As contractors, we love spending money on any new tools we can get our hands on for the trades we do, but not so much when it comes to stepping up and investing in other powerful business technology tools.
Why is that?
I think it’s because business technology tools don’t make loud noises, vibrate our bodies to the core, create big holes in walls, chop things up or have big flames!
Hey, that’s the fun stuff, isn’t it? Sure, I know we love trade tools because they help us do a better job. But isn’t it true we not-so-secretly love the badge of power that comes with being a trades person? We get to bust stuff up and put things back together again with our tools. Big people toys, if you will.
Truth is, when it comes to coughing up the money and investing in new technology for running our business, we find that just a little too boring and, worst of all, intimidating. Technology can be scary, especially when we know we’ll actually have to learn something new about how to use these technologies. It can all be too confusing.
Besides, that’s not the fun stuff of contracting … is it?
OK, get over it. You literally can’t afford to put all today’s powerful technology to work for you.
Here are just five of the many powerful technologies you must have working for you today:
1. Headphones that employees wear when they answer a call so the customer and employee can be heard clearly. The CSRs’ hands are free so they’re entering data directly into the software. All with no annoying neck strain!
2. Digital recording of phone calls for training purposes. You and your staff have no idea what you really say and how you say it until you’re confronted with listening to it. It’s the only real way to make progress in the customer service representative position, which is the gateway to your company even if it’s just you answering the phone and doing the work.
3. Integrated software that has you doing one-point data entry instead of pulling pieces from everywhere. And if you can’t find a single computer software program to do it all, get it down to no more than two that integrate with each other seamlessly. Unless you love trying to track and enter data that’s all over the place.
4. Go mobile through wireless networks that make a requisite laptop, tablet and/or a smartphone into your mobile office.
5. Make templates for the 10 most common jobs for job costing. You will then be empowered to create the price quote and presentation on your laptop or other mobile device immediately. With a printer in your vehicle, don’t leave until you’re able to go back inside and present the price quote to the customer. He is the most important person you need to spend time with and he needs you to guide him to a smart buying decision right now.
Be a technology adopter
Are you thinking you’re too old to learn how to use these technologies? Get over it! I’m well past 50 and I use all the technology I can get my hands on.
Did I just insult any 50+ people who think they’re too old or too set in their ways to become technologically savvy? I hope so. That’s because you won’t last much longer in business if you continue to drag your feet when it comes to getting up to speed on simple things such as mastering the computer, electronic calendaring, business software essentials, and sending and receiving emails.
For those a little further along the technology curve, don’t rest until ezines and emarketing are an ongoing approach to marketing your business.
You can do it and you have to do it.
Think about it. The work we do in the trades was hard to master at first. It just becomes second nature and comfortable as we get trained on how to do it right. Then, repetition makes it all feel more familiar and our confidence grows from there. The same thing happens as you become a business technology adopter.
Should you really be struggling with all the latest and greatest technology the world has to offer today, I highly recommend you get connected with a good IT (information technology) company. But if you don’t think you can afford that solution, go find a tech whiz kid and let him teach you. Keep in mind, I’m not talking about your 12-year-old wunderkind nephew or niece but someone at a local or community college that specializes in this sort of stuff.
Really, you can’t afford to fall behind for too long when it comes to technology and have any hope of building and running a successful company.
I’ve known about the need to invest in technology ever since my dad first told me how he was teased to no end by his friendly competitors in the late 1950s for installing those crazy two-way radios in every truck. They would ask him, “Don’t your guys carry dimes for pay phones?” Wow, that was a long time ago!
Who do you think had the last laugh? My father laughed all the way to the bank because his guys were being more productive than his competitors. He always knew the power of investing in the best and latest technology. It provides a powerful competitive edge and he loved having his competition try to play catch-up.
Commit to business planning that includes assessing your current and future technology needs and you too will have a more competitive company.