DIY : Amazing tools to get family time back from your services business

Are you a tradesman that’s often doing paperwork on nights and weekends? Do you ever wonder why you’re working so hard and how come you’re not spending more time with the family?

Owner operators are often time poor. That’s because they are not only the engine of the business, they are also the sales & marketing, accounts payable & receivable, finance & payroll and everything in between.

For far too long the burden being the “everything” for the business can take a toll on the family. But it doesn’t need to stay like this. With a bit of planning and some productivity improvement technologies, we can soon get things in order. Here are 3 amazing tools that can give you some immediate relief.

Structure and Processes

Wait a minute… you said technologies, now where is it? Where’s my silver bullet?

It’s true these tools will do wonders for your business, but they’re still just tools to organise information. If what goes it doesn’t make sense, for example receipts in shoe boxes or little pieces of paper as your note to invoice clients, you won’t get the best out of them. So just like the karate kid, before you get to even throw a kick, you need to wax on wax off to get yourself organised.

I know you’re thinking I’m already knee deep trying to keep up with everything, I don’t have the time. But a little bit of investment in planning and processes goes a long way. The more organised you are with processes the more things can be automated like an assembly line, and less manual intervention you need in the future. Some food for thoughts are:

Knowing what your time is worth

What is your charge out rate? Is the lack of family time and rest impacting your work quality? Are you better off paying a bookkeeper to handle the paperwork?

If you say I don’t have enough work, then should you be spending more time on sales or lead generation activities?

How do you spend your time

Just like being frugal with money, you need to scrutinise how you spend your time.

Do you feel like you are spending a disproportionate amount of time on checking job notes on what was done, invoicing the client, or chasing payments?

Are you taking calls in the middle of a job to take bookings? Spending every night and weekends checking email to schedule jobs and quotes?

Still trying to remember how long you spent on that job last Thursday?

Productivity and Efficiency with the E-A-D

Knowing the value of your time and where you spent it on is crucial to the next step of the optimisation process. Everyone is blessed with the same amount of time, but it is valued very differently depending on their needs and circumstances.

Once you know what your time is worth, you can examine each part of your business from beginning to end as a value chain. For example, if you’re an electrician you’ll look at how much time you spend on each of the following activities:

Sales & lead generation: Are you spending too much time on emails and phone calls booking jobs? Keep having to follow up on missed calls and voicemails from leads?

Job execution: Do you wish jobs could be scheduled closed by in one area for the day, so you waste less time travelling between jobs?

Invoicing: Are you falling behind on invoicing and it’s killing you inside because you know you need to get paid…

Receivable: Do you get a light bulb moment in the middle of dinner and remembered you still haven’t been paid for a job two months ago?

Cash flow: How often do you worry about your incoming and outgoings?

Tax: Does every quarter become a recurring nightmare when you have to spend days on end trying to complete your BAS statement?

After this health check on your business, it’s time get some E-A-D on where you spend your time.

Eliminate

Automate

Delegate

Cut out all non-essential tasks you do for your business, do you think checking personal Facebook during business hours will help you get those work done? Time to eliminate.

Let technologies to do the work for you and automate. Why scramble to invoice and chase payments when this can all be done automatically online with an accounting app.

No need to wait for customers to call and book jobs when they can book this themselves online using online customer booking with instant confirmation. Using technology to automate is where these amazing tools can help.

After you’ve gone lean and fit if there are still tasks not worth your time, you can delegate by outsourcing to a bookkeeper or a virtual assistant.

So without further ado, here are 3 amazing tools to save you time on the business. Best of all, they are all free to start or only cost a cup of coffee a week.

Evernote

Evernote keeps track of your quote estimates, photos and job notes, so it’s all organised and you can reference later for invoicing. It has a mobile app to keep you on the go, all information is synced to the desktop app for you to do the serious work later.

Everything you write, everywhere you go

Evernote is designed to track everything on the job. From job estimates to time & materials used, the latest versions of everything you write are automatically available across all devices.

