Working Remotely

Tips for working remotely

Easing the remote transition

Working remotely isn’t a new idea, but it may be for you.

Now that you already have or are planning to send your office team home, here are a couple of tips that will help you and your construction contracting office staff.

Tonya Schulte, cofounder of The Profit Constructors, offers two tips that will enhance the effectiveness of your remote office workers.

As you’ve seen, from creating redundancies for your document information and collection, to communicating efficiently with your team, some tools will help you get the job done.

Resources mentioned in the video:

Hubdoc

Slack

QuickBooks

Google Hangouts 

Microsoft Teams

Learn more by contacting our office

Learn more about ways to help your remote office staff work more effectively and efficiently.

Get in touch with us at this address: hello@schulteandschulte.com

We will see to it that you get to talk directly with Tonya. Spend up to 15 minutes discussing your specific concerns or needs. No strings attached. We promise.

 

How to Know if Your Office System is a Mess

Office systems to keep you from having an office that is a literal and figurative mess.

Office systems – they’re no joke

Office systems could be funny, right? Let’s step back a moment and look at where this post came from.

As per my own advice, I keep a Squirrel List of ideas that have crossed my path.

Occasionally I scan through it when deciding what to write that will benefit our subcontractor clients. A while back I had written what became the title to this article (How to know if your office system is a mess) with a following note which said, “It requires a new file cabinet.” Yeah, I thought is was funny in my own off-the-wall way. You see, we often work with our clients to help them move towards a paperless office for the sake of both security as well as efficiency.

Next, I thought what other “funny” things can I add besides the file cabinet “joke” to come up with a lighthearted post for this page. Turns out office systems are a pretty down-to-earth item not to be tampered with – much. With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy I present the following guide.

Your office system might be a mess if:

Your cleaning crew can’t find your desk

The neighbors complain about the weekly trash overflowing – every week

You would rather be anywhere (including the dog-house) instead of your office

Your biggest business goal is to determine where in the office you left your mobile phone

It requires a new file cabinet

Your office system is important

Office systems in your subcontracting business are just as important as the systems you use in the shop, during the service call, or on the construction site. Get your office systems right and you are a step ahead of your competitors – a giant step ahead.

The absolute, down in the trenches, give-away that your office systems aren’t functioning well is this – you don’t have time for the important stuff.

You don’t have time to work on the things that will grow your business, such as:

  • identify new business opportunities
  • formulate ways to form strategic partnerships
  • find new ways to provide extra value to your clients
  • provide mentorship or training to your valuable employees
  • pursue continuing education concerning tools, supplies, techniques, and best office practices
  • enhance field productivity
  • meet with potential clients
  • develop an effective and evolving organizational structure

Your office system IS a mess when

In no particular order there follows a list of clues showing your office system is a mess – and these aren’t all that funny. If you check off too many of these, you need to rein in the chaos and begin getting your office systems in order. (And yes, the team here at Schulte and Schulte is good at helping our clients pull on those reins.)

Your systems are all and only in your head

There is no backup plan for when things go wrong

You have too many daily goals

Your website is stagnant

Your email inbox is multiple pages long or (worse yet) your physical inbox is over-flowing

People keep quitting

Your few documented systems include names rather than titles concerning who does the work

No one knows where to look for lost information

The phone ringing isn’t a pleasure but a disturbance

You haven’t created (documented) repeatable systems for all your processes

You’re unsure of your costs and expenditures

You don’t know who owes you nor how much they owe

You’re unwilling (or don’t know how) to remove non-performers

You spend too much time putting out fires

Neither you nor your employees can describe your company culture (learn how here)

The physical layout of your office doesn’t lead easily to next-step tasks

You don’t have clarity of purpose

You don’t have a growth-through-systems mindset

And last, but not least . . . it requires a new file cabinet 🤡

If you like having accounting and office systems that work to make you more efficient and effective, therefore making you more profitable, then you can get in touch here or by calling 866-629-7735 to set your place on our waiting list.

Hubdoc Explained for Subcontractors

Hubdoc saves time and makes your accounting more efficient.

Hubdoc pulls your bank statements, recurring bills, and uploaded receipts into one hub. Yet, that is just the beginning. Using Hubdoc means you can reduce the need for manual data entry and paper filing. Time to get rid of that ugly file cabinet? Your “stuff” is stored in the cloud. And, this is a biggy – you can get to what you need in one place. That means you no longer need to log into multiple sites to retrieve the information you’re after.

Hubdoc is set up by us, for you

We set up the Hubdoc account and then work with you to get all of your documents flowing into it auto-magically!

What we ask of you is:

  1. Set up view only user access to your bank accounts

 

  1. Make an accounting email address on your email domain

 

  1. Create your User ID and Password through the link we send you

What we do on our end

After we’ve gotten the initial stages set up, we configure your Hubdoc account to sync with your QuickBooks system. This allows you to publish your bills and receipts right from Hubdoc into QuickBooks.*

3 ways to get your docs into Hubdoc

  1. The phone app allows you to use your phone’s camera as the means of entry

 

  1. From the web-based app you can drag and drop the documents where they belong

 

  1. With the custom email you’re provided you can email them into the system

The magic behind the system

The magic is called Optical Character Recognition (OCR.) It “reads” receipts and creates transactions that will export to QuickBooks where a match is created in the bank feeds.

Optical Character Recognition is a technology that enables you to convert different types of documents, such as scanned paper documents, PDF files, or images captured by a digital camera into editable and searchable data.

If you’re interested in the technology behind the magic, this article from lifewire is enlightening. From the article: “OCR, also referred to as text recognition, is software technology that transforms characters such as numbers, letters, and punctuation (also called glyphs) from printed or written documents into an electronic form more easily recognized and read by computers and other software programs.”

What we like best about Hubdoc

Hubdoc saves you time and all the while it is building a digital archive of your business documents.

Yeah, but what about security?

Take a moment to look at the layers of security provided by Hubdoc.  They even offer a guide to the user concerning practices which will help you protect your Hubdoc account from your end.

*Publishing to QuickBooks is a feature available only to QuickBooks Online users. But don’t despair we have solutions for you QuickBooks desktop users also.

Your call to action

Tell us today you want to take your place on our waiting list. Call us 480-442-4032 or Toll Free at 866-629-7735. Or use the form found here.

The Best Supporting Tech Nominee Is . . .

tech as supporting app for accounting software

Hubdoc! 

Whether or not you faithfully watch the annual Hollywood extravaganza known as the Academy Awards, you know there is a competitive division known as “Best Supporting Actor.” Much like the movie world, the real-life accounting world has tech. Tech which supports the big-name players. Those in the supporting rolls make the movie (or the accounting) so much better.

Let’s break this down

The best tools you own don’t perform well if they’re used with the wrong attachments. For example, your top-of-the line drill is no good if the wrong bit is inserted. Put the wrong blade in your table saw and there will be trouble. If using the correct accessories is important in the shop or on the jobsite, using the correct accessories in your office tech stack is just as important. By choosing the correct accessories for your subcontractor office and accounting needs, you begin to develop your tech stack.

What is a tech stack?

Consider the Apple or Google app stores that provide add-on apps for smart phones. The basic tool is your phone. The tech stack you create through adding the apps gives you a well-rounded and useful tool. A tool for getting many things done outside of simply making phone calls. In the same manner, you can drop in at the QuickBooks app store and find a plethora of “accessories” to add to your accounting software.

Which brings us back to Hubdoc

If you took time to peek at the offerings for apps on the QuickBooks page you likely noticed Hubdoc among the mix. And, the simple explanation of what Hubdoc does is listed on that page as, “Your key financial docs in one place automatically.” What they say is true, yet it is best not to skim over that brief sentence and move on. If I could give you a drum-roll right here I would. This is really rather astounding when you think about it.

How much time do you, your office staff, and your project managers waste scrambling to find minor as well as major pieces of your accounting information? How many people or desks do you disturb, how many places do you search in your digital or physical spaces to gather up all the info you need for your bookkeeper?

