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Discussion How do you stay organized?

Stacey K

I like making signs
Just wanted to update. I've been using clipboards and paper since I opened 5 years ago. I tried doing other things and always went back to paper. WELL...the guy on here who mentioned Signtracker caught my attention. I've been using it for 2 weeks now and unless I have paper notes, I don't bother with a clipboard anymore. I did the one-person subscription. So far I haven't gotten into the estimating part of it, just the job flow part but WOW - huge impact on me staying organized and on top of things. Cuts a lot of wasted time in looking through clipboards, printing paper, etc. My desk is clear! I'm still tracking my supplies in Excel but when you have 40-50 jobs going, all those clipboards get messed up.

My vote for a small shop is for Signtracker
 

brdesign

New Member
I've recently started using Invoice Ninja https://invoiceninja.com/ for creating invoices but also allows you to create projects linked to the invoice and assign tasks within the project. It really has a lot of features for open-source software. It's not everything that I want but it's good enough for now.
 

Gary1

New Member
Thanks for the info guys, good stuff so far!

What about more specifically how to prioritize those tasks/orders/quotes? Not necessarily which software you use, more just how you pick and choose the order to attack things.
I use Sign Tracker to organize jobs and make quotes. Been two yrs now using it. I like it and the support is great!
 

White Haus

Newbie
Just wanted to update. I've been using clipboards and paper since I opened 5 years ago. I tried doing other things and always went back to paper. WELL...the guy on here who mentioned Signtracker caught my attention. I've been using it for 2 weeks now and unless I have paper notes, I don't bother with a clipboard anymore. I did the one-person subscription. So far I haven't gotten into the estimating part of it, just the job flow part but WOW - huge impact on me staying organized and on top of things. Cuts a lot of wasted time in looking through clipboards, printing paper, etc. My desk is clear! I'm still tracking my supplies in Excel but when you have 40-50 jobs going, all those clipboards get messed up.

My vote for a small shop is for Signtracker
Thanks for the update! I'm glad to hear it's working for you. I've looked at it briefly before but maybe it's time for another look.
 

ADVANCED DISPLAY

ADVANCED DISPLAY
Just wanted to update. I've been using clipboards and paper since I opened 5 years ago. I tried doing other things and always went back to paper. WELL...the guy on here who mentioned Signtracker caught my attention. I've been using it for 2 weeks now and unless I have paper notes, I don't bother with a clipboard anymore. I did the one-person subscription. So far I haven't gotten into the estimating part of it, just the job flow part but WOW - huge impact on me staying organized and on top of things. Cuts a lot of wasted time in looking through clipboards, printing paper, etc. My desk is clear! I'm still tracking my supplies in Excel but when you have 40-50 jobs going, all those clipboards get messed up.

My vote for a small shop is for Signtracker
ohhhh my god, clear desk? like no clutter? Say it sloowwwww lol that sounds absolutely amazing! Yea I have been looking at them as well, the workflow's (kind of) starting to slow down and once the slow season is upon us I'm making that implementation for sure. It's almost daily I'm running around with my manager looking for a damn piece of paper that we both remember seeing usually one of us is accusing the other of moving it on us lol
 

Stacey K

I like making signs
ohhhh my god, clear desk? like no clutter? Say it sloowwwww lol that sounds absolutely amazing! Yea I have been looking at them as well, the workflow's (kind of) starting to slow down and once the slow season is upon us I'm making that implementation for sure. It's almost daily I'm running around with my manager looking for a damn piece of paper that we both remember seeing usually one of us is accusing the other of moving it on us lol
I replaced my pile of job boxes with a monitor that has Signtracker on it! LOL!!!!!

And to be honest...3 monitors is plenty, I'm getting whiplash with 3!
 

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JamesLam

New Member
I'm well organized.
When something is called for, my first inclination us to panic. Then I do ~ panic.
I frantically dig under clumps of chaos, always to no avail.
Here's my office.

:mad:

View attachment 147140
The important thing here is to not let anyone (including your wife) touch this. The above image is of course an exaggeration but when people have piles or stacks on their desk the stuff is compartmentalized. The people know what stack to look and how far down something is. Do not mess with this system. Even George Carlin would agree.
 

k_graham

New Member
One of my main goals this year is to use my time more efficiently every day. We all know how quickly a 12 hour day can disappear when you're wearing 6 hats and bouncing back and forth between interruptions and putting fires out.

