Technology and AI Productivity Hacks

Technology and AI Productivity Hacks

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Welcome to the Contractor Success Forum. Today we are talking about productivity hacks with technology and AI, so stay tuned for some game changing ideas. I'm Wade Carpenter with Carpenter and Company CPAs, and normally we would have Stephen Brown with McDaniel Whitley Bonding and Insurance, but unfortunately, he couldn't be with us today.

But I am privileged to have back with Morrelle McCrary of Ramtech PC Solutions. Morrelle, thanks for jumping in to help us. How are you today? I'm doing well. Thanks for having me. Yeah, I know we recently did one on AI and that was well received. Well, it's a hot now.

Everybody's so excited about this technology, so it is a great one to talk about because there's so many different things you can do with it. So I'm honored to be here. Thanks. Well, I thought nobody better to have on to talk about this.

But we also kick around some, productivity hacks and stuff like that between us, our little mastermind group as well. Yeah. Always sharing. I learned something new today too already, so I'll share that with you. What's that? So in my other mastermind group where we're a bunch of it nerds talking around each other, I learned that there's a such thing called Apple Business Connect.

So this is what Apple uses to put you on the Maps app for your iPhones and iPads. So I have started that process of going through there to register my businesses in Apple Business Connect. So there you go. Nugget learned, nugget shared. Okay.

Sounds like I've got some homework after this. right? Yeah. Same.

Me too. I've gotta finish my setup. Yep. Hey, I'm using AI to do it though. Well, right.

Yeah. That's amazing. And I also, I, since we talked about it I know we talked earlier in the week and you had some AI generating a website for you and did all-- Yeah.

It blew my mind. So I was looking for just a basic informational page to create for one of my companies, and I found this tool called Webular and they don't pay me to talk about it, but I found so much ease of use in using it that it was so, so simplistic. They literally asked me for the name of the business, a description of the business, and where's the business located? So in that name, I put in the name of the business, right? In the description, I used ChatGPT to give me a description of what this type of industry business does. And I tweaked it.

I put my own words in there so it sounded like a human wrote it. And then I put in the location and I hit submit. It churned for about 30, 45 seconds. Spit out this beautiful looking website that took me very little effort to build and design, which that's exactly what I was looking for.

So there you go, AI. Now I still have to go back and tweak the wording and the images and some of the testimonials we've gathered need to be added. But for the most part, like building a website? It would normally take somebody or a good web developer. It would take them, probably a week to two weeks, depending on the amount of stuff you want online up to a month to put that out there. So, to be able to do a basic informational page in 60 seconds or less, sign me up. All right.

Well, I know you, I took a look at what you said. I think it does a little more than just generating the pages too. Because it was doing like blog posts and like all the social media...

It does content, it does it has a newsletter functionality, so you can do email newsletter. It also adds that newsletter sign up to the page, it creates. You can connect it to social media for that particular, company's page that you want to do, and it'll generate those social media posts with your logos and your colors.

And, it really for, I think it was 110 bucks I spent on the software, game changer. Well worth my time. And that's probably what an hour worth of-- -- time. So funny you mentioned that. So I have this accountability spreadsheet with my other mastermind group and they asked me, how much time did you spend this week on working on that website? Two hours. I tracked it.

I spent two hours this week working on it, and that was just me playing around with it and tinkering. I'm a, I'm an IT guy, so I gotta tinker with it and see what all it can do. But I tracked that time, so yeah I tinkered. Right, exactly. Well, one of the things I know I wanted to kick around was like this voice transcription software.

It really is, and some of the things that I've done with it, has really been game changing for me. And I wanted to throw out some real use cases that I had, which, I mentioned to Morrelle, I had a what he calls a technology business review with his vice president earlier this week. And I had all these issues and I just started dictating it and it transcribed it. And I said, and I was kinda hitting little pieces of it and all, and had come back to it and all this stuff. I took the transcription, threw it in ChatGPT, I said, organize this, summarize it, and it threw it in the table, summarized the issues better than I could have said it. And it's like, here's the priority.