Wouldn’t you welcome a better way to collect, store, and organize your documents? Put simply, Hubdoc can save you valuable time and help you increase efficiency.

Next week I’ll dive deeper into Hubdoc. It is a fantastic accessory which aids your ability to organize and systemize your construction office. Oh yeah, by the way, here are some of the things our clients have said to us about Hubdoc:

“Oh man, this is going to make my job so much easier.”

“That’s it? Wow, this way is so much better than what we’ve been doing.”

“I didn’t know how much better this would be until you showed me.”

Your call to action

Give Schulte and Schulte a call today so you can take your spot on our waiting list.  480-442-4032 or connect with us here.

Interview With Tonya Schulte Concerning Attending Scaling New Heights 2017

Tonya Schulte, one of our founders, will be attending Scaling New Heights 2017, in Orlando, Florida June fourth through the seventh. I tracked her down and got her to answer a few questions about the event and what part she will have in it.

Yvonne:

Tonya, when did you first hear about the Scaling New Heights 2017 convention which is taking place in Orlando, Florida this year? And what is it about this event that sets it apart?

Tonya:

Since this is an annual event, it has been on my radar for over a year, but I didn’t dream back then that I’d be able to attend. Scaling New Heights is one of the biggest accounting events of the year and what really sets it apart is the way in which Woodard makes a point of making it anything but a boring accountant’s convention. They make it FUN!

Yvonne:

We hear that at first you were not sure you would be able to attend, what made you change your mind?

Tonya:

An unexpected, but pleasant surprise came when I was asked to speak at the event!

Yvonne:

Very exciting stuff! So, first of all, what will you be talking about?

Tonya:

The fine folks at Knowify, one of our favorite apps for construction contractors, contacted me first and asked if I’d be willing to give one of the peer-led sessions to tell others about how to find and use their app. Then, I was asked by Woodard if I would do the same for Hubdoc, another app that we use daily with our clients.

Yvonne:

And, can you give us a peek into what you will be sharing with those who attend your sessions?

Tonya:

Well, I love both of these apps for so many reasons, but the main focus of each session will be on how and why to use them and what benefit the pros and the clients get from each app.

Yvonne:

You’ve also mentioned you’re excited about two other aspects of attending the convention – getting to meet people you only know through online interaction, and learning more tips and tricks of the trade. Tell us a few of the people you are looking forward to meeting and why.

Tonya:

There are so many, I’m not sure where to start! I’m very much looking forward to meeting Laura Redmond and Sarah Sivesind in person. As much as we love Knowify and Hubdoc, we also love Aero Workflow equally as well. I don’t really know how we would run our practice without that wonderful service. It helps us keep on task, gives us feedback about our estimated vs actual time spent on projects and tasks and gives us a way to correctly track time spent on consulting hourly work. We love it. I am also really looking forward to meeting Cathy Iconis from QBOChat and so many of the wonderful app partners that we’ve gotten to know through that venue like Avalara, TSheets, Expensify and so on!

Yvonne:

And, have you already determined your own learning schedule? Do you know which sessions are on your “for sure I’m attending” list?

Tonya:

So much is packed into the days and you have to be choosy. I haven’t narrowed it down completely yet. I do know that I’m very excited about the productivity and task management sessions and the marketing sessions. Those are the areas where our firm needs to learn and grow right now. I will have to sit down soon and make a definite plan!

Yvonne:

What would you say to your fellow accounting experts about attending Scaling New Heights 2017?

Tonya:

This event is one of the premier events for those of us who are looking to take our firms to the next level and into the future. If you are serious about working with clients in this new technological age, you really should be thinking about attending this event now and into the future.

Yvonne:

What do you wish to say to your clients about how your attendance at this event may affect them?

Tonya:

As our clients know, we are on their team. I am very excited for the ways in which I am going to learn to serve our clients better and make each of their teams better for my having attended this powerhouse conference.

