There’s no two ways about it: paper-based systems in trades businesses lead to double-handling, mistakes and lost time. Unfortunately paper is sometimes unavoidable and you may not be able to fully eliminate it from your trades business operations, and that’s totally fine. The goal should be to cut down on the amount of paperwork clogging up your filing cabinets, your headspace, and your free time.
Going paper-less will give you more time to spend on the tools, and more time to put your feet up after the day’s hard yards.
Why tech will solve the problems paper has been creating
It’s a common misconception that for contractors and trades business owners, working on site all day and then coming back home and spending most of the night invoicing or replying to your accountant is just all part of the job.
This will burn you out like a bonfire and even if it doesn’t, you’ll never be able to effectively manage your job admin this way anyway. Over the course of the day you’ll lose receipts, mix up paper job cards and so on.
The only way to run a trades business and not lose your mind in doing so is to use tools to help you do your admin in a couple of clicks over the course of the day instead of saving it all for 6pm. The good news is there are plenty of systems and apps for tradies that make moving away from paper an easy task.
The three most important components of amping up your efficiency and moving away from paper are:
- Accounting software
- Job management software
- Digital receipt scanning
Job management software keeps your operations in line
The aim of a good trade job management system isn’t that you spend a lot of time in it – in fact, the less time you’re spending managing job admin (per job), the better you’re using it.
Job management solutions can sync up with your preferred trade suppliers, meaning you can automatically pull real pricing into quotes as you make them instead of combing through price files (or god forbid actual paper price books!). Premium job management solutions also pair supplier invoices with the right jobs so that you can see if you spent more on the job than you meant to, and even submit purchase orders directly from the system.
As the job progresses (whether it’s a quick in-and-out or a three weeker), job software allows you to keep track of changes to the job so that when you’re all done, you can pull the trigger and send the invoice from your phone/tablet while you’re still in the driveway.
Look for job management software with a payments solution that allows your customers to pay you quickly with a credit card. The easier you make it for your customers to pay you, the sooner they will do it, and it will do wonders for your cash flow.
Moving your accounts from a file folder to the cloud
Accounting software solutions like Xero or MYOB store your financial details securely in the cloud, so that you and your accountant can access it from anywhere and at any point. These solutions also talk to your job software so that everything that comes in or out of your business can be seen by your accountant straight away. If you aren’t using either of these solutions, it won’t come as a surprise that giving your accountant access to this info will save you a lot of unnecessary phone calls and meetings.
What’s more, come tax season, you’ll have everything recorded from day one, and trust us, your accountant will thank you for it. Accounting software also feeds your key financial data into useful reports that make it easy to grasp where your business is at.
Say see-ya to receipts with receipt scanning software
Trying to keep track of receipts over the course of the day (or worse, trying to get your team to keep track of them) is the easiest way to lose visibility over your finances. With receipt scanning software, you can take a snapshot of a printed receipt with your smartphone, then chuck it into the bin and forget about it. Receipt scanning software like Dext or Hubdoc lets you quickly capture and upload your invoices and receipts and also fetch digital invoices for you. It then categorises the data on the receipt and puts it into a format that your accounting software is able to immediately recognise and process.
Beats rummaging through your drawers looking for an old receipt, eh?
Work smarter, not harder
Once you set up these tools properly and spend a wee bit of time learning how to use them, you’ll be reaping the benefits for years to come. Less clutter on your desk and in your head equals more free time to grow your business and enjoy yourself.
This guest post was written by Fergus, a job management software company that helps flooring and roofing professionals and other tradespeople in Australia get their business under control. Click here to see how Fergus helped Outback Tradie reduce their admin time by 66%.
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