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  Office Necessities

A separate fax line

Try RapidFax Today for FREE for 30 Days! It's June 2012 and I signed up with RapidFax 14 years ago!

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 generals.

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, long distance calls, or wasted paper (who besides me hates junk faxes and how much paper they waste?).

It's called RapidFAX and you can try RapidFAX free for 30 Days to see how you like it before committing to it.

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 charge either.

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 signals.

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 get 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 to me!

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 using 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.

It has worked wonderfully and the system sounds as professional as the larger companies who have automated response phone systems.
 
Computers

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 forms 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 Financial Services

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 paper.

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 the programs).

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 using an accountant.

Filing Systems

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 you need.


Back to the top of this page: Construction Office Necessities or Construction Office Management

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Thank you for visiting. I hope that this article has helped you! We have many more articles pertaining to business available by clicking here. Have a great day! Diane
 

RapidFax.com - Send Faxes through your email

"This site is an obvious tool that anyone in construction should be using."
James Farmer Canoga Park, California
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