AI & Automation

5 Ways to Prepare Your Contracting Business for the AI Revolution

AI is here, and it’s not going away.

That may sound intimidating, but this moment in the AI revolution actually represents a unique opportunity for those willing to seize it. AI is brand-new for everyone. If you make moves to master the technology now, you’re positioning yourself to stay ahead of emerging trends (and your competition!).

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Of course, you should never make a significant business decision simply because everyone else is doing it. This moment calls for careful, strategic consideration.

What steps can you take to start incorporating AI into your business in a thoughtful, productive manner that sets you up for long-term success?

  1. Stay up to date on industry news and trends
  2. Commit to ongoing team education
  3. Hire with AI in mind
  4. Start adopting tools now
  5. Meet with your existing tech vendors

1. Stay up to date on industry news and trends

You can’t possibly stay ahead in the AI revolution if you don’t know what’s happening! That’s why it helps to have some go-to publications where you can find the latest unbiased news.

Here are some publications to check out:

  • VentureBeat is headquartered in San Francisco, so they’ve got a finger directly on the pulse of what’s happening with AI. Go there for news bulletins, in-depth articles, and video interviews with experts.
  • Wired was founded in 1993 and remains a leading source of tech news. Check out its AI newsfeed for tech reviews, AI think pieces, and more.
  • Tech Brew, part of Morning Brew, offers a rundown of the latest tech trends on its site, but the move here is to subscribe to the newsletter. You’ll get a roundup of the latest tech-specific insights in your inbox.

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And, of course, if you’re using any AI tools in your business, sign up for the company’s newsletter. That’s the best way to ensure you know about any product updates and new features!

2. Commit to ongoing team education

Once you’ve learned about the latest AI updates, it’s time to share that knowledge with your team.

This does not need to be a highly formalized process; you can post in your #AI-Tips Slack channel or send a team email. But do make a point to share updates regularly. Put a reminder in your calendar to help you maintain a steady cadence!

Sending regular reminders will demonstrate your continued commitment to making the most of AI. Plus, it will help your team remember to lean on your new AI-enabled tools (like the ones in our post on using AI for sales).

Forming a new habit can take anywhere from a few weeks to the better part of a year. If you want your team to make AI part of their routine in the long term, regular updates can help reinforce their habitual use of the tool.

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It’s also not a bad idea to set up regular in-person AI-focused sessions. Consider establishing bi-monthly or quarterly lunch and learns where everyone can gather to discuss how things are going.

Your lunch and learns aren’t just an excellent opportunity to educate your team about new ways to use AI. They’re also a chance to hear feedback from the employees who use the technology daily. They might have insights into how you can do even more with AI.

3. Hire with AI in mind

AI isn’t going anywhere, so you want to consider it when assessing prospective hires, whether you’re hiring technicians, sales representatives, or administrative assistants .

If you can find a candidate already well-versed in AI, that’s fantastic! However, because this is still an emerging area, not everyone will have a background in AI. If you’re considering a group of candidates who lack previous AI experience, that’s okay. In these instances, you should look for someone with adaptability and the right mindset.

Businesses must remain nimble to adjust to future AI advances. You’ll want to seek out team members who are comfortable with change, excited about the possible benefits of AI, and demonstrate a general comfort with tech that means they’ll be able to adapt to new ways of working.

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4. Start adopting tools now

We get that this deluge of AI information can feel overwhelming, but now is not the time to go deer in the headlights!

Remember, everyone is brand-new to AI–you, your colleagues, your friends, and your competitors. Anyone who’s adopting AI today is facing the same learning curve and challenges, but that won’t be the case forever. This technology is quickly evolving, and hesitating for even a few months can put you behind your peers.

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Still trying to figure out where to start? Here are some easy, accessible tools to try right now.

  • ChatGPT is the talk of the town for a reason. This free generative AI tool can help you brainstorm content ideas, take a first crack at a follow-up email, or provide an invoicing template. For more tips, check out these 19 ways to use ChatGPT for contractors.
  • SaneBox promises to save you three to four hours weekly by cleaning up your email. It learns to filter out irrelevant messages, leaving only the most pressing, high-value emails in your inbox. Say goodbye to a pile of sales emails and hello to greater productivity!
  • Image Creator from Microsoft Bing can help you deliver next-level proposals that dazzle prospective clients. While you’ll handle the technical aspects of your proposal, AI-generated images of completed rooms can help spark their imaginations and get them excited about working with you to transform their space. For the more technical aspects of the proposal, check out our HVAC service contract templates and roofing contract templates.

Once you’ve gotten familiar with these introductory AI tools, it’s time to step things up. There are dozens of AI tools that can help contractors and call centers to work more efficiently, and many of them integrate with your current technology to enhance your established workflows. It’s simply a matter of researching your options and finding the best solution for you.

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5. Meet with your existing tech vendors

Every business right now is scrambling to jump on the AI bandwagon, including your current tech vendors!

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Reach out to the providers you already use to see how they’re updating their software to incorporate the latest in AI. If you use any of the following solutions, you should give them a call.

  • Client relationship management (CRM) tool: Many CRM providers are integrating AI to assist with tasks like lead scoring, pipeline management, and automated prospect follow-up. You can find more tips on making the most of your CRM here.
  • Automated messaging: You’re 900% more likely to hear back from a lead when you respond to their inquiry in the first five minutes. Ask your business texting service if they have an AI solution that allows you to automate your lead outreach.
  • Accounting software: Accounting platforms are embracing AI features to ease the stress of managing your finances. Many are introducing features to automate bank reconciliation, expense management, and other time-consuming but necessary bookkeeping tasks.
  • Front office tools: If you use tech to help with scheduling, proposals and quotes, and service agreements, you should ask about AI enhancements. Some providers are using AI to accelerate the proposal generation process and automate follow-up.
  • Field service management (FSM): For FSM tools (did you catch our guide to ServiceTitan?) AI is powering tasks like dispatch, allowing you to optimize your entire team’s work day. Once your techs arrive on-site, tools like smart sensors can give your team optimized troubleshooting recommendations based on what they’re picking up from the system. In fact, ServiceTitan is currently (at the time of writing this post) working on 14+ AI enhancements to its platform).

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If you’re using any tech within your business, now is the time to ask your providers if they’ve added AI-powered enhancements. If there’s a new AI tool to try, request that your vendor arrange team training so you can get up to speed.

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Prepare your contracting business for the AI revolution

Ultimately, exploring your AI options is about positioning your business for future success.

You don’t need to overhaul all your systems overnight. But now is the time to systematically assess where you stand, how you might incorporate AI going forward, and what steps you’d need to take to make AI implementation possible.

To prepare yourself, take time to:

  1. Stay up to date on industry news and trends
  2. Commit to ongoing team education
  3. Hire with AI in mind
  4. Start adopting tools now
  5. Meet with your existing tech vendors

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