Trade businesses are still a central part of the economy. Services offered by the likes of plumbers, electricians and mechanics are essential to running, well, anything. As sectors like professional services grow, the demand for trade services has to grow with them. That is why trade services are expected to increase by another 10 percent over the next decade. If trade businesses hope to keep up with this increased demand, they’re going to have to improve their ability to serve customers. In most cases, this boils down to a need for better organization. This brings us to business management apps. The category of software aims to simplify business management, and for trade businesses, Tradify is a name to consider.
I gave this a test-drive. Here’s what I learned.
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What Is Tradify?
To put it as simply as possible, Tradify is business management software geared specifically towards small, trade-based businesses. The goal of the software is to make the management side of the business as easy and automated as possible so tradesmen can focus on what they do best.
The first thing you need to know about the app is that it’s entirely cloud based. This is important because the cloud features allow the app to effortlessly sync across multiple devices. You can use it with PC, Mac, Android and iOS, so you don’t have to buy new hardware to make the software run. The cloud interaction also means that your information will be stored on professional servers. You have to track customer information in order to do the job. You absolutely don’t want to be at risk of mishandling that data and losing customer trust. The cloud software backs everything up with the highest levels of security.
And, when Tradify claims to handle all of business management, that’s not an idle brag. You’re looking at features for scheduling jobs, scheduling employees, creating quotes, invoicing, billing, tax management, timesheets, supply tracking, GPS and the list goes on. If there’s a tool you think could help you deliver your services to a customer, it’s probably already in the software.
What’s even better is that you can disseminate these tools to your team. You’ll have complete control over how much each person can access, and you have the option to let them use anything from remote invoicing to GPS tracking. They can fill out timesheets while on the job. Basically, if it could conceivably involve paperwork, they can do it on the smartphone app instead.
Which Businesses Benefit the Most From Tradify?
Tradify is designed for trade businesses. That sounds great, but what does it really mean? We’re not just talking about plumbers and electricians (although they are included). Tradify is good for any line of work that involves going to a customer or site and providing a trade service. This can include contracting, HVAC, IT services, VCR repair (this was starting to feel like those old trade school TV ads), window washing (being serious again) . . . You get the idea.
The businesses that benefit most from Tradify are the ones that provide services on the go. The app is streamlined exactly for managing mobile work. You could use it to run a storefront, but it wouldn’t be the best option.
How Do You Get Started With Tradify?
Now, we can get into more of the fun stuff. You understand what Tradify does, now let’s talk about actually using it. Your first tip is that the company offers a free, 14-day trial. I absolutely have to recommend it. Any time you can get your hands on software before you have to pay for it is a good thing. Ultimately, I’m going to be recommending Tradify, but my opinion should pale in comparison to your own. Try it for free. Make up your own mind.
When you start the free trial, you can set it up with PC, Mac or mobile. Let’s start with computers. Since everything runs through the cloud, all you have to do is create an account. They don’t even ask for credit card information for the trial, so you don’t have to worry about automatic billing charging you later. That’s honestly pretty nice.
You also don’t have to download anything. Once your account is up and running, you’ll do everything through a web app. In the setup process, you’re going to be given a short questionnaire.
The questions are designed to personalize your resources and save you time later. Everything that can be will be automatically arranged. You won’t have to meticulously organize all of your tools when you’re playing with your app (although you certainly can if that’s your style).
At most, the questionnaire takes five minutes. That’s assuming you type with two fingers and have to look for every key you tap. If computers aren’t alien to your fingers, you’re probably looking at one to two minutes of effort. That’s all it takes to get to a personalized dashboard.
At this point, you are up and running, but you’re not running at full steam. To maximize the software, it’s going to walk you through seven steps. If you hate computers, this will feel like pulling teeth at first. Once you give it a chance, you’ll realize it’s actually insanely easy.
Easy, by the way, is the central theme of Tradify. You’ll see the word a lot, and it’s the reason I’m recommending that you try this apps.
So, your additional setup steps are all about streamlining paperwork in the business. There’s a step where you can link accounting software. It’s one of the most powerful features in Tradify, and we’re definitely going to talk about it later. Other steps let you add tax information, create billing/invoicing templates, add staff members to the app and even create specific jobs. Going through these steps will teach you how to use the software, so it’s worth the handful of minutes you’ll spend on it.
That covers PC and Mac. If you’re setting up Tradify on mobile, it’s arguably even easier. If you already have your account, you just have to download the app from the store and sign in. If you’re starting with mobile, then there’s that extra step of creating an account. No big deal. In the mobile setup, I did notice an extra step. It gave me the chance to create my first template, and it was a nice touch. It gave me a better idea of exactly how the app could help me run my business. It even offered to make an original logo for my company. I have my own already, so I skipped that and added my logo later.
