This blog has been updated for 2018 with the latest apps on the market and correct pricing as of June 2018.
It’s official; the world has gone mobile. Hand-written paperwork is slowly becoming a thing of the past and now, more than ever, things are truly going digital. This week, we’ve decided to show you some of the best apps 2018 has to offer for your industry, to help lighten the load of your paperwork and put the power of mobile right at your fingertips.
Here’s our top apps that are going to revolutionise your industry, and take some of the strain off your business:
In our increasingly cashless society, having to take cash payments as a tradesman can make getting paid a lot more difficult for you. While there are many card machines on the market you can get now to take card payments, it can be a pain to remember to drag around a card machine to every job you have – which is where the SmartTrade app comes in handy.
The latest way to take card payments, the SmartTrade app can be used by anyone on either Apple or Android smartphones, and uses your phone’s camera to scan debit and credit cards securely. It uses military-grade encrypted transactions to offer you and your clients 100% safe and secure card transactions and, best of all, doesn’t store any credit or debit card details on your phone. With it, you can accept card transactions face-to-face, over the phone or even through emailed paylinks and it takes Visa, Mastercard and Amex cards, as well as all major foreign credit cards (although there is a 1.5% surcharge payable on Non-EU cards). Payments do take 5 business days to clear, but if your turnover is more than £30k per month, you can get payments even faster – within 3 business days.
Like some of the other apps mentioned on this list, it also has customisable invoicing features within the app, so you can send out invoices even while you’re on the move. But maybe one of the best features is the accounting feature, which allows you to view all your invoices, quotes and payments (provided these are all made through the app). You can also download all your data as a CSV file and easily integrate it into any Xero accounting package, if you’re managing your accounts through Xero.
The flexible team calendar is also a pretty useful tool too, as it allows you to schedule a job and distribute it to one of your employees. It will also automatically update team members and customers of any changes to a job, which saves time on calling multiple people when there’s a hiccup in the job you’re working on. There’s also offline access and you can even get detailed reports, graphs and data on how you’re doing, which is definitely useful when tax time rolls around.
Prices for a sole trader package start at around £9.99 a month (or £101.90 a year), and packages including for small businesses are £26.99 a month (or £275.30 a year). This might seem a little steep, but is quite reasonable considering the range of features available to you. Plus, it’ll help you make light work out of your invoicing too!
The app that’s caused quite a stir the past few years, Powered Now is an invoice, estimating and scheduling app designed specifically to meet the needs of tradesman. Boasting an impressive array of features, it aims to simplify all that tedious paperwork you find yourself constantly doing, providing you with the ability to create your important paperwork on the move. Create quotes, invoices, estimates and job sheets at your fingertips while on site or with a customer, and easily turn a quote into an invoice without any of the repeat work. It even has the feature to send documents via email or text message directly from the app, and even if you go offline, the app will automatically send out the documents as soon as you regain signal. Through the app, your customers can easily sign off the work you’ve done, and you’ll even receive an alert once they’ve opened the documents, so you can keep track of everything you’re doing seamlessly.
If organisation isn’t your strong suit either, Powered Now can even help with that. You can manage appointments and your diary from the app, and all your correspondents are recorded in an easy-to-view timeline, which can be searched via name, email or invoice number. You can also use the app to manage and track your payments as well, which means you can put an end to cash in hand and still ensure you get paid on time.
If that wasn’t enough already, you can even organise your team through the app too. You’ll find a smart appointments and diary system, which links to your own diary to your customers, projects, invoices and staff. This allows you to dispatch your closest staff member when a new job comes in, so you never miss a beat. This feature is included in the Live Team Tracking Function, that lets you know where your employees should be and where they actually are in real-time – which is great for busy bosses! There’s even a chat option so your team can keep in contact, and all your important information is backed up and stored in the cloud. An all-round winner, we love Powered Now!
You can download the free version of Powered Now’s app on the Google Play Store (Android) or App Store (iOS), which includes a free trial of the team account. For the full version, a subscription to the sole trader costs £12.99 a month if bought annually, and the full team subscription will set you back £31 a month if bought annually.
