From XU Magazine, 
Issue 23

Help Your Trade Contracting Clients Succeed

3 Tips for Increasing Profitability

Are your trade contacting clients taking advantage of technology solutions? In today’s digital world, there is no excuse not to use technology to help manage a business. Discover the ways you can encourage your trade contracting clients to increase their profitability and improve their business operations.
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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As an accountant working with trade contracting businesses, how do you help your clients manage, or increase, their profitability? If you want to add value to your trade contracting partnerships, providing tools for your clients to run operations more efficiently, avoid losing profits and make smart decisions is something you might want to add to the top of your list.

Here are three ways you can help your trade contracting clients increase their profitability.

Tip 1: Use workflow automation to streamline operations

Although technology is widely used by businesses large and small, many businesses in the trade contracting industry continue to run operations on paper. Field service management software, job management software, and other cloud-based software platforms provide workflow automation - the automatic execution of manual processes based on workflow rules.

When businesses automate their processes, they can increase efficiency by working smarter rather than harder. How does workflow automation increase efficiency? Let’s say field staff are manually recording job details on paper and then bringing those slips of paper into a physical office. In this scenario, important information could go missing, office staff might spend unnecessary time deciphering messy handwriting, and data is recorded twice (once by their field staff and then again by the person handling billing and invoicing).

Software with workflow automation capabilities as well as desktop and mobile features will help decrease the amount of errors created in transferring job details, remove the time spent on double data entry, and minimise the chance the information goes missing as it would now be automatically entered into your system.

Overall, workflow automation helps businesses save time thus increasing billable hours, and increased billable hours leads to increased profits.

Tip 2: Manage inventory from the cloud to avoid losing profits

How do your trade contracting clients manage their inventory? Without a central location to track stock and keep up with material costs, it is easy for field service businesses to lose track of what is in their warehouse or in the vans of their field staff.

Encourage your clients to use inventory tracking software to gain full visibility of the materials on hand. This directly ties back into increasing profits as a clear picture into stock levels will help these businesses make better purchasing decisions, avoid overstock and deter field staff from buying materials at a higher price on site. Some inventory management systems even allow users to import supplier catalogues and compare them side by side to determine the best pricing.

Without cloud-based inventory management, field service businesses could be manually combing through supplier catalogues to find pricing, spend hours manually counting materials in their warehouse, or constantly need to follow up with field staff to determine what materials are on their vans. When all inventory-related information is housed in the cloud, determining stock levels is quick and easy.

Tip 3: Generate reports to make more profitable decisions

When your trade contracting clients have more information, you are able to help them make better-informed decisions. Generating reports through a field service management system is an easy way to gather data in one place and make sense of the data at hand.

Encourage your clients to regularly use reporting in order to collect data from the day-to-day to discover trends within their business. For example, if a field service business wants to discover which jobs are most profitable versus those that are least profitable, a contract profitability report would be extremely helpful. This type of report would show the amount spent on resources and materials, the amount of time it took to complete a job or project, the total amount invoiced and other important details. Trade contractors would be able to view the gross and net profits and compare across jobs to see which jobs are causing them to lose money and which ones bring in more money at less cost.

Reporting on this type of information helps you assist your trade contracting clients in making more profitable decisions.

When your reporting is tied to a larger field service management solution, trade contractors can automatically create reports based on data in their system and even set automation rules to receive scheduled reports at specified times.

Workflow automation, cloud-based inventory management and reporting are three simple ways for field service businesses to successfully increase the profitability.

What an integrator says:

Matt Flanagan, Managing Director at independent cloud consultants and Xero integrators BlueHub:

“When simPRO is set up with Xero, financial and operational information flows together, with invoices and payments joining up the dots without the need for manual entry”

Why leave it there?

Learn more about how you can help your trade contracting clients succeed

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