Every skilled craftsman carries a toolbox. Big or small, a toolbox stores all the tools you need for the project at hand. It protects your tools from damage and keeps them organized, which can save you valuable time. Technology has brought many changes to trade businesses. As a result, the traditional toolbox for contractors has changed. In addition to hammers, drills and saws, your toolbox may include a tablet, smartphone or laptop.
In a recent blog post, we discussed What tradespeople want from their accountant or bookkeeper. To sum it up, small business owners in the trades are concerned about three main areas:
- Time to focus on running their business
- Working with someone they trust
So what tools does today’s contractor need to address these concerns? Let’s look at five:
Every contractor has that one tool that universally gets the job done. Managing your financial data should be no different. Xero is a complete cloud-based accounting system that lets you manage your business from anywhere, on any device. No more wasted hours in the office updating desktop software! You can generate quotes and invoices to your customers on the job right from your mobile device. Managing cash is simplified through automatic bank feeds and a user-friendly bank reconciliation process. Xero’s extensive reports help you understand if you are making money and where your money is going. And through their “App Marketplace”, Xero can combine with other tools to automate other aspects of your business.
Contractors deal with a lot of paper, from blueprints and permits, to bank statements and bills. In the days of desktop accounting, all of this information would arrive via snail mail and require huge areas of storage space. Hubdoc removes the headache of dealing with paper by providing a full online document storage system. Documents can be uploaded via scan or email, but the real crown jewel of this system is the Auto-Fetch feature. By using the login details from your online banking, Hubdoc can automatically pull in bank and credit card statements once they become available. It can also fetch recurring bills from utility companies and online suppliers. Hubdoc will organize your documents into folders and push items into your accounting system – all automatically!
Paying bills is one of the biggest drains on a contractor’s time. Not only do bills need to be sorted and entered, but you also have to determine when to pay suppliers and subcontractors based on your cash flow. Using Bill.com automates much of this process. Either on the web or through their mobile app, you can upload and categorize bills, manage approvals, and schedule electronic payments. All bills and payments through Bill.com flow right into your accounting system. Bill.com even has a Cash Flow Management section to help you see what funds you will have available to pay future bills. When integrated with Hubdoc, bills that are automatically fetched can be pushed into Bill.com for approval and payment, saving even more time.
Many contractors with teams grant employees credit cards for purchasing. As a result, tracking expenses can be a huge challenge. Receipt Bank is an elegant solution to keep track of expense receipts. Using their mobile app, all your employees have to do is snap a photo of the receipt, then upload. Receipt Bank’s recognition software will capture the vendor, amount and payment method automatically. And with the use of Supplier Rules, receipts from common vendors can be posted to your accounting system completely hands free.
A Financial Partner
Using technology can address the concerns of support and time. What about that third concern, trust? Trust cannot be gained from technology alone; it comes from building strong relationships with people. This is where a bookkeeper and accountant becomes vital. Contractors not only need support in using technology, but also need advice on how to run and scale their business. Think about this: According to a 2016 study by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 50% of small businesses fail within the first 5 years. How many of those businesses could have benefited from a strong financial partner?
At Beyond Balanced Books, not only do we provide automated solutions to support contractors, but we help those in the trades understand the story behind the numbers. We want to be that strong financial partner that helps you make good financial decisions. Could your toolbox use some new tools? Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!