We’re getting back to work, but times are still challenging and over the last few months everything has gotten a lot more digital.
At Tradebot we believe in Backing Small Business and helping them to make the most of this situation.
If you’re a tradesman, massage therapist, dog walker or bookkeeper you’ve seen digital becoming a more and more important part of how your business operates. We all the last few months have changed how we interact with our business partners, loyal clients and new business leads.
We are increasingly staying together, and doing business by digital.
It’s a path we were all on, some enthusiastically, some reluctantly but the last few months have seen us jump years ahead. When we all go back to work, we will be going back to the future.
We have asked our customers about how they are managing the changes digital is bringing to their small business.
The most common theme is don’t be afraid. It’s only scary if you think it is – get excited and take small steps. Making small changes to becoming a more digital business can save you money, save you time, make your customers happier and really pay off for you personally and professional in the short and long term.
So, here are some top tips from small business owners, sole traders and self-employed business people...
The last few months have been a massive challenge for a lot of small businesses. However, it has also shown how adaptable they are, and the great things they can do.
It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. – Confucius
Quick Tips To Help Your Trades Business Save Time
One of the biggest challenges of tradespeople is time management. You can get so much caught up in your quest to get ahead that you only a little time get to work on the books, or to get the right work on the books. Tradesman business sure requires great expertise and dedication, you are looking after the job, managing a team and then home to handle the admin.
Running your own trades and contracting business can be exciting and terrifying, but the one thing it always is, is time consuming. Wouldn’t it be great to have a little bit more time to help the kids with their homework, have a night out with your partner, or maybe even spend an evening catching up with old friends?
If you are looking to get more free time as a tradesman business owner, consider the following tips:
You Need To See A Professional
Most tradesman business owners tend to believe they can handle almost everything, but the reality is the opposite. You will most likely need professional help in some aspects of your tradesman business, especially those places you tend to get stuck. So, bring the professionals in to help. An accountant will do well in managing your books, or an SEO professional to help you get more traffic to your website.
You do you, might be a bit of a trendy meme, but really you know you shouldn’t waste time on things you are not good at.
Avoid ridiculous jobs
The first thing you learn when starting in business for yourself is that time is money. You don’t have to work on piddly jobs that are not worth your time. For example, driving for more than an hour to a €30 gig isn’t worth it. Likewise, avoid clients once you can smell the least iota of trouble from afar, you know the ones, always looking to scrimp and save cents on every item.
While this can be a tough call to make, especially when starting out, making it will create a free space in your schedule, which can be invested in other more profitable jobs.
Plan Your Driving
Tradespeople tend to find that a lot of their time is spent in the van. That time can be spent catching up on paperwork at 7 or 8PM before you go in home, but more likely it is time spent driving too & from jobs.
Sometimes you hop in the van you just get to where you are going by instinct, but taking a little bit of time out to plan the driving you are going to do for the week you will save valuable minutes which will quickly add up. One of the simplest ways to do this is try to schedule in jobs and visit to suppliers around the closest locations.
It’s a Family Affair
Chances are you spend only a little time with your family as a tradesman. This situation can improve if you involve them in the business, although this will depend on how old your kids are or what your partner can, or is willing!, to do. By bringing them in, you can always have them close to make things easier and faster
How about letting your partner handle the quoting? Or your kids getting the tools into the toolbox at the end of the day? They are probably have their faces buried in a computer or tablet most evening, so why not get them to manage your website?
Look At The Cloud
You cannot avoid dealing with paperwork and admin as a tradesman business owner. However, with the cloud, it becomes easier to keep track of quotes, invoices, new business leads and receipts. Likewise, account sorting becomes a piece of cake, rather than running after your staff to deliver their timesheets.
How about getting a free trial of Tradebot and see how we can help you weed out the time wasters, plan out your driving and provide you with a little bit more help to save your trades and contracting business save time.
THE BEST PLACES ONLINE TO CHAT WITH TRADES PEOPLE
Working as a professional tradesman can be quite overwhelming and complicated. Sometimes, the demands and pressures of the profession can get the best of you if you work in complete isolation. Having access to a group of fellow Tradesmen for professional help and companionship is one of the best ways of making the job easier and fun. And one of the fastest ways to do this is via online forums.
