Why crafters who don’t embrace digitization now will fall by the wayside
Our world is generally in a state of upheaval. Much of what was commonplace yesterday seems out of date today. The effects can be seen virtually everywhere, for example, in commerce, industry, healthcare, transportation, and government. Only in numerous craft businesses does time seem to move at a snail’s pace. Craft businesses often still like to present themselves as traditional. Their work processes are predominantly or even completely analog. However, there won’t be much time left for an analog existence in the skilled trades in the future. Now is the time for definitive action! This wake-up call is meant to be taken very seriously. Those who ignore it risk their professional existence.
Now a must for every craft business – its own website
It is still quite normal for a craft business not to have its own website on the Internet. Or the Internet presence contains hardly any content and appears visibly half-heartedly maintained. Here obviously a quantity of craftsmen lacks the consciousness of the enormous advantages of their firm web page. Quite a few of them regularly place expensive advertisements and brochures in print media and commercials on the radio but ignore the Internet as an advertising medium.
This means they are giving away money because advertising on the Internet is more durable and less expensive than print advertising which is bought over and over again. Both publication channels complement each other well, with new and constant visibility online as well as parallel occasional or regular print advertising.
The Internet has long since arrived in society. A large proportion of people now obtain information on everyday matters online as a matter of course, be it supermarket offers, doctor’s appointments, or even tradesmen’s services. Anyone who is represented on the Internet is clearly ahead of the game.
Having your own website is also a clear competitive advantage in the trades. A typical online search query for a craftsman, for example, is: “glazier near me”. For the display of corresponding craft businesses, the search engine prefers to orient itself to the websites of craftsmen. Entries in telephone books and address directories play a subordinate role here. Handicraft businesses without their own website appear in the far back of the results display – where practically no one looks anymore. Without a website, a business is virtually dead – first virtually for the search engines, and later in real life as well.
Long-established craft businesses like to mention that they have a large circle of loyal regular customers or work closely with public authorities. However, regular customers often age along with the craft company, while younger generations are more likely to change times when commissioning craft companies and, moreover, are more likely to move to other locations in today’s globalized world. Nor are today’s regular orders from public authorities a safeguard for the future, because even public authorities nowadays use tax money more price-consciously than they once did.
From now on, not having one’s own craftsmen’s website may be considered gross entrepreneurial negligence.
The ideal craftsman website
The more carefully the craftsman website is created, the more success it brings to the company. Among the craftsmen web presences, there are, unfortunately, extremely successful appearances also hardly goal-directed counterexamples. Who likes to look at a boring or even off-putting design? Who benefits from a website that is stingy with content and whose navigation is an imposition? How little professionalism radiates from a website that immediately shows that it has been built by amateurs? The investment in the expert construction of a craftsman online representation is absolutely worth it. It will pay off afterward through more orders in the literal sense!
Already with programs such as WordPress, successful convincing websites can be set up. Well-designed pages of colleagues may serve as a source of inspiration, but of course, never be copied.
If you like, you can add your own content to the freshly created online presence by following the appropriate instructions. But there are also copywriters or virtual assistants who can do the job. New service offers or changed business hours are in any case occasions for updating a page on the Internet.
In addition, new or revised content should appear regularly. Site operators like to set up a so-called blog on their website for this purpose. There they achieve interesting from their everyday work, explain their achievements more near and digress to obvious topics like cooking or baking recipes with a repair enterprise for household appliances, pieces of news from the fashion world with a tailor’s shop, or tips for the furniture care of the carpenter. The major Internet search engines, such as Google, respond positively to new content and display such websites higher up in the search results. Also, the use of certain keywords favors easier discoverability on the Internet for prospective customers. The technical term for this type of optimization is “SEO” and is the abbreviation for the term “search engine optimization”.
A website is therefore much more than a merely rigid online branch. On the one hand, your own website is part of any serious business nowadays, but on the other hand, it has to be built with professional know-how. IT specialists in website construction know what is important. Among other things, the so-called “Responsive Web Design” is important. It makes a website look complete and attractive not only on a PC or laptop but also on mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones. More and more users are now surfing on mobile devices and naturally prefer attractively displayed pages.
Digitize internal administrative processes: This is how it works!
Why does someone learn a trade? There are several reasons, he or she likes to work with his or her hands, loves tinkering with problems and devising solutions, takes pleasure in beautiful things he or she has created, and enjoys exchanging ideas with customers and colleagues on a daily basis. No one takes up a skilled trade because they love office work or are flirting with the IT industry. Accounting or secretarial work is usually a necessary evil for craftsmen and is done in Excel and Word. Often enough, such work is put on the back burner or regularly done after hours.
Remedy from the dilemma brings special craftsman software. Whether it’s creating calculations, placing orders, writing invoices, or bookkeeping: modern computer systems make these usually unloved duties much easier and save time to boot. From boss matters to employee affairs, special software masters work and administrative processes via PC or laptop. Supplementary apps can be installed on cell phones. In the cloud, documents or files can be stored in a protected space outside the hard drive – as an additional storage location and for editing from different locations and devices.
Craftsmen have a choice of various software specialized for their industry for digitization. There is software for craftsmen who are self-employed as well as for small and medium-sized enterprises. Experience has shown that many craftsmen shy away from digitization primarily because they associate it with a complicated conversion process, including lengthy familiarization with the software.
However, those who have switched to digitization tend to regret not having done so earlier. A craft business can easily recoup the time temporarily invested in digitizing its processes. Those who continue to think they can do without digitization will eventually have more time on their hands than they would like.
Quotation costing and material management
Creating a calculation by hand, recalculating several times, and then preparing it for the customer – it doesn’t have to be that cumbersome and time-consuming today. Special tradesman software does the job, simply enter material quantities, material costs, and working time with hourly wage – the digital program delivers the perfect calculation in a flash.
Software for craftsmen includes an easy-to-use invoice program. Effortlessly and in no time at all, a proper final invoice is created after the work is done, including recording the payment date.
Materials managed in the craftsman software facilitate the overview. Existing and delivered parts are recorded in the inventory. By linking to other programs in the software, the material stock in the warehouse is constantly updated and reordered in good time. Inventory management and ordering become digital child’s play.
There are also several digital programs for scheduling. Whether customer or employee appointments, the digital scheduler in the cloud puts an end to paperwork and presents all appointments clearly in one place, which all employees can access from the office or even on the road. A good program can do more than just store appointments with brief notes, addresses, and phone numbers. It also stores photos, digital sketches, and short voice messages.
Teams of craftsmen can be ideally organized using a digital program. Work instructions are accessible online, even while on the road, to every team member. Everyone knows the current status at all times. Information is no longer passed over each other. Requests for information are less frequent. Employees’ time can also be conveniently recorded using the special software.
Craftsmen who still work without the Internet and managing craftsmen’s software, including the cloud, need to rethink. If they want to continue earning a living in their profession, they cannot avoid digitizing their marketing and administrative processes. The competition is not sleeping and is using digitization to gain tangible competitive advantages. Craft businesses that refuse to embrace the digital age with a sense of tradition and the motto “We’ve always done it this way!