All of your research, all in one place

Evernote takes your online research beyond bookmarks. With Web Clipper, you can save articles you find and want to keep directly into Evernote. You can also take a snapshot of photographs or printed documents and send them directly into the app.

A (nearly) paperless office

Storing information electronically keeps it save for tax time and it’s always searchable.

Source: Evernote

TradieCalendar

TradieCalendar is an open calendar service for home improvement and property maintenance service providers, so customers can see your availabilities and schedule online. It saves you time from answering booking emails and phone calls.

Online customer booking automated — never miss a job

TradieCalendar saves business and customer time on the booking process. The way you work stays the same, just minus the booking phone calls and back-and-forth emails.

Traditionally you would do the email and phone tennis until you can agree on a mutual availability, but TradieCalendar let the customer choose their own preferred time based on your set availabilities. No more getting back to the customer saying you’re available Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon next week…they can see what’s available and book whenever they like.

Customise your availabilities — only get booked when you want

To set your availabilities, you can customise your work days, daily start-end time, time slot duration, block out times for holidays or when you’re working on a big construction job.

Best of all it provides industry best-in-class user interface, customers can find a time and book in seconds with instant confirmation. Rescheduling and cancellation is all self-service, so customers can do that all by themselves without ever needing to contact you, yet still only scheduled within the time you want to get booked. Do you know…

60% of customers prefer online booking and 35% of those bookings are made after hours.

26% of customers would book jobs that are waiting to be fixed around the house if given access to online scheduling.

What differentiates TradieCalendar from other services is that it is built specifically for tradesman. It has inbuilt algorithms to minimise travel time between jobs.

Let customers book anytime — not just when you’re answering calls or emails

Have you ever tried to add up all the missed calls when you’re on a job, and wonder how much business you’ve lost because you weren’t contactable by the customer? TraideCalendar solves this problem by letting the customer book anytime they want with instant confirmation.

Research shows customers are 5 times more likely to book with instant confirmation, compared to just a web email form or phone call.

You’ll be surprised once you add up all the time taking phone calls and replying emails, how much it sums up to. Especially when customers prefer to do the booking themselves at their own convenience, so why force them to do this only manually with you.

Source: TradieCalendar

Quickbooks Self-Employed

Quickbooks Self-Employed is an online version of the famous Intuit desktop accounting app. Statistics show many small business owners spend an enormous amount of time on administration.

57% of the business owners ranked keeping a record of transactions as the task which required the most time.

Source: Quickbooks

This is where Quickbooks can help by keeping you organised. It is a full-featured accounting application that lets you:

  • Send quotes and invoices
  • Keep track of expenses
  • Track & report GST for BAS
  • Works on desktop at the office or mobile on the go
  • Powerful dashboard reporting to keep track of P&L and cash flow
  • Connect your bank account to import and categorise transactions.
  • Snap photos of your receipts to store them with QuickBooks.

Here is a quick video of what Quickbooks can do for you.

Conclusion

Small business owner operators are often time poor, particularly more so if you’re a tradesman doing everything from quotes to invoicing. There are some amazing productivity tools that can get you organised and save time. But before you do, you need to:

Examine your business — Cut out processes that waste time. Know what your time is worth and where do you spend it.

Do the E-A-D on your processes — Eliminate time wasting. Automate with technology. Delegate with outsourcing.

Once you’ve cleansed yourself with time clutters and streamlined your processes. There are 3 best-in-class tools that canget your business automated and boost your productivity.

Evernote — Keep your quote information, photos & job notes all in one place, everything is there at invoice time.

TradieCalendar — Let customers book online 24/7, never miss a job or do the email tennis to schedule that job. Customers are 5 times more likely to book with instant confirmation, compared to just a web email form or phone call.

Quickbooks — An accountant on the go that does all invoicing, payment, car logbook on your mobile. All information is ready to go at your quarterly tax time so you can track and lodge directly with the ATO.

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