Online forums have been a popular meeting point for Tradesmen and Contractors to get quick and easy access to tips and resources. But over the years, these platforms began to lose their focus and effectiveness.
Through the rise of social media sites like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and other viral apps, the landscape has been massively disrupted. It has turned most hitherto resourceful online forums and chatrooms to nothing but funny pics sites and trolling zones.
Though this has made finding a professionally focused online forum a hard task, locating a good forum that meets your need is still possible, and this article seeks to help point you in the right direction.
Compiled in this article is a list of some of the best and most feature-packed online forums targeted towards serious Tradesmen and Contractors. If are looking for a community of tradesmen that you can rely on for solid resources, then you are at the right place.
A key thing to put in mind when choosing a forum is that sticking to the rules stipulated on these sites is of great importance if you don’t want to get rejected or banned.
One of the most important rules to uphold - that is common among most of these online forums - is keeping your posts to the boards relevant to the topic of the site. If you stick by this, you will have a great experience on these sites.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best online forums for Tradesmen and Contractors that you can begin signing up to.
Painters Pin Stop:
This site which aptly refers to itself as “the international painting and decorating community forum” is an online forum that has about 1,800 members that meet to talk about nothing else but painting and décor. If you are into that line of trade, then Painters Pin Stop is for you.
Talk Electrician Forum:
Talk Electrician forum is a UK originated online forum of Electricians that boasts of 29,500 members and a topic count of about 37,852.
Some topics discussed on this board includes (but not limited to) Electrician's & electrical jobs, Electrician apprenticeships, computers and networking, green renewable energy, plumbing, and students learning.
If you are interested in any of these topics, you need to check Talk Electrician Forum out.
Dry Wall Talk:
Dry Wall Talk is an online forum that is focused on the contractor community. With a membership count of 9,673 contractors, it is definitely a platform worth registering with if you are a contractor in the wall painting industry.
The website has a blog where helpful industry tips are shared, as well as a “recent projects” section where some recent works by professionals are featured. You can find out more about this resourceful contractor forum here.
Let Tradebot do some of the talking for you and turn more of your site visitors into leads...
The Plasterer’s Forum:
This forum is strictly a community of people into the plastering line of work. The Plasterer’s Forum provides a meeting point for plasterers to meet and share ideas on the trade. It also contains information on courses centered on plastering, as well as a room where contractors can hire the service of plasterers.
This is a forum that is centered on the HVAC profession. The site provides useful tips on how to service and maintain HVAC systems, as well as posts the latest news coming from the HVAC world. Read more about the site here.
As the name suggests, this is an online meeting point for professionals into the roofing business. The site has topics on both commercial and residential roofing.
Roofers Club also has a dedicated chat room for Questions and Answers. Are you a roofer looking to link up with like-mind professionals to share your experiences and/or advance your knowledge? To check out the Roofers Club, click here.
This is another resourceful site that brings plumbing professionals together to rub minds on any and everything plumbing.
With a membership count of over 10,000, this forum is a very active forum of plumbers that meet to talk on topics like general plumbing help, latest plumbing tools, plumbing building code, project display and much more.
If you in the plumbing profession, this is one site you need to check out. Plumbing forums can be found here
Plumbing Zone, as the name suggests, is an online meeting point for professionals in the plumbing line of trade. The forum is dominated with posts centered on plumbing, and with over 31,000 members and 576,506 posts, this is your go-to point should you need help on anything plumbing. Interested in checking them out? Click here.
Right now there are people on your site, in the zone to hire. But you're not there, and that's another one that got away. With Tradebot you can automatically greet and chat to site visitors
While this is a list of top online forums where you can meet and connect with other professionals in your line of trade, note that there are other awesome places online where you can also meet and rub minds with your colleagues in the trade.
One of such platforms is slack. Slack, an online collaboration application with instant messaging abilities does contain some communities dedicated to meeting and connecting with fellow tradesmen. You can find a comprehensive list of top slack communities here.