Yvonne:

We know you’re going to be staying on Disney property at the Coronado Resort, and that should be lots of fun just to begin with, yet we have it on good report that you’re taking your dad along with you as your escort and companion. Will you fill us in on why he will be going with you and what you two have up your sleeve for “after convention” hours?

Tonya:

It is going to be a crazy ride for sure! We arrive Saturday evening and the conference gets into full swing on Sunday, but I have heard that several family members who live closer to the eastern seaboard plan to travel to Orlando and see us! It should be a packed, packed, packed few days between conference stuff, meet and greets and family time. I’ll probably come back to Arizona and crash!

Yvonne:

Thanks for sharing with us about your Scaling New Heights 2017 adventure. I think I speak for the rest of the team when I say, “We wish you well and . . . well, swag will be appreciated.” Haha

Tonya:

Haha! I’ll remind all of the app partners you said that! Wink, wink!

HUBDOC: All Financial Docs In One Place

In this monthly post, I’d like to take some time and introduce you to one of many apps that we at Schulte and Schulte endorse and recommend to our customers.

As a firm of construction accounting specialists, of course we would love to help companies in the construction industry with their books and finances, but we also would like to suggest different apps or software that we feel may help our clients out. During this monthly feature, we will be taking a look at several apps that we love at Schulte and Schulte, and dig a little bit deeper into our favorites.

This month, we would like to introduce you to Hubdoc.

 

 

Hubdoc has been an absolute lifesaver for us and our clients in tracking down all of the different financial documents that our clients create and receive. Hubdoc automatically pulls your online bills and bank statements into one secure hub so that these don’t have to be chased down anymore. These documents can be pulled right from your email account, or if you have paper documents, they can be scanned onto your computer and then uploaded to Hubdoc by using a unique email address you are given or by dragging and dropping from your files. They also have a smartphone app that will allow you to take a picture of a receipt or document and upload it to your Hubdoc. Pretty slick!

 

Some of the features of Hubdoc that we have come to love and depend on are:

  • Data management, not data entry
    • Every time a document is fetched or uploaded, Hubdoc extracts the key data and seamlessly creates entries in QuickBooks Online with source documents attached.
  • Automatically audit-proofs your business
    • Through integration, Hubdoc transactions are automatically matched with the bank feed in QuickBooks Online. Audit-proofing your business has never been so effortless.
  • Supercharged automation with vendor rules
    • Vendor rules are a powerful way to take greater control of how receipts, bills and statements are coded into your cloud accounting and cloud payments solutions.
  • Easy collaboration with your advisers – like your friends at Schulte and Schulte!
    • With Hubdoc, your advisers have the documents they need, when they need them. And you have confidence your docs are organized, secure in the cloud and accessible from anywhere.

 

If this sounds like a helpful app, please get in touch with us! We would love to assist you in getting a free trial set up, as well as an opportunity to walk you through the ins and outs of Hubdoc.

5 Tips to Help You Streamline Your Construction Contracting Business

There are deadlines to meet, customers to satisfy, and (let’s face it) the important dollar to chase.  You work hard to build your contracting business. Finding ways to streamline the regular functioning is an ongoing process. Today, we present five “tools” for you to use in making your business run a little more smoothly.

 

Close the door!

Even if you decided to start your own construction contracting firm because you didn’t like your former boss’s real or implied closed door policy, you really need to close the door sometimes.

Both doors. Close the virtual door as well as the actual door – for a half hour or so. If you’re a morning person, close the door in the morning. If you function at your best later in the day, that is the time to close the door. Make this a regular part of your daily routine.

Use the private time you enjoy behind the closed door to plan, assess, gather your thoughts, refresh, breathe. A word of warning — it may be harder to teach yourself to take this time than it will be to teach those around you to honor this time. But, it is worth it!

 

Say “No” like you mean it!

Whether your contract is with your ideal client or that pesky frequent-change-order dude there are still times when you simply need to say, “No, I won’t be able to do that.” It isn’t because you don’t want to satisfy your customer, your colleagues, your staff, or whoever has made the latest request. It is because you are the one responsible for setting your healthy boundaries.

