As you’ve probably gathered by this point, I am a huge fan of automated workflows. The more you can create a process for every type of task you have, then automate who is informed of that task and where the data goes, the more efficient your office will be (and the less overhead you’ll have on salaries). Studies show that automations can increase office productivity by up to 83%, and if you’re the kind of contractor who has more than a dozen jobs going at once, automations in your CRM aren’t just a convenience, they’re a requirement.
I use more than sixty different automations in my CRM (JobNimbus) but, like most companies, I use a lot of other programs as well. JobNimbus is my go-to platform for CRM and project management, as it helps organize my workload, track my customers and manage production both on-site and off. But there are other platforms whose specific functions are critical to keeping my office efficient: Google Docs, Sheets and Forms; Spotio for canvassing; QuickBooks for bookkeeping, and CognitoForms for our Certificates of Completion, just to name a few.
The question is, if you’re addicted to automations like I am and these other programs don’t have internal automations available, what do you do? For example, wouldn’t it be great if QuickBooks could tell JobNimbus the actual paid cost of materials for a project in order to create more accurate bids? For a contractor to maintain a competitive edge, he can’t be stuck in the back office migrating data from one platform to another.
What can be done?
Our Solution: Zapier
Zapier is an amazing 3rd party application that bridges the communication gaps between programs that normally don’t “speak” to each other. Zapier allows you to link your web apps with just a few clicks so they can share data. These web apps can then pass information between them with workflows called, appropriately, “Zaps.” This allows you to build processes faster and get more done…without the need for coding.
Here’s another example of how we use Zapier. My sales process starts on a platform called Spotio. Spotio is a comprehensive field sales management software, designed for both managers and reps. It’s a sales tool we use while canvassing, and believe me, we knock on a lot of doors and gather a ton of raw information in Spotio. At a certain point, Spotio leads become customers and, rather than have the rep transfer the customer information from Spotio to JobNimbus, I made a Zap that does it for me. Not only does it eliminate the time in duplicate data entry, it eliminates human error. No mistakes!
As you can probably guess, we gather a lot of data about potential customers and current customers. We love that data. Data is where you find customers, as well as trends in your business: where your money is going, which materials are increasing in cost, what seasonal trends are affecting business…the list goes on. Zapier allows us to analyze this data in ways we never imagined before.
I built a dashboard that takes information from raw data and represents it visually in charts. This allows my team and I to easily visualize things like what our job type breakdown is, or how our profit margins increase or decrease depending on job type. If you’re using a CRM, how do you get information from that platform to the chart in the dashboard without exporting and importing? Zap! When we approve a job to be built – which is when we consider it sold – the Zap I created automatically pulls that data to the Google Sheet in which I built our dashboard. This gives me a real-time dashboard that requires no maintenance.
The possibilities are seemingly endless, which means Zapier is a 3rd party app that can be customized to your company’s specific needs and specific workflows. If you are constantly looking to streamline processes and systems (like I am), this is a game-changer for your business.
But Joe…I’m Not A Programmer
The thought of implementing 3rd party applications can be pretty daunting, especially if you haven’t fully integrated a CRM in your office yet. Believe me, I know. My background is in roofing, and I didn’t learn my trade while studying at MIT. I also know that you probably didn’t get into the contracting business to analyze data. That’s why I’m offering a way to help you learn more about Zapier and how you can start using it to automate your workflows.