Another great where you can easily link up with Contractors and Tradesmen is Reddit. Here are some popular Reddit subs you can follow: Reddit for plumbers, for roofers, for electricians. When you land on the page, search for your relevant profession and you will find something for you.
Lastly, you can turn to Discord Servers in your search for an online gathering of contractors and tradesmen. Listed here is a comprehensive outline of all servers available on Discord Servers.
Looking for free tools & resources to brand your trades business?
Whilst building Tradebot we have found some quality free resources online to help you create a new brand or update the existing brand of your trades business, so whether you are a new plumber looking for a new .PNG, a joiner looking for a new .JPEG, a cleaner looking for clipart as a growing professional business, you know that branding is really important to help your company stand out and win customers attention and these free resources can help you!
To help trades business manage the increasing and changing taste of consumers it's important you have a range of professional logos, images, videos and graphics for your business' brand. This is more important, but also, easier than ever.
With the increasing market and global reach of the the internet, the need to make your brand as professional looking is greater now than ever. Your reach is boundless and thus, you have to create an impression that can help you win more business. One that consumers can identify, understand and recommend. A brand isn't there to help your business, it's there to help your customers.
Interestingly, though there is a wide array of choices for consumers today, brand affinity still works wonders with them. This is why whatever you do, you have to pay attention to building a brand that is appealing. This appeal begins with the eyes and that means good logos, graphics, colours, fonts, and images.
Today, not only products are branded, services too. If you offer professional home services like plumbing, carpentry, window cleaning, or any other service that is vying for customers attention you can need a brand, not just a business name. And you definitely should do this to move your business to the next level.
Free resources that can help you build an exceptional brand…
As an electrician, chimney sweep, tiler, or any other home services provider, you already have a business. If you are looking to grow your business, and you know how important having a good brand is to help attract customers and make your business stand out, then these resources we are about to share with you will definitely help your business.
We have built a list of 6 great free resources to help you create a great new brand for your business, one that will appeal to your customers and keep you ahead of your competition. As long as you have average tech skills, you can easily use these resources to improve your brand.
These are free resources that will help you create your own custom logo and brand design in no time.
This is probably the first tool you may want to try. It is a free, easy to use tool that offers a wide range of features and functionality that builds a great brand.
With Canva, you can create a variety of engaging content to keep your brand alive and your customers satisfied. It will help your business overcome the challenges of producing engaging content and consistency in content production.
What can you do with Canva?
Canva offers a variety of options. You can create logos, posters, flyers, business cards, ads, social media image, documents, presentations, invitations, marketing materials, header templates and just about any content type you desire. If you like, you can easily create a “custom project”.
It offers tons of images to choose from and allows you to upload your photos from your device. With the photo editor, you can tweak your images with filters, tints and more. It also features a drag and drops functionality and search, these allow you to find the image and include it to your content.
Meanwhile, you get to choose the perfect type of font (to spice up your content) from the hundreds of fonts available. Additionally, with Canva, you can collaborate with others on your design by sharing it and allowing them to either edit or make comments.
When creating a brand design, you will definitely need photos and graphics, Pixabay is a one-stop for creative and copyright-free images and videos. It is special because you won’t need to ask for permission to use these images or videos.
Also, you won’t need to give credit to the artist when you use it for commercial purposes. This is because, at Pixabay, the contents are released under Creative Commons (CCo).
What can you do with Pixabay?
There are numerous (over 1 million) images and videos available here and you can copy, modify, distribute and use these images as you please.
You can find pictures in almost any category you want – animals, education, building, emotions, craft, music, travel etc. What’s more? Pixabay is multi-lingual.
Want to modify and distribute your own digital sales support - take 5 minute to create your own Tradebot!
SESSIONS COLOR CALCULATOR
The Sessions Color calculator is an interactive color wheel. It can help you select HTML, RGB, or CMYK colors that allows you build a really visually appealing color palate. It also identifies color harmonies and schemes.
What can you do with Color calculator?
It helps you identify harmonious color schemes to use so that the colors on your website blend beautifully. If you have one or two colors you already use in your branding, but want to add some more, you can input your current colors and this free tool will give you a visual list of other options that will help you build out a more extensive, and customized color palate for your logo, business cards or invoices.
