Winning more business is the result of doing a number of things better, but can be summed up by instilling confidence, being professional and of course providing excellent service. Satisfied customers return, plus provide referrals.
SmartTrade provides tools to impress customers and win more business:
Customers take into account various factors when assessing a prospective supplier, including whether the supplier uses up-to-date technology and how promptly the supplier responds with information.
SmartTrade puts information at your fingertips, with features such as customisable fields and quick searching. Respond within seconds when a customer asks a question about say a job.
Issuing professional quotes and estimates quickly isn’t necessarily enough, disciplined follow-up is also important. We have all experienced prospective customers who sit on proposals for weeks, and need to be prompted into action.
Neglecting to follow-up also risks leaving the wrong impression. The customer may wonder whether you really want the job, and also whether may be a bit disorganised. And the longer you take to close the sale, the more time you allow for the customer to change his or her mind, or give the job to a competitor who does follow-up.
SmartTrade provides the tools to follow-up in a disciplined manner, including recording contact dates either by job or client or in the schedule, and generating reports. We use these features in-house to manage follow-up with prospective new SmartTrade customers.
Many businesses lag behind with invoicing, particularly small ones where the reality is often that paperwork is done after hours. When cash-flow suffers, stress levels soar.
One tradee contacted us after his wife found a box of unbilled job-sheets going back over a year. Happily, using SmartTrade solved this problem and he is still married, despite confessing that there was a second box!
Customers become dissatisfied, and it gives them time to think of reasons why not to pay.
SmartTrade makes it easy to create and send invoices promptly. Job information is readily available. With up-to-date price lists from suppliers, you may be able bill customers before you receive their invoices for materials or services. But if you do want to process supplier invoices first, SmartTrade makes this much quicker.
Disputes with customers and suppliers are inevitable, even in the best run businesses. Not only can these [waste] a lot of time, they can become emotive, and if lawyers get involved, very expensive. The keys to resolving disputes are first, to as much as possible deal with facts rather than opinions, and resolve it quickly before it escalates, and last, be prepared to step back if it appears to be getting out of control.
SmartTrade can provide the factual information to have a rational discussion, particularly if the notes function is used in a disciplined manner. For example, recently a customer complained bitterly that we had failed to follow through on a matter. Using information easily obtainable from within SmartTrade, including date stamped notes of phone calls, we were able to show that this wasn’t true. The heat went out of the dispute and it was resolved to both parties’ satisfaction.
If an invoice is sent to a customer or received from a supplier via Smeedi, then Smeedi’s invoice query feature is available. The discussion occurs by way of exchanging message, which is more efficient and less prone to heat light and sound than phone calls and emails. A log of the exchanges is kept with the invoice in Smeedi.
It is well worth taking a minute or two to contact a prospect after a proposal is rejected, as this is one of those small touches that leaves a positive lasting impression.
SmartTrade allows template emails, with standard text (e.g. “Thank you allowing us to submit a proposal ... While disappointed that we were unsuccessful, we wish you all the best with this project ... Please don’t hesitate to contact us in the future if we can assist in any way”) and also to add a personal note if appropriate.
A well informed customer is usually a happy customer, and conversely, a customer kept in the dark is more likely to suspect the worst. SmartTrade provides the information and tools, such as report and email templates, to keep customers up-to-date with a minimum of effort.
It goes without saying that being busy is pointless if the work is unprofitable, and that unprofitable work adversely impacts cash-flow.
SmartTrade provides tools to manage jobs more profitability, including:
Labour is the single largest cost for most businesses, and a small increase in utilisation (the % of paid hours charged out) can have a significant impact on the bottom line and cash-flow. SmartTrade helps....
Efficiently scheduling work is essential, particularly for service businesses SmartTrade’s graphical schedule is an excellent tool, with features such as:
Failing to bill all materials is surprisingly common, reducing job profitability and cash-flow. One of our users described this problem as like buying a new Commodore each year, but leaving it in bits around customers sites.
With features such as orders and matching supplier invoices to jobs, SmartTrade can help ensure that materials are billed out.
Many businesses lag behind with invoicing, particularly small ones where the reality is often that paperwork is done after hours. When cash-flow suffers, stress levels soar. One tradee contacted us after his wife found a box of unbilled job-sheets going back over a year. Happily, using SmartTrade solved this problem and he is still married, despite confessing that there was a second box!
Customers become dissatisfied, and it gives them time to think of reasons why not to pay. SmartTrade makes it easy to create and send invoices promptly. Job information is readily available. With up-to-date price lists from suppliers, you may be able bill customers before you receive their invoices for materials or services. But if you do want to process supplier invoices first, SmartTrade makes this much quicker.
Variations are an opportunity to increase the profitability of a job, but equally are a common source of disputes if not managed properly.
For quoted jobs, variations can be tracked and invoiced out, selecting the levels of detail (e.g. total amount only, or say by line items) to display.
Few small businesses have the time to analyse profit job by job, so it can be a shock when the accountant finishes the annual accounts and the total profit is less than expected. SmartTrade does allow tracking of:
However, SmartTrade isn’t an accounting package and doesn’t report job profitability on a fully absorbed basis (i.e. after allocating overheads) that can be reconciled to the total profit for the period.
SmartTrade Mobile or SmartTime make it easy to record time against jobs promptly and accurately, and for you to check that timesheets are up-to-date. No more trying to remember what was done days after the event.
