Software in Your Business

December 9, 2003
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+


In the business world of the 21st century, computers have become very important, if not essential, tools for efficient operation. Selecting the appropriate software programs for the various business functions where computers are used is critical to getting the maximum benefit from this valuable equipment.

The key to getting the proper software packages for your business is to start with the realization that the software and the computer it runs on are tools for you to use, like your cleaning machine. And before you can select any tool you must first know what you need it to do. Don't make the mistake of purchasing a software package and then trying to restructure your business to fit the program. Instead, define the job you need done and locate the software that fits your need.

Yet business owners sometimes shy away from adapting and using "new" technology, not because they are afraid of it but because the salespeople are too busy telling them what a software program can do as opposed to what it can do for them.

There are many areas of the typical cleaning and restoration business where software selection is critical. I'm sure with a little careful thought you could extend the list for your specific business, but this might serve to get things started.

Communication

  • Secure e-mail contacts for customers, venders, technical advice, insurance company representatives, etc.
  • Connect with industry Bulletin Boards for information on industry events, technical support and more.

    Marketing

  • Web site development for Internet advertising and sales.
  • Newsletter design, production and mailing.
  • Customer and contact list management.
  • Brochure, mailer and flyer design.
  • Presentations for marketing to groups.

    Accounting

  • Record keeping and company files
  • Financial data and records including company ledgers, payroll, and the like
  • Projections and forecasts that help with setting goals and developing business plans.

    Scoping/Invoicing

  • Preparing estimates, bids, and invoices.
  • Tracking large restoration jobs, inventories, and the like.

    Scheduling

  • Workload and work distribution for multiple crews
  • Equipment maintenance
  • Supply orders.

    Administration

  • Word processing (letters, documents...)
  • Business plan development
  • Company policies/employee manuals.

    Shipping and Mailing

  • Newsletters, invoices
  • Packages and parcels

    Many of these functions might be performed by a single software program, while others might require specific, specialized programs. When multiple programs are needed, it is important to make sure the programs selected are compatible and can "talk" to each other. For example, a desktop publishing program that you might purchase to develop newsletters or flyers should be able to integrate with your customer mailing list. Your financial accounting program needs to "talk" to your scheduling, invoicing, and spreadsheet programs. For example, the popular accounting program Quickbooks from Intuit can send and print reports in Microsoft Excel spreadsheet format.

    One way to help insure this compatibility is to purchase software "suites," such as Microsoft Office, where you can get word processing, desktop publishing, spread sheet, data base management, scheduling and calendar, e-mail, and presentation programs in one integrated package, with options available for money management (accounting) and/or Web site design if needed.

    Other factors to consider in selecting the right software include ease of use, available technical support and budget. Some software packages may appear very expensive when you first look at the price tag, but are really pretty reasonable when you consider the labor and contractor expenses that can be saved.

    Software is one of the tools necessary for a modern business to succeed; the same considerations must be applied in selecting it as with any other important piece of equipment. Ask these important questions: will it do what you want better than the way you do it now? Can it be used by the people I currently have on staff? Is maintenance and support available should something go wrong? Does it do a lot of things that I don't anticipate ever needing? Can I afford it?

    Good software can make your business many times more efficient, but bad software can be a nightmare. Talk with other professionals and find out what programs they are using, how they have impacted their business and what they would recommend. Do your homework before you purchase to be sure you get the tool you need.

  • Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to i Cleaning Specialist Magazine.

    Recent Articles by Tom Hill

    You must login or register in order to post a comment.

    Multimedia

    Videos

    Image Galleries

    The 2013 Experience Convention & Trade Show

    A look back in photos at the 2013 Experience Convention & Trade Show in Las Vegas.

    THE MAGAZINE

    ICS Cleaning Specialist Magazine

    cover_image

    2014 April

    Take a look at the April 2014 issue with features on air movers, going green, carpet cleaning and new products & technologies.

    Table Of Contents Subscribe

    Social Media

    Social media is a good way to regularly keep in touch and interact with current clients and reach potential ones. What social mediums do you use in your cleaning/restoration business?
    View Results Poll Archive

    THE ICS STORE

    Get Paid! book cover
    Get Paid! (ebook)
    Over 30 authors – over 40 articles…from attorneys, contractors, consultants, instructors and others, both inside and outside the restoration industry. R & R, C & R and Cleanfax, opened their archives and gave us the best they had, other chapters were created just for the “Get Paid!” book and its readers. And every one of them has ideas for how to get paid what you are owed.

    More Products

    ICS DIRECTORY AND BUYING GUIDE

    Director_Buyer.jpgThe premier resource and reference guide for the cleaning and restoration industries.

    Click here to view

    TRUCKMOUNT EQUIPMENT AND ACCESSORIES GUIDE

    Truckmount.jpgEquipment listings and specifications from the leading industry manufacturers.

    Click here to view

    STAY CONNECTED

    facebook_40.png twitter_40px.png youtube_40px.pngcrc logo