While at it, you can adjust saturation and lightness to get the best effect. This color wheel is the fastest color wheel you will find.
HTML COLOR CODES
Maybe you have a brand color, or colors, but you don't know what the right code for that color is. Well, that's where HTML Color Codes comes to the rescues.
There's a lot of ways potential customers interact with your business, from the logo on your way, flyers, newspaper adverts to your website, so it's important your branding looks good and look consistent across all of your comms. It can be easy to go with a color that looks right, but when a color is out just a little bit, it creates a poor business image in the mind of the customer. If they are paying to do a job right, they want to know you get every last detail right!
To help you get that consistent look, you can upload an image of your logo to HTML Color Codes and it will give you the colour codes for that image.
What can you do with HTML Color Codes?
You can find the best HTML color codes to use. By using features like the color charts, color picker, color names, color from image and color group pages, to make your website more colorful and appealing.
Want to modify and distribute your own digital sales support - take 5 minute to create your own Tradebot!
For high-quality fonts, Font squirrel is your best bet. Apart from usefulness, font style is a key factor that can make the difference between a regular content and great content.
What can you do with Font squirrel?
You can choose from the millions of fonts available on Font squirrel to use on your site or content. With the font identifier, you can identify unknown fonts by simply uploading an image of the font. You can also create your own font. Isn’t that amazing?
Now you have it, all the precious tools you need to bring a fresh feel to your brand and new experience for your customers, as you offer your carpentry, plumbing, interior decor or any service at all.
This particular tool is a quick stop for all the icons you will need for your brand. It provides over half a million icons that are supported by operating systems like Mac, Linux, and Windows.
What can you do with Iconarchive?
For starters, Iconarchive makes things easier when working on your website and graphic design. It is also great for saving, organizing and sharing your favorite icons. Amazingly, you wouldn’t need to login to do these.
You're too busy to log in to dashboards, let Tradebot create detailed leads and email them to you automatically.
YOU HAVE A GREAT NEW BRAND, DON'T WASTE IT...
With a fresh brand design that appeals to customers, there is one more thing to do, customize your website and make it more appealing to visitors. It's a shame to do all that work, and not to turn your website visitors into leads!
Get a free trial of Tradebot, your 24/7 digital salesman, always ready to automatically chat to website visitors, creating a better, more professional experience for them and more qualified news business leads for you!
So, if you are that plumber looking for a .PNG, a cleaner looking for color code, or gardener looking for a GIF, Tradebot is designed specifically to help your business grow and succeed!
Finally, now that you have your new logo and fresh brand, you're ready to take your business to the next level. So, why not stand out to your potential customers even more with a personalized Tradebot for your business. Like all the tools above, you can use it free for 30 days to see how it can help your customers and you.
What To Look Out For Before Signing A New Contract
Securing an insurance policy is one of the most important facets in the life of a tradesman. As you handle equipment and machinery every day, you are more prone to accidents and mishaps. The best way you could save yourself is by buying the best insurance policy for yourself. But often, people forget what is most important- reading the contract. Not reading the terms and services has become a widespread joke on the internet. However, you should be content in letting it remain just that, and not making it spill out to the real life. Why, you may ask? Because of the simple reason that you may never know what clause or term will prevent you from taking out your claim. You may have spent months in filling your insurance regularly. However, if you have not been aware, when the time comes, you may find yourself on the deep end of things.
Here are a few things you should absolutely keep in mind before signing on the dotted line once again:
(Disclaimer: All opinions suggested are that of the author alone, and may not be relevant to your market)
Check whether the policy covers everything that you want it to
You would obviously want to check that your insurance policy covers everything that you want it to. This includes all accidents or natural diseases. In case of untimely death, you would want to make sure that your family can get the insurance money with the least amount of hassle possible. However, there is always a hidden clause or two in the policies, which always tend to mess up the claim that you or your family should receive. Hence, it is most prudent to read everything thoroughly at least once. Furthermore, you should also ensure that any questions or problems that you have are addressed by the company as soon as possible.
