Turbo charging your business with tech

Powered Now believes that trade businesses including installers, locksmiths, glaziers and other trades all have a lot to gain from using computer technology.

The rise of the machine

There is a stark contrast in the attitude towards technology among different age groups. Of course, like all generalisations, there are many exceptions, but it’s still largely true to say that the over 45s are very cynical and don’t believe that technology can help the field trade world much, while under 45s are much more open to the possibility.

With apologies to any readers where this generalisation doesn’t apply, it’s worth standing back a little to think about what drives technology adoption. In the last 50 years, computers have gone from being used by scientists, spy agencies and a few larger businesses to sitting in most people’s pockets. The reason for this is that they have relentlessly got cheaper, more powerful and smaller. With each step forward, new fields have become ripe for their use and it’s my belief that this change has now arrived for the field trade world.

What’s changed

The big change has been much better mobile technology, along with greatly improved ease of use. Both of these are of great significance to installers who are typically mobile but generally averse to complicated computer systems that tie you to a desk. The result is that the technology has become much more relevant to the field trade industry.

The benefits of computerisation

It’s worth asking first of all why it’s worth someone in business bothering with computers at all. The answer to that is that the benefits can probably be summarised as being time saving and quality.

Time can be saved with computers if using them takes less effort than paper based alternatives. Of course, it goes without saying that installers hate paperwork, but sometimes investing both time and money can save both in the long run. After all, nobody would say that good quality tools and effective training aren’t helpful.

If you can do paperwork on the job, there’s no need to do it later, and then struggle to remember everything. Sending paperwork by email and text is quicker than messing with stamps and envelopes. When paperwork is stored on a computer you can find it much more easily, even several months later. It can also be sent to your accountant or book keeper automatically. Previous work can be edited and re-used. It’s why even sales people, notorious for poor paperwork and who many people previously believed would never use computers, are now as addicted as everyone else.

Quality can be improved in a number of ways. Paperwork generated by an app will typically look better than self-designed templates and much more professional than anything hand-written. Things can be sent more quickly and that means better cash flow for invoices and more wins from quotes - one of the biggest complaints of homeowners is receiving quotes quickly enough. I could go on.

What’s available?

There are now many systems around that can help installers with their businesses. Gas and electrical certificates can be produced from apps on mobiles, systems such as Evernote can store documents and specialist apps like Expensify are designed to make it easy to submit expenses.

There are also a growing number of systems that are designed to cover everything that an installer does. My company, Powered Now is one, but is not alone in this field. It is now possible to record appointments for yourself and colleagues along with details of jobs. Quotations and invoices can be raised even while you are still at an appointment. And all of this can be done on mobiles, even when you don’t have a signal, as well as back in the office if you have one.

Look to the future

Things change. My business partner is old enough to just about remember plumbers working on lead piping. There were people who thought that copper was new-fangled and would quickly fall out of fashion, but they didn’t see their businesses prosper.

A degree of cynicism is good, we all know there are plenty of people out there trying to sell useless offerings. Over cynicism isn’t so good, as it can lead to missing out on important developments. I just hope that some of my thoughts in this article can prove useful.

Emma Dyer