Xero app partner guest blog – written by Michael Steckler, CEO, Tradify,
In 2020, COVID-19 had a huge impact on tradies all over the world. Research from Tradify’s September Pulse Report, a global survey of hundreds of trade business owners, found some lost three months of work and others were forced to adapt their business quickly to keep cash coming through the door.
Fast-forward to today, and while a lot of countries are still facing day-to-day uncertainty and restrictions, many trade businesses have found ways to keep bringing in work. And the good news is most tradespeople have a positive outlook for 2021 according to the February 2021 Pulse Report. The report finds 61% of UK trade business owners believe business conditions will improve over the next 12 months, with 68% in Australia and 53% in New Zealand also holding this view.
But despite most tradespeople feeling positive about the future, they’re under no illusions. They know this year will require more hard work, but they’re still more focused than ever on growing their businesses. Many tradies responded that their goals for 2021 included streamlining business processes so they can find more new work and manage their staff better.
So how can tradespeople go about streamlining their business, and help set themselves up for success in 2021?
Reduce admin time with the right tech
For trade business owners wanting to get more control and ultimately grow their business, reducing time spent on admin can have a huge impact. The latest Tradify Pulse Report found on average, 39% of tradespeople worldwide are spending more than 12 hours per week on paperwork – that’s more than one working week every month. Using specialised trade business management software, can drastically reduce admin time.
For example, one area that’s a huge time sink for tradespeople is quoting. A fast and efficient quoting system not only saves admin time, but can also have a positive impact on how many jobs a tradesperson is likely to win. Tradify’s data shows that Australian tradies using their software spend 13% less time quoting.
Managing staff and communicating with customers is another area where the right software can come to the rescue for tradespeople. In the UK, 10% of trade business owners spend 10+ hours just communicating with staff, while 8% spend the same amount of time communicating with customers. It’s easy to see how this time can add up, if operators are spending a lot of the time on the phone, booking jobs, giving customers updates and liaising with staff. Whereas using a cloud-based job management app like Tradify can ensure staff know exactly what they need, where to go, and what to do, just by checking the app. And app features like live job-tracking can help communicate to the customer exactly what’s happening. In fact, using technology to streamline communication could save some UK tradespeople a rather large chunk of the 20+ hours they currently spend on admin.
Finding that admin versus control sweet spot
In the September 2020 Pulse Report, we heard from trade business owners about how often they felt in control of their business. The February 2021 Pulse Report found there’s been very little shift in the sense of control tradespeople have, although the number feeling ‘almost always’ or ‘often’ in control, has improved slightly across the board. NZ trade business owners went from 66% feeling ‘almost always’ or ‘often’ in control in 2020, to 68% in 2021. Australian trade business owners went from 69% to 70%. UK tradespeople jumped a bit more, from 61.5% to 66%.
However, the number of trade business owners in the UK that ‘seldom’ feel they have control has doubled since last year’s survey — from 6% to 13%. Such a noticeable shift is likely due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and complications around Brexit, with many businesses uncertain about their financial future. But what is striking about the research, is that tradespeople who are still using pen and paper were found to be more likely to feel out of control compared to those already using dedicated job management software. A huge 91% of UK tradespeople who seldom feel in control are still using pen and paper to run their business.
Using software to set up efficient admin processes builds a solid foundation for a trades business. The amount of time saved compounds over time, potentially saving hundreds of hours a year. And the flow-on effects can be huge. Not only does it mean time saved, it can also help tradespeople feel less stressed, more in control and give them time back to spend on higher value activities, helping their trade business grow as a result.
Download Tradify’s full Pulse Report for February 2021 here.
The Xero app marketplace features 800+ third party apps that help small businesses and their advisors seamlessly run their business. With apps that support everything from inventory and logistics to cash flow and project management, businesses have an array of options to build a customised experience.
Michael Steckler is the CEO of Tradify, a job management app used by thousands of trade businesses around the world to simplify their job quoting, scheduling, management and invoicing.