For Tradespeople, having a hands-on job means we have little time to keep pace with day-to-day business administration tasks, let alone the latest tech tools.
But in reality, taking the time to learn a select few could be key for saving time, cost and resources, enabling you to focus on what really matters: growing your business.
Are you spending a lot of time during the evenings on admin tasks? Do you use this time to create and provide customers with quotes? Or do you try to promote your business?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then the following tech tools can help:
How do you currently manage your admin? Paperwork in folders? Your email inbox as your customer filing system? Don’t worry, it’s completely normal.
Putting everything in a cloud-based storage solution such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft One Drive will enable you to access any paperwork from any location with any digital device. This means you can create a quote whilst meeting a potential customer or even highlight your T&Cs as you’re quoting, significantly reducing your admin time when you return home.
Customer Relationship Management [CRM] platforms are key for any business. Good stand alone examples are Sales Force or Zoho. With both platforms you can import all of your customer contacts, schedule your diary and appointments, keep track of your sales leads for follow up and conversion and integrate with your other platforms for consistent communications.
People Per Hour and Freelancers.com
It’s not an automation or tech tool as such, but both People Per Hour and Freelancers.com can save you time and money. Both platforms provide you with access to individuals who can complete admin tasks on your behalf whilst you’re delivering your trade. So whether you think you could benefit from a virtual assistant to respond to customer questions or queries or you need someone to help with Payroll, both platforms can help. Want even better news? Their costs will be competitive, enabling you to find exactly who you need for a very reasonable fee.
If you have your own website, then you need to consider implementing a Chatbot.
Chatbots have grown significantly over the past year or so. For those unsure as to how they work, they are programmed with machine learning or Artificial Intelligence [A.I.] to engage with your customers and answer any basic queries in your absence. If someone is reviewing your website and wants to arrange a call back, book an initial appointment or confirm outline costs – don’t worry, your chatbot can handle this on your behalf.
A great example of this for customer service related queries is Zendesk.
Mailchimp is a free and easy-to-use email marketing platform that enables you to improve communications with your customers. It has many powerful features for marketing and has time-saving functionality such as automated email response.
That’s right, you can create an automated reply to ensure both existing and potential customers receive a reply to their email within a matter of seconds, enabling you to crack on with the job in hand without worrying about any time delay, improving your customer service as a result.
With the opportunity to create branded, seasonal emails, Mailchimp also enables you to engage with your customers on a regular basis. Trying to fill appointment gaps during winter? Want to remind your customers of your emergency call out service during the Christmas break or other holiday periods? With Mailchimp you can create and send effective, seasonal emails, likely to increase repeat business and improve your customer relations for the long-term.
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Social media platforms are not only free to use but also provide an excellent way to increase brand awareness and generate new sales leads. Think about Facebook for example, not a week goes by without consumers asking for recommendations via the platform – so much so Facebook has even created a ‘looking for recommendations’ status.
The difficulty with Social media is putting aside the time to create content that will reach out to and engage with your customers. Hootsuite is a free social media scheduling tool that enables you to plan your content in advance. It can also monitor for messages and mentions, notifying you as and when your customers engage with you online to ensure you don’t miss anything when on the job.
It’s important to note here that whilst it may take some additional time to create social media content in advance, Hootsuite will save you time day-to-day, as all posts are published automatically whilst you work.
Like the idea of growing your business with tech tools? Well, by joining Checkatrade, you can maximise your Checkatrade profile. Here you can market your business and manage customer relations all from one easy-to-use platform, allowing you to grow your business as efficiently as possible.
This article is part of our “Business Essentials Series” – Business Essentials is an informative series of business advice articles created in partnership between Checkatrade and Checkatrade Board Member, Kevin Robinson.
Here, Checkatrade members can gain insight into how they can grow and improve the running of their trade business, benefiting from marketing tips to operational advice. To find out more about Kevin and his business success within the trade sectors, please read his bio below.
Board Member Kevin Robinson:
A natural entrepreneur, Kevin Robinson is the Founder and Managing Director of Home Fixed, a family run limited company that specialises in home repairs & installations across multiple trades including electrical, plumbing, roofing, handyman services, bathroom installation & home improvements.
In addition to this role, Kevin also directs and runs Robinson’s Roofing Limited, a specialist firm with over 25 years of flat roofing experience.
Having successfully grown and developed both businesses by over 15% in the last 12 months alone, Kevin boasts an excellent understanding of how to run and scale a successful trade business, with expert knowledge in establishing and implementing effective operational systems, and through maximising platforms like Checkatrade.