Whether you’ve got a team of 5 or 50, organising a trade business ain’t easy. If you’re knee deep in mud or sweating in a roof full of insulation all day the last thing you want to do is come home and bust buttons on a calculator.
Hiring an office person isn’t always the answer either, even if your skills are better used on-site than sitting in the office running through spreadsheets - tradies need to know they can afford to expand before taking on new hires.
Luckily as tech develops Tradies are getting better bang for their buck by being smart with money and using software to reduce the amount of non-billable work hours they do on a weekly basis.
We believe that good Tradies never blame their tools but we also believe that tools maketh the man, so we’ve put together a list of indispensable tools for the modern Tradie.
1. Xero & MYOB
Long gone are the days of paper-based accounting. Digital accounting solutions like Xero & MYOB keep all your expenses and revenue in one place so you can see your actual net position any time of the day at a glance.
You’ll also be keeping your accountant happy and getting real transparency on how your business is tracking for the next tax season.
2. Google Ads Express
Forget door-knocking and handing out pamphlets to strangers and get in front of the people who are already looking for you. Google Ads Express is an advertising platform made for local marketing that puts an ad for your company at the top of Google search results for particular search terms.
Big jobs are worth putting a bit of your own skin in the game for. If you make $10K profit on a job, spending $70 on advertising to get it is a healthy return on investment.
In Melbourne alone there are on average 5,200 people every month that search “bathroom renovation” and similar terms on Google.
Even if your ad only converts 0.02% of those people (which would be very low), that’s still 10 bathroom renos a month - that should cover Friday drinks for a few weeks!
Setting up your first ad campaign is a walk in the park and bidding limits like Target CPA (cost per acquisition) mean you never spend more than your limit to acquire customers. And, you can turn ads off in the click of a button. Bottom line: if you can use a smartphone you can set up Google Ads Express.
3. Quick Quotes
One of the pitfalls of bidding for jobs without job management software is that you often spend a lot of time scoping and costing a job before you’ve even won the contract (which isn’t a given either).
When looking at software costs just bring it back to ROI: how much will it cost and how much will it save you.
The idea behind Fergus quick quotes is to be as efficient as possible in time you’re not getting paid for. You can group materials for jobs you do often as a Favourite, such as a heatpump install or a window repair, so that you can pump out a quote and send it off all in a matter of seconds. You can also track multiple versions of quotes in the same job card and then advance the quote version that gets accepted.
4. Builderscrack (NZ) / hipages (Australia)
Smaller trade businesses sometimes need a bit of help to get off the ground and there’s no shame in getting help to get the ball rolling.
Builderscrack and hipages act as the middlemen between trade businesses and people looking for jobs and can be a key player in helping you find new customers, create relationships and source recurring revenue. This is a great way to fill your schedule if you are a bit light on work or want to see what it’s like to take on extra work. The early bird gets the full house renovation job though - to get the good jobs you need to respond to in minutes, not hours or days. Some companies make a full-time living from the likes of hipages or OneFlare and have dedicated people who make contact and quote the good jobs almost immediately.
5. Cactus (insurance for trades)
We all know someone who’s had their tools stolen because they left them out of sight for a second too long on a job in a dodgy suburb.
Make sure you’re looked after if things go pear-shaped. Our mates at Cactus offer insurance made for tradies - whether it be for Health and Safety, tools or vehicles, they’ve got you covered.
The long and short of it
Trades businesses often go under because their managers and owners are spending too much time doing work that they won’t receive a dime for. While you can’t avoid having to quote, estimate and keep your accounts in check, software can help you speed these tasks up x10 or even automate them completely so that you can get back to working on cash flow.
Over to you
Not sure whether you can afford the labour you need to hire for your next job? Download our Free Profit & Loss Calculator and work out how much you need to charge on rates or materials to make sure you’re looked after.