Collect your cash quicker by giving clients various options
Too often, contractors make the mistake of focusing on how they want to be paid, and not how their customers want to pay them, which leads to waiting weeks or months for payment.
By Regina Gadacz
Every home renovator wants to find more time in the day and money in the bank. Working closely with home renovators across Canada, I’ve come to realize they are often so consumed by day-to-day projects and getting the job done, that they aren’t able to step back and consider other ways they could be operating their business to help them save a significant amount of both time and money.
When it comes to money, I often have conversations with home renovators around payment because, oddly, it seems to be one of the most challenging parts to nail of any home renovation job. Or perhaps it’s one of the most elusive. To best navigate payment challenges, business owners need to ask themselves the question, “How do my customers actually want to pay?” Too often, contractors make the mistake of focusing on how they want to be paid, and not how their customers want to pay them, which leads to waiting weeks or months for payment. After all, no one wants to chase customers to collect money owed to them.
Of all the different types of businesses I work with, home renovators most routinely need to consider giving their customers more ways to pay. To avoid money headaches, there are three easy steps that contractors can take. The first is sending digital invoices that make it easy for customers to enter their card information. Automatic payment reminders can be built into the invoices so that you don’t have to spend your own time following up. Another consideration could be arming members of your team with a card reader to accept card payments on the spot, settling the payment right away. You can also have your back office save customer card information securely to a digital customer directory. This allows you to automatically charge a card that’s on file at various agreed-upon stages of a project.
Take Trevor Bouchard, founder and CEO of Quick Contractors — one of Canada’s largest networks of independent contractors — based in Guelph, Ont., as an example. He now relies heavily on technology to operate his business. He’s found that by adding Square tools into the mix, he’s been able to better manage his finances. His field teams were often collecting additional charges from customers in their homes. They would do this is through a call centre for credit card approvals or the antiquated way of writing a credit card number on a tri-copy invoice and mailing it to the head office. Bouchard knew there had to be a better way. Now his team of contractors has card readers to complete transactions on the spot. Bouchard believes that saves an average of 10 to 20 minutes per customer. For Bouchard, the savings means he can reallocate internal head count to more value-add functions. That’s not to mention all of the extra jobs they can complete in a day because contractors aren’t spending as much time in clients’ homes.
The next most common area I work on with contractors is to better organize the operations of their business. Contractors often stitch together different systems and processes to handle basic business operations, like saving customer information, managing their employees, and dealing with accounting matters. The problem is, these systems aren’t connected. In making each of these aspects digital and by selecting a provider where all of these tools are built to work together, you can track sales, employee performance, and customer activity from one dashboard, in real time. For example, Bouchard has found he now has more visibility into his staff and individual sales, and he can easily ensure that each field worker receives his or her profit from individual sales. It also means better customer relations for his business because he’s able to access the customer directory and address feedback around projects shared easily through their digital receipt if anyone might not be happy.
Home renovators perhaps know better than anyone else what can get done easily with the right tools in place. The same very much applies to having the right tools in place for the operations of your business.
Karisa Marra is a business expert at payments and point-of-sale company Square.