Small Trades Businesses and the Technology Struggle

What are we talking about?

Online banking and simplified bookkeeping software have been the two biggest technology changes to affect your small business, no matter what trade you’re in. But in the world of small and microservice trade businesses and independent tradespeople, those have been the only big changes to happen. This demographic needs to catch up to the digital age to stay viable so that we as a society do not lose the ability to maintain our homes, buildings and spaces.

Not to mention they make up almost 70% of our private workforce and are significant contributors to the economy.

What does that mean?

How we do business today is changing quickly and dramatically! Computers, software, and information sharing are now being demanded in ways and places it never was before. Everything moves faster, and even the laws are changing to reflect how digital business is done.

Today’s customers demand to be served digitally, and for bigger companies, this is not new. There is a lot of technology and software designed for them, and it grows daily.

What is new is the increasing demand from home and building owners, tenants, and folks who purchase individualized services, to be served using digitized solutions, just like big business. But big business solutions just don’t work for small and micro tradies.

What have we got now?

Besides digital bookkeeping and banking, we have seen some amazing changes in technology that directly affect small and micro-trade businesses! However, they are often trade-specific, expensive, and require some level of training and technical understanding. This makes new technology difficult for very small businesses even to want to try.

Here are some examples:

Today’s Technology Traditional Tools
Satellite Roof Measurements
Digital Measuring
Site visits, measuring tapes, ladders, paper notes, calculators
Materials Costing software
Digital product catalogs
Manually figuring out what’s needed, recording and counting materials needed, then manually shopping the materials.
Computer Assisted Drafting and Design
From homes to cakes to art
Manually drawing, sketching, measuring, and calculating.
Job-Specific materials and supplies like Exterior coatings, Pre-made widgets, Digital hand-tools Lesser quality materials, Make-it-yourself widgets, Limited-use hand tools.
The Internet of Things
Trackers, Detectors, Alerts
Manually having to find stuff or accept it’s gone forever. Manually checking and calculating equipment, workers, and sites. Manually reporting findings.
Administration and Field Management Software
For new builds and project management
Pen and Paper, Accounting software, Excel sheets, Clipboards, Whiteboards, Phone calls, in-office meetings

What do we still need?

(Besides a kitchen sink that installs itself?) 

Small and micro-businesses – teams between one and ten people – need to be able to streamline their office and admin work just like everyone else. We need to have software designed for the way we work and the people we work with. And we need to be able to do it on-site.

We need our own software. Something designed for independent tradespeople and small businesses. It needs to be super easy to understand and get started without a lot of fancy features we do not need. Keep it simple. Keep it affordable. Keep it flexible.

Sure, there is already some software out there you could use. Our research shows that most field management software is hard to figure out, so you need a lot of training. It is expensive because of all the fancy features. It is not flexible enough to be able to run more than one type of work per subscription. And it has limits on how many times you can use the most important features before you have to upgrade. It just is not made for Independent Tradespeople and small trades businesses.

What to look for in suitable software:

  • Time Efficient:  The right software should replace several of the things you are doing now, including your Excel sheets, whiteboards, paper, and clipboards. Enter the information once and done!
  • Cost Efficient: The right software should be less expensive than all the other things you are replacing put together. And by only needing to enter information into one place, it should save you enough time on the admin and bookkeeping end to pay for itself.
  • People Efficient: The right software should allow everyone on your team to be more productive no matter where they are or what their position on your team is. Everyone should be able to use it comfortably.

Finally, a Solution Tailor-made for you and what you do:

Tradesflow online software was originally created for a small repair company to manage all the moving pieces of running a service trade business. Make more, work less—everything from quotes to work orders, scheduling to invoicing. Tradesflow has figured out the core parts you need to be successful and make more money. Current users say it saves them so much time on the paper and office end of their business that it is like getting another whole day in their week! Even if you are the only person on your team, you should expect to save an hour per day on average. It’s cheap. It’s easy. And it’s not an app you download, so it’s not tracking you in any way. It even talks to your bookkeeping software!