Pipeline Organization

Do you have a bazillion projects on your to-do list that you can never seem to keep straight? You should be using pipeline organization! A pipeline provides a visual representation of your work in progress. It’s a place to organize your tasks and follow the progression until complete. It’s the easiest way to keep track of many different jobs and the status of each. The beauty of pipeline organization is that it also makes collaborating and working with other people possible by providing all the information in one place. There are several online pipeline organization programs available for you to use as a way to manage your tasks and projects. I use Trello to help me manage the PEP blog. Take a look:     Across the top of the “board” are the stages of producing a new blog post. I keep a list of ideas in the first column. As I move through the process, I drag the blog idea card through the pipeline. By the time you read this, the “Pipeline Organization” card will be in the “Published” column. I also share this board with other people in the office – anyone can add new blog ideas or choose one and write it! PEP users can (and should) make use of PEP’s pipeline feature that allows you to track your job from start to finish (from the estimating process through scheduling jobs and invoicing). Whatever your field of work, you’ll find pipeline organization a useful tool for managing of all the many projects on your to-do...

Should I Be Writing a Blog?

YES!   The answer is YES. You should be writing a blog for your business.   A few weeks ago we talked about WHAT  a business blog is. Now let’s explore WHY you should be writing a blog for your business. The reasons are almost endless! Why should I be writing a blog?   Because consumers are online. Think about the last time you needed to buy something. The internet is now the #1 place that consumers go for information about products and services. Much of the research about what to buy happens online – whether you’re looking for a car, a dishwasher, an electrician, or a painter.   Because you want customers to find you online. The most important way to get people to your website is to offer as many opportunities as possible for them to find you on the massive World Wide Web. To do this, you want to continuously add fresh content to your website. Writing a blog post regularly will do this. Blog posts more “searchable” content, and the more the better! You should also share your blog posts on social media, which creates additional links directly to your website and, again, the more the better, am I right?   Because you want to be an authority in your industry. People like to work with experts in their field. So establishing yourself as an expert is good. Writing a blog will help do that! Writing about your business, related work, and the industry will build trust and trust will generate customers. Plus you may stumble on some helpful new information along the way. It’s a win-win!...

What is a Business Blog?

A business blog is one of the most cost-effective and easiest ways to promote your work. It can drive people, or “traffic” to your website, increase your sales, establish you as an authority in your field, and help you reach new markets. Here are the 5-Ws of blogging:   WHAT is a business blog? A blog is a regularly updated web page featuring short informal articles and commentary, in this case, about your business and related industry. Here at PEP, we typically write about topics related to small businesses and the painting industry.   WHO am I writing for? Customers and potential customers will read your blog. (Anyone who isn’t a customer is a potential customer, right?) Different blog topics will attract different people so write about a variety of things to cover the work you do.   WHEN should I blog? An active blog shows your business is alive, loved and maintained. The more often you post to your business blog the better your results. But consistency is more important than frequency, so just set a schedule for yourself. If writing a new blog article multiple times per week is too much, aim for once or twice per month.   WHERE does the blog go? Post your blog on your website and share the link on social media. This creates more “searchable” content on your website and additional links taking people to it.   WHY blog? A blog will drive traffic to your website, attract new visitors, and potentially increase your sales. It helps to establish your presence in the industry. The benefits of blogging are almost endless....

Millennial Values in the Workplace

  Do attitudes of the (younger) people you’re interviewing have you concerned?  Their approach maybe different than yours (or mine) but it doesn’t mean they are poor workers.  While the younger generation gets a bad rap for being lazy, entitled and glued to their cell phones, they now make up the majority of the labor force. Millennial values are quickly changing the workplace and here’s why: Work with a purpose Millennials want their work to have meaning or purpose.  They seek to make a difference from day one and look to utilize their talents and strengths in order to do what they do best and have a direct impact on the organization. Work-life balance Personal time is at the heart of Millennial values.  They want to be able to decide when and where they work in order to maximize their time for family, friends and extra curricular activities. Technology Millennials are comfortable with new technologies, looking to them to be more efficient at work and provide the flexibility they crave. Autonomy Independence is important to Millennials, but they also want consistent communication with managers, ongoing feedback and collaborative goal setting.  Frequent check-ins offer informal day-to-day performance evaluations and the autonomy they prefer.   Millennial values might differ from those of previous generations but the desire to be successful and impactful in their careers may be stronger than...

Craft a Great THANK YOU Email

If you are standing face-to-face with a client and that client accepts your bid for a job, the first words out of your mouth will be, “Thank you.” The same should be true when you’re not standing right in front of your client. Write a great THANK YOU email, enable the THANK YOU email feature in the eBid template, and let PEP send an email for you as soon as your client accepts the eBid. Creating a great THANK YOU email isn’t rocket science. Keep it simple. Let your customer know what the next step is. And include your contact details. Follow these simple tips, then craft your own THANK YOU email and add it to your favorite eBid template. How to Craft a Great THANK YOU Email   1. Personalize the greeting. A merge field is special place-holder that you use to tell PEP to grab and insert specific information. You’ll use it here to insert the client’s first name into the email without having to manually personalize it. Copy and paste one of these greeting to begin your email: Dear <%= ClientFirstName %>, Hi <%= ClientFirstName %>, <%= ClientFirstName %>, 2. Say “Thank you!” It’s really that simple. 3. Tell them what comes next. Are you going to contact them? Do you want them to contact you? Either way, include your phone number and email. You can even tell them which contact method is best. 4. Sign off. Here are few closing options. Choose one (or a different one!) based on how formal you want your email correspondence to be. Select one of these closings: Take care, All the...