Makita Tool App
Made by your favourite tool company, Makita have designed their own app to help you make the most of your smartphone while you’re on a job. Forgot your spirit level on site? Not a problem! Just whip out your smartphone, load up Makita’s app for a quick and useful spirit level at your fingertips! Want to check that that shelf you put up is level? Easy! Just use the levelling instrument on the app to check your handiwork. Need to check the sound levels on a job? Just load up the sound level on the app and find out the decibels with ease. Finding the Makita app so useful that you’re using it so much and you have to make sure your smartphone battery isn’t running low? Check it with the built-in battery-level indicator. There’s even a flashlight, with varying brightness levels and a distance measurer built-in too, as well as a quick link to the Makita website, in case you want to upgrade your tools. Plus, best of all, it’s free too!
Freelance insurance from £48.80* per year
Fixington Calendar for Tradesman
A great way to keep track of all your jobs and appointments, the Fixington Calendar app is kind of like Powered Now, but designed specifically for independent tradesmen. With this app, you can create invoices, just like Powered Now, but you can send said invoices through any messaging app you so choose, including iMessage, Facebook or email. You can also use the app to send out an estimate for any future potential work and keep track of any charges and payments, which means you can stay ahead of the curve with regards to your paperwork. You can also import your contacts from your phone to quickly create customers for your invoices, and the app allows you to effortlessly and easily make your invoices look super professional. It can work offline too, so it’ll still work when you’re out of service area.
For those of you looking to steer away from cash-in-hand payments, you can take card payments through the app using an iZettle device, which can be bought separately. Those payments will be automatically recorded against the relevant job on the app, so you’ll never be out of the loop and wondering if you’ve already been paid for a job. All your information is synced with Fixington’s central server, so no matter whether you break, upgrade or change your phone, your settings and info is stored in the cloud; all you need to do is re-download the app, sign in to your account and pick right up where you left off. Best of all – it’s completely free to use too!
While we think this app is really fantastic, it’s slight disadvantage is that it’s only available for iOS users. But, it is compatible with all manner of Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, so we think we’ll let them off with that slight oversight!
You can download the Fixington Calendar for free Tradesman on the App Store (iOS).
Joist Contractor Estimating & Invoicing Tool
Next up, another estimating and invoicing tool that’s great for tradesmen, the Joist app allows users to customise their estimates and invoices with their company information, logo and more. Using their app, you can attach a client contract and collect a signature on the move, allowing you to control all your paperwork directly from the app itself. You can easily build up a list of commonly-used items, services or materials, eliminating the need for repeat work, and you can even attach photos to your estimates and invoices, as well as previewing them before you send them on. If you need to print or email estimates, that’s not a problem either for Joist – you can do all of that seamlessly from the app too and you can even provide a personal message for your clients along with the paperwork.
With Joist, it’s easy to convert your estimates into invoices and you can use the app to keep track of your customer payments and see how much you’re still owed. You can even save and manage your client’s information directly from the app, and unique to Joist, you can also set your own tax rates. All of the data from Joist is easily exportable to your favoured accounting program, so you can keep your bookkeeping costs down too.
Our final spot is Rated People, one of our all-time favourite apps for tradesmen looking for work. We recently posted an article about both Rated People and Check A Trade, and the pros and cons of their services, but this time we’re just looking specifically at the apps they have to offer. While Rated People offers a specific app for tradesmen, Check A Trade does not unfortunately, so we won’t be adding it to our list – however, both are a great choice for searching for job leads in the industry.
So let’s look at the features of Rated People’s app. Firstly, it has not just one, but two apps – one called Rated People: Homes aimed specifically at the homeowner looking to hire a tradesman to carry out works, as well as an another specifically for tradesmen looking for job leads called Rated People: Trades. The Trades app (which is the only one we’re really interested in) boasts over 75,000 job leads posted every month, which allows tradesmen to pick up work faster than if they were to source it off their own backs. From the app, you can browse, search and filter job leads based on your preferences, giving you the opportune chance to grab work on the go, and choose when and where you want to work. It’s a fantastic resource for tradesmen looking for work.
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