David French lives in the South of Devon in the UK where he tutors students for all science courses, and also runs another small business as an electrician called Devonia Electrical.What do you love about your tutoring business?
I tutor secondary school students (11-18 years old). I started in physics and now tutor in all sciences. It keeps me on my toes mentally. If you’re teaching something you need to understand it very well. To engage students in what some may find a boring topic, you need a good understanding of it yourself. You need to keep up-to-date with the latest research, which interests me and is a way to bring the subjects to life. I like working with students this age because I can see a huge amount of progress. I have a particular student who is very bright but was only in the British school system for a short period of time so he didn’t have the same background knowledge of the other students. When we first sat down together he was very unclear on some basic concepts. By the time we finished our first hour-long tutoring session he was able to answer advanced question that others would struggle with. Seeing progress is quite rewarding, and opening students’ minds to the fact that science is interesting and relevant excites me. I like being able to bring that to students outside of the classroom where you don’t have to follow a set curriculum.What’s different about your approach to being an electrician?
I just relocated back to where I grew up in South Devon and one of the challenges of living around here is a lack of industry and commerce. However, everyone says there’s a need for good quality tradesman. With a background in the global software industry, I understand customer service quite well so I know what people look for and what they want to get out of employing a tradesman. So I set out to start up an electrician business, but I wanted to provide a much more professional service, which is more aligned with what customers actually want and expect. It’s all about focusing on customer satisfaction. I want customers to know I’ve done a good job, given them exactly what they expected, and for a reasonable price, while answering their calls promptly, turning up on time, not eating all their biscuits and not treading mud into their carpet! It’s a different viewpoint – about attending to the customer’s needs, not the tradesperson’s.Why did you choose Billings Pro for your small businesses?
I had been using Billings for a few years for my tutoring business and some other freelance work. What really appealed to me about Billings was that it ran equally well on the Mac, iPad and iPhone. If I’ve just left a customer site after tutoring I can grab my iPhone while in the car and send them an invoice right away. When I get home I can see everything on my Mac for reports and to reconcile payments- it’s the best of both worlds. You get the convenience of the iPad or iPhone with the power and complex ability of the Mac app.I also liked the fact that everything was straightforward. It’s an easy-to-use product that’s not overburdened with functions that I wouldn’t use. It always works, it’s obvious and clear. When Billings Pro was introduced I initially resisted upgrading. Then when I launched the electrical company, I needed some software to run my new company. I trialed several other apps in that time but I kept coming back to the fact that Billings Pro did everything I wanted elegantly and much more competently than anything else. Also, while I’m on Billings for tutoring, I can run Billings Pro for electrical at the same time.What was it about the other apps you tried that you didn’t like?
I found other products too onerous to use. They would cause me to spend too much time learning how to use them properly. For example, I tried Easy Books. It’s called “Easy Books” but i found it to be too complicated for my needs, and the design is not as user friendly. Apps have come a long way in the last 10 years. What was acceptable 10 years ago is now outdated. I like the modern interface and slick look of Billings Pro. I also wasn’t exactly sure what Easy Books was doing with my data. I’m not entirely clear on what account is being credited, what is being debited, so when it comes to reporting I was concerned I would end up in a confusing mess. For a small business like mine, I don’t want to spend too much time doing admin work. I want to do it quick and efficiently, and I can do that with Billings Pro.How much time do you save on average with Billings Pro?
Before I started using Billings, I used Excel. I’m very skilled in Excel and it’s a powerful product. However, I don’t want to spend all my time doing everything manually. I want the degree of automation and ease of use that you get from a dedicated app. If your’e using Excel, as you change your process and refine the way you work, you run the risk of losing bits of data here and there. With Billings Pro I know exactly what it’s doing with the data and it’s consistent. I dealt with an estimate for a customer last week, and in Billings Pro it took me less than 5 minutes to email the customer a professionally formatted PDF estimate. To do that in Excel would have taken twice that long and also would have taken me hours to set up in Excel as I wanted in the first place. In Billings Pro the data is alway centralized and consistent.Have you had issues that you’ve had to contact our support team with?
I had a couple minor app issues that I’ve emailed about. The support team is very professional and provided quick answers. It’s hassle free. Also, it’s good to know there’s a proper organization behind the app because obviously any kid in their bedroom can produce an app these days. There’s another app I use for a different part of my business that is run by a one man band. When I submit bugs, I’m at the mercy of whether he’s reading his emails that day. With Billings Pro, it’s clear that there is an organization properly structured there to provide customer support.Would you recommend Billings Pro to other small business owners like yourself?
Absolutely, without hesitation! It comes back to ease of use. As an electrician I make money doing electrical work, not by doing tax returns and sending out invoices. I want to devote as little amount of time as possible to that aspect of the business. With Billings Pro everything is quick and easy – it becomes a very simple and straightforward way to work. In December I needed to do my tax return, and generally in the UK everybody does their tax return in a huge rush at the end of January. A lot of people here will spend hours and hours looking for data, invoices, payment records, etc. They can spend days doing this. When it came to filling in my tax return for the 3 separate businesses I was running, it literally took about half an hour in Billings Pro. All the info was right there, exactly where I needed it.