Welcome To The Cloud Tool Box

Moving Your Business To The Cloud

In the beginning

I already have a email address! And I don't want to change it! It is too hard! I will lose all my information! All of the people I do business with, know my email address! I am sure that these statements are very true, but during the course of this seminar I will teach you that there is in fact a different and easier way to be apart of the "Internet/World Wide Web" and to use that platform to help you do your day to day business, "AND KEEP YOUR OLD EMAIL ADDRESS !"

In order to do business in the cloud there are a few things you should know.

First you would need access to the internet; using a wireless, or "wifi" connection that comes from a hard wired modem, or using your cell services data plan, by way of a "virtual hotspot".

If you are checking email and surfing the web, this part is already done!

Once connected, you need a program or application that is capable of viewing things that are "On the Internet/ World Wide Web".

This application/program (which must reside on the computer you are using to access the web) comes in a few different flavors.

These programs/applications are made by some of the biggest players in the Internet Market/Industry: Google, Mozilla, Apple, and Microsoft. They are called "Browsers" and they all are FREE!

  • Google "Chrome"
  • Mozilla "Firefox"
  • Apple "Safari"
  • Microsoft "IE" or "Internet Explorer"

Of the four browsers listed; Google Chrome is by far the most powerful, easy to setup and operate. If you "Create a Google Account" it gives you real seamless platform integration. It is what I use and it simply is the best. The remaining three are trying to be like Google.

Mozilla's "Firefox" is running a close second, but lacks some of the features of Google's "Chrome".

Apple's "Safari", is well, Apple.

Microsoft's "IE" is running in last place, because it lacks some of the features of Google's "Chrome".

Moving Your Business To The Cloud

The Key to the Move

The main key is to be able to do all of the functions that you would normally do on your office computer in the cloud, using your internet connection.

Remember that a great benefit is that most of these "Cloud Based" applications are FREE! The key to accomplishing this is finding an all around platform or group of "Cloud Based" applications, that will make your office procedures flow seamlessly. I have found just that, and use them on a day to day basis. The intent of this seminar is to share those applications/tools!

Moving Your Business To The Cloud

The Office

In your office you probably perform many things on your desktop computer. In order to do these things you rely on a "Platform" or brand name of products/programs that you have paid for over the years. Most of us started out using Microsoft's product line, which includes "Word", "Excel", "Outlook", "PowerPoint","Access" and finally MS "Internet Explorer".

MS Word of course is used to create and print all of your hard copy letters, and anything to do with desktop publishing.

MS Excel is used to create and do all the number crunching that your business needs.

MS Outlook is used for all your email needs.

MS PowerPoint is used to create presentations/seminars etc.

MS Access is a lesser used Database program, which is used for such things a parts inventory or customer database.

MS Internet Explorer, which is used to access and view things on the internet.

All of the programs that are listed above cost you money. And every other year Microsoft decides that they need more money, so they create an updates to their programs, which of course we pay for, in order to keep our businesses "Up To Date" !

Did you know that "Google" noticed that this was happening and set out to create and replace ALL of Microsofts programs and in fact replace the entire Microsoft platform! By doing this they moved all the data and applications instantly to a "Cloud Based" platform !

If you sign up/create a standard "Google" account, you automatically get everything that is mentioned above FOR FREE !!! Along with that you also get so much more.

Moving Your Business To The Cloud

Using Google As your Main Platform

After you have downloaded and installed "Googles" "Chrome" web browser you are ready to create a "Google" email account. Google has 2x types of accounts. There is the Corperate/enterprise type account called "Google Apps". that you can have your own brick and motar name and email accounts. (cost $50.00 per user per year) or there is just the standard Gmail account, that is free. During the rest of the seminar I will talking about the free version. Once completed you will have access to all types of applications that far out number that of the "Microsoft" platform and most are FREE. Also because you are now going to be workng "In The Cloud", you will be dynamical synced to all of your "Google Platform devices". It is also possible to import all of your "MS Outlook" data directly into "Gmail" !

To replace ,"Word", "Excel", and "PowerPoint". Google uses "Drive". Inside of "Drive" are all the tools/apps you will need to replace the Micrsoft counter parts.

MS Excel is replaced by "Drive...Create....Spreadsheet.

MS Oulook is replaced by "Gmail"

MS PowerPoint is replaced by "Drive....Create....Presentation.

MS Word is replaced by "Drive....Create....Document.