Paperwork can seem to be a never ending flood in some businesses, raising stress levels particularly when it has to be dealt with after hours.
Supplier invoices can be a major culprit, particularly when buying materials “just-in-time” in small lots. While this sensibly reduces inventory investment and risk, it generates more invoices to process.
Other common causes are timesheets, purchase orders and increasingly, compliance forms. Ways that SmartTrade helps to reduce paperwork include:
Importing supplier invoices into SmartTrade is one of the most popular functions. Eliminate tedious data entry and, if you post supplier bills before invoicing your own customers, reduce the average time taken and improve cash-flow.
Invoices from a number of leading wholesalers can be imported into SmartTrade. Contact us if you want to import invoices from a supplier that isn’t on the list, as it may be possible to do so using a standard file format.
Supplier invoices imported or keyed into SmartTrade can be electronically matched to jobs by order or job number, and be exported to a connected accounting package.
Most leading trade suppliers now provide price-books in electronic format, and many of these can be imported into SmartTrade easily, allowing electronic price look-up and easy product selection for costings and jobs.
If your supplier doesn’t provide an electronic price-book in a format capable of allowing product level data to be extracted, tell them to join the 21st century! Unfortunately some suppliers still think that a PDF is adequate as an electronic price-book, which isn’t true. Extracting product level data from PDFs is difficult, especially if the PDF is formatted for printed output.
SmartTrade users, particularly if using an integrated office and field solution, no longer need to print and dispatch paper job-sheets or to provide staff with paper timesheet forms. The data is saved electronically, so no more files or boxes filled with paperwork that is rarely ever accessed, or culling paperwork when the storeroom gets too full.
Filling out forms is becoming more prevalent. Compliance in regulated sectors such as electricity and gas is becoming more stringent, occupational health and safety requirements are becoming more demanding and having to fill out risk management forms is becoming common when working on industrial and commercial sites.
Forms can be much more than just a necessary evil. For example, they can be used to ensure that technicians follow specified procedures when doing a job, improving quality control.
SmartForms can be filled out on site on smart phones or tablets, and uploaded to a cloud database. If you wish, your customers can view their forms.
Commonly used forms such as Job Safety Assessments are available at a set one-off price, or SmartTrade can quote to customise forms to your specific needs.
Management experts recommend spending more time working on the business and less time working in the business. Good advice, but difficult to apply in a small business that lacks resources.A proven system such as SmartTrade will help build a stronger business, whether your main goal is to run the existing operations more efficiently, or to grow the business. Growth can be a two edged sword unless there is sound platform
For many managers, managing people is the hardest and most stressful task. The best way to deal with this problem is to attract quality staff, and empower them with information and authority, having good systems and using up-to-date.
While SmartTrade has the facility to quickly run reports, both standard and customised, busy managers often prefer to view key performance indicators with a few clicks.
The SmartBiz dashboard allows users to view data in report and graphical layouts. Still at an early stage of development, SmartBiz is being extended based on feedback from users.
Ensuring good compliance with safety regulations is becoming a must-do for all businesses, not just those in higher risk industries.
Safety regulations are becoming increasingly demanding, and the penalities for breaching these rules can be crippling, particularly for small businesses. A documented system and a trail of records is required to reduce this exposure.
More and more customers are requiring suppliers and contractors to have formal safety systems as a pre-requisite for doing business.
SmartForms, a feature of SmartTrade Mobile, is a cost-effective way to improve compliance with safety regulations.
This article introduces the Health and Safety at Work Act and then focuses on 2 aspects:
SmartTrade is used successfully by over 600 businesses, ranging from one man bands to companies with over 100 employees. Originally designed for trades such as electricians and plumbers, SmartTrade is now used in a wide and growing range of industries.
Our accumulated experience allows us to continue developing the products to meet a wider range of needs, but equally, to identify which types of businesses SmartTrade doesn’t suit. But like any off-the-shelf application, it doesn’t suit all businesses, despite having considerable built-in flexibility.
Collectively, our owners and managers have a wealth of business experience in small and large businesses and this helps us to understand the job management needs of your business.
Over the years, SmartTrade become more powerful as new features, often suggested by our users, have been added. At the same time we have strived to make it user-friendly, and to ensure that adding more features doesn’t affect performance.
As an example, version 6, released in 2013, included over 100 new features, and a more modern user interface. Performance improved, after some teething problems that were quickly resolved. The overwhelming response from users has been that version 6 is more user friendly, but as always, some users were content with version 5 and chose not to upgrade.
Don’t underestimate the importance of support and training, particularly early on when there may be a few hiccups and frustrations - no software implementation is entirely painless! We value our reputation for excellent support, and as our customers will attest, we go the extra yard.
Training is via online sessions which works well and is very cost effective, although we will quote for onsite training if you prefer.
SmartTrade costs less than a good cup of coffee per user per day.
Office licences start at $55* per user per month, and mobile licences are $30* per user per month. These prices include unlimited free calls to our help desk.
There are one-off charges for installation and training.
If you are interested in SmartTrade. we will email you a comprehensive proposal.
Implementing SmartTrade is low risk:
Anyone in your team (with the user name and password) can log into the trial over the internet.
smartbiz online™ an affordable, user friendly, cloud based business tool:
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Yes. Try SmartTrade for 1 month free-of-charge, before deciding whether to invest. Add customers and jobs, schedule appointments and try out many of the other features of SmartTrade. A trial includes:
Anyone in your team (with the user name and password) can log into the trial over the internet.