As an accountant, you know how life-changing cloud-based technology can be for businesses. You’ve seen it happen – how products like Xero and Quickbooks have enabled your clients to save time, improve cash flow, and see and fix problems in their business before they become catastrophic.
And while more and more businesses are seeing the light and switching their admin to the cloud, there’s one sector of the market stubbornly holding on to the old pen-and-paper ways: tradies.
In 2017 we conducted research around what makes tradespeople so resistant to the cloud, and how their accountants played a role in their decision to move to the cloud and which tools to choose. If you’re wanting more trade clients, then you have an important role to play in introducing them to the benefits of cloud software. Not only will you make your own job easier by swapping out their ‘receipts in a shoebox’ admin system for cloud accounting, but you’ll help them to streamline their business and save hours on admin – and this makes for one happy client.
Here’s what we discovered were the biggest frustrations tradespeople had about the cloud, and how you as the accountant can help them see the light:
1. “It doesn’t work for my jobs or workflow!”
Tradies believe that the way they do things is dramatically different from the way other people do things. This is true to a certain extent, but most tradespeople have similar steps in their process – quote, job, invoice, GST/tax, payroll, profit.
What they need is a system that’s flexible enough to allow them to pick and choose the features they use, and in what order they use them. They’re stubborn and don’t want to change (and who can blame them?) so they’re looking for a system that fits around their workflow, not the other way around.
What you can do: From our research, we can tell you this is the number one protest you’ll hear, so be prepared. Hunt out cloud-based products that specifically cater to different types of trade business workflows, which will also will enable them to choose which features they use.
If you’re recommending a particular software, then give them the contact details of a salesperson or implementer who can help them set up their workflow to match their current process.
2. It’s too difficult to use!
“I’m a plumber, not a computer programmer.” said one of our customers about another job management product he tried, but ultimately rejected because it was too difficult.
Tradespeople are practical people – they work with their hands, and they don’t think the same way as tech-focused people. Even if the business owner is pretty clued in, they know that the tradie and apprentices on their team might struggle with something that has too many steps.
What you can do: When choosing software to recommend to tradespeople, focus on products that offer a simple flow without too many bells and whistles.
Have a plan in place to help your trade clients get started. Many accountants we work with offer simple “quickstart” printouts that lay out all the steps. Others will set up the software for their trade clients.
3. I don’t have time to research the options!
The cloud can feel overwhelming to business owners. There are so many product out there doing so many jobs, it’s tough to know where to begin.
When you’re a tradesperson, you’re so busy jumping from job to job and struggling through your paperwork in the evenings, you don’t have the time to research cloud options. It’s a vicious cycle – you’re too stressed with your current admin process to take steps toward making improvements!
What you can do: Put together a package of software to enable a trade client to run their whole business from the cloud. Include an accounting package, a job management package, and any other packages tradespeople might find useful (such as debt-collection or reporting). Make sure all these package can be integrated so they speak to each other.
If you show your trade client that you’ve done the hard work for them, they’ll thank you profusely!
4. I can’t afford a fancy system!
“$50 here, $100 there – it all adds up. I can’t afford to add any more costs to the business, or I don’t eat.”
Tradespeople operate on tight margins, and they can be their own worst enemies when it comes to cash flow. Often, they don’t have any visibility over where their money is going, and they may have months of unpaid invoices impeding cash flow. They struggle to find the time to do the accounts, which means they don’t have enough money coming in to cover the business expenses. Adding another cost (even the comparatively low cost of monthly software subscriptions) just stresses them out.
What you can do: When researching systems to recommend, look for options that fit within a tradie’s typical budget. Make sure the pricing system is simple and predictable – for example, some job management systems charge per job, which effectively penalises a tradie who’s doing well and means they can’t predict month to month what their fee will be.
If possible, bundle different systems together into a package deal. Giving tradespeople a discount is another great way to win their favour.
Demonstrate with leaflets, infographics, or case studies how much money they’ll be able to SAVE by streamlining their accounting and admin. If they’re already a client, you may be able to point to some profitability statistics in their accounting they wouldn’t have been able to see from their old system, or show how the time they save on dealing with paperwork will more than pay for the system.
5. It’s going to be a hassle to set up!
Human beings hate change. We’d often rather do the same thing over and over again – even if it’s cumbersome – than try something new. Tradies can be worse than other business owners when it comes to this fear of the unknown – their motto is, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
What you can do: Hook your tradie up with an expert who can get them set up, whether that’s someone on the team at the software company, or an independent implementation specialist. You might also like to create a template email with links to the best videos on setup (our research shows that 90% of tradespeople prefer to watch videos about software) to help them get started.
If you’re trying to build your trade business client base, then showing them the benefits of the cloud is a great way to build rapport and trust. If you’re interested in building a package for your clients around Tradify, contact us today about becoming a partner.