In times gone by, tradies used to get a bad rapt for not being very technologically savvy, however with the introduction of smartphones, these appear to have been the game changer.
That being said, if tradies now find it easy to use the functionality of a smart phone, understand wifi connections and usually have more apps than most (from my experience anyway), why do they find it easy to sit at the pub and play on their phones, yet so utterly difficult to complete their business related administration tasks like invoicing a client, sending quotes within a 24hr post client meeting and above all, doing their bank reconciliation? There’s an app for it on your phone, infact, depending on the product you use, there are multiple apps that allow you to literally run your business whilst being mobile from your mobile device. Here’s a couple of solutions that could suit depending on your business size, that can be a game changer for most trades and service industries.
For the smaller business
ServiceM8 allows you to locate staff in real time, instantly dispatch urgent jobs, communicate with staff and clients without disruptive phone calls. Its compatible with a Mac or PC, iPhone, iPad, allows you to track time and your jobs easily. You can view all your unscheduled jobs and quotes, easily allocate jobs to staff members using drag-n-drop. Staff will be notified instantly via the iPhone app / SMS message while on the road. Print daily schedules, work orders and routing maps for each staff member. With scheduling reminders, email and sms messages built-in, you can dispatch information to your staff and clients faster than ever before, keeping them up to date with their schedule and your impending arrival. The dispatch map will let the office see where staff are in 'real time', so you know who is the closest field technician or courier you can allocate an urgent job to. Messages sent to staff with iPhones or iPads are free of charge. ServiceM8 makes invoicing as fast and easy as possible. From your first invoice you'll start with a professional looking invoice created as a PDF and saved in the job diary. Using smart attachments you can attach it to an email and send it in seconds. Print, email and even post invoices from your iPhone or iPad while at the job. Any photo you have taken or saved on a job holds a permanent marker of the date it was saved. When you email the photo to a client it carries a permanent brand with your business name, job number and date saved. A helpful professional record, for suppliers or clients tracing directly to the job. It also connects with Xero for all your accounting needs so you can invoice and receive payment before leaving the job with a few taps on your iPhone, so it's ready for approval to Xero. As far as data goes, its safely stored in the cloud and you own it and can download it any time so you’re not locked in. What I personally love about this software, is if you’re a sole trader or do limited jobs per month (20 or under) the software is FREE, up to 100 jobs per month is 50c per job so its fantastically cost effective.
The following video gives you an introduction to ServiceM8:
For the slightly larger than smaller business
GeoOP is the app that replaces inefficient, paper based systems with a simple way to accurately create, assign, cost, quote and invoice jobs while in the field. It’s a little more robust than serviceM8
in that it allows you to import parts lists to create accurate quotes and invoices for your clients, to then email them directly, either whilst standing with the client or after you've left. This also allows you to store the actual job costs against the job so you know exactly how much each job is costing you and how much you’re making on it. Getting authorisation on your quotes is really easy too, you can get your clients to sign your smartphone and it captures the signature and saves it to the job! There is fill job history, and if you cant be bothered typing your notes from client meetings, you can record your voice instead and save it into the job. You can record payments through the app on the spot which will be automatically assigned to the invoice. Your staff can have different charge rates and you can also assign special rates to your special clients. Permissions and security can be really well controlled with over 15 permission options for staff roles. It has all the same features in terms of scheduling and assigning jobs to staff in the field by using GPS tracking to see who’s closest and of course it integrates with Xero and other accounting packages. The software is more robust and its been on the market longer than ServiceM8, that said it is a little more pricey, yet cost effective for a slightly larger organisation in terms of what it delivers and how much time it will save you with streamlining your administration and running your business. Office admin team are free and per user, its $19.95 a month.
For an overview of how GeoOp works, click on the video below:
For the big boys
SimPRO is serious Job Management designed for the trade and service industry. It has all the features of both of the products above, yet it is again on a different level and much more robust. It works incredibly well for the electricians and plumbers due to its ability to integrate with many wholesaler catalogues and price lists. There are only two ways to increase profits on any job or project – increase your prices or reduce your costs. Increasing prices or margins isn't easy in today’s competitive environment and you need to make sure all of your costs are under control. Because of this, your purchasing and stock control processes need to be efficient. Other than labour and vehicles – that are covered in the scheduling component – stock is your most significant cost. Managing it and controlling it is vital. Too much stock and you’re tying up cash unnecessarily. Too little and you’re constantly chasing your own tail for parts and materials and wasting billable time. Purchase orders are raised through the system and allocated directly to the job. When you receive your supplier invoice, it’s easy to check the job it was assigned to and if the price was right. It also removes the headache of stock control by providing real time stock levels on every storage location including back orders and overdue purchase orders for jobs. You can schedule both labour and equipment for those industries that require it and it also removes the need for paper based time sheets by allowing authorised staff to log on and record times on jobs or projects in real time giving you visibility over the actual labour time against the estimated. SimPRO removes the complexity out of asset maintenance which is traditionally difficult to manage, it allows you to mange programmed, preventative and reactive maintenance by delivering a full asset service history. With the integration to directly to a number of accounting packages, processing of your invoices, receipts, retention's and transfers is seamlessly managed.
If you'd like more information on SimPro, click on the video below:
These solutions may seem daunting and all a “little bit too hard” to implement, but with the right guidance, assistance in ascertaining which solution will fit your specific situation, systems implementation and training, HTA Business Systems can help streamline your business, no matter what size.