Avoid these common pitfalls when digitising your trade business

Let’s not beat around the bush; changing core parts of your business can be tricky, especially if you run a trade or service outfit that operates five or even seven days a week. After all, you’re busy solving problems for clients all day, and even finding time to sit down and learn the ins and outs of something new can feel almost impossible.

Maybe you’ve seen what other businesses have managed to achieve by moving over to a digital system, though, and you want a piece of that success too. But just like the reservations you have about learning something new, you worry that things won’t go right, or worse, will cost your business money.

After all, when you decide to digitise your trade or service business, you want to get it right the first time.

The benefits are hard to resist, as everything from tracking time, creating quotes, scheduling employees and even sourcing materials is faster and better with a digital solution. However, to get to that point, you need to navigate your way through mastering your new systems and sidestepping any potential issues that could hinder your progress.

Luckily, we’re here to help, and in this article, we’ll be covering the pitfalls you need to identify and avoid while digitising your trade or service business. We’ll cover each pitfall in detail and provide some helpful ideas to assist you in avoiding or dealing with issues proactively and successfully.

Using this article as a guide, you’ll have all the tools you need to digitise without fear and reap the benefits of what digitised systems and cutting-edge software offer you.

Pitfall 1: Letting tech resistant employees rule your business

Without a doubt, the biggest pitfall your business will face when digitising is whether the people who work for you are willing to take on the task of learning something new. We’ve covered how to manage tech resistance extensively in another article; check it out here if you haven’t already. But you and your team need to be fully committed to incorporating a digital system into your everyday work.

Be aware that tech resistance comes in many forms, and sometimes it’s not as easy to spot as you might think. Many people assume that technology resistance is the outright refusal to adopt new tech, but that isn’t always the case in the workplace. Take these two examples, neither of which are outright refusals to adopt a system and note how different they are while still being cases of employees resisting technology.

Example 1:
Your office staff were hesitant at first to adopt your new digital system, but with some encouragement, they started using it. They used it to great effect for a while, but you’ve begun to notice that their recent reports are often unfinished, and they outright aren’t using some functionality anymore.

Example 2:
One of your field technicians appears to very excited to start using your new digital system. However, even after repeated attempts to get them to sit down and start learning how to use it, they always have an excuse that gets them off the hook.

These two examples highlight just how different each case of tech resistance can be, and our advice is to keep communication open before, during and after you digitise. Whether it’s fear, anxiety, irritation, or a mixture of the three, open conversation is the answer to sidestepping the pitfall of employees resisting your attempts to digitise.

Pitfall 2: Thinking you have no time for a change

Like we mentioned at the start of this article, working five, six, or even seven days a week likely leaves you with very little time to make big changes to the way you run your business.

But digitising your business is possible even on an extremely tight schedule. All it takes is the right attitude and careful research. In fact, getting caught in a mindset dominated by the belief that you can’t fit digitisation into your schedule might be losing you more time than actually digitising your business.

Ask yourself, are you as time-poor as you think, or have you just not found a solution that fits your schedule?

Many digital system providers who specialise in working with trade and service businesses will understand that their clients work hard for a living. Take what we do at AroFlo as an example. We know that job management software can be daunting to learn when you work all week, so our training is delivered remotely at a time of your choosing. We also split our training up into segments to allow users time to learn at their own pace before moving on.

But that’s just how we do things, and many other providers deliver their digitisation services in ways that suit even the most time-poor business owners.

Our advice is to shop around see what’s available to fit your tight schedule because chances are there’s a provider who will fit your needs perfectly.

Pitfall 3: Considering costs over potential gains

Another common mindset that many trade or service businesses have is that digital systems are expensive, and compared to pen and paper methods, the costs just don’t add up.

This is an understandable perspective, as technology can be quite costly to set up and maintain. But what many people stuck in this pitfall don’t consider is how much efficiency they can gain by digitising their business.

Take digital invoicing versus traditional methods as an example. With an online invoicing system, you can dispatch invoices when your work is complete; just have the system make up the documents and click send. This process takes only a few seconds with modern technology versus the hours it takes to do your daily invoices by hand. So not only are you saving time in your workday that directly translates to more billable hours, but it also means you’re getting paid faster for your work.

Although this is just a single example, it highlights how the concept of ‘cost’ is dwarfed by the potential gains that come with digitising your trade or service business.

When researching solutions, try to take price out of the equation and look strictly at the benefits. If they are too good to pass up, then it’s likely worth spending the money.

Pitfall 4: Digitising your administration but ignoring your field operations

A problem that many trade or service businesses run into when beginning to digitise their operations is assuming that digitising their administration is enough. But the reality is that significant increases in business efficiency (and profitability) are gained by digitising your field operations.

We’ve covered the benefits of digitising your office operations and, more specifically, your field operations in their own separate articles, and we recommend reading both to better understand their potential.

But for now, consider how your employees work in the field, likely handling large amounts of paperwork, including job cards, safety documentation and other crucial business records every day.

Now imagine if instead of carting bags of paperwork home every day, they not only completed but also lodged their records while they were in the field. Field automation can have incredible effects on your business success and should never be forgotten when digitising your trade or service operation.

When deciding to digitise your business, we recommend looking closely at what you can gain from adding technology to your office and field teams. With both parts of your business running on the same system, both your employees and your business can take full advantage of what digital automation can offer.

Conclusion

There’s no doubting that digitisation has the potential to increase the success of any trade or service business. Still, like any kind of change, your progress can be halted by uncertainty very easily.

The key to gaining the success you deserve is to persevere, and with what we’ve covered in this article in mind, you’re already on the right track.

All of the functionality we’ve covered in this article is available through our job management software, AroFlo. If you’d like to see what our software can do for your business, we encourage you to book a demo and start unlocking the power of digital automation.

James Burgess
Content Specialist