MS Internet Explorer,is replaced by "Google Chrome"

In addition to that Google always keeps track of any and all contacts that you enter in any of your "Google Platform" devices. Keeping them all dynamically synced at all times ! All these contacts can also be managed inside "Gmail" called "Contacts" !

In addition to all of the above mentioned "apps", Google has many more. Calendar, News, Maps, Images, Talk, Voice, the list goes on and on !

Now all that said, where do you store all of those text files , spreadsheets, pictures,emails, contacts ???? Well Google does it for you ! You get 5 gigabytes of FREE storage. I have been using this platform for quiet a while and I have only used "3.57%" of my total alloted space.

During this whole time you can at anytime download any and all your data to your desktop. Me I choose to let "Google" worry about it all. My data is safe, secure, can be accessed from anywhere in the world on any device that can access the internet ! I don't care if my computer melts down !

Moving Your Business To The Cloud

Mobile Collecting

Probably one of the most important things that that you can do at the job site, is collect the money for the worked performed.

More often than not,the customer would like to use a credit or debit card.

Thanks to modern technology and the internet, it is now possible to have your techs out fitted with a smart phone a data plan and some free android or Mac based appliacations that turn your tech's phone into a mobile credit card reader and processor. They can even email or text a receipt to the customers email address or phone number !

For the last 8 months I have been using a free webased system called "Square.com". It was very easy to create an account. And the only fees are those that have to do with the actual transaction. There are no monthy fees of any kind ! The money is deposited into your bank account the next business day. It is also possible to assign different techs under one account. This way you can track all the funds they have collected for your business. My wife and I use it and it's GREAT !

Another system that I have used with success is "PayPal" they recently also offer a free app to use for swiping credit cards and there are no monthly fees. The difference here is that with paypal the funds collected go into a paypal account on the web. You than have to transfer the funds down to your actual bank account. But with paypal you are able to setup "Buy Now" buttons on your website to collect funds on your site directly !

Moving Your Business To The Cloud

Looking Up Parts On Site

Now that you are on the job and you need to lookup a particular part for a certain appliance. All you need to do is goto "Chrome" and browes to your favorite Parts Distributor. I use "Dey Distributing" for most of my part needs. Using thier parts lookup system, find the model and part you need.

Now , at this point, if your company was a memeber of "MyPartShelf.com" you could also browse to that site and see if you have it in stock either on your truck, a co workers truck, or back at the shop. If not, switch back to your parts distributors website and order it ! This saves a lot of time and trouble, worring about ordering the parts, when you get back to your shop. And also Parts Distributor would have a chance to get the Parts out, that day.

Another thing to note that if you do not have the part in stock, and your Parts distributor does not have the part in stock. You can use the power of "MyPartShelf.com" to search all memebers of "MyPartShelf.com" to see if they might have the part in their inventory ! Remember "Parts Off Your Shelf" means "Money In Your Pocket !"

Moving Your Business To The Cloud

Storing Files In The Cloud

So you have been working in and with cloud based apps and programs but you still sometimes need a place to store some files that you have aquired in your day to operations

One of the best places I know of is called "Drop Box". Drop Box lets you store a certain amount of data on their servers which you can access from any computer. But also dropbox has a feature that lets you share files with other dropbox memebers.

It is real easy to setup and when you put a file into a shared folder it instantly shows up in the folder of the person that you have shared it with. This means that you don't have to make an attachment and put it in an email.

Moving Your Business To The Cloud

Contacting Your Customers

One of the most important things you can do for your business is to stay in contact with your customer base. I have been using two systems to handle that very task. The first one is called "MailChimp.com", and the second one is using the google platform. Mailchimp.com is great, it lets you create and manage emailings to your customers. They call these events "Campaigns" It has many advanced features that let you create the perfect campaign, that expresses your company's look and feel. It also actually gives you return data on how your campaign is doing. You see things like , how many people opened your email, how many did not, where in the world they opened them, and much more.

The second way requires a bit more computer savvy . It is by using your contacts that you have in your Google account to send, basically the old "Mail Merge". If you upload all of your customer base to Google Contacts you are able to pull tagged groups and send Mail Merge type emails that can be coded to look exactly like a email coming from MailChimp.com. All you have to do is create the email in your favorite text editor using HTML and CSS. Once done and you have viewed it in your browser, you just copy and paste the code into the email body area of the Mail Merge spreadsheet, import the group that you have tagged in your Google Contacts, and click,start mail merge. Google will go about the task of sending out these emails. You are allowed up to 450 emails daily. And the great thing about this is that each mail is sent separately , meaning that the recipient does not see a list of people that you have sent the email too in the "To", box of the email.