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Planning For Success

Posted By Estimate Rocket, Tuesday, December 20, 2016

 

 

No matter where you operate, you’ll have dips in business throughout the year. Take advantage of the extra time to analyze how your business performed in the past and set yourself up for success in the future. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

How did my plans and budget from last year compare with reality?

 

Look at your revenue, expenses, and profits from last season and see how they compare to previous seasons.

 

If your records aren’t in tip-top shape yet don’t worry, you still have ways to find this information. Go through the jobs you’ve done and compare the income with the costs for material and labor to see which jobs were the most and least profitable.

 

You can calculate your total profit by subtracting all of your expenses from your sales. To calculate your profit margin divide your profit by your revenue and multiply by 100 to get a percentage.

 

You can calculate the profit margin for individual jobs using this method as well. Analyze the jobs below your profit margin and figure out what can be improved, and analyze the jobs above your profit margin to see what type of work is your most profitable.

Was my team communicating well?

 

Successfully completing projects is a good indicator of effective communication. If you had any projects that ended poorly, figure out if the issue was poor communication with the client or poor communication with or between your workers. There will always be a few misunderstandings, but if you find those misunderstandings happening often or projects are being delayed or ending with unhappy customers, your team communication may need some tweaking.

 

If team communication is the issue, make sure everyone is on the same page. Decide on a platform that all communications will be sent through. Whether that’s text, email, a phone call, or an app, choose what works best for your team and stick to it. Your team needs to know where to find the information they need and where to go to ask a question or communicate a problem. Having your communication go through a single channel will ensure that import information won’t be missed.

Was my team doing quality work?

 

Make sure you’re up to date on best practices, and do some research on ways you can refine and do the best work possible for your customers. If you belong to a trade association, like the PDCA for Painters, that can be a great source of information on best practices for your trade.

 

Are there any new products or services you can use to help your business? Testing them in the off season will ensure that you’re ready to reap the benefits once you become busy.

Were my marketing efforts successful and where could I increase or decrease my marketing budget?

 

It can be difficult to tell whether or not your marketing is having an impact on business. Keep track of how much you’re spending on ads in different channels like Angie’s List, Houzz, or Facebook, and then note where each new job is coming from. This not only ensures that you know where your money is going, but sheds light on the value of your marketing efforts. Take a look at which channels you’re spending the most time, money, and effort in and compare it with your sales sources. From there, increase your budget in valuable channels, and decrease it in less valuable channels.

 

You don’t need a large budget to start marketing. Utilizing things like social media, email marketing, and customer referrals effectively can be a low cost way to start generating new leads for your business.

Was I effective at generating leads and repeat business from past customers?

 

Stay top of mind with potential and past customers using email and social media. Get to know them and share valuable information like blog articles or guides. This will establish you as an expert in your field while increasing the odds that they’ll choose you for future jobs and recommend you to their family and friends. Be sure to post referrals and testimonials from your past customers as well, because the words of a happy customer can be really effective at selling your business to others.

What was my competition doing and how did that compare to what I was doing?

 

Know what other businesses in your field are offering and how they communicate with their customers. It may sound like a big job, but can be as easy as staying up to date on social media. You can also set up Google Alerts for specific keywords like your name, competitors names, and your industry, and be alerted when they’re mentioned.

 

Follow up on sales you lost to a competitor. It may seem intimidating, but your prospect may give you some valuable information when you ask why they decided to go with the other service.

Are there any processes I could simplify or automate to save time?

 

If you found yourself in chaos this season, it’s time to pinpoint the issues and streamline some processes. Here are a few ideas to get started:

 

Create product and service lists if you don’t already have them. If you do, review your lists and update pricing and labor rates. Updating your product and service list in the off season will ensure that you’ll be giving accurate proposals next season.

 

How many times have you forgotten to follow up with a customer because you had too many other things on your mind? Automate your customer follow up process by setting up email campaigns. Write some emails in advance and use your campaigns to reach out to your customer automatically, regardless of whether you have the time or energy.

 

When you’re busy, cleaning and organizing gets pushed to the backburner. Making a point to get your truck, office, and business organized during slow periods will make everything simpler when you’re pressed for time. One way to organize your office is by reducing your paper usage or by going paperless all together. Don’t know where to get started? We wrote a post to help you do just that.

Do I want to increase my business during the off-season?

 

Reaching out to customers that you have sent estimates to but have never accepted, offering them off-season discounts can give your business a boost when it’s slow.

