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5 Free Tools to Run Your Bail Business

Running a business can be both stressful and expensive. Luckily, there are several free resources online that will help you run your business more effectively without putting a dent in your pocket book. Learn how these five free applications can help save you money.

1. Google Docs - Have you ever gone home for the night and needed a file that was on your computer at work? With Google Docs, that headache is eradicated. By storing all your data online, you can access your files in Google docs from any computer. Google Docs gives you the opportunity to create a regular word document, a spreadsheet, a presentation or a form. Think of it as the online equivalent to Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The other useful thing about Google Docs? You can share your files with anyone. You can invite other people to simply look at your document, or you can allow them to also make changes. How does this help you? Say you have five agents writing bail. After one of your agents bails someone out of jail, they can go into a particular spreadsheet shared by everyone and enter in the customer's information. Even if you keep this information handy somewhere else, you can have a running tally of all your clients from each agent. Share memos, update spreadsheets and stay in the loop wherever you may be.

2. Google Calendars - In this industry, the most important thing is making sure defendants show up for their court dates. The easiest way to keep track of that is with a Google Calendar. Set up multiple calendars in one screen and select which calendars to view at any given time. Like Google Docs, Google allows you to share your calendars with other people. You can also invite people to certain events. How does this help you? Set up a calendar for just employees with business events, such as meetings. Set up a separate calendar for court dates of your clients. You can invite each defendant to their own court date, sending them an email as a reminder that their court appearance is coming up. One more reason an FTA can't claim they didn't know when their court date was.

3. FreshBooks - Keeping track of your billing is made simple with this online application. A "freemium" service, FreshBooks allows you to try it out for free with a minimal number of clients. There is a monthly fee for any substantial volume, but by trying it free you know what to expect. With FreshBooks, clients can view and pay invoices online, set up automatic payments from their credit cards and receive automatic late payment reminders. FreshBooks also helps you track the time your employees work, stay on budget and be reminded of deadlines. In addition, FreshBooks helps you look like a professional - from being able to brand invoices with your company logo to offering services such as paying invoices online. Manage your company's finances with ease.

4. AVG Free - Anyone with a computer knows how important it is to make sure it is protected from viruses. One wrong click can install harmful viruses and bugs to your harddrive. A simple way to prevent this (besides not opening attachments sent from people you don't know) is having antivirus software on your computer. As hackers are getting more sneaky and savvy, virus protection is essential. While it is a good idea to invest the money in antivirus software for each work computer, in the meantime you can download a free antivirus software from AVG. This protects your computer from trojans, viruses, worms, spyware and adware. Protect your computer to prevent costly repairs later.

5. Free Press Release - Whenever something major happens with your company, it is important to let the world know. While it is important to send press releases to local media outlets (your local or state newspaper, local television and radio stations, etc.), submitting them online can provide more exposure to your company. Having a story picked up about your bail agency by a news organization provides the best type of free advertising - good publicity. If your agency sponsors a local softball team that won the league, is participating in a community safety fair, was honored with an award or anything else that is postive and newsworthy, it is important to write and submit a press release. Submitting press releases online for free simply increases the likelihood of your story being picked up by bloggers or online news agencies.

While the answer to every facet of running a bail agency isn't "Free software online!" in many cases the free options do just as good a job (if not better) than their for-profit counterparts. Like any decision regarding the day-to-day task of running a bail agency, it is best to look at what the needs of your company are and what tools best fit those needs. If the solution can be found for free? Even better.

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