The service industry covers a wide range of professions — from accountants to designers, contractors, photographers, architects and much more. But every services business — no matter what type of service it provides — needs the right tools to help it start and scale efficiently.
Here are the top five new technologies and tools that everyone in the service industry should be using:
Mobile card payments tools
The data is undeniable: cash-only businesses won’t cut it for much longer. Australians only carry an average of $55 in their wallets, and they top up their funds at ATMs less than once a week. In addition to meeting customers where they are, accepting card payments on the spot also reduces your reliance on invoicing and keeps you from having to chase down clients when they forget to pay.
Accepting payments with a mobile card reader is the fastest, most convenient way to ensure you’re getting paid for your valuable time, in the most efficient way. Square has two options available for businesses — Square Reader for chip cards ($19, enabling you to accept chip and magstripe cards) and the new Square Reader for contactless and chip ($59, enabling you to accept tap-and-go cards, mobile wallets and chip cards). Both readers are small enough to fit in your pocket, can be charged conveniently with the included micro USB adapter, and have no recurring monthly fees or lock-in contracts. You can feel safe knowing that you’re only charged a fee when you accept a payment.
As soon as the work is complete, businesses that are enabled to send invoices on the spot save valuable time after hours. E-invoicing tools and apps can get you paid up to 80 percent faster when compared to traditional processes (such as calculating and formatting an invoice in Excel). Square’s free invoicing software enables you to send unlimited e-invoices from the Square Point of Sale app or your online Dashboard, and your customers can then pay you quickly and securely with the click of a button. You’re charged only a flat fee when a customer pays you online, and you can also leverage other powerful features such as Card on File (which allows you to save a customer’s card for future payments) or recurring and scheduled invoices (which allow you to send invoices as part of a recurring series, or at a future date — great when you’re charging clients for retained services.)
Time management tools
Having the ability to accept appointments online, track your busiest trading hours and accept appointment deposits seamlessly (reducing the risk of no-shows) ensures that you’re optimising your operations for success. Square’s new integrations with two of the best appointment, booking and time management platforms available in Australia help you manage clients and reduce no-shows. SwiftHero is a Melbourne-based company that enables contractors and tradespeople to register their services with their platform in order to make it easy for prospective customers to book and pay for trusted service professionals quickly and easily. Once the job is done, SwiftHero’s simple integration allows you to accept card payments with Square Reader right from the app. Acuity Scheduling is another valuable platform that allows service providers to enable customers to book appointments online, reschedule and then pay a deposit (or pay in full) using Square’s secure online payment gateway.
Integrated accounting software
Streamlining your front-of-house operations is important for servicing your customers efficiently, but getting the back end sorted also helps you save time and run your business smarter. Integrating your point of sale with cloud-based accounting software allows your transaction data to flow seamlessly between platforms, improving accuracy and reducing the need for manual data entry. Square Point of Sale integrates with Intuit QuickBooks Online and Xero, giving you the choice of some of the world’s best cloud-based accounting software. Check out these (plust many more) valuable integrations in the Square App Marketplace.
Business intelligence and reporting insights
Once you have the tools to streamline your service business, it’s time to leverage data to help you grow. Using data from last year’s business performance gives you insight into everything from which services are most popular and which locations are benefitting most from marketing activities to where you could fine-tune your pricing based on demand. Square Analytics, which uses all the valuable data captured from your point-of-sale system, gives you an unparallelled level of insight into your business operations. You get an ongoing view of comparative sales reports, the busiest times of day, customer frequency and feedback, sales numbers by employee and much more. Best of all, it’s free to access all of these reports from your Dashboard.