. If you’re on the fence about investing in technology, here are three questions to ask yourself when assessing solutions for your business:
1. Will this solution help me cut out low-value activities?
At a high level, the information you include in a quote — customer details, work descriptions, terms — is the same information you present to your crew on a work order and the same information you plug into an invoice to get paid for a job well done.
The question is, are you manually moving that information over every time? Nobody likes double entry and with the right technology you should only have to enter in vital information once.
Here’s a common “before” story from Guard Appliance, an appliance-repair company:
“We would use carbon copies and I would map jobs out on Google, then I would copy the link and email it to myself every day. I’d also create a Microsoft Word agenda and print it off to go on top of Garrett’s work orders for the day so he’d know he’s going here at 8, here at 10.”
That is five separate steps and programs just to set up a schedule for one day!
2. Am I going to improve communication with my team?
When one person is the source of truth for the client, the quote and the job information, roadblocks pop up in everyone’s workday.
If that person is you: You’re drafting work orders so your crew can put quote details that are in your head into action, you’re texting them addresses and you’re stopping by every site to get them started.
Find a solution that allows you to easily share out the details your crew needs to know. Today’s software can pull the quote info into jobs, and allow you to assign those jobs to crew members who can see their schedules and job details on their phones.
Bonus: Your team can be more accountable than ever if you choose a solution with tracking and quality-assurance features.
Your crew is empowered, your time is freed up — and even your customers
“I can go ahead and call my next customer to let them know of a delay without even talking to the plumber because I can see they’re still clocked into a previous job,” says Agathe Delange, office manager at Ottawa, Ontario-based John the Plumber, of their tech setup.
That takes the stress off everyone.
Which brings us to the third question you should ask when assessing tech solutions.
3. How will this solution differentiate my service experience?
New online marketplaces are popping up all the time, giving consumers more places to look for plumbers, contractors and other home-service business providers.
All this activity means businesses are increasingly up against a long list of service providers competing aggressively to do the same work (quality aside) for less money.
Because competing on price isn’t a sustainable option, the focus has to be on turning a first-time customer into a lifetime customer. How do you do that? By providing a seamless, easy service experience that turns you into their plumber/contractor/HVAC tech on speed dial.
The biggest trend to note: Today’s consumer wants to communicate with your business via the medium of their choosing. More and more that medium is online.
“Customer expectations have changed a lot,” says Van Wu, owner of Edmonton, Alberta-based Trust Home Comfort, an HVAC provider, about industry trends. “The post-recession customer is more technology-driven. They will go online, get two to three quotes and check reviews.”
Ask yourself: Can customers get in touch with your business on your website? How about approve quotes and pay online?
Get back to what matters
The successful business owners we talk to don’t run great businesses by doing everything themselves — they’re not superhuman. They automate what makes sense so they have more time to spend face-to-face with their crew and the customers when it matters.
They’re working smarter and more efficiently to grow their businesses, and the right tech solution will help you do that, too.
Author bio: Nick Keyko is the director of marketing at Jobber. Jobber helps home-service business owners deliver billions of dollars in services annually. Learn how Jobber software can help you quote, schedule, invoice and get paid faster at www.getjobber.com.