Remember to answer all questions truthfully
Be upfront about any ailments or issues that you may have, so that your insurance company is aware of any problems which may occur. In addition, always ensure that your insurance company is continually aware about any kinds of issues you may have. If you withhold information from your insurance company, they may reserve the right to outright reject the claim when it comes to them, thus you will be left in the lurch.
Know the rights that you have
One of the most important things that you should know is that there are many more reasons for your policy to get rejected than to get accepted. The most popular way this happens is when you don’t understand all the rights that you are entitled to. For example, you could have the right to merge your insurance policy with your spouse’s in case of a medical emergency. However, if you are not aware of that fact, you will not ask for it, ultimately resulting in you paying out of your pocket. In such a scenario, having an insurance policy seems rather redundant, doesn’t it?
In addition to personal insurance, there are a bunch of liability programs that you should consider as well. It does not matter what sort of tradesman you are- a liability is a must. Whether you work for a company or as a sole trader, you should be aware of the liability programs that you sign up for. Read all offers and documents carefully before agreeing to anything. Whether you are under the employ of a company or a sole trader, there are three liability programs that you should consider.
Public Liability Service
The public liability service is a savior for every tradesman. While on the job, there are a number of accidents that could take place. For example, imagine that you are working at a customer’s place, with heavy and hazardous equipment by your side. For some reason, your client decides to check in on the progress that you have made. They walk over to you without looking at the equipment, and somehow manage to trip and fall on it, getting some very serious injury. The client will obviously decide to sue you and take away every dollar which you are worth. However, the public liability service is here to help protect against that. With amounts ranging from $1 million to $20 million depending on your cover, you are sure to scrape out of any issues.
Employer’s Liability Service
An Employer’s Liability Service is mandatory for you if you are the owner of your own company, or own more than 50% of shares of a particular company. This liability will protect you from claims made by your employee against you, owing to any injury or illness which they may have claimed while in your employment. Obviously, this also means that former employees can sue you as well. But with an Employer’s Liability Service, you can be sure to defend claims up to $10 million, depending on the type of cover that you have purchased. However, in addition to the claims, you should be able to produce your “Employers Liability Certificate of Insurance.” Failure would do so would mean that your cover would legally become null and void. Thus, you would have to pay for everything out of your pocket, which would result in serious disaster for you.
Professional Indemnity Service
This is important for you if you have the job of an advisor to the tradesman. Sometimes you could be sued by a handyman because some advice that you gave turned out to be incorrect, resulting in serious damages. They could state that your advice was the one that caused them the irreversible damages. However, with a professional indemnity service, you could protect yourself against a variety of claims, ranging up to an amount of $5 million, depending on the cover that you have purchased. Unlike other liability services, the professional indemnity service cannot be renewed again and again. It is a one- time purchase, liable for a fixed number of years or till a claim is filed against you.
THE BEST APPS TO GROW YOUR TRADES BUSINESS
"There's an app for that...", maybe a advertising line that was a little bit ahead of it's time but now if you can think of it, there's probably an app out there that can do it!
The past few years has seen an explosion of apps to help small businesses streamline and manage the admin that comes with being a business owner, and allowing you to save time and focus on growing your trade business.
In the last few years, tradesmen and contractors have really begun to benefit from the growth in apps and technologies that make their business easier began adopting new technologies that make their business easier.
So, whether you're a builder, roofer or tiler who wants a little help organising their business on the go through their smartphone, of a painter, landscaper or general contractor who wants to quickly send great looking branded invoices to clients, and manage accounts on the go. Well, there's an app for that.
Or if you're a bricklayer, cleaner or electrician who is tired of spending evenings and weekends replying to texts and emails, and wants a better way of communicating?, guess what...
As a tradesman or contractor, you are probably using some specific trade apps to save you time, help make you more efficient, organised and allow you to work from anywhere.
If you're a contractor or tradesman looking for the right app to help you grow your business, organize your time, or manage paperwork but doesn't want to blow the budget here is a list of free apps which you may not be aware of, for you to try:
Small PDF app has made PDF very easy, not only for reading but, to convert PDF to a Word, Excel, PowerPoint document. SmallPDF app allows you to view, edit, delete pages and rotate PDF files related to your work. Are you worried about the security of your work? Small PDF allows you to protect and unlock PDF files.
