Three ways to make a better business

Published:  18 December, 2014

Working conditions may not have changed much for those in the plumbing and ventilation industry, but things have moved on massively in the last few years on the technology front. So, as a tech-savvy tradesmen, how can you use technology to grow your business and make it more efficient? Benjamin Dyer gives HVP his top tips.

1. There’s an app for that

I’m not talking Angry Birds here. I’m talking seriously powerful business apps that help tradesmen and engineers working on site.

Keeping everyone up-to-speed on jobs can be a nightmare with dozens of phone calls, texts and post-it notes stuck to desks or windscreens.

Genie Belt is a communication tool for the trade that focuses on project management. It’s great for keeping your teams organised. The best feature is the automated audit trail, which gives you a complete breakdown of what’s happened, when and by whom. The app is free with a premium offering.

There are also some apps aimed specifically at the plumbing and heating trade to help with gas safety certificates, calculating heat loss and managing your workload.

Other apps to check out include:

●            Powered Now –Mobile business admin for tradesmen

●            Trello - Mobile project management

●            Evernote - Keep track of thoughts ideas and of course, notes.

2. Go social

You probably knew you could create a page for your business on Facebook; perhaps you already have. Job done, right? Wrong!

Country to popular belief, your customers probably aren’t going to find you on Facebook. You have to find them, and it’s actually pretty easy with online advertising.

Facebook advertising is a comparatively cheap way of reaching the people that matter to your business. For many plumbers for example, this means placing your advert in front of people who live in your local area.

Below is an example of a Facebook advertisement. You can write a small description along with a picture showing your business's product or service.

Facebook advert

For just £10, you could reach thousands of people in the city or county you serve and tell them all about your business.

If Facebook isn’t your thing there are other alternative options, including LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter. Each network has its own advertising set up and they are actually really easy to use.

If you're not ready to jump into the world of online advertising, there are lots of other ways to stay social. However, few business owners have time to maintain lots of social networks so take a look at apps like Buffer.

Buffer helps demystify social media and save you time by giving you one dashboard to update multiple accounts simultaneously. It also lets you schedule posts for when your audience are most likely to read them (e.g. on the way to and from work) and even gives you suggestions of things to say if you can’t think of anything!

3. How was it for you?

Leaving a customer happy is essential; we all know that glowing word of mouth recommendations tend to result in more work. So how does this apply to the online world? You telling the world how great you are on your home page isn’t going to cut it - people want proof.

First step is to post a few testimonials on your website and offer to put potential customers in touch with your satisfied clients.

Alternatively, services like TrustPilot can help you gather reviews from your customers, and you don’t need a degree in computer science to get started.

Building up a solid base of positive online reviews could transform your business and help amplify that juicy word of mouth marketing we all crave.

Other review sites to check out include:

●            ReviewCenter

●            Revoo

●            CheckaTrade

●            Trustmark

The trade has always been a little behind the curve when it comes to adopting new technology, however it’s never been this easy to use new tools or online services to make our lives easier. Most of us have at least one computer with us at all times: the smartphone, and it can help you build a better business.

Benjamin Dyer is co-founder and CEO of Powered Now, the mobile admin app that takes the pain out of paperwork and payment for tradesmen and field-based companies.