Think about your day for a second: What would you like to change? Apps can help with most plumbers’ business admin; it’s just a matter of finding the best apps for plumbers in the information scrapyard that the Internet has become.
Pain 1 – Estimating
When customers phone around for estimates, you dedicate your limited and energy to guessing prices, knowing that an inaccurate estimates costs you cash: Too high, you lose the order; too low and you look cheap. Estimating is a job you have to do yourself because even your best employee has less experience than you.
Estimates are only the first hurdle to winning a job, but use a vast amount of your time. Most potential customers will ring around for two or three estimates. Estimates are not legally binding and some of your competitors will deliberately give low estimates and then up the ante on a site visit when they give a legally-binding quotation.
- Check on your competitors by having friends ring around for estimates for typical jobs from changing a kitchen tap to replacing a radiator or fixing a ball valve on an expansion tank. Review your estimate policy on the basis of what you learn and ensure your initial estimates are competitive.
- Have standard prices for standard jobs so an employee can deal with most queries.
- Ensure the person answering the phone does so in a professional and helpful manner because children crying in the background or an unhelpful attitude will cost you the job, regardless of your price.
Pain 2 – Quoting
Customers often confuse estimates and quotes, and you will need to explain any difference between your initial estimate and your on-site quote.
Impress clients with your professionalism by giving written quotes while you are still on the premises. You will need an app with up-to-date prices on materials that will send a PDF quotation instantly to a customer’s email address. You will win many jobs on-the-spot.
Pain 3 – Planning employees’ workload
The customer’s usual question is. “When can you do the work?”
“I’ll come back to you tomorrow,” increases the likelihood that the customer will back away and ask someone else to do the work. Your plumber’s app must include mobile access to your employee work schedules for the next week because only then will your promise of “Tomorrow” have any chance of being fulfilled.
Pain 4 – Invoicing
Your plumbing app should generate invoices from timesheets and quotes with minimal extra input from you. If you have to check the estimate and quote manually and to compare those to employee timesheets, purchase orders and van mileage records, then each invoice will take you up to 45 minutes.
An app could do that in one minute, even if you were checking at every step.
Work out the time saved here. Ten invoices a week at 45 minutes each – That’s 450 minutes, 7.5 hours (a whole working day).
Pain 5 – Chasing late payments
Keeping track of your accounts receivable is the key to keeping your business in the black.
If you issue ten invoices a week, then keeping track of who has paid needs a lot of work: This is something your app should be able to do for you, as long as you mark invoices as paid immediately the funds clear.
Pain 6 – Accounts
You have better things to be doing with your evenings than manually reconciling every piece of paper and electronic invoice with your accounts for the tax man. If your plumbing app doesn’t integrate with your accounts package, then it’s time to change one or the other, so the two do talk to one another.
Long story short
Paperwork is dead – Long live apps for plumbers.
A good app can do all the above and more. It can help you get more work and save you hours spent shuffling time sheets, supplier invoices and quotes every week. Look beyond free apps and demand any app you buy fulfills all your requirements.