Use the Paper tradesman app to document diagrams, images, sketches, and general notes. Paper has a checklist function for merchants who need to set up quick reminders with customers. Also, it allows you to highlight design inspirations in photos.
Do you find invoicing tedious as a small business owner? Download InvoiceNinja and create professional invoice easily.
This app offers many customizable invoice templates you can edit easily. Some of the great features of InvoiceNinja allow you get to send invoices faster and track your invoice open rates, pending payments, mark unpaid, overdue and paid amounts from anywhere. So, while you have a few minutes on site you can keep an eye on the finances.
Looking To Streamline How You Get And Manage New Business? Let Tradebot Help...
If you're a Joiner, Carpenter, Contractor or Handyman, you probably know iHandy Carpenter is one of the best carpenter toolkit available online; this app has great features including:
• The plumb bob level helps you confirm walls and verticals lines
• The ruler helps you take measurements in centimeters or inches
• The bubble and surface level make sure you work on level and flat plane
• The protractor is used for measuring angles of up to 180 degrees.
This app is designed for small businesses that work with PDFs often and cannot get some advanced features with a regular PDF reader, well without spending more of your hard earned money. ILovePDF allows you to read, split, compress and merge PDF files. Also, if you need to quickly convert PDF files to word, Powerpoint, Excel or add numbers and watermarks to the PDF files you want to send off, this is the app for you!
Wave incorporates invoicing, accounting and receipt scanning in this free app. This app is ideal for small businesses; Wave app invoicing and accounting are simple to use and understand.
Create professional tradesman invoices, estimates and receipts easily for your clients and work more efficiently with Wave app. Also, you can monitor your expenses, scan receipts and pay your employees from anywhere. There are various integrations depending on you trades business location, but for a free invoicing tool, that has recently undergone a re-design it is a great piece of kit!
ESignly is an app for contractors which enables you to electronically sign documents and securely collect signatures from customers and contractors. This app saves you the hassle, lack of security and cost when printing, scanning or faxing documents. We all know the hassle that comes with chasing payment, and having something signed, dated and stored in the cloud definitely helps avoid disagreements and delays at the end of the job!
Want A Better Way To Manage New Business Leads Online? Let Tradebot Help...
As a tradesman, do you scan documents often? TinyScanner is the scanner app that converts your Android phone into a portable scanner.
This app allows you to scan images, PDF files, photos, reports, receipts and much more. TinyScanner is very fast and designed for tablets and phones.
SmartTrade app for Android and iPhone encourages cashless policy and allows tradesmen to receive payment anywhere.
The app uses your iPhone or Android camera to scan credit and debit cards safely. It makes use of a military-grade encryption to protect you and your clients. Hence, it's 100% safe and will save you a lot of stress. Get the free trial and see how it can help your trades business.
Do you want to track your expenses and keep your numbers in one place? Then, Billy is the app for you, whether you're a small business owner or a sole trader contractor. Easily link your credit card or bank account with Billy and leave the rest to the app. Work like a professional and make informed decisions like a boss that you are.
TSheets is an amazing time tracking app with mobile time cards for field and construction workers. Save up to 2% on your payroll cost as a contractor with this app.
Fixington Calendar helps businesspeople track their appointments and jobs. However, this app allows you to easily create an invoice and forward it to your clients via iMessage, Facebook, email and any other messaging app. Send estimates easily with Fixington Calendar and track your payments and previous charges.
Yes we are biased but we have built this app to help every tradesman and contractor who has a website, and gets job leads online. If your small business has a website, you obviously know the stress and time involved in replying to messages, emails, and texts. And when you are on the go or on the site, who replies your client's messages? No one I guess.
Tradebot is a simple digital marketing tool that can automatically chat with your website visitors – it keeps them engaged and helps convert them to valuable customers. Spend less time replying to messages, gets more work done online and filters out timewasters!
Finally, Tradebot is mobile friendly, simple to set-up and user-friendly. Don't keep your customer’s waiting while you work on another project. Try Tradebot free for 30 days – get more work done online, and spend less time every evening replying emails and text messages.