It’s not uncommon for the owners and managers of construction contracting firms to over-extend themselves. (Heck, even we bookkeepers can find ourselves in this quagmire on occasion.) Bad thing is, too many “yeses” leads to too many “stresses.” Learning to say no and avoiding the guilt trip that accompanies the response frees you to make the “Yes” call on the important matters.

 

Get, learn about, and use good Apps and Tech Tools!

You already know that using the right tool for the job is imperative. Don’t neglect the right tool for your office.

A couple of apps we use and recommend frequently are Hubdoc and Knowify.

Hubdoc is all about document automation, it lets you turn paperwork into data which is actual useful.

And, Knowify is a tool for managing your entire contracting business in one place.

Oh yeah, we ought to let you know, we have an entire series coming up all about these two apps as well as a few others. We’ll give you the “down low” and let you know how to put them to good use in your construction contracting business.

*Update* Check the first in this series about apps we recommend. It is all about Hubdoc.

*Update* Here is another article by our Technological Operations Leader, Steve Lewis, letting you know more about Knowify 

*Update* Find out all about Jobber and how it can work for you.

*Update* Look at what Steve tells us about CoConstruct — cool stuff!

*Update* Steve let’s us in on the story about 17hats.

Build the Team you can count on!

It is hard to get good help these days.

Especially in the construction industry.

Here are some ideas as well as links to some of the places you may want to search for that “good help” you’re in need of.

Field or shop employees

Whatever forces (and there are many) have brought about the difficulty of finding skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen in the construction industry these days, there are still some methods which may be worth trying to find that “just right” new hire.

This rather lengthy but quite informative article is worth perusing if you’re having difficulty finding and keeping excellent field and shop staff.

We noticed a couple of local sources for schools which you may wish to contact. One is at the high school level, and you can go to the website here and the other is college level, access it here.

Two sources found here and here are available if you’re willing to pay for staffing.

And, if you simply want to pay for ads you can check out Monster or go with one or more of the local newspapers.

Plus you can try one or more of these 5 no cost or low cost methods of advertising your need for skilled workers

  1. The tried and true, longstanding method of word of mouth is still viable and useful. Tell your present employees, your friends, your colleagues, your social contacts what type of person and skill you’re searching for.
  2. Hang a banner on your shop or office building.
  3. Place a Craig’s List ad.
  4. Put an ad on your website.
  5. Create a clever video ad to be used on all your social media sites.

Office staff 

While it may seem easier to find office staff there is still the need for caution and due diligence when you’re ready to hang out the “help wanted” sign. Some places or ways you may wish to try are the local newspapers and Craig’s List for simple ads, word of mouth, on your website, or through a staffing agency.

And, because we ourselves are an outsource firm we can’t pass up the opportunity to mention outsourcing as a viable alternative to in-house help. You may want to hire a virtual assistant for administrative tasks, or find a marketing guru, seek a social planner, or . . . well you get the picture. Whether you need someone long term or for a one-off there are plenty of outsource sources available.

Having the right people on your team will also allow you to delegate more easily.  Of course, building your team will take time, yet once they are in place, your shop and office will be better prepared and better qualified to get the job done!

 

And lastly, 5 Simple Tricks to Shrug off the procrastination monster!

  1. Think about what excites you. Decide why this task will help you reach your goal.
  2. Change your perspective. Who will benefit when you get this job done? Your client? Your family? Your employees? Envision their pleased reaction when you complete the task at hand.
  3. Make and use a to-do list. Whether electronic or on paper this list is vital. Checking off completed items not only gives you a moment of satisfaction, it also gives you the boost to carry on.
  4. Devote small increments of time to a big task. Avoid overwhelm by predetermining daily time or space limits regarding that one big thing that really must be completed.
  5. Be realistic. Set reasonable targets. Unrealistic targets feed procrastination – you’ll be tempted to think, “Why start on this, it’s impossible to get done.”

 

All streamlining is about is finding the right time to do the right thing. So now is the time to choose the next right action. When you find you have distractions or doubt, come back to this essay. You’ll find something to help get you back on track. Run with it!