 

You may also consider diversifying your services to things related to your main business. For example: A landscaping business may offer shoveling or snowplowing in winter. Expanding your service list widens your audience and allows you to make money all year.


If you need help with any of the tasks mentioned here, such as reporting, maintaining your product and services list, or setting up automated email follow ups, we’ve designed Estimate Rocket for you. If you would like to know how Estimate Rocket can help eliminate the boring parts of your business just let us know and we’d be happy to help you get started!

 

Are there any other questions you ask yourself to reflect on past seasons? Let us know in the comments, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn!

 

 

Kayla Suhm

Logical Engine, Estimate Rocket

December 15, 2016

Tags:  estimate rocket  planning for success 

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5 Ways To Generate More Business Online

Posted By Estimate Rocket, Monday, November 14, 2016

Previously, we’ve talked about ways to start Going Paper-Less and introduced some of our favorite apps for Productivity and Personal Improvement. This time, we’ll lay out a few easy and cost effective ways to get a leg up on your business competition and increase visibility and sales.

 

1) Make your website mobile friendly

An excellent website is an invaluable tool for every business. How many companies do you reject because their website isn't modern, user friendly, or professional? But having an effective site isn't just about being visually appealing.

 

As more people use their phone as their primary way to browse the internet, having a website that’s easy to navigate on phones is becoming increasingly important. Also, if your site isn’t mobile friendly Google won't rank it as highly as websites that are, which means less business coming to you and more going to your competitors.

 

Fortunately, there are some great options available to help you create a clean, professional website. Services like Squarespace and Weebly make it simple to build your website and won't break the bank.

 

2) Show the right information

Having a website is vital, but if a potential customer gets to your website and can't figure out how to contact you, you've just lost that customer. Have a contact phone number visible on every page, list your service area so people know where you operate, and include a contact form to make it easy for them to reach out.

 

3) Build name recognition with retargeting

Ever wonder why you're haunted by ads for that new pair of shoes you were looking at on Amazon, on every site you visit?

 

That's called retargeting and it’s easier than you think. Check out services like Perfect Audience and AdRoll and start showing your ads to people who are likely to use your services. Spend as much or as little money as you'd like, and once someone lands on your site they'll start to see your ads on many of the other sites they visit. Your prospect might not be ready to buy the first time they reach your site, but constantly seeing your name and logo means you’ll stay on top of their mind when they are ready to move forward.

 

4) Build an audience on Social Media

Your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles aren’t just other places your customers can get ahold of you. They’re perfect for sharing helpful tips and content with your audience. Posting informational (not just self-promoting) content shows that you’re an expert in your field and can be trusted to provide your audience with useful information.

 

Make sure to check out your competitor’s pages and the content and offers they’re promoting. It’s a great way to get ideas for your own material. (It should go without saying, but if you’d like to share their information, give credit where credit is due. Don’t try to pass it off as your own work.)

 

5) Find new leads with targeted advertising

Once you’ve created your profile and have started posting updates, use Facebook Ads to highlight upcoming offers and any content you've created.

Take advantage of Ad Targeting to build an audience of people who are more likely to be interested in your services (for example: homeowners, age 20-60, who have shown an interest in home improvement).

 

 

Implementing even one of techniques can generate more business for you. What are some tools or strategies you’ve used in the past to give yourself a leg up on your competition?

Let us know in the comments, or on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn!

 

 

Kayla Suhm

Logical Engine, Estimate Rocket

October 14, 2016

Tags:  estimate rocket  generate more business online 

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Our 6 Favorite Personal Improvement Apps

Posted By Estimate Rocket, Monday, September 19, 2016

 

Whether you want to eat healthier, start exercising, or learn something new, there are tons of resources out there to help you. Because of the amount of information available, it can be overwhelming just to get started.

We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite self-improvement apps to give you some ideas and help you achieve your goals.

 

MyFitnessPal (Android, iOS)

MyFitnessPal made it simple for us to start tracking calories. Enter your age, height, weight, and nutritional goals to get personalized guidelines for how many calories, carbs, proteins, fats, sugars, and vitamins you should be eating per day in order to meet your goals. Get in-depth nutritional information on many different homemade, restaurant, and store-bought foods, and save meals that you eat regularly to make it simple to enter them into your food diary later. MyFitnessPal also makes it easy to track your workouts, with the ability to estimate how many calories you burned during your activity. MyFitnessPal also integrates with some fitness trackers in order to get a more accurate picture of how many calories you’re burning.

