Danielle Austin - 25 Jun, 2020

Rise of the online tradie

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Like every other workforce, Australian tradies are finding ways to make the most of digital resources to make their work more efficient and streamlined. Technology has been part of a tradie’s tool kit for years now. While the days of technology replacing tradespeople are still far off technology is definitely changing the way trades are conducted through the rise of the online tradie.

Home improvements and DIY have been a top priority for Australian’s in lockdown in the last few months, with departments stores making record sales on home improvement goods. While there are many basic home projects that people can easily complete themselves, it’s also important to know when to call in the experts.

Related: Tradie VS DIY home maintenance: When to call in the expert?

Although many trades managed to continue to work through the coronavirus pandemic, those that are required to enter homes were encouraged to find new ways to work to comply with social distancing. Tradies across the country have managed to find new ways to use technology to continue to help their clients. This includes using cloud computing, mobile apps, construction management software, drones, artificial intelligence and more to make processes more efficient and digitise their profession.

tradie using a drone

Getting tech savvy with video technology  

Unless you’re an expert in the subject it can be hard to tell when you require expert help with your home improvement or repair job. Any repair involving plumbing, electrical or drainage systems may have legal requirements that you’ll need to meet in order to complete your repair and this is where tradespeople come in. Even repairs that you can legally do yourself are not always worth the time it’ll take you to get them done.

Before calling a tradie out to your house it’s good to know just how much help you’ll need. Video conferencing has become a huge part of our lives in 2020 thanks to physical distancing restrictions, and savvy tradies are using the same technologies to consult with clients and quote on jobs. Using any video conferencing platform, from Zoom to Facetime, tradies are able to advise on a job without visiting the job site. This can save both the client and the tradesman time and money, and tradies can advise when a trip to the DIY store and a quick fix will suffice and when you’ll need to call in the experts.

For tradespeople, offering video conferencing services also saves time on travelling to various sites and can allow them to advise and quote a large number of clients in a short amount of time. With the world of trades set to look different following the coronavirus pandemic tradespeople would do well to introduce a video consulting service.

Some tradespeople are also producing videos throughout isolation to enable clients to perform at-home renovations or temporary fixes that they would usually outsource. If you’re looking to improve your DIY skills or simply put in place a temporary solution until a tradie can get to your house take a look on YouTube for helpful how-to videos.

Related: Federal government package offers $25,000 grants to home builders, renovators

Using digital marketing to save time

Using marketing is an easy way to grow your business and client base, but traditional marketing can be time consuming, taking up essential hours that tradies could be working hands-on.

A range of online platforms now exist that allow them to market themselves to their local communities quickly and easily. Site such as Online Tradies and Hipages act as a digital directory to assist those in need of a tradesperson to connect with one locally. Tradies can also explore online marketplaces like Airtaskers that allow them to offer their services or accept jobs peer-to-peer.

Just like clients contact tradