5 Apps Every Electrician Needs

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In my daily dealings with electricians and electrical contractors, I’m beginning to notice two things:  Firstly, the gulf between the old school “pen and paper” contractors and the new “tech savvy” contractors is becoming wider almost by the day.  Secondly, I’m seeing more and more often, the “grey area” between these 2 types of tradies is becoming cluttered with contractors who have great intentions of moving into the digital age but don’t have the know-how to get there.  These tradies are generally characterised by the following:

  • They have the latest smart phone in their pocket but still run their business using a diary that their local wholesaler gave them at the start of the year.
  • They rip the back off a cardboard box they found in the back of their truck to write a material take-off.
  • They think “the cloud” is something in the sky they look at to determine whether or not they’ll be digging a trench today.

If you’re an electrician and you found yourself nodding your head to any of those characteristics, it’s vital that you read on.

Moving to the digital age is not as hard as you think.  Here are the five must-have apps you need to install on your smart-phone or tablet that will enable you to do better business:

Job Management Apps

Job management apps make it extremely easy to manage your workflow.  Converting leads to quotes, quotes to jobs, and jobs to invoices becomes seamless and enables you to schedule work and invoice customers on the spot, allowing you to close off jobs and get paid sooner.  There are plenty of providers out there, such as Service M8, Geo-Op, and market leaders SimPro.  It’s very important when choosing a job management app that it suits your business.  Bells and whistles are only as good as their ability to enhance your business.

Google Drive

Google Drive allows you to access documents wherever you might be.  They’re a great platform to store and access files such as Australian Standards, SWMS’s, time sheets, job cards, job photos, and templates for invoices, quotes, etc.  There are other providers out there but I’ve always found Google works great across all operating systems and devices (especially when installed in conjunction with other Google Apps for Business).

ALH eBranch

ALH (Auslec, Lawrence & Hanson) have recently released a new app “eBranch”, the first of its kind in Australia, allowing electricians to order materials on the go.  With many suppliers now offering an online account management platform, ALH is the first to offer a truly mobile solution with eBranch, that allows you to manage your account AND shop for materials.  Placing orders is an extremely simple 4-click process, offering options for delivery to site or pickup from your nearest branch.  EBranch also incorporates a branch locator, barcode scanner, order history, along with up-to-date branch stock levels and personalised pricing and discount structures that follow you to whichever branch you shop at.  ALH eBranch is the new way for electricians to do business with their wholesaler.

Xero Accounting

Xero Accounting have managed to turn the world of business accounting on its head.  Businesses now have access to up-to-date bank statements via their Xero feed to make account reconciliations as easy as swiping left and right.  Xero have partnered with many online service providers (such as some of the job management apps listed above) to help businesses streamline their operations.  While other accounting software providers are now offering similar functions, Xero have taken over the mantle as the benchmark in the industry.

Social Media

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram have taken over how we live our lives.  With more and more people living their lives through social media, more and more stories are out there of businesses who are generating work and creating demand for their businesses just through being active on these sites.  While there are options for paid advertisements on each of these social media sites, marketing your business using social media can be done at absolutely no cost, with unbelievable results available for truly innovative users.  Also, apps like Hootsuite allow users to manage multiple platforms at once, streamlining and saving time, allowing users to focus more on doing what they do best!

Moving into the digital age is now simpler than ever.  With the apps listed above, as well as thousands of other apps available to make running a business easier, technology no longer has to be a dirty word for tradies.  Getting started with these apps is easy (you can implement each of them almost straight away with minimal disruption to your business) and will ensure your business doesn’t get left behind.

Chris Karavasilis is a sales representative for Lawrence & Hanson Electrical Wholesale in Sydney.  He is also a qualified and licensed electrician who has worked in many capacities throughout the electrical trade.