 

RunKeeper (Android, iOS)

Get moving with RunKeeper! We love the ability to head out on a run, bike ride, or hike and view our mile split times and a mapped out area of our activity. Stay motivated by completing challenges and comparing your workouts to other users. RunKeeper allows you to set personal goals, and will send you reminders to help you meet them. Share your progress with friends or your trainer and listen to your favorite music while you exercise with RunKeeper’s Spotify integration.

 

Headspace (Android, iOS)

Mediation is an exercise for your mind that helps you focus by teaching you to recognize and let go of distractions. Headspace makes meditation easy by providing guided meditation lessons from Headspace creator Andy. The first 10 sessions are free and will give you an idea of how practicing mindfulness can help you increase your focus and ignore distractions. After you complete the introductory sessions you can choose from a wide variety of meditation topics including Stress, Sleep, Relationships, Happiness, and Focus, just to name a few. Headspace also offers meditation singles, which are one off guided meditations you can do based on your current situation. Try an SOS Single when you're feeling overwhelmed or a Running or Cycling Single while you're exercising.

 

Mint (Android, iOS)

Get your finances in order with Mint. Pull in up to date information about your loans, checking and savings accounts, and credit cards to one place. We find it very helpful to see a quick overview of all our account activity, including budgets, cash flow, upcoming bills, and our credit score. Being able to view a comprehensive breakdown of spending trends, top spending categories, and net income over time makes it easier to create a budget and stay on top of your finances.

 

Personal Capital (Android, iOS)

Though Mint allows us to keep track of our personal finances, we like Personal Capital for analyzing and monitoring investments. The Dashboard is a great way to see a clear breakdown of our net worth, cash flow, investment balances, and allocations. Connect your investment portfolio and get suggestions for improvements you can make to help you reach your financial goals. Personal Capital also shows interesting stats, such as your top "Gainers and Losers" and how your portfolio is performing compared to benchmarks like the S&P 500.

 

Duolingo (Android, iOS, Windows)

Learning a language may seem like a daunting task, but Duolingo turns language learning into a game by giving you XP and encouraging friendly competition to strengthen your skills. Earn lingots as you play and spend them in the Lingot Store to buy outfits for Duo (Duolingo’s owl mascot) and learn bonus skills like ‘Idioms and Proverbs’. The best part about learning with Duolingo is hearing the trumpet play and watching a skill turn gold because you’ve mastered it. See your Fluency percentage right on your Home screen, and be proud of what you’re accomplishing!

 

Which self-improvement apps do you use?

Let us know in the comments below, or reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn

Tags:  estimate rocket  improvement 

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7 Tips to Stand Out with Amazing Customer Service

Posted By Estimate Rocket, Friday, August 26, 2016

  

Customers aren't just an important part of business, they're the most important part. Without them, businesses fail. Obviously, offering a good product or service is important, but that's the easy part. Standing out from the crowd is where things get difficult.

So many businesses these days offer sub-par service. Having exceptional service not only helps you stand out but (more importantly) increases trust, customer loyalty, and the likelihood that customers will recommend you or  your service. Here are 7 tips to stand out by having amazing customer service.

 

1.   Make a great first impression.  As soon as a potential customer reaches out to you, show that you’re interested in their business by responding quickly. You may offer a great service but if you take too long to respond, you’ve potentially lost that customer. If you can’t respond in a timely manner how can they trust that you can deliver on time? Thank them for taking the time to contact you, and ask questions about what they’re looking for so you can start building that relationship.

 

2.   Give them everything they need to say yes. Lay everything out in an easy to understand way. Although jargon may make you sound "professional", it can quickly lead to frustration and miscommunication. Highlight the available options and decisions that need to be made before the work can begin. Do go into depth about the work you’ll do, your process, and the reasons for doing it that way, but keep the language as simple as possible. This not only prevents misunderstandings, but builds trust and shows the customer your attention to detail. Don’t forget to differentiate yourself from the competition and emphasize why you’re the right person for the job.

 

3.   Always respond quickly. When a customer reaches out with a question and you’re busy or don’t have an answer for them at that time, let them know that they’ve been heard and you’re working on it. If possible, set expectations for when they should hear back from you. Whether  through email, a phone call, or text message, make sure they know that they're a priority and not being pushed to the back-burner. Even a simple reply of “I’m on it.” will reduce the amount of frustration while they’re waiting.

