Tools of the Trade

apps and tools

I've been wanting to write this post for awhile, just to let some of our clients in on our process and the tools that we use (updated for 2018). Hopefully they may pick up a few ideas for their own business, based on our own experience running ours for over a decade.

Lead Management

It all starts with a lead, doesn't it? This is so important, I decided we should build our own CRM, Lead Zeppelin. Granted, there are plenty out there already, but we just needed something simple that we could wire up to our website, track deals and reminders for bids and follow ups. 

Follow up is key! Many of our own customers have admitted that they suck at follow up. You don't have to remember everything (you can't!) so let your little computer be your nag and worry about the one hundred other things on your plate.

Project Management

We've been using Basecamp for about as long as it has existed. It truly simplifies project management, and makes our team of remote workers collaborate as if they were right down the hall. Our customers like being able to 'check in' and see what's still on deck with the to-do's and milestones, or see what got completed yesterday on the dashboard. Read how we use Basecamp here.

Time Tracking

We use Everhour (v1, we haven't upgraded to 2 yet) for time tracking and send out invoices via Quickbooks Online. We have a post on how we moved from Harvest to Everhour and why too. 

Content Management System

While the majority of our work is Wordpress development, we're always testing out other alternatives. We're currently running the cre8 site on Craft CMS.  

For our .NET friends, we do handle DotNetNuke CMS too.

HTML, PHP Coding & FTP

We use Coda 2 for the Mac for coding. It's a hand-coding app with integrated file management with support for Git and Subversion.

Version Control

We've been using BeanStalk and love it. Its great for collaborating with multiple people and especially when we are sharing website updates with clients. Bonus: clients get a backup of their website core files. Client project websites get nightly database backups to Dropbox.

Page and Email Testing

Litmus gets used here to check out pages and emails across a variety of popular browsers and email clients. It's a lot easier than firing them all up on our end individually. And, we can share the test screenshots with clients to show them how their pages and emails fare.

Analytics

All websites that we manage are set up with Google Analytics. And, as of late, Google Tag Manager as well. 

Debugging

Chrome DevTools is a popular tool we use to diagnose issues quickly.

Design Tools

Photoshop has been our mainstay and doing more with Sketch.

Email Marketing

We send out our email newsletters using Mailchimp. More info in our blog posts on Email marketing.

Browsing

Google Chrome is our main browser. We obviously have to have all the latest browsers for testing purposes, and BrowserStack is perfect for that.

Backups

Our PC file server in the office here is sync'd with Dropbox so we have automatic remote backups (and access!) every time a file is added or updated.

Mobile Phones

We have service with AT&T for our phones. After having every iPhone until version 5, I personally switched to a Moto G5 Plus with Android to see how the other half lives. 

Chat/Video

We primarily use Google Hangouts for video calls and GoToMeeting for client conference calls and screenshares.  

Audio Entertainment

Spotify web player.

Social Media Marketing Management

We've used Hootsuite and are currently using MeetEdgar for a few clients. 

What do you use?

We'd love to hear about any app or devices you use to help with your business. Share in the comments below!

Filed under Operations

About the Author

Eric Gockel

Eric Gockel

@egockel

Founder