I know there is tons of info online about time management etc - I'm more interested in having a conversation with people in the industry as I'm sure we all experience some of the same challenges. From dealing with quotes, new orders, inventory, running equipment, quality control, sales, customer service etc - there are a lot to bases to cover especially when you're a smaller company and don't have team members for each position.

How do you keep your day organized and chaos-free? Do you have any tricks/systems/apps/etc that you couldn't live without when it comes to running your business? What is working for you right now and what would you like to improve on?

Things that work for us so far:

-Morning review (Ideally the production schedule should already be mapped out from the day before)
-Weekly review (Plan the week and come up with a realistic idea of what we're looking at)
-Smartsheet software (We use this for our job board, production schedule, misc spreadsheets)
-Creating & documenting systems for everything we do (This is, and will continue to be, a work in progress - but is one of the most important steps)
-Outsource when possible (Vector Doctor, designers for more complicated projects, 4over, local installers etc)

Areas where we can improve:

-Turning down projects that aren't a good fit (this is hard, but getting easier)
-Prioritizing requests - Quotes/New Orders (most of the time it's the customer that yells the loudest and is the biggest pain in the a$$ that gets served fastest - that part needs to change)
-Dedicating at least 1-2 hours a day where I'm "unavailable" to work on business development and new business

I'm sure there are more but I thought I'd get the ball rolling with a few ideas. We've definitely come a long way of the last couple years but still have a long way to go before the company is truly a well oiled-machine.

Hopefully we can get a conversation going and share some valuable information for all.

Thanks in advance for any contributions to the discussion.

Cheers,

Pat
I agree with the creating and documenting systems. Unfortunately some employees will try job protection where they want to be the only ones that know how do the job, instead of realizing that if they can document the job so anyone can do it then they are so much more valuable and supervisor or owner material. I have been in the process of retiring the last few years with employees purchasing shares on a monthly basis so that in 4 more years they will own it completely. With my wife and me already spending many months a year in Mexico the business could not have continued if it had not been for the documenting of systems.

One item I am using on the maintenance side is a Vehicle log for the Cell phone that works equally well for building maintenance, as well as vehicle maintenance, maybe even for personal maintenance (Vaccination scheduling, doctor visits scheduling). For building maintenance things that need logging like Fire Extinguisher checks and power outage backup lights that need checking monthly, even oil changes on the snowblower, Furnace filters 3 months etc but within building maintenance instead of creating yet another item. After trying a few free trials I found I liked https://simplyauto.app/#pricing and initially purchased the Gold lifetime after starting with free trial. Then at Christmas I noticed they seemed to be offering the Platinum as a lifetime Membership for around 30.00 so upgraded 1 copy to it. You are able to use Gold as a multi user program if you purchase 1 Gold for each phone. A detraction to that is sharing seems to share all the data, I would prefer each user to only have their responsibility with me being able to see and view reports on all.

To give you an idea I have a business location entered, 2 houses, 2 vehicles, plus 1 motorcycle, a utility trailer, and most recently myself. That is not to mention the Generator, 2 lawnmowers, 1 snowblower that are included in the houses.

Tip, if entering building data and it wants mileage instead of just date, I enter a ficticious mileage of year-month-day so its always incrementing upwards as if you try to enter a new mileage that is less than older mileage for date then it refuses to do it.

Ken Graham CommunityPrinters.com PlayaLindaHotelTapachula.com
 

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ADVANCED DISPLAY
I replaced my pile of job boxes with a monitor that has Signtracker on it! LOL!!!!!

And to be honest...3 monitors is plenty, I'm getting whiplash with 3!
So tell me, do you use QuickBooks for your business? I do and one of the attractive things to me was that it integrates with QuickBooks, so I (apparently) can load my customer list and products, and in my mind it streamlines things a big so anyone who started or contributed to the paperwork of a job, it’ll all end up in a invoice I can just approve and send.

