The problem: You want to “go paperless” and work exclusively by e-mail, but many of your subs and suppliers still rely on paper faxes. Sure, you can subscribe to a Web-based fax service, but they can't create a record in your contact management system, showing that the fax was actually sent. Or can they?
They can — if you use the right fax service. The key to choosing an Internet fax service is selecting one that allows you to send from a standard e-mail account.
One service that does just that is eFax Plus (www.efax.com, $17 per month). Simply enter the recipient's fax number as their e-mail address (in this format: firstname.lastname@example.org) including country code (1) and area code. The body of the e-mail becomes the fax's cover page, and any attachments are converted and sent just as if you had printed and faxed them on 8.5-by-11-inch paper. Only standard file formats (.doc, .pdf, .xls, .gif, etc.) are supported, so if you want to send a CAD file or a purchase order in some other proprietary format, you will have to create a PDF or Microsoft Word document of it first.
This approach solves several problems: You can now include your e-mail-less subs and suppliers in any group e-mail correspondence (for instance, to update a project schedule or send your company's monthly newsletter). What's more, add-ins to Master Builder, ACT, and other programs designed to send e-mail to a group will work without a hitch with your low-tech associates, and the Internet “fax” will create a sent-message record in your CRM software. Best of all, as long as you can get online and send e-mail, you can send a paper fax, as well. — Joe Stoddard is an industry consultant and the director of builder operations for Dynami Solutions. Reach him online at www.joestoddard.com.