As your trade business moves on, make sure it shapes up
Any trade business pretty quickly settles into a routine. There’ll be guys you use where it’s their area of expertise and a bunch of people you know you can rely on. Plus, of course, there’ll be the inner circle, if you will: the people closest to you who help run the show on a day-to-day basis.
If asked, you would probably say you’ve been doing it this way for 10, maybe 20 years. There’s a pattern that works, that gets the job done and keeps the payroll ticking over.
The thing is, though you’ve been working the same way over the years, technology has crept into your business and become a big part of it, probably like it’s crept into everyday life: at home, when you want to contact the bank, the mortgage people, the insurance guy. Everything you do has at least some tech element in it, and fifteen years ago, that just wasn’t the case.
So what has technology done for you? Sure it makes your life simpler, but on some level it’s made you and your teams a little busier, or more likely, it’s made you able to be busier. And at the end of the day, that means it’s helped you take more jobs, give more guys more work, take on bigger jobs, and your business has grown. Digital adoption has been a big part of that. You probably barely even noticed it creeping in – it was just normal.
If we take a step back, it’s possible that though you may be one of those folks that struggles with technology, it’s helped make your business what it is today. And when it comes time to think about retiring and handing over the reins to the next generation, what kind of shape will your company be in? Maybe without you as the glue that keeps things together, can the business survive when it’s in the hands of the next boss?
We think it can, as long as that quiet technology journey in the business continues. But for the next generation, that journey has to step up to the next level, even though – let’s admit it – you’re probably not the best person to choose how the next generation of technology is going to fit.
It’s all about education
Think back to when you first used a smartphone. Chances are good that it was someone else (someone younger) who taught you the basics. Over time, you got better on your own the more you used the thing, but you probably had to keep asking questions, at least for a while.
But that’s exactly how you can take that next step of technology in your business’s journey. Get an app, get a system and have someone there to answer the questions you’ll have as you go along, to teach you how it works, and show you how technology – just like email or QuickBooks – saves you and your people time and money.
We don’t recommend going online and buying the first thing you see that you just think might be the right one. For starters, most tech out there isn’t written with outfits like yours in mind. There’s plenty of (expensive) technology and apps that are for big contractors and a lot more that are for just about any business but need to be chiseled into shape to fit you and your company.
The only company we know of that supplies the training and help (let’s call it hand-holding) that you and your employees need is eSUB (that’s “SUB” as in “sub-contractor, by the way). The company has staffed itself with people who help, support, and guide, and they’re on tap from the start and for an unlimited time as the eSUB technology beds in. That’s a unique offering because some companies will give you maybe a month or so of support, and after that, you’re on your own, or have to pay out for support contracts.
Like any piece of new technology, to get the best out of it, it can be a good idea to start small by choosing one project to test out the new software. That way, as the work progresses as it normally would, you can be shown just how the app on your phone (and in the back office, too) is running things: digitizing materials orders, taking care of payroll, and working out what you owe the people you pay day rates or hourly.
Why do it, though? Why put yourself through school all over again? The answer is the time and money you and your business will save. You’ll find that once things are up and running and ticking along, you’ll notice that you’re clawing back time. Your guys get paid faster, the right amounts. Bills get settled in seconds, not weeks, and whoever is staffing the office isn’t forever diving into bulging folders packed with paper. Things happen fast, things happen better.
The ways your business will change are like what happened when smartphones started to appear on sites. But rather than someone you know showing you which buttons to press (until you learned what you had to learn, back in the day), that person now works for the company that wrote the software you’ll be using.
You can read more about how you can win some time back and stop loss-leading jobs from happening by reading our previous article here or just reach out to the subcontractor software systems specialist eSUB. They can talk you through trying things out, no obligation.