Software tools can dramatically improve the way you communicate. But which are the best ones for you?
As a plumbing and heating business, good software tools can dramatically improve the way you communicate, organise your daily jobs, take payments and generally help you become more efficient. They're pretty much just as important as your actual list of tools and equipment used in plumbing and gas operations.
Here is a quick round up of a number of great things that would make running your plumbing, heating and gas company much easier.
Cost: Free (although you can pay for additional features)
So the first software in our tool list which I'd recommend you look at is Slack. Slack is a chat application designed to allow you to communicate with your team. It's available on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android phone and tablet. It's a great tool that helps you keep all key communication, whether it's with your plumbers, gas engineers or office staff, in a single place.
While there is a number of chat applications out there, including WhatsApp, Google Hangouts etc., Slack, we've found, helps keep conversations organised around specific topics.
For example, if you're working on a particularly large job with a number of engineers/technicians on-site, you can create a single channel where these people can communicate. They can then share information about that job, whether it be where certain equipment is being stored or asking whether you've got the relevant parts.
You might create a channel for 'Advice' or help. This would be a place an engineer could go and ask questions or troubleshoot problems with his colleagues. This sense of teamwork will help you get more tasks done quicker and to a higher quality.
Cost: starting at £10.00/month
Xero is an accounting software package designed for small businesses. It's a fantastic tool for managing your business's income and expenditure, balancing your bank account and running your payroll. We are great fans of Xero, especially as it integrates seamlessly to Commusoft.
It has the best bank reconciliation tool and you can easily import your bank feed straight into Xero, letting you reconcile your bank in minutes. It'll never be a problem again.
If you're paying your accountant a lot of money to manage your accounts, then you might like to get Xero to help reduce those costs and get your business's finances organised.
Price: starting at £29.00 + VAT for the device and a transaction fee of 1.69%
SumUp is a brilliant concept designed for small-to-medium businesses. It lets you take card payments on your mobile with a simple chip and pin device. In the case of a field service company, it lets anyone take a card payment on-site with their iPhone or Android device.
The Commusoft app connects via bluetooth to the SumUp Card payment terminal. It's really simple to use and will take payment in seconds! Subscribe to our product blog if you'd like to be notified when other useful tools such as this one will be available.
This will help to reduce your debtors, reduce the burden of debt chasing and provide your customers with a convenient payment option. It also beats signing up to long contracts with expensive merchant providers!
Cost: £3.30 per user/month
So many companies don't have a professional email address... why in this modern day a company would operate without a good email address baffles me. I've come across lots of companies that use their website hosting company as their email provider, which is better than nothing but often lacks some of the advanced features that Google offer.
Google apps for business is a brilliant set of tools that let you manage your emails, files and keep track of your calendar (if you're not using Commusoft's calendar that is!).
Unlike a normal Gmail account, Google apps for business can be used with your own @service_company.com domain name. If you don't own a domain name (www.commusoft.co.uk is a domain name) then you can buy one when setting up Google apps for business.
Google apps can be accessed on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android phone and tablet.
Cost: £11.50 per user/month
Smartsheet is a spreadsheet like tool which is perfect for planning large installation projects. You can create tasks, sub-tasks and assign them a time to complete. This can all then be wrapped up in a neat Gantt chart to help you plan each step of a project. If you're doing large installations then it's a brilliant tool.
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Hopefully you've found this list of great tools useful. Subscribe to our product blog and get all of our product blog posts emailed to you.
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