The Case for Job Management Software and Virtual Assistants

by Team Tradify, June 29, 2016

Should every Plumbing business be using job management software to help them organise their business? As far as we’re concerned, the answer to this question is a categorical yes.

Tradify-Business-Tools-Plumbers-Sitting-in-a-SiteWith your days spent flat out running from job to job, the phone glued to your head and your nights spent sorting invoices, responding to emails and checking voicemails it's a given most plumbers could use an extra set of hands.

Sure, we’ve built job management software, so of course, we’re a little bias. But that’s only because we understand how hard it is to grow and run a Plumbing business and we know it would be easier if you would just get job management software set up for your business.

At Tradify, we're all about making your life easier. Sometimes, rather than taking someone on full-time, perhaps a virtual assistant (VA) is just the ticket to help your business take a step up the productivity ladder.

Still not convinced? Below are some reasons why you might want to digitise your operations with job management software or a virtual assistant.

The case for job management software

Manage admin on the go

The world turns pretty quickly these days. Most plumbers have more jobs on the go than they can actually handle.

With a mobile phone permanently strapped to your head, the iPad in the van and the laptop at home, staff, customers and suppliers can (and expect) to be able to reach you anytime anywhere to ask you about anything. 

That's why it's critical to have plumbers software (such as Tradify!) in place that gives you and the rest of the team easy access to Job and Customer details across any device at any time. 

If the only source of truth is your paper diary, then every decision or query needs to be funnelled through you, causing delays and giving you a massive headache.

Imagine how your day would go if your phone rang 10 or 20 times less per day. Sounds pretty good right? 

Get more efficient

Plumbers software that is designed to streamline the entire job, from the initial quote development right through to site inspections, time and materials tracking and invoicing is going to make job management much much easier. 

By shaving micro-moments of every aspect of a job, managers end up saving hours. These hours can then be spent working on the business (not in it) or just relishing in the goodness of having your weeknights and weekends back.

Making health and safety easy 

Health and Safety and other compliance-related requirements are only going to increase over the next few years. Making good use of the software is an easy and obvious way to minimise the impact of compliance on your business. 

Not only will documents be securely stored and easily accessible you can also use task management and other features to ensure compliance, enable tracking and simplify the audit trail.

Creating compliance activities, such as site inspections, as specific tasks within a job means your business can track when compliance activities have been completed, who completed the task, how long it took and what documentation or notes were generated. 

Organise your business

As any Tradie will tell you, jobs today seem to generate a huge amount of documentation. It's no good having these documents stuck in a filing cabinet or in the van.

If you really want to, the team to be able to crack on with a job without pestering you, or the accountant to get the books done on time, documents such as job specifications, descriptions, site inspections, photos need to be readily available. 

With integrated job management software on the go all your documentation stored in a place that’s safe, and easily accessible. This unlocks round the clock access for everyone on board, from the office manager to the apprentice and everyone in between.

Seem that rickety old filing cabinet clogging up the room? Think how nice it would be to take a blowtorch to it once all your documents are up in the cloud.

Keeping costs in check

Getting the job done is all good and well, but without tracking or visibility of key costs such as labour and materials and the ability to measure job profitability, how will you ever really know if you’re making money and what to do to earn more.

By leveraging software Plumbing businesses can ensure that relevant costs are tracked and recovered. You can also use the reporting features to measure job profitability and employee productivity. You can also start to measure quotes to actuals and look for areas to improve.

Because your job management tool has saved you time in other places within your business you should now have the time to spend on business improvement activities such as job profitability optimisation.

How virtual assistants save you time

What is a VA?

A virtual assistant (VA) is a skilled and experienced professional admin manager who happens to offer their services virtually.

This service can be an individual or a team of VAs that help people like busy plumbers with a bunch of stuff such as administrative, marketing and customer support - basically all the stuff you didn't have in mind when you started your plumbing business.

Because they are remote and highly skilled, they do these types of tasks faster, better and cheaper than you can.  The idea is this leaves you to focus on the things you are good at, like sweating pipes and installing InSinkErators.