At least I hope that’s how it’ll work anyway lol
 

Stacey K

I like making signs
So tell me, do you use QuickBooks for your business? I do and one of the attractive things to me was that it integrates with QuickBooks, so I (apparently) can load my customer list and products, and in my mind it streamlines things a big so anyone who started or contributed to the paperwork of a job, it’ll all end up in a invoice I can just approve and send.

At least I hope that’s how it’ll work anyway lol
I don't...I use Wave Accounting which is free online. I am thinking of switching but I like Wave because it's really simple and clean. So far I didn't look too much at the estimating feature but once I figure that all out I might switch to Quickbooks.
 

Stacey K

I like making signs
So tell me, do you use QuickBooks for your business? I do and one of the attractive things to me was that it integrates with QuickBooks, so I (apparently) can load my customer list and products, and in my mind it streamlines things a big so anyone who started or contributed to the paperwork of a job, it’ll all end up in a invoice I can just approve and send.

At least I hope that’s how it’ll work anyway lol
Currently I do my estimating on a spreadsheet and I really do like it but I looked at the SignTracker and I think if I set it up I could get used to it. It seems very similar to my spreadsheet. So now...I have my spreadsheet, Signtracker and Wave. Definitely going to use the "slow period" coming up here after Christmas to consolidate some of this.
 

ColorCrest

New Member
So tell me, do you use QuickBooks for your business? I do and one of the attractive things to me was that it integrates with QuickBooks, so I (apparently) can load my customer list and products, and in my mind it streamlines things a big so anyone who started or contributed to the paperwork of a job, it’ll all end up in a invoice I can just approve and send.

At least I hope that’s how it’ll work anyway lol
I recommend anyone using SignTracker to fully understand their workflow and their use of common terminology because it’s very atypical and sometimes they use terms interchangeably.

An example is SignTracker considers a quote to be a “job” even before it’s approved and will archive unapproved quotes as jobs. Also, it appears SignTracker uses a “contract” where other systems will use a “work order” instead. Apparently their contracts do not use ID numbers but they are working to develop work orders which inherit a quote’s ID number. Again, atypical, mainly because all quotes by the shop will not be approved. A good system will use a separate work order ID number other than the quote ID number. Also, other systems will use the work order ID as the subsequent invoice ID number, say for QuickBooks. SignTracker leaves QuickBooks to declare it own invoice ID number.

One would need to ask SignTracker about specifics and if things are modifiable.

I suppose one question becomes; What is a job?

Conventional system...
QUOTE 55555 > WORKORDER 45888 > INVOICE 45888 [Reference QUOTE 55555, JOB 45888]
QUOTE 55556 [Lost]
QUOTE 55557 > WORKORDER 45889 > INVOICE 45889 [Reference QUOTE 55557, JOB 45889]
 

Stacey K

I like making signs
I recommend anyone using SignTracker to fully understand their workflow and their use of common terminology because it’s very atypical and sometimes they use terms interchangeably.

An example is SignTracker considers a quote to be a “job” even before it’s approved and will archive unapproved quotes as jobs. Also, it appears SignTracker uses a “contract” where other systems will use a “work order” instead. Apparently their contracts do not use ID numbers but they are working to develop work orders which inherit a quote’s ID number. Again, atypical, mainly because all quotes by the shop will not be approved. A good system will use a separate work order ID number other than the quote ID number. Also, other systems will use the work order ID as the subsequent invoice ID number, say for QuickBooks. SignTracker leaves QuickBooks to declare it own invoice ID number.

One would need to ask SignTracker about specifics and if things are modifiable.

I suppose one question becomes; What is a job?

Conventional system...
QUOTE 55555 > WORKORDER 45888 > INVOICE 45888 [Reference QUOTE 55555, JOB 45888]
QUOTE 55556 [Lost]
QUOTE 55557 > WORKORDER 45889 > INVOICE 45889 [Reference QUOTE 55557, JOB 45889]
Yes, you are 100% correct on this. Last night I watched a couple videos and I'm still a little confused however, I did see that entering all of your pricing is easy with a spreadsheet. I already have one so I just need to make some column adjustments to upload it! I am quite impressed with the quoting/contract/whatever feature.
 
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