A separate fax line
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I started out with one phone line to handle customer calls
as well as faxes. Many fax machines these days are capable
of working with an answering machine.
If you plan on having only one line to begin with and you
want the 'call-waiting' option on your phone, first find out
if the beep from call waiting will interfere with your fax
machine. I could not have the 'call waiting' service because
if a fax was coming in and someone beeped through on the 'call
waiting' it would immediately cut off the fax!
So, very often my customers got busy signals when they called
my office, and some weren't too thrilled with that. At that
time we were living in Hesperia, CA, a city which allowed
me to run my business from my home.
After about two years of existing with only one phone line,
the phone company ran a special in which they would install
a second line in our home with no install fee so, I decided
it was time to get a second phone line.
It worked great, my customers could get through
to me even while I was faxing a proposal to thirty or more
That was in 1998...
Now, 14 years later, I've been handling my faxes a completely different way, without the cost of an extra line,
or wasted paper (who besides me hates junk faxes and how
much paper they waste?).
It's called RapidFAX
and you can try RapidFAX
for 30 Days to see how you like it before committing
With RapidFax you
don't need a fax machine, or have to pay for long-distance
fax charges, and, there is no need for a second phone line!
You get a TOLL-FREE fax number so that senders don't
have to pay toll charges when they fax to you AND, because
it works through your email, you will never pay a toll
Go ahead and check it out, you've got nothing to lose and
a lot of convenience to gain! :) Get
RapidFAX free for 30 days
Personal Virtual Secretary
Well, eventually it got to the point that my customer
base was so large that once again they were getting busy
In 2000 I had to obtain an attorney
because a general contractor was not paying as he was supposed
to. The first piece of advice my attorney gave me was to
a 'voice mail box' provided by the phone company, which would
answer my calls if I was already on the phone.
This way none of my customers would ever hear a busy signal
when they called me. My attorney gave me this advice after
she spent almost an hour on the phone trying to get through
A 'voice mail box' may also be called a 'personal secretary'.
You purchase this service from your phone company. Typically,
you can program this 'personal secretary' from your home
your phone so that when a customer calls and you are on the
phone, he will hear your voice stating that all your lines
are busy, and asking him to leave a message for you.
worked wonderfully and the system sounds as professional
as the larger companies who have automated response phone
A lot of paperwork is involved in contracting, so much so
that it bears repeating, A lot of paperwork
is involved in contracting! One of the first things
you'll need is forms.
You'll need a proposal form, letterhead, a preliminary information
form, release forms, etc. etc. etc. and you don't want to
have to create these forms every time you need one, so...
We have created many construction
that are used in construction (we are construction contractors
and use these forms in our own business), and posted them
here for your use. You pay a one-time very
nominal fee to purchase and download a form, for
unlimited usage of the form. :)
You can actually fill
the forms in before you print them. Gives you
a very professional look at a very low price... :)
By having these forms, when you are ready to send a proposal
or write a letter or prelim a project, you open that form
on your computer and you only have to fill in the necessary
information, rather than having to recreate the entire form
every time you need it.
Accountants, Accounting Systems, and
There are at least a couple companies out there that offer
non-computer based accounting/bookkeeping systems. These systems
will provide you with checks, invoices, envelopes, checkbook
registers, accounts payable registers, accounts receivable
registers, everything you need to handle your accounts on
These systems are very good, I ran our business with one
particular system called 'The One-Write System' for the first
couple years. At that time our computer was an Apple IIe (a
very old computer that came out prior to the Macintosh) and
it was too old to run today's accounting programs (or any
other type of program for that matter...), which is why we
used the One-Write System .
One day my old trusty computer died (and my typewriter the
next day!). I had to do something fast, I couldn't even begin
to imagine how much fun (not) it would be to have to hand-write
all of our proposals!
I borrowed some money and purchased a new Macintosh (which
was actually an old computer, but much, much newer than my
IIe) and continued to run my business with my paper accounting
system. Then I started checking out computer based accounting
programs (I figured why not since my new old Mac could run
I tried one program, Peachtree, but I was not knowledgeable
enough in accounting to use that program. I then tried Quickbooks
and it was so much easier to understand. QuickBooks even
has a built-in system to enable to you to set it up
specifically for your type of business, with the appropriate
accounts and everything!
Now, as far as an Accountant / Financial Services Specialist
is concerned, believe me you want one. As I said, computer
based accounting programs are great, but they do not substitute
for a specialist.
I ran our business the first couple years without an accountant
because I thought that I did not need one, and boy was I wrong.
The accountant is there to provide understanding of all the
financial aspects of your business.
You provide your accountant with the financial information
that he/she requests and your accountant will help make sense
of it. Your accountant will figure your taxes for you, as
well as your quarterlies.
I used a program titled "Macintax" (pc version
is "TurboTax") two or three years in a row to figure
my taxes, and oh what a job! In addition to the money I spent
for the program I also spent much, much time in learning and
operating the program.
The drag about all the time I spent each year to learn the
program is that the learning you do is not usually helpful
the next year (because tax laws change so much). After three
years of tax headaches, I finally decided to take my paperwork
to an accountant the following year.
It was amazing! I must have spent a minimum of 50 to 60 hours
EACH YEAR to file my taxes, and yet my accountant was done
in one hour! I have returned to her every year since then.
If you are tax literate (and I mean very
tax literate) then by all means try the program (it is made
by INTUIT, the same people who do QuickBooks and Quicken)
but if you are not tax literate, you might think about
If you are working from your home, you need to set aside
an area big enough to have a desk of some type to keep your
computer on top of and your files and paperwork under control.
When I started I didn't have enough space in any one room
in my house to set up so I put my computer and files in one
room and my answering machine and fax machine in another room.
I put my extra files out in the garage and all my office
supplies in a wire storage unit in a closet in the hallway.
With a situation like this it is very easy to misplace papers,
so your organization has got to be good (which I found out
the hard way of course...). If you are working in an office
outside of your home, chances are you have plenty of room
for all your needs.
Whether you are in your home or in an office, you will need
a file that consists of open jobs; a file that consists of
closed jobs; and a file that consists of regular files such
as utilities, banking, suppliers; etc. You may want an additional
file to keep track of all of your takeoffs and proposals.
As you go along, you'll create additional files that you find
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