And I sent that to the vice president before our call. Made it very simple to do, and it probably saved us a ton of time. I say it's probably more efficient to, to have a structured way to go through that call. Yeah. I have not thought about using it in that way, so you just taught me a lesson too, so I'll do that going forward.

It may help streamline some of my future meetings and I'm very like, come on, let's, we have this agenda we have to complete, we have an hour to get it done. Right. So I'm the time cop when it comes to meetings around here. Yeah. Yep.

There was also another use case I wanted to throw out because you also introduced me to an HR professional recently, and she is putting together a handbook for me. And so, I had all these ideas where, you know these are the things I wanted to discuss on it, and I did the same kind of thing and made an outline of it, and then the HR person sent back like this 10 or 15 questions in an email. And I'm like, well, okay, we can spend an hour talking about that. Or I could just start walking through the questions and saying, here's generally my answer. Right.

In 20 minutes, I dictated the whole thing threw it in ChatGPT and I had an organized email back to her. Yeah. And it was just amazing to me how well my jumbled thoughts can be organized. Yeah.

I'm guilty of that too. Like people that are close to me will tell me, Hey Morrelle, I heard your answer, but I don't understand a word you said. And then I stop and think, well, did I say it clear enough for them that, like, where did they get confused? And then I get caught up in my own thoughts of, okay. I need to be a little more clear, clearer when I communicate what I'm trying to get the other party to understand. But I have not used ChatGPT or any AI for that.

I have been using AI for email correspondence and it has sped up my life so much in that regard. So, the way I have done that, so I take those same thoughts, like you said, those random thoughts that you get and I put them into, so we use Grammarly for, just to make sure we sound professional when we communicate via text. So in my emails, I'll just throw my thoughts in there.

Just for example, like before we got on this call, I had a prospective customer that said, hey, we're looking for IT services. Well, I wanted to craft a response that was welcoming. That said, yes, let's schedule a time to talk. So I basically just threw my thoughts in there. Yes, let's talk soon. Here's a link to my calendar, right? That's just basic as basic can be.

No tone, no texture to it, just words on page, right? I use grammarly's AI built in. It knows my tone because I've had to train it, and it's trained with correcting me along the way for so many years that it just automatically puts my tone of voice on that email, throws it into a nice pretty format. I can have options to make it longer.

I have options to make it shorter, and I hit send. So now I'm just waiting for that prospective customer to schedule with me. That's great. I think that probably, I was gonna come back to some of that stuff. That's amazing what we can do with emails and how I've been automating it. Yeah.

Another cool thing I found out, and this it only works on the app so far. So we have a eBay store for like old computers and computer parts and stuff that people just drop off and leave here for us to, recycle or dispose of. So in the eBay app, you can take a picture of the product, right? Type in some basic details, make model, laptop, Dell, Lenovo, whatever. Put that in there. You fill in the basic specs that you know that's physically in the machine, and there's an AI button in the app now where you can use AI to generate the description. That's amazing.

That's-- Like, man, it just took listing on eBay to a whole another level for me. Right, right. Well, the, other thing I've been, I'm going to say voice transcription's one thing, but I've had this meeting software, like the one I use is called Otter ai. I've seen that advertised. Is it any good? There's other ones like Fireflies and Fathom. But, I've been using that for my meetings with prospects.

Okay. Just a use case like Otter has, I think the other three may have that in there too now. But after we go through, it'll summarize a meeting and give you bullet points. But now they've built directly into the software, you go into the transcript and there's little things. that Say you ask it questions and it can go through and pick out.

So, know, just a use case I did with it recently with a prospect. It's well, number one, I'm not spending time taking all these notes. I'm paying attention to the prospect.

But number two, I was able to go back and say, hey, did we talk about job costing? Did we talk about pricing? What system were they on? And I sit there and type out it'll just pull it straight out of the transcript. Yeah, that's pretty awesome. I spend so much time in my notepad over here when I'm on Zooms and I'm doing, like my client meetings or whatnot, that you're right. That's such a time saving because you get a copy, I'm sure the other person, the other party gets a copy too, right? Or you can elect to send them a copy. And then you guys are all working from the same sheet of music at that point. So I can see how that would make anybody more efficient.