 

4.   Be honest & transparent. It goes without saying that trust is vital in any relationship, and the relationship you have with your customers is no different. If an issue comes up, whether it has already occurred or might happen in the future, bring it up with the customer as soon as possible. They would rather hear about issues directly from you instead of finding out on their own. Customers need to be able to trust that you have everything under control. This will improve the confidence they have in you, which will help you weather any additional issues down the road.

 

5.   Take responsibility. It's not always smooth sailing and there will be times when you need to deal with problems. When an issue occurs, take responsibility for the situation even if it wasn’t directly your fault. That doesn't necessarily mean laying the blame on yourself, but it does mean taking initiative in finding a solution and resolving the issue. These situations make or break businesses and “Sorry for any inconvenience” is an unsympathetic and uncaring response. Instead, put yourself in your customer's shoes and imagine what words you’d like to hear in that situation. Customers are going to recommend the companies that handled the tough situations, not the companies that deflected and blamed others.

 

6.   Listen to your customer. If a customer comes to you with a suggestion for how your product or service could be "better", make it clear you appreciate their feedback. It may not be something you agree with, but they took time out of their busy life to share their thoughts with you. Your customers won’t have as much insight into your business as you do, but acknowledging and listening to their opinions and suggestions gives you deeper insight into your customers and ultimately strengthens your relationship with them.

 

7.   Stay in Touch. The end of a project is only the start of your relationship with a customer. Check in periodically to make sure your customers are satisfied and have everything they need. You can give a quick call or send a periodic mailing or email to past customers. This is a great opportunity to see if they need any additional services and to ask for referrals. Something as simple as “I wanted to follow up to make sure you’re still happy with our work. Keep us in mind for your next project, and don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions!” can ensure that customer keeps coming back. Make it clear that you’re available to answer questions they may have, and provide contact information to make it easy for them to get ahold of you. When you show that you care about their success, they’re more likely to come to you with repeat business and mention you to their family, friends, and colleagues.

 

 

How do you provide excellent service to customers? Let us know in the comments below or get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn!

Logical Engine will be at the PDCA Commercial Forum September 28-30 in Rockport, Maine.

Kayla Suhm

Logical Engine, Estimate Rocket

August 16, 2016

Tags:  customer service  estimate rocket 

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3 Ways Your Website Is Losing You Business

Posted By Estimate Rocket, Monday, August 1, 2016

 

 

What's the point of having a website if it's not bringing you business? We spend a lot of time looking at contractor websites and we find that many of them are losing business because they are making the same common mistakes.


Here are the 3 mistakes we see most often that can have a huge impact on your site's effectiveness.

 

1. Hiding Important Information


We are surprised at how often crucial information is hard to find or non-existent on service provider websites. We recommend that every business include their service list, service area, and contact information on their home page. If potential customers can't determine if you provide what they need or can't figure out how to contact you then you are missing out on leads.


2. No Personal Touch

 

Pictures are truly worth a thousand words. Including pictures of your business owners and employees will help differentiate you from your competition, and let your prospective customers know that they are dealing with real people instead of a faceless company.


3. Not Mobile Friendly


Try this simple test, go to your OWN website from your mobile device. Was it easy to find what you wanted?

 

The amount of time people browse the internet on their phones is increasing daily. If your website isn't easy to use on mobile devices many of your potential customers are going to leave.

 

Not only will you lose leads, but search engines will rank your website higher if it's mobile friendly. This could lead to search engines like Google pushing your website listing ahead of your competitors.


Having a mobile friendly site will not only drive more prospects to your site, but will help convert the prospects into leads once they get there.

 

Learn more about Estimate Rocket


 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  estimate rocket  website 

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5 Quotes To Live And Work By

Posted By Estimate Rocket, Thursday, May 19, 2016

5 Quotes to Live & Work By

Part 1

May 13th, 2016

Kayla Suhm

Logical Engine, Estimate Rocket

 

 

Whether it’s a saying from a grandmother, a quote from someone famous, or just a “rule of thumb”, words resonate with us and have a big impact on the way we live and work.

The following are quotes for life and business that have inspired and stuck with the Logical Engine team.

 

 “The only things that are scarce . . . are the things that are difficult, and the only things that are valuable are the things that are scarce. When we intentionally seek out the difficult tasks, we're much more likely to actually create value.” - Seth Godin

 

Many people choose the easy path by doing the same thing as everyone else. They offer the same products and services, use the same methods, and fix the same problems. It’s possible to make a living this way, but you can make a bigger difference by choosing to solve the problems that few others are solving. You have the potential to learn more and create more value if you choose to do the things that others avoid.