This in turn means you have a better run business that makes more money and gives you more time to spend with family and friends. If that sounds awesome, here are a few of the things a VA could do for you and why that would make financial sense.

Sending Invoices

As we wrote in this post the success of your business depends on the state of its cash flow. Among other things, a great way to improve your cash flow is to get invoices generated and sent out in a timely manner.

A VA can help with this. They can create an invoice template and every time you finish a job, just text them the customer, total number of hours on the job, and the materials used and they can quickly create and send a professional-looking invoice.

Better yet, if you were using a job tracking tool such as Tradify you wouldn't even have to text them any details. Your VA can log in to Tradify to view time and materials allocations by job and regularly generate invoices as the status of each job changes.  

A slight improvement in your invoicing process is probably going to be enough to justify the investment in a VA, but just in case it isn't, here are some other things they could do that would generate additional revenue or cost savings.

Managing Facebook updates

As we’ve written about here, keeping your Facebook page up to date with vital information that is interesting to your potential clients will help you win more business and better serve your existing customers.

However, setting up and maintaining your Facebook page can be a time-consuming task for some and it may not be the best use of your skills. One option is to get your VA to spend 3o minutes a month keeping your Facebook page up to date with work in progress photos,  adding customer reviews and responding to any comments or questions.

This effort will more than pay for itself with better customer engagement, new business and giving you back an extra hour or two to focus on other tasks. 

Quote follow-ups

When was the last time you phoned a customer to follow up on a quote? Following up is instrumental in closing a sale, yet a surprising number of people don’t do it.

Allocating this task to a VA is a fantastic use of their time as it's revenue-generating (so they will pay for themselves) and it directly aligns with their strongest skill sets i.e. sticking to a schedule and leveraging a great phone manner, plus it will deliver a great experience to potential new customers i.e. a professional well managed quote and follow up process.

Chances are closing one new additional job per week would more than pay for their time. If you were using a Job tracking tool such as Tradify they would be able to track and follow up quotes without bothering you.

No additional costs

The rate is what you pay for your package and that is it. No additional charges for recruitment, holiday pay, insurance, sick pay, office space, tea and coffee etc.

Since your VA is virtual they work off-site and best of all - they use their own resources.

Grows with your business

One of the problems with taking on a new full-time person to help with the back office tasks is you're a bit stuck if all of a sudden business slows over the winter.  

Using a VA means you get to burst and flex your resources as you need them. Most VA services will let you upgrade or downgrade your package at a moment's notice.

This means if you happen to win, or lose, a big client you can quickly structure your business to suit.

Additional tasks

Once you’ve got a helping hand available at a moments notice, it's amazing how many things to you realize you need help with. Here are just a few...

  • Website Administration – If you need help keeping your website up to date.
  • Marketing – helping with email campaigns.
  • Customer Service Representative – try forwarding all your calls to your virtual assistant for a week and see what impact it has on your business.

How to hire a virtual assistant

So now you're convinced you need one - how do get one onboard?

First, you need to find them. This is easy, just google Virtual Assistant, try a few of these links below or ask a couple of your Tradie mates.

There are also a range of options like Upwork but we suggest going with the specialist VA companies in the first instance.

Once you have a shortlist you need to ring them and then interview them to find out which one will work best for you. Download our Interview Questions to help you with this step. They're suited for apprentices but the same themes apply to any good worker.

As a plumber you need to confirm two things, can they do what you need them to do (figure that before you call them based on the list above) and how much will it cost. Check they have experience in the areas you need help, that they have the appropriate tools, how they like to work with their clients and how do they recommend you start working together.

Once you’ve agreed and documented the terms the only thing left to do is get started.

Learn more about Tradify

If you're keen to see how Tradify could organise your plumbing business, get in touch! Even more, if you're already using Tradify and want to get more out of the software, we're always happy to have a chat.

Ready to give Tradify a go? Start a free 14-day trial with us