Again, I have to emphasize that this whole thing only took a couple of minutes. I made it to the mobile dashboard in no time. While it looks different from the web version (obviously), it servers all of the same functions. Not most. All. You can run Tradify entirely on mobile if you want. Personally, I like my desktop, but this thing is malleable, and that helps make it easy to use.
You got an overview of features earlier, but in order to give a real review of the software, I have to go deeper into them. I’m going to hit the main features in detail, but I have to reiterate something. You won’t appreciate how easy all of this is until you try it (I promised that was going to be a theme).
Job management is kind of the point of the software. To call it a key feature is a bit of an understatement. The dashboard will quickly become your central hub. You can create, track and manage every single job the business takes. The dashboard can help you prioritize projects by time and importance, and it centralizes the information — making it easy to see all of the details of each job. You can track who is working the job, where they are currently located (gotta love the GPS), what parts and tools were taken to the site, expected cost, quoted price . . . You see how these lists are long. You get a lot of power in the software.
You also get to share it. I mentioned this earlier, but the point hits home. You can share as much or little of this information as you see fit with the employee on the site. It can easily help them stay on task and on schedule.
If Tradify only helped you track specific job information, it would be valuable. It also offers big-picture resources. You can marry all of the money aspects of the work to the projects. You can see expenses alongside the schedule. You can even do cost analysis within the app to help make sure you’re hitting the numbers you need.
The fact that you can share organizational resources with your employees is an amazing touch. It’s one thing for the boss to have a nice software suite. It’s quite another to give that same software to every single employee. To do it all for the same price? You’re starting to see why this review is so positive.
Tradify’s time management does more than let you see a schedule. You get real-time tracking of every staff member on every job. The software fully automates scheduling, and it prevents you from double booking or otherwise overextending your resources. You can set up automated reminders for everyone tied to a project, and you can manually send notifications as needed. In short, it’s a central hub for keeping the entire business on schedule at all times. It’s your robot secretary.
If this app was only aiding your organization, it would be worth the investment. The other features are more than a cherry on top. They’re incredibly valuable. The quoting kits allow you to make templates for every kind of quote you can need. Each customer can get a customized quote, and it won’t take any extra effort on your part to provide that nice touch of quality.
Making the templates is extremely intuitive. You can keep it simple and stick with defaults, or you can get into intricate detail with each template you make. It’s entirely up to you, but what you need to know is that neither choice will require much time or effort on your part.
If you have quoting, you probably want invoicing too. It’s also automated, and it’s also remotely available. Any employee can easily access the invoice they need for a client or customer. Like with quoting, you can stick to standard templates or get creative with your presentation. It’s all up to your preferences.
This is where I thought the software started to get cool. I work in IT, and I told as much to Tradify in the questionnaire. There are two specific things that helped me that might not help every trade. The dashboard lets me set up itemized sales of hardware, and it lets me track suppliers. I have contracts with hardware suppliers in order to build and repair computers and equipment on the job. Tradify allowed me to integrate those supplier contracts into my dashboard, and it let me set up a simple tool for billing parts that I have to use.
This is extremely useful for my line of work, and there are plenty of other industries that would enjoy these features. I didn’t pretend to be a roofer or piano tuner to try and see how the software helps those industries, but in my experience, the questionnaire really does improve the experience by making sure you have some specialized tools. It is easily one of my favorite features.
I didn’t see a marketing tab on the dashboard, but despite that, I could clearly identify ways for the software to help me with this aspect of the business. Mostly, it comes down to powerful customer tracking. Since you can keep details of every customer, the app makes it easier to identify patterns that might help your marketing strategy. I saw that a lot of my customers are doctor’s offices (which I admittedly already knew). By comparing the different doctors who employ me, I could find preferences in the computer parts they ordered and identify busier and slower seasons. In short, Tradify gave me opportunities to steer harder into my vertical market.
Finally, I’m getting back to software integration. I mentioned earlier that Tradify can combine with your financial software. That’s a big statement. At the time of my review, there were only a handful of financial suites that were supported, but that list included QuickBooks. I use QuickBooks, and I’m under the impression that pretty much everyone else does too. The integration allows Tradify to pull financial information from QuickBooks and vice versa. It’s such a simple concept, but it defines the whole experience. You’re adding all of the resources of Tradify to what you already use, and you’re doing it in a way that doesn’t make your job of managing the business any harder. If for no other reason, this is why I’m recommending you play with a free trial.
