We get asked all the time, what’s the best app for tradies? What app should I use for my carpentry business? What would you recommend for my mate who’s a tiler? What app should I use for my plumbing business? Unfortunately it’s not that simple, there are generally a lot of questions that need to be asked before you can decide which is the right tool for the job. Who better than Clinton Cowin, Managing Director at TradiePad to give us the answers. Enjoy.
Here’s an analogy, say a bunch of new power tools came onto the market that did this amazing job that could potentially save you hours and hours each week, but there were 100 different tools that all looked the same and cost about the same but only a handful of them would actually work properly for the way you do things, and making the wrong choice could end up costing you more money and taking you longer than what it does now. You could take a gamble and buy something off the internet and hope it was right, or you could go to the tool shop and ask old mate who knows what all the tools do so he can give you guidance on the best option. Which path are you gonna take...?
Welcome to the world of making a decision about the best apps for your tradie business. To make the right decision in this situation you really only have two options:
If you have the time and desire you can explore all of the options, do a heap of testing and trialling and get a proper understanding of what each tool can do so you can make an educated decision, but be prepared to spend a lot of time on it as it’s not a 5 minute exercise to test a piece of software, and making the wrong choice here can mean a lot of wasted time, effort and money.
Get some help from a trusted independent certified consultant who’s done all of the testing and trialling and knows the range of available solutions, what they do and most importantly, what they don’t do, kind of like asking the guy in the tool shop!
The key factor here is education, getting an understanding of what problems you need to solve in your business, and what the tools are able to do for you. Sometimes it’s a bit of chicken and the egg, you don’t know what you don’t know, so be prepared to be flexible with your problems and solutions as it will evolve over time.
So here’s a bit of info to help you on the education path to understand how technology can assist and why you need it, but don’t be afraid to ask for help, a good business owner knows when to focus on what they do best, and when to outsource the rest!
THE BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY PLATFORM
Whichever way you choose to go, there are some key items to focus on first which we call The Business Technology Platform . This is made up of 4 components that we outline below:
DEVICES - THE NEW TOOLS OF THE TRADE
We start with devices - ipads, tablets, phones, desktops or laptops need to be setup to work together so that your whole team can communicate in real time and you can access your data anywhere. Make sure your connected to the best network for your location to avoid frustrating dropouts and connection issues.
COMMUNICATION, STORAGE AND BRANDING
Look more professional with a business related domain name and email address. Nothing looks worse than sending business emails from a hotmail or bigpond address! We recommend Google G Suite because it is a email and cloud storage that synchronises emails and files across all your devices, which means no double handling of info!!
OPERATIONAL SOFTWARE - FINDING THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB
There’s a huge range of Job and Project Management solutions that look similar but which function completely differently. You wouldn’t pick up a screw driver to bang in a nail would you? Choosing the right software is a tough decision, it really pays to get independent advice so your not being sold a piece of software which doesn’t suit your business needs. Finding one app that can do it all is very rare, so we recommend using a combination of apps to build a tailored solution to suit your size and business needs. We call this “Apps to Fill the Gaps”.
Big things to Consider:
What is your operational model? Do you run the business from the road while you’re on the tools or do you have someone in the office that can do all of the phone answering, job booking and scheduling for you? This plays a huge role in the suitability of a solution and the way you run.
What type of work do you do? Is it all service and maintenance work where you do multiple jobs per day and need to do the billing on completion? Or all construction work where you’re on site for months at a time and need to run schedules and ongoing cost tracking? Or maybe it’s a mix of both. Again, there are solutions created to suit specific job types. This can be separated by identifying them as job management solutions or project management solutions. Some do a bit of both but this should be considered along with the operational model of the business.
TradiePad’s most popular Job Management Apps for tradies:
TradiePad’s most popular Project Management Apps for tradies
Once you decide on your perfect software solution, training for you and your staff is super important. Fumbling through an app, learning as you go can be frustrating, time consuming and costly. Set aside some time to train you and your team at the start so everyone is up to speed on all the app functions and can hit the ground running with the new system.
FINANCIAL SOFTWARE - INTEGRATION IS THE KEY!
And that brings us to financial software where having single entry of data is the goal.
Connecting the operational software to your accounting tools will make for a effortless flow of information and eliminate double/triple/quadruple handling! If your a subbie or contractor it will also allow you to connect into your builders system making keeping track of job progress and getting paid all the much easier. For financial software we highly recommend Xero, it is cloud accounting at it’s best and has integrations into over 600+ apps meaning it will work seamlessly with almost any other apps you choose. Other great options are Quickbooks Online and MYOB
AccountRight Live as these have integrations into a range of the solutions we use and recommend.
We also have a heap of other amazing apps and tools that don’t fit into the standard platform, but they work alongside the other tools kind of like TURBO BOOSTERS! Some examples are estimating software, automated receipt processing and data extraction, and HR or employment tools.
We’ve found that as businesses embrace technology they naturally grow, because they can! Expansion leads to recruitment and finding the right staff can be hard, this is why we love the team at ConX as they help business owners get the right people in the right spots. Another awesome solution is iAuditor , a custom form builder that lets you create report templates that can then be completed by the field workers on iPhones and iPads. This works beautifully alongside your job or project management solution for things like site inspections, equipment pre-start checklists, toolbox talks etc The sky really is the limit with something like this.
Spend the time to do the research and learn what these industry changing tools can do for you, and if you don’t have the time or the interest in dealing with all of this, feel free to reach out to the TradiePad team and ask for some help , you’ll be amazed at the results.
And finally, if you're looking to hire more guys, or line up more work for your business, create a free profile on ConX and tap into the reliable online network.