Business Profits

What do you do with your business profits? We’re talking profits today. If you’ve looked at the cost summary of a job in PEP this week, you may have noticed a new line for gross profit. Gross profit is everything that isn’t raw wages or materials. Some of that gross profit will go to pay business operating expenses (insurance, rent, loans, advertising, etc.). What’s left after paying those expenses is your net profit.   So what do you do with your business profits? Pay yourself? Go on vacation? Put the money back into the business? The list of what you can do with your business profits is endless. Here are 3 suggestions to consider:   3 Ways to Invest Business Profits 1. Savings. Cash flow can be an issue for seasonal businesses. Poor cash flow can lead to bad business decisions, like dropping your price to close a sale. Putting money into a savings account will ensure you have cash down the road when you need it. 2. Put profits back into the business. That could mean replacing tools, upgrading equipment or technology, buying another vehicle, or trying a new advertising campaign. Anything that will improve productivity or attract new quality leads is a worthwhile investment. 3. Invest in your employees. Spend some of the business profits on employee training; you’ll end up with more productive employees. Or consider giving your employees a raise. Raises validate the hard work they do and lead to happy, loyal employees. Clients will notice their competence and confidence (and that’s great for your company brand).   Don’t rely on net profits to pay...

Communicate Better

Every painter I’ve talked to in the last few weeks is moving at a hundred miles an hour. Anything we can do to simplify or speed-up tasks is welcome. Email reinvented how we communicate with clients and potential customers. But it’s also become overwhelming. Any reply is better than no reply. Say a new client wants you to make changes to an estimate. You want to quickly respond to let them know you’re working on it (you can follow-up with the changes later). With the need for fast, concise responses in mind, here are two email tools that can help you communicate better:    1. For Gmail users: Smart Reply This feature popped up on my phone a few weeks ago. Smart Reply suggests 3 responses based on the content of the email received. Choose one and a reply email will open with the selected text already there. You can edit it, add to, or just click send. 2. For PEP users: Automated eBid Campaigns Use an automated customer follow-up campaign to solve the problem of remembering to touch base with clients after you send them an eBid. Just set it and forget it. Your customer will receive the emails in the campaign sequence automatically. You can also set up a “Thank You” email to automatically send when the eBid is accepted. Check out this post for video...

Group Like-Items

Getting organized takes a little time upfront, but the results are always better than without organization (faster, smoother, more efficient, less frustrating!). Not that I do this, but grouping like-items on a shopping list makes it possible to breeze through the store. Group items on a packing list and it’s easy to see that you’ll take everything you need for vacation.    Organization is one major benefit of using PEP. Group tasks together by AREA to make sure you’re accounting for everything on the estimate. Set up estimating forms that quickly pull up the items you commonly use with all your preferred settings. We’ve even taken it one step further: Group like-items together on the eBid or proposal. Rather than having multiple lines for detailed prep work, or trim, or repairs, you can now group those items together onto a single line for your clients.   Check out this video to see how to group like-items and what grouped items look like on the proposal.   Two more videos show you how to engage the grouping feature on the eBid or proposal and how to adjust your default settings (that’s if you love grouping and you want to make it the default).   FYI You can assign categories to items on estimating forms and save the settings. The next time you use the estimating form, those category settings will already be there. Categorized items will still appear individually on the estimate within PEP. The grouping actually happens when you make the proposal or eBid. Assigning categories to items DOES NOT mean that items will automatically be grouped together on...

Your Brand: A Cautionary Tale

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about branding around here, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t all be thinking about it. Your brand is the image you project to everyone around you. It’s the way people think about you and your company. As painters are ramping up for the summer season, now seems like an appropriate time for a real-life anecdote… Who’s At the Door? A Cautionary Tale of Branding It was a dark and stormy night (okay, maybe it wasn’t, but it hardly matters). It was just after 6 pm and 15 year-old Ellen was home watching TV; her Mom was still at work. Suddenly the doorbell rang. The dogs, Nacho and Chili, started barking and ran to the front door. Ellen stayed where she was on the couch. She never answered the door unless she was expecting a friend or a pizza. From her spot in the family room, Ellen was out of sight behind a half wall, but she glanced over the wall and caught a glimpse of a bearded man wearing a hat. A few moments went by and then the mystery visitor knocked “Shave – and – a- haircut – two – bits”. Nacho and Chili embarked (pun intended!) on a new round of howling and it made Ellen more than a bit nervous. Then, it happened: he tried to open the door. Jimmy – jimmy – shake on the handle. The dogs went berserk! Ellen cowered on the couch.  The door was dead-bolted, and that fact paired with the defensive forces of Nacho and Chili* seemed to deter the would-be intruder. A couple...

Question More – the Dunning-Kruger Effect

WHY? It’s every 4-year-old’s favorite question. To them, the whole world is new. They’re trying to make sense of it and they’re full of curiosity. Have you heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect? I hadn’t until the other day. The Dunning-Kruger effect suggests that people who are unskilled or uninformed in a given area tend to believe they are much more competent than they actually are. Driving is a perfect example.   I would describe myself as an excellent driver. I use my turn signal, I drive the speed limit, I don’t use my cell phone in the car, and the only time I’ve been pulled over was for an expired registration sticker, but I had the new one with me and just hadn’t had a chance to put it on yet.   But am I really a good driver? How would I know if I forgot to signal? How would I know if I cut someone off in traffic? I don’t know. And that’s the whole point of the Dunning-Kruger effect. My confidence in my own abilities might be blinding me to the fact that I am actually not so great.   With the Dunning-Kruger effect in mind, we should all embrace the child’s sense of wonder and QUESTION MORE! Here are 3 business-focused topics to get you started:   Why do we do [insert process here] this way? Is there a better, more efficient or more economical way to do it? Pick a process, any process, and evaluate it critically. How you run payroll, how business decisions are made, what accounting software you use, how materials are purchased, how you...