__________

 

‘When a problem arises, take ownership of it, no matter what is is. Only once a solution is found, is it time to discuss whose fault it was and how that will be resolved.’

 

Having the strength to not play the ‘blame game’ is important in life and business. It doesn’t matter if it was an employee or a customer that made the mistake. Handling the situation at hand first shows that you’re willing to take responsibility and find a solution even if it’s not your fault. ‘Throwing someone under the bus’  will just cause frustration and may even lose you customers, employees, or friends.

__________

 

“You can’t do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and be in business tomorrow.” - Author Unknown

 

It’s important to stay current and be aware of things changing around you. New information and technology is constantly becoming available. Embracing new ways of doing things helps peoples evolve and adapt to the world around them, and the same is true for businesses. Connecting with people through email and social media makes it easier for you to reach out to customers. Scheduling and accounting software make it easier to handle your time and money. Make sure you do your research, though. “New” doesn’t necessarily mean “The best thing for you”.

__________

 

“The golden rule for every businessman is this: Put yourself in your customer’s place.” - Orison Swett Marden

 

Good customer service is hard to come by, but a small change in the way you think of your customers can make a big difference. By imagining that you’re in their situation, you can provide a better experience. We’ve all heard stories about uncaring customer service reps who just want to get you off of the phone. Show your customers that you care about them and what they have to say. They’ll be thrilled!

__________

 

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” - Albert Einstein

 

Everyone is good at something, but nobody is good at everything. It may be tempting to try to do everything yourself, and sometimes it may actually be necessary. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is essential, and delegating tasks to people who may be more skilled in a certain area will save you time, money, and stress.

__________

 

 

This is just the beginning! We’re always finding new words that inspire us. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated and hear more words of wisdom from the Logical Engine team.

 

What are some of your favorite quotes?

Let us know in the comments below, or share them with us on Facebook & Twitter

We’d love to hear them! 

Tags:  estimate rocket  quotes 

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Going Paper-Less: 9 Ways to Stop Wasting Paper On and Off the Jobsite

Posted By Estimate Rocket, Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Going Paper-Less: 9 Ways to Stop Wasting Paper On and Off the Jobsite
Kayla Suhm
Customer Success Specialist--Estimate Rocket


Running a business is tough. Storing files, piles of receipts, and stacks of forms ensure your office and life are completely cluttered. Add to that making sure customers are happy and your business is being profitable, and even an organized business owner will have a headache. 

One way of getting your business organized and running smoothly is by using less paper. It’s as easy as using a few apps and folders on your device. Bonus: It’s good for the environment!

Technology as a tool for your business is convenient and helps you stay organized. It also shows customers that your company is current and cares about evolving. Imagine you’re a homeowner that needs some drywall hung. Would you hire the contractor with a hand crank drill or a power drill? 

Okay...But Where Do I Start?
Starting is the hardest part! Once you’ve made the decision to use less paper, there are simple things you can do to make sure everything stays neat and tidy.

  • Scan it! Scan and file documents into folders on your device, then shred the physical
    copy if appropriate. There are even portable scanners like Doxie Go.
  • Generate Reports into a PDF You’ll have access to them instantly and can sort them
    into folders. 
  • Download a PDF of User Manuals You can read them on your phone, tablet, or
    computer.
  • Use Google Docs to organize your documents. Set up shared folders so everyone on
    your team has access to what they need.
  • Try an Online Fax Provider like Nextiva . They’ll email you incoming faxes so they don’t
    end up on your desk.
  • Take a Picture of important receipts with your phone and upload them into a searchable
    folder.
  • Write on Paperless Post-its Use a team chat service like Slack or “to do” apps like Trello or Evernote so everyone is on the same page.
  • Opt for an Email Blast to prospective customers and followups to existing customers instead of traditional mail.
  • Get on Social Media Facebook and Twitter are great tools to keep you connected and
    advertise to your customers.

 Use Estimate Rocket to keep all your information on a contracting job in one editable, easy to access, paperless place. Organize projects, send email estimates, invoices, work orders, and receipts, and stay connected with your customers.

When you have a paperless system in place, finding important documents is as easy as typing a keyword into the search bar. So spend less time looking through mounds of paperwork and more time getting things done!

Tags:  estimate rocket  going paperless 

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