Digitization : What Are Strategies And Advantages Of It
Mightily few painters can complain about a lack of work and orders. But for many, time is in the neck. Industry associations keep finding untapped potential here: Crafts can become more efficient through digitization.
Here I present an overview of the best apps and software solutions with which you can quickly digitize your craft business and show you the digitization benefits you have from them.
For internal tasks and processes in the commercial area, 90 percent of companies rely on digitizing business processes, which does not mean Outlook or Office, but digital solutions or digitization that go far beyond e-mail or word and spreadsheet processing.
Whether using software for invoicing, bookkeeping, or payroll accounting – every third craft business also uses software for purchasing, production planning, or merchandise management. Every fifth even uses digital solutions for applicant management.
So things are moving forward with digitization in the trades – for a good reason. Administrative work such as scheduling, procurement of materials, bookkeeping, and accounting are essential management elements.
But in many small craft businesses, the managing director is the master craftsman or even the sole entertainer and does the value-adding work.
It, therefore, makes sense to either outsource many of the administrative tasks completely (e.g., hire an accounting and tax office) or to digitize and automate the processes to such an extent that they take up less time.
You can see how useful it is to tackle strategies for digitization from the list of advantages for companies.
- simplify processes,
- increase production,
- reduce costs,
- accelerate the flow of information,
- eliminate sources of error,
- improve the brand image,
- increase efficiency
- contribute to more flexibility,
- ensure happier customers.
As a rule, the digitization of crafts should begin in the office. Very few painters can afford a fully equipped and staffed office – nowadays, a secretariat always available is a luxury that only larger painting companies can afford. But there are alternatives of digitization. And they start when you make contact with your customers.
Digital inquiry & order management: apps for painting companies
The first contact with potential new customers is significant but, unfortunately, also very time-consuming. Here it is essential to qualify the customer for an order, i.e., to check whether the customer’s expectations in terms of service, time, and budget match the performance of one’s own company digitization.
At the same time, the customer should not have to wait too long not to give the feeling that he is not welcome.
If you don’t have an upstream office worker here who can sort the incoming inquiries, you should create a sensible alternative.
One possibility would be a virtual office, i.e., a booked service where a call center takes your calls and processes them for you.
In this overview of virtual offices, you will learn what you should pay attention to when choosing the right provider.
The initial consultation can be carried out digitally using the video call function, which can save travel costs and time.
Video calls via apps such as Facetime, Skype, or with the video function of WhatsApp will give you a better impression of the request and, above all, the “construction site” and may save you a free on-site visit.
Digital inquiries via your website
It would also be conceivable that you offer a contact form on your website that gives potential customers the feeling right from the start that it is about them and their problems.
Ask here what the task is, which the technical problem is to be solved, what specific customer requests are, and what deadlines are expected.
Have the client provide additional precise descriptions with photos and videos. This allows you later to estimate the scope and cost of materials more precisely.
You can also increase customer satisfaction by using simple, free tools such as Doodle to coordinate appointments without much effort.
Digital measurement: record rooms digitally with the app
Essential software for quickly measuring the size of the rooms to be renovated and having it available on all your devices without a lot of back and forth: With measurement apps, you can make a significant part of your work easier.
The fastest way to do this is with current Apple devices, which, thanks to Lidar, can measure directly with the camera lens.
Otherwise, the only option is usually to enter hand-measured dimensions in pictures of the construction sites.
Special tradesman software can do more: apps and software for painters.
Many solutions for painting companies combine several functions in one software: In addition to order acceptance, you will also find digital measurements, material research, and tools to calculate and order your material. In addition, software for creating invoices or bookkeeping is often offered.
With STREICHFIX, you get a software solution for customer inquiries specifically developed for painting companies: Potential customers are quickly guided through a detailed questionnaire with an upload function, and the questions are then clearly displayed in one place. In the background, an easy-to-use calendar function with automatic appointment communication saves valuable time.
The initial consultation can be conducted digitally using the video call function, which saves travel costs and a lot of time. Thanks to the web app, inquiries can be processed in the office and between on the construction site.
You can test the first two months for free; after that, various subscription models that cost you between 50 and 35 euros per month apply.
Writing offers and invoices, scheduling and work reports, and mobile time recording via the app – with the online software ToolTime, you can handle the most critical tasks in the office.
Cost per month: 45 euros. If you book for a year or two, it will be cheaper.
At openHandwerk, you get the full service of office software that you need as a craftsman. The entire project management, including customer support, construction diary, and accounting, are integrated.
