Nobody has less time than self-employed tradesmen or tradeswomen. Yet the amount of unavoidable paperwork increases every year.
No plumber, electrician, or any other tradesmen/tradeswomen can be successful with just a pocket diary and a receipt book.
Invoicing and time-tracking
Juggling employees’ schedules in your head is fine up to a point, but sometimes mistakes happen, and customers are disappointed as a result.
Good software is expensive when you have to pay for scheduling, invoicing and management software separately. However, a multi-functional program such as Tradify allows you to do all these functions and more for one subscription.
Tradify lets you allocate jobs to teams as customers phone in during the day, without having to get through on the phone. At the end of the month, you know which employees have done what work. With their time tracked and charged to customers.
The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into full effect in just a few short weeks on 25th May. Few trades businesses are ready, and with penalties for non-compliance of up to €20 million (about £17 million in real money), even a one-person business needs to be 100% certain of compliance.
If we come out of the EU, GDPR applies to any data you hold on EU citizens, and you will have some European citizens among your customers even if you only work in the UK. You will have records including names, addresses, and phone numbers and some of those may be of Irish, Dutch or Hungarian citizens living here.
The cost of a compliance assessment can be over £1,000 for a bespoke service. However, self-assessment using free forms from companies like OneTrust can reduce the financial burden of complying with the law.
OneTrust offers free privacy monitoring for one website, and white papers available for free download so you can educate yourself about GDPR and its implications.
When your customers use social media, you have to be there, even if you have no time. Luckily there are tools to automate posting, and that will track any mentions of your business.
HootSuite is one of the biggest players in this space, partly because there is a free level of service.
HootSuite lets you schedule posts and to monitor keywords such as “need boiler repairs” or your business name. If you know when people are talking about you or what you do, then you can chime in.
Social marketing using Hootsuite or a similar app is not a highly skilled role and can be outsourced, possibly to a family member.
You might not see yourself as a marketer, but it’s an essential part of each day if you own a business, even as tradesmen.
You will have a website, and that needs to be frequently updated. Regular blog posts will convince Google that yours is an active site that is relevant to Google users because of the recency effect you gain with each new post.
It doesn’t matter whether you use an instant website builder, HTML or WordPress to construct your web pages.
The InstantSite screenshot above makes the idea of building your own site appealing. Customers won’t be able to tell the difference between a site you put together using this kind of software and one made by a designer at £1,500. All that matters is that it looks good and is customer-focused.
You might consider a trade recommendation group such as CheckATrade.
CheckATrade checks out local tradespeople’s insurance and publishes reviews that future customers will read. This kind of platform helps your authenticity, especially when there are so many fly-by-night amateurs trying to rip people off.
The most unpleasant aspect of business is those brown envelopes from HMRC that will persist in dropping through your letterbox. Digital dealings with the taxman have many advantages, but you still have to reply and fill in forms by due dates.
HMRC has a free app you can download onto your mobile that tells you your current tax position.
Android and iOS apps are available for free download.
Long story short
There are free and low cost tools available that mean that a home life is possible, even for tradesmen with his or her own business. Using software to take repetitive or unskilled tasks out of your working day means you can dedicate the time saved to growing your company, networking with other business-owners or talking to customers.