As customer expectations evolve, Australian Tradies, who were once considered as tech-laggards are now embracing it with both arms, realising the potential it contains.
From solo Trades Services Business operators to business owners and large scale facility management companies, technology is transforming the lives of Australian tradies, helping them run their business more efficiently, reducing paperwork, improving client management, enhancing legal compliance and providing real-time business insights, that were not possible before.
As we enter 2018, we see some distinct trends that have taken over the Trades Services Industry and are likely to determine the future of this booming sector in Australia.
Today, more and more customers want to be in control of their purchases, be it services or goods. When it comes to hiring Tradies for their home improvement or any other routine maintenance job, they want instant access to information regarding Tradie credential checks such as licenses, receiving accurate quotes and keeping tabs on job progress.
Generally the attitudes are shifting to, “I want it now”, “I want to be in control” and “I want to develop a long-term relationship” rather than dealing on a one-time transactional basis. In 2018, “Hire a Tradie” sites and customer experience management apps will be playing a vital role in connecting customers with community trusted Tradies in their local area.
Plumber turned Trench Talk podcaster, Matt Reynolds, believes that today more and more customers want to hire Tradies they can trust. “The days where customers compare Tradies based solely on their quotes are gone. Experience, attitude, professionalism and referrals all add up. As the provider of a service, you want “peace of mind” on the customer's side of the equation,” Reynolds says. “Customers including property management professionals need to feel confident that their property is in the hands of qualified professionals.”
With a handsome take-home salary and the rise in demand for tradespeople in Australia, it’s no surprise that a lot of young people are getting trained and entering the industry, which is in general still experiencing skill shortage in certain trades services.
However, these individuals entering in to the workforce are not only tech-savvy themselves but also expect the same from their employers. The so-called techno-tradies want every information at their fingertips, anytime, anywhere.
Hence, more and more Trades Services business owners are now adopting flexible cloud-based technology platforms like i4Tradies that makes it simpler for their on-the-road workforce to maximise their field efficiency with every information just a tap away on their mobile devices.
Every year billions of dollars flow out of the tax system into the cash economy, as more and more consumers tend to pay their Tradies in cash to avail discounted service. This has put tradies on the hit list of Australian Taxation Office, as many of them fail to comply with their legal obligations when it comes to paying taxes.
However, the integration of cloud accounting softwares into job management apps for Tradies such as i4Tradies, combined with inventory tracking systems and electronic tax invoice generation, not only helps Tradies in effective costing of each item and service, but also in proper auditing of the money flowing in and out of the business.
“We are highly vigilant when it comes to abiding by our legal obligations, especially paying taxes,” says Jerome Beekmans, owner of Mr. Electric franchise in Australia. “While cash is indeed king helping many trades businesses run their day to day expenses, accepting cash payments leaves a lot of grey areas as it does not leave a trail for the ATO to follow back. If customer do go ahead with cash payments, our advice would be to make sure they ask for a tax invoice from their tradie, which clearly states the company’s ABN.
According to Work Safe Australia, Tradies comprise of 30% of the workforce but represent 58% of serious injury claims. Workplace hazards such as slips, trips and falls are a serious problem for tradies working at high inclination sites such as rooftops, poles and the like. Avoiding these hazards is a joint responsibility of the Tradies and the employers.
2018 will witness a rise in Tradies using drones for site inspections, making it an emerging trend among Trades Business employers as they move towards making physical work not only faster but also more secure for their workforce.
Also, with an alarming surge in suicide rates among tradies, besides physical safety, organisations like HALT (Hope Assistance for Local Tradies) and Lifeline (Crisis Support and suicide prevention) have been helping tradies reduce mental stress, in order to give their 100% at work, and fully enjoy their social lives.
Straight out of the vocational school, most young Tradies find it difficult to find work as they lack a solid reputation and a long list of satisfied clients that come with an established business name. These Tradies are also looking for the convenience to work on their own terms as permanent, part-time or freelancers.
In 2018, we will see more and more online platforms that connect these solo tradies with the right employers, play a vital role in helping young Tradies begin their career on the right footing, grow their skills, secure better leads and get affiliated with larger market players, while working at their own availability.
“Hiring freelance solo tradies has been a win-win for me and my workers,” says Paul Dorian, owner of P.A.D Plumbing. “As an established plumbing company in Melbourne, we are able to allocate these idle resources to urgent work at odd hours, while our permanent staff can focus on high paying regular jobs. This allows us to live to our promise as 24/7 emergency plumbers, while the freelancers enjoy the flexibility to work at their own convenience, skip the long route to office and still earn some extra money.”
When we think of carpenters, plumbers, electricians and others trades, we picture macho men with hard hats and work belts. However, Australia has been witnessing a rise in female Tradies, and the trend is likely to continue in 2018.
From having a passion to do things with their hands to wanting to take up new challenges and starting their own business, women in Australia are picking up the tools for all the right reasons, pushing towards gender equality in this highly male dominated industry.
Being more organised, cautious with tools, better at multitasking and communicating with the clients, lady Tradies in Australia are breaking the stereotypes and have been working just as effectively as their male counterparts.
From in-house teams undertaking building maintenance, facility management has come a long way. As the public sector becomes more reliant on external providers to maintain their building and infrastructure, the role of facility management companies has become more service oriented with the need to manage on-going relationships both with clients as well as contractors. Facility managers are now responsible to oversee the work done by contract Trades people ensuring it lives up to the Australian standards, is in compliance with the laws and is auditable by the building owners.
In order to meet all service level agreements, it is becoming increasingly important for facility managers to deal with tech-savvy Tradies and use cloud based job management platforms such i4Tradies to allocate jobs on the go, see work progress at a glance and ensure all work is done as per client requirements.
With a growing shift from business focus to customer focus, we see an immense growth in more women joining the trade, on-site safety, flexible work, higher legal compliance and adoption of new technology platforms leading the way in 2018.
The shift in customer attitude will drive change in service delivery practices through more automation and deeper business insights.
Instead of gaining many mediocre customers, businesses will be keen on attracting A-grade clients and keeping them for life with better relationship management.
The Trades Services industry is the backbone of Australian economy, and we are excited to see what else the New Year holds for these hardworking and now increasingly tech-savvy blokes. Therefore, we, at i4Tradies, are excited to offer a flexible and complete management platform to assist the growth of every Australian Trades Services company in 2018 and beyond.
As far as we can see, the future holds a world of opportunities for Australian Tradies, waiting to be unleashed.