Expansion pain is one reason many tradespeople choose not to grow. They stay as one-person businesses because they don’t want the stress and hassle of having to manage people.
With any business, you will have management costs of running it, but software and apps can make the job quicker and easier.
More job quotes
If you have three plumbers working for you, which means three times more job quotes. You could spend your entire day visiting each job and producing individual quotes.
Automation is the key. An invoicing system that keeps track of component costs can be used by anyone.
Tradify is one cloud app designed explicitly for tradespeople. It lets you set up prices, hourly rates, VAT and everything else you need for quotes and invoices.
Your employees can enter job details before they leave the customer’s home. You can set up invoices to use that data and generate automatically, so the customer gets an email with the invoice before your van drives off to the next job.
Quotes on Tradify are simple enough that your office manager can do them, or you can delegate a qualified tradesperson if you decide you need an eyes-on assessment before giving a price.
On the road communications
Emergencies crop up, and plans need to change, so you need to be able to communicate with your employees, even after they drive away in the morning.
The phone works in most cases, but provides no written record for the employee to refer to, and stopping to take notes is not always possible.
Without a system in place, you are reduced to typing tedious SMS messages. Ideally, your guys would have a detailed job description, your quote and an estimate of the emergency job duration.
If you decide to use Tradify for your invoices, it handles all this, but there are other free possibilities including; email, Facebook messaging and Skype.
If you have the kind of brain that can handle fuzzy logic you may be able to work out who is available when in your head, and most of the time you’ll get it right. But, is “most of the time” good enough in these days of social media, when one unhappy customer can make a severe dent in your reputation with a 20-second Twitter or Facebook post.
You could buy a day-to-a-page diary and divide the pages by hand according to how many people you have. Or you could buy a wall planner the one below.
But planners have their limitations, the most significant being that you don’t have it with you all the time.
You could set up a Google calendar, which would be the best free option that everyone could access and check wherever they were.
However, the best option is a dedicated employee time tracking app such as ABC Roster, which is free.
Why would anyone bother to set up their own roster sheers in a spreadsheet when you can get it all done free in an app?
Forget Excel®; you need dedicated payroll software. Ask your accountant what they suggest or require. Some accountants may insist on you using one program, and if you don’t like that software, your only option is to find a new accountant.
There are free tools that will let you do everything HMRC requires, though the free versions of these tools rarely print payslips.
BrightPay is an exception. It does everything the small business needs.
There is a free version of BrightPay suitable for small businesses with up to three employees in a tax year, and this version includes payslip printing, too.
HMRC asset seizures are up. Don’t let the tax man steal your business. Get your returns in on time.
Long story short
You could take on someone to manage your office rather than struggling to do everything yourself after a long day on the road – Office staff earn less than tradespeople so that it might make sense.
One person would be enough because he or she could do everything that is needed to support five or six tradespeople if you use the right applications.
App subscriptions work out much cheaper than paying two extra office staff and are worth thinking about, especially multi-purpose cloud apps that could replace some of the software you use at the moment.