Feb 2020 Automating Your Business
Business automation is creating greater efficiency, saving time and money, and allowing the transferal and reporting of information to be more accurate.
Let’s have a look at some the areas we could be utilising business automation via simple software/app technologies.
Most of us are probably utilising our computer calendars (Apple or Windows) every day to book business meetings. It wasn’t that long ago when we were using a paper diary. I remember, when I made the transfer from a paper diary to my Windows diary. It took me about 3 months before I could throw away my paper diary. Then I had my IT guy link my Outlook diary to my phone and scheduling appointments could be done while I was waiting for a coffee.
Scheduling projects can also be done via an Apple or Windows calendar. Creating a separate Calendar for projects is an easy process but there are many apps for quoting and project management that have a scheduling function for projects.
Quoting (Landscape Construction and Maintenance)
There are endless quoting software systems for the landscape industry. It is important to be aware of what you want your software to achieve. When quoting a landscape construction job, some of the functions you may need are: uploading material lists easily, entering employees hourly rates, entering client details, entering labour and material costs for each component in the scope of works (not just the charge out sums), scheduling, tracking a job, a project management function, calculating take-offs, an impressive presentations document to send to clients.
When quoting a landscape maintenance job, some of the functions needed will be simpler, but still the basics are important like: material lists, employees’ hourly rates, client details, scheduling, and a simple project management function. Some quoting systems also allow detailed job sheets to be created per client with costs per ml pre-programmed and notes and pictures uploaded.
Some compatibility with your accounting software is an advantage. My research has discovered that many good quoting systems exist for the Landscape industry. Some examples are: Aroflo, Buildxact, LMN and Gauge. My suggestion is to trial any system first.
Managing business finances via Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks just to name a few is essential. We all need to be able to (with the click of a button) view the accounts payable and receivables, P&L (expenses, sales and profit) each month. A few years ago, I started using Receipt-bank and Xero to upload all my bookkeeping data each month. It was quick, easy and allowed my bookkeeper to work remotely on my account. It also saved my company money because all the information was digitally ready for the bookkeeper to create quarterly BAS and reconcile from her office.
Google Drive is free to use and can be used to share spreadsheets or documents with other people and view them at the same time. Zoom and Skype are free platforms that offer video conferencing calls and share information. Dropbox and WeTransfer are great for transferring large files like designs, multiple pictures and videos.
Facebook own Instagram so both platforms can be linked. When you post on Instagram, the post will also appear on Facebook. Software like Hootsuite can manage multiple social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn etc., from just one dashboard.
Mailchimp is a free email newsletter platform. You can upload your client database and send an appealing newsletter to offer tips, products, specials or content that could interest your client, future clients and alliances. There are many email marketing software systems that have more functions or you can have your website developer add an email marketing function to your website.
There are many Project Management apps available. Some are simple, some offer more functions and some are easier to use. A good Project Management app, allows you to schedule work, assign future work to a crew, dissect the scope of works, track the results, upload pics and add a GPS locator. Monday and Asana are two examples.
When you are interested in finding software for your business, asking a friend or peer what they use and like can be very helpful. All software should offer a trial period.
As the months and years progress, more software with better functions and easier to use will continue to appear. Automation is making our business life much easier and allowing us to share information faster and more accurately, track results and run a more efficient and profitable business.