Right. Well, the other thing, I've been doing my team meetings that way, and when we go to the team meetings not only we do like a summary of it, but what are the action items? What are the things that I assign or what are we trying to get done so I can have a automatically generate a task list directly from it. That's smart way to do it.

I use AI a lot for marketing, which, I've mentioned that to you in the past. Here recently working on this new website and trying to get this website for this other company going and just generating content is so much easier. I actually told it to write content that was easily searchable and would rank highly for SEO and it did.

I had to go and tweak it so it sounds like a human and not a robot wrote it, but it did generate content and it was spot on with what I was trying to articulate. So I'm a fan, I'm a fanboy of AI. It just I am, I'm nervously anxious though of it taking over. So I, I tell people all the time don't feed it too much information. We don't want it smarter than we are. Right.

Yeah. Skynet is on the way. We don't want that. So, but yeah. I know you're using some other tools to make life easier Wade.

What do you, what else are you doing? Well, there's a couple of them that I told you about this Stream Deck. Elgato Stream Deck. There's different versions or different people that build, but everybody thinks of those as basically it's a little thing where you program your keys and they think of it as like people that are doing streaming and controlling lighting and all this stuff. And that's definitely a use case, but there's a lot more use cases for these things. Right.

Like editing videos, launching programs, sending out shortcuts, things like that. But I've programmed mine to start doing things like if I'm editing Excel or wanna do some formatting in Excel, I hit one button and I can have all these macros. And it sounds like you've gotta be a programmer to do all this stuff, but you really don't. Right. It is just like you're programming hot key and if you know the keyboard shortcuts things like the Windows shortcuts,. There's a lot of shortcuts built into Windows and it's just a key combination and you can just Google those things, program 'em on, and then boom, it's hey one click instead of 10 clicks and typing a whole bunch of stuff out.

But I know I'm completely geeking out on this thing. I mean that, that's perfectly fine because when you showed it to me earlier I thought, how can I use this to streamline what I do? You start thinking about efficiency, right? Like how can I be more efficient? AI is a tool, right? The Stream Deck, that's a tool. We were just talking in another group meeting this morning, delegation. That's a tool too, so, do you feel at the end of the day, between AI delegation and using all these tools, do you feel accomplished? Do you feel like you worked that day? I, I mean, it's amazing how much time it saves and I guess I haven't really thought about it from that standpoint, but yeah, hey, it's given me some time back.

Right. I've had that thought too. Like I've used so many tools to streamline my day and what would take me normally, three hours to complete.

I'm now getting done in an hour, so it's like I have that extra time, the extra two hours. I'm like, what? I don't know what to do with that time. Well, you mentioned like the email thing and I've just really started doing this, but this is where I really geeked out.

But I don't know if you've seen these programs like Text Expander or the one I use is called Type Desk but you do a little keyboard shortcut and you can set up all these prompts to, key, a whole bunch of text for you with just a few keystrokes. Wow. But the thing was, I've had that for years, but I'm thinking, well, I can't always remember all these little shortcuts. Right. So this is where I put this into the Stream Deck thing and it's if I need to type my email address or something, just little stuff like that or type an entire paragraph or I could hit one button and it is done. Right.

But the extension of that where I'm really getting geeked out and Type Desk is built into theirs where there's a ChatGPT API extension. And so I can highlight something on my screen, some text and click a button and pick the prompt I want. The prompt's already in there, and it will sit there and pop right back out like this is the answer.

Wow. Like the text of an email and it's like GE generated a quick courteous reply or something like you were saying, and I don't even, and it will paste it back into the program that you're dealing with. So that's where it's well, all right, so these tools, like turning the dictation on, I always have to remember the keyboard shortcut. Well, I hit one button and done.

But the AI thing for me is like, I've taken this other tool and I've made that to where one button and I can get a AI prompt answer in, in seconds. It's amazing. That's, again, it gives you that time back, right? Yeah. So now, so one of the things I saw on the news is there's a push for a four day work week.

Have we saved that much time that we can now only work four days and stuff? I don't know. I think as it gets adopted that there're definitely gonna be some people that may not be needed. Scary. That's scary. I'm telling you, that's the beginning of Skynet, Wade.

I'm just saying, I've watched enough movies to know, that's. The, well, that's cool though. What else are you using to streamline your day? What else can I learn from you today? Well, you've probably got some more, again, these things like these shortcuts, like for QuickBooks.

Yeah, Bouncing around QuickBooks or like automatically generating invoice and yeah, some of those you can still do with keyboard but you gotta, no key combinations. I can still-- Program all that. Right. I don't know, I mean there's a lot of things I've been doing that probably sound like it's, you gotta be a programmer and you really don't.

You don't, you just have to know how to ask the computer to do the right thing. One cool thing that we have been doing is we've been trying to automate a lot of scripting for Windows computers specifically. So we've been working into our platform different triggers.

So almost like a, if this, then that type scenario. Right? So if let's just use printer spooler service like that. The printer spooler service without geeking out is the service that runs when you hit print on the computer.

That's what tells the printer to print is that service. All the time. All the time, that service stops running and we get a call, Hey, I can't print, but Susie can. Well, Susie's print service spooler is running and yours is not. Well, why is it? I, nobody knows why it stops.

It's just windows. It stops when it wants to. So we wrote a script that said, restart spooler service in event that it triggers a disabled, right? If it has a hard stop within 30 seconds, start it again.

If it stops again 30 seconds later, start it again and open a ticket, right? So we use ChatGPT to write all of those scripts for us. We tested it on a machine here, and it worked flawlessly. So you talk about the amount of time saved from that mindset of just writing a script versus picking up the phone, Susie calling, picking up the phone, closing the ticket three different times. Now down to one. Right.

So again, like you said, get your time back, spend it somewhere else wisely. Right. Well, I know a lot of our listeners, I mean, most of them are contractors and a lot of them don't always feel like they're the most technology savvy, but some of these things are really not that hard to learn. That's my point of talking about it today. And we talked about how can contractors use it. You had a scenario where you told it you wanted to finish off your basement and you gave it the square footage of your basement and it gave you steps to do that as if you were a general contractor, right? Me, I know nothing-- well, I can't say I know nothing.

I know this much about home improvement. Right. So for me, that would've been beneficial so at least I knew what to expect if I hired a general contractor.

So even from a consumer side of the fence, they should be using it to vet the contractor that comes to their door. Right. I know that's one of the use cases we talked about last time, and I think if somebody didn't watch that, or listen to that video or the podcast, I think we threw have some great ideas there.

Oh, definitely. Just even if you're, you have a project, whether it's construction or just implementing software, sometimes that can take a while. You know, put in there what are the steps to do it and give me a timeline for doing it, and at least maybe give you something to shoot for. That's true.

We we haven't talked about workflows yet, but I, we have used, AI tools to help build workflows in internally as well as streamlining some of our tried and true methods. So we have an SOP for what an onsite appointment should look like, right? So when we send an engineer or technician out to do an onsite appointment, we have steps of what they should do, right? So we uploaded that into ChatGPT and said streamline, make suggestions along the way, basically is what we asked it to do. And it gave us step by step what we should be doing on site from arriving on site five minutes before time, checking in with a point of contact, reproducing the issue, which we weren't doing. Like we go in, just like if you called us up and says, hey, I can't connect to the server.

We come on site, we look at the, we don't follow that protocol because well there's a relationship there. But for new guys coming into it, there's no relationship. They need to have a system to follow. Right. So that really opened our eyes to, okay, yeah, we can't, we have relationships built with a lot of these folks and they know us and they just, we don't have to go through all those processes, but when we hire people and we grow as a company and a firm, we need to have a systematic process on how to do it. And it just helped us organize that and make a better workflow and SOP for us.

