Contractors can streamline customer interaction

Dec. 9, 2014
Square offers contractors the ability to accept credit and debit cards in the field and perform other tasks. Blue Collar Software is an entry-level, subscription-based software tool custom designed for small contractors.

Blue Collar Software is an entry-level, subscription-based software tool custom designed for small contractors who previously have not computerized daily business operations. The suite, which is hosted online and carries a flat monthly fee of $49 for an unlimited number of users per company, is designed for use on a PC, Mac or tablet from anywhere as long as a data connection is present.  

Working from user-created templates that can be customized for each project, contractors can create professional-looking quotes for immediate e-mail to new prospects or repeat customers. Users can create and track expiration dates for the quotes, turn any accepted quote into a job (work order) with a single click, and create shopping lists of items needed for each job, track start dates and track hours of each employee and total hours on the job.  

Scheduling features include contact and task calendars that support drag and drop in the calendar view for easy scheduling and rescheduling, calendar views that show job statuses and alert team members when new jobs have been assigned, and user notification if there is a conflict in scheduled tasks. The calendar can be filtered by employee, tasks, or all. When creating a task for a prospect or customer, the user will see the previous history, enabling anyone who is called to work on that account can know what came before.   

The invoicing tool, with just a few clicks, converts a work order into a detailed itemized final invoice for the customer. When a job is completed, the customer invoice is moved automatically to the accounting module for easy tracking of payments due.

The stand-alone accounting suite can integrate with QuickBooks if the user wants to work with an existing QuickBooks account, or can use the included software exclusively. The software features six groupings of labeled icons to help guide the user through selections and actions.

For example, under Vendors, users can click on purchase orders, enter bills and pay bills. Under Banking, users click on accounts, write checks, and check register. Other categories are Customers (add job, enter payments), Employees (enter pay, pay employee), Company (terms list, settings, items sold) and Reports (accounting, company, and today’s general journal). Users can track purchase orders, bills for specific jobs, and employee costs per job. An integrated dashboard enables tracking of active jobs, quotes and prospects on a daily, monthly or yearly basis.

Square offers contractors and their crews the ability to accept credit and debit cards in the field and perform other tasks, as well. Square provides a free card reader that plugs into the headphone jack of an iPhone, iPad or Android device, and allows secure credit card payments through the Square Register app. The rate is 2.75% per swipe when accepting payment through Visa, American Express, MasterCard or Discover. Square encrypts card information at the time of the swipe and does not store data on the device after a payment has been processed.

Square Register serves as a full point-of-sale system for businesses to accept payments, track inventory, and analyze sales data. Contractors can bill via free unlimited invoices (without any monthly service fee). The Register app is downloadable free from the App Store or Google Play, and also features basic appointment scheduling, customer feedback, and detailed sales reports. Customers can receive receipts by e-mail or text message. Alternately, a contractor can connect a wireless receipt printer to his or her device should the customer desire a paper record of the transaction.

Contractors can customize their Register app to automatically calculate local taxes or offer discounts to selected customers. To keep payment records in one place, contractors can also use Square Register to track cash, checks, and other types of payment for no additional fee. An offline mode enables contractors on-site to use Square’s mobile register, including accepting credit card payments, when temporarily without Internet connection.

Register also includes Square Analytics, a reporting and analytics tool that delivers actionable data, including real time sales reports and buyer insights. Contractors can integrate this sales data with QuickBooks and Xero accounting services to preclude the need for double entry. Users in the field can view deposit history (including payments accepted after customized time of close of day), download complete transaction history, view payments by tender type, and access reporting through Square Register. Users can sign in to their Square dashboard to see their sales data and access a comprehensive view of their business.

With Square Invoices, sellers can also send unlimited free invoices and get paid fast for just 2.75% per transaction. Customers can pay with any major credit or debit card via a secure website link that they receive via e-mail. Contractors can customize their Square account to send invoice reminders to customers or set e-mail notifications to notify when an invoice has been paid. All paid invoices are deposited directly into the business’s bank account in one or two business days.

Square also offers Square Appointments, for managing online scheduling, for a monthly fee based on number of users.

Bill and Patti Feldman write articles and web content for trade magazines and manufacturers of building products. They can be reached at [email protected]

About the Author

William and Patti Feldman

Bill and Patti Feldman write articles and web content for trade magazines and manufacturers of building products.

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