In addition to a version for the computer, there is also an app for the mobile phone. Furthermore, openHandwerk offers countless interfaces to other programs used in the trade and can often be easily integrated into existing software landscapes.
Cost per month: 50 euros. If you bind yourself for several years, you can save significantly.
The service from the Programm is even more complete: In addition to customer and project management and appointment scheduling, a tool for preparing quotations, digital measurements, work reports, and a construction diary, the software scores with a list of services and materials.
The integration of ausschriften.de gives you access to over 1,000,000 service texts from over 600 manufacturers, which you can also store directly in your calculation.
You can also use EFB price sheets to calculate your offers with the help of parts lists with wages, materials, equipment, other items, and subcontractor services.
This service costs you 29.90 euros per month.
The planned craft focuses on order entry and creating offers and invoices. A tool for mobile measurement is also integrated.
The service costs you between 9 and 29 euros per month.
Hero’s software offers the entire range of services for painters: from order entry and management to employee planning, mobile time recording, and construction documentation to the invoicing program and bookkeeping.
There is a free limited part of the software. Otherwise, you pay between 4.50 euros and 27 euros per month.
The software focuses on communication between site and office – PDFs and photos are quickly uploaded to the cloud and made available to everyone with access.
The planning board, which you can use to coordinate your employees and their assignments on different construction sites, is exciting. There is now an interface to openHandwerk.
The basic version is free of charge. Otherwise, the service costs 9 euros per month.
Software for the office: invoices, dunning, and accounting
An equally important area that you as managing director have to deal with is the back office: writing invoices, sending reminders and doing the bookkeeping.
All critical tasks can cost a lot of time and nerves. Here, too, digitization can help to make processes leaner.
Accounting with online software: comparison of accounting programs
Every company must keep accounts, keep an eye on its finances, and calculate. Bookkeeping is required by law and must follow specific rules: the principles of proper bookkeeping (GoB). So every company needs accounting software.
Cloud accounting programs are top-rated – you don’t need any software on the stationary computer here. You work directly on the Internet. An overview of the most crucial online accounting programs can be found here.
Digital payroll accounting
Payroll accounting is hardly feasible without specialized software. The large number of legal regulations that have to be observed in payroll accounting and the administration of the numerous reporting regulations and legal requirements require a corresponding up-to-date program – and, of course, the necessary specialist knowledge.
At the latest, when you try to integrate the current situation with short-time work into your calculations, it will take a lot of time.
Payroll providers such as Sage, Lexware, or Buhl will get you up to speed quickly and securely. You can find an overview of the essential payroll accounting programs here.
Even if you are not actively looking for additional clients, making yourself digitally visible will be relevant to reaching the next generation of customers.
Because regardless of the market situation and competition, more than 90% of the younger generations do research on the Internet before making contact.
That’s why you should have your business entered in free online directories such as Google Maps (formerly Google MyBusiness ) and digital trade books.
Your website is more than a business card.
Having your website is now standard for most artisans. Here you should present the range of your services well, update your contact details regularly, and possibly add photos of completed orders.
Creating your website is no longer rocket science these days and doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Web construction kits are helpful here, with which you can quickly and easily create an individual page. If you integrate an appointment system, your site can also do a lot of work for you.
Keep your customers up to date.
Sure, weekly updates for your customers are probably not necessary. But basically, staying in contact with your customers, keeping them up to date on essential changes in your company, possibly offering free appointments, or introducing new employees strengthens customer loyalty.
It gives your clients the feeling of appreciation. A direct possibility is newsletters, i.e., digital customer letters. Gründerküche has tested some newsletter tools for you, and in this specialist article, we will show you what special features the newsletter tools have, what they cost and what special offers there are for SMEs.
Another way of customer communication is social media: On the one hand, you can inform your customers via Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok – but it is much more important here to expand your status as a specialist.
An electrician’s TikTok, for example, explains the need for FI switches or the dangers of a defective or outdated socket, even creating a new market.
And an Instagram story about the renovation of a hovel into a noble object shows your creative power and enables you to receive further high-quality inquiries.
A whole range of digital tools (digitization) and programs can make your daily work as a craftsman and entrepreneur easier. Like everything else, however, this means an investment at the beginning, not so much in money as in time.
You must be aware of your processes and sort them out to choose the right tools. A tip for the selection: It helps start in small steps and not jump everything over the fence. You will quickly be able to make the first gains in efficiency and be motivated to keep going.