By Andrew Angus on February 14, 2013

We’ve all heard that the right tools can make a man. If an electrician has top-of-the-line tools while his competition has tools from the bottom of the barrel, all things else being equal, the first is going to be more productive and earn more money.

The same principle holds true for businesses. If one company has tools that help them be more productive and more professional while their competition is stuck working with tools that don’t work and don’t give a professional impression, then the former is going to be able to charge more, earn more, and do more while the latter is struggling to make a living.

The best tools can’t make up for incompetence, but they can give companies an edge over their competition.

We’ve found this to be true in the work that we do here at Switch. We use Salesforce, Ruby, and Basecamp, and we swear by them and recommend them to everyone we talk to. They end up making life easier for us and keep us organized, on point, and happy.

With the amount of clients we deal with on a daily basis, we can’t afford to use something that will give us more headaches than smiles and more unhappy clients than satisfied customer evangelists. Whether it’s a full paid service like Ruby or something as simple as an app on our phone that makes our work day a joy, it’s totally worth it.

Our Recommendation

If you’re using a program or a service that gives you problems, stop using it. It’s that simple. Look into different programs or perhaps look to upgrade in order to have everything run smoothly, and more importantly, run well.

If you’re using an online meeting service that’s constantly giving out or is slow and where clients can’t hear you or you can’t hear your clients, it’s doing more harm than good. It’s not professional, and it can cost you business in the long run.

Paying more for a product or service can pay dividends when customers are satisfied and not only recommend you to others but also come back to do business again. This is why your tools are more of an investment than an expense.

How to Find the Best Tools

The first thing to do is identify which programs or tools are giving you trouble. Once you’ve got that figured out, do some research and ask around. You can look at what top companies use and ask colleagues in the industry. You can even poll people on social networks to see what they’re favorite tools are.

A secret to keep in mind here is that the best tools get recommended over and over again. If you ask industry experts what the best tools are, chances are good they’ll repeatedly recommend the same one or two products.

When it comes to e-mail marketing, MailChimp and AWeber get recommended over and over again, and when it comes to project management software, Basecamp consistently gets rave reviews. Remember this: you can always put more faith into customer recommendations than company sales presentations. Always.

So now that you’ve done some research, test the product to see how it works for you. You can sign up for a free trial or a basic account to get a better idea of how it works.

At this point pay attention to how much you use the product. If it ends up that you can’t live without it, then you’ve got a winner. But if you use it and it gives you trouble and makes you wish you didn’t have to, then you should try another program.

Better tools = happier clients

In the end, you want to use products that make your company great to work with and that keep your clients happy. The right tools can’t make a poor company a great one, but they can make a great one an awesome one.

Never forget to make sure your business rocks and that your employees overdeliver in everything they do. But once you have that figured out, look into the tools you’re using to see if they can help you go from great to awesome.

Additional reading

Check out these posts if you’re looking for more reading material that can help your company be more productive and more profitable.

  1. Twelve Cool Web Tools for Small Businesses, Inc.
  2. 10 Brilliant Apps Small Businesses Should Use, Forbes
  3. Online Meeting and Web Conferencing Tools – Best Of, Hongkiat.com

 

Over to you: What apps and tools do you find indispensable for running a profitable and professional business?

 

 

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