Pros and Cons
So far, this has been a glowing review. You should understand why. The software is powerful and easy. There’s not much more to ask than that. But, this is a review, and that means I have to ding the software for all of its shortcomings.
- Optimized for field reporting. The cloud structure ensures that everyone can use the software at any job site.
- Customizable system. It’s intended to mold to your business, not the other way around.
- Extremely easy to use. You need absolutely no computer background to utilize the resources to their fullest.
- Flexibility. Tradify automates as much as possible, but you can always make manual corrections when necessary.
- Subscription Service. If you prefer a one-time bill, you’ll be disappointed. Tradify is a monthly subscription service.
- Accounting integration is limited. It works with some major players (like Xero and QuickBooks), but if you have a more specialized accounting suite, you may be losing out on the integration feature.
- Cloud based. Being on the cloud comes with it’s own pros and cons, the biggest of which is that you need an internet connection to use the tools.
The customer support experience was interesting. I didn’t actually have any problems with the software, so I couldn’t fully engage the troubleshooting experience. I did go through the help center and created a ticket — just to see how the company does — but without a real problem, it was probably less frustrating than it could have been.
Getting support is pretty easy. There’s a help center with tons of FAQs and tips. If you’ve ever tried to get help with software, you know the drill. Getting direct help is friendlier than a lot of other software providers. Most companies send you in circles before they let you interact with a human. Tradify makes contact easy to find, and that speaks volumes to their support philosophy.
When you do need to talk with a human, you can create an email ticket or get live chat. For the email support, it’s a single click within the dashboard. You can upload files with a simple drag and drop and explain the issue.
You’ll get an automated support email immediately. From there, resolving the issue depends on what went wrong, but I received a real, human response within 30 minutes of creating my ticket. I can’t promise it’s always this fast, but I have to give Tradify credit for a speedy response in my interaction.
When you aren’t creating a help ticket, you can still talk to a human being. Tradify runs a live chat service (rather than a phone service). You can access it from the website’s help center. You fill out a form, and you get put into a queue. I was connected in less than five minutes.
On the mobile apps, support is a slightly different experience. Instead of creating tickets straight from the app, it redirects you to the support page of the website. Once there, everything runs like it does from a desktop, but I’ll say that the inability to create a ticket from the app is a minus. It’s a small minus, but if you want a unified experience across all devices, this is a minor way the app fails.
A second ding comes from the lack of phone support. If you need help with the software while on the job, phone support is valuable. It’s faster, and it doesn’t rely on an internet connection. For an IT guy, that’s particularly important because a lot of my work involves fixing faulty internet. There’s definitely room for improvement in this area.
Overall, I have to say the support is good. It’s fast, friendly, easy and responsive. Phone support would be great, but it might make the app cost more, and I’m not entirely sure that’s worth it.
The Bottom Line
This is a review, so let’s award some scores.
Ease of Use 5/5
This is easily where Tradify shines the brightest. They know their audience, and they designed the software for trade workers to use it on the go. It’s hard to imagine it being any easier. Despite that, you are not sacrificing power with this software. It is comprehensive and intelligent, but you don’t need dedicated training courses to use it. If nothing else, it’s easy to recommend Tradify on this merit alone.
Bang for the Buck 4/5
The only way Tradify could improve on value is by being completely free. But, that’s not how the world works and we all understand it. $40 a month is easy to justify for a software package that completely organizes the business. Hiring an office manager to do the same job would cost thousands of dollars, and they might not be as effective. It’s a tiny investment with huge return potential — easily worth the money.
Customer Support 3/5
Tradify offers comprehensive customer support. Overall, it’s a positive, but it isn’t the best customer support in the business (although it’s as good as you’ll find for $40 a month). There are enterprise solutions that offer personalized accounts that respond immediately and are completely devoted to 24/7 support. Those solutions cost thousands of times as much as Tradify. For what you’re buying, the customer support is adequate.
Tradify has pretty much everything you’ll want. After spending enough time with it, you might email them a suggestion for minute changes, but they really will be minute. The only thing holding the app back from a perfect score is integration. The integration they offer is excellent, but more options would be better. Not everyone uses Quickbooks. If they take the time to incorporate more accounting software into their integration feature, they’ll push this up to a five.
As it stands, the organization, accounting, job management and coordination features are an impressive combination of easy and powerful (there’s that theme again). In short, Tradify gets a glowing recommendation. If you’re looking to improve how you manage a trade business, this is probably what you need. Considering the free trial, there’s absolutely no reason to be shy.