That's a great point. You made me think of the other thing that AI has done for us. We took on a new practice management system in May.

And inside that software, we have these task workflows, but we can actually create a new one and say, Hey, this is what we wanna do, oh, we got a sales tax return or so whatever the process is and it's goes out and creates the steps. And to me, I think me and you, we've been in our industry for many years-- Right. And I know the curse of knowledge, you forget these little steps.

It's just innate to me and you. But as you said, these young kids coming, they don't know. And so this workflow said these little, what I was noticing, all these little things that we kind of probably would've overlooked. Yeah, they probably should be in the list in the checklist and making sure it gets done, because we don't tell them, they don't know.

Right. That's true. That's another cool thing that we've done too. I went to a conference and they were talking about, anybody that's in business service industry or whatever, you should have checklists on your website. Make those checklists so it's like a call to action, you gotta give some information to get this checklist in return.

But for us, what we did was, the person that was leading the class said, hey, how many people in here have at least two checklists on their website? I was like, well, yeah, I got five. I was thinking I was raising my hand to get in trouble, but the instructor says, well, that's exactly what you guys should be doing. You should be asking your customers to give you information so you can provide them a checklist. So that fueled me, right? I was like, well, checklists are the way to go. We are like notorious for checklists around here.

I went in and I said, okay, write me a checklist for a small business that should have cybersecurity implemented. Right? They are regulated by PCI compliance. It created me a whole checklist and I now call that my PCI compliance checklist, and it's not very technically written out. It looks, it's easily digestible content, and that's what we told it. Make it so easy that anybody can understand this content.

And it spit out this checklist, Wade, of about 15 different things. I sent it over to my guy at Fiver, I said, make this look pretty. And he sent it back. And now we have a nice cool infographic of what your small business PCI compliance checklist should look like. So it's so easy just to do very, very-- you do a lot of work, very little time with very little effort. Yep.

Absolutely. I spend, what, 20 bucks a month on ChatGPT? And I like 50 bucks to get that flyer made up and done professionally. That's well worth my time. And if it brings me one call, it paid for itself. And what's scary is, that minute or two you took to type it up was probably it, probably spit it out in-- Yeah.

Seconds. --seconds, and if we had been generating that, we probably would've spent hours and hours. Right, right.

If I would've come up and then it probably wouldn't have been complete. I would've gone through the process of getting it, done up pretty at Fiverr and left out two check marks that should have been added. So you're right.

It's, and when you read it, I'm not saying that's the complete, perfect version, but it gives you a basis of where you should be thinking. Right. So again, I just hope that somebody's using technology to make their lives easier. Because we all should be. Well, good points. I know we're getting a little long.

Is there any other thing you want to kick around or leave? I think we touched on a lot. If I was watching this video, I would hopefully take some notes along the way and go try out some of these cool tools that we've talked about and just experiment with it. You can't break it. That's the cool thing, right? You can't break it.

If anything, you get the message back where it says, I'm an AI model and I can't answer that question. Then you just figure out a different way to ask it. But I wouldn't go filling it with personal information. Take that from a cybersecurity consultant. Don't put your personal information in the chat bot because they won't know how to answer you, and you don't know where that data's going.

Right, right. Absolutely agree. Well, I've always enjoyed talking about this stuff with you. I really appreciate you coming on, Morrelle. Anytime we geek out, Wade, you know I'm there. Okay.

Fair enough. Well, now that y'all see how much of a bean counter nerd and a geek I am too. So scary thing. Why would they trust anybody else with their bookkeeping and their finances, Wade? Come on. Well, I hope anybody listening to this has gotten some really good ideas from it. But I think we need to go ahead and wrap this up.

So thank you all for listening to the Contractor Success Forum, wherever you might be tuning in from. You can find us on all major podcast platforms or Contractor Success Forum dot com, our Carpenter CPAs, YouTube channel. For more information be sure to check our show notes and if you haven't already considered subscribing, ring the notification bell to follow us each week and we sincerely appreciate your support and look forward to seeing you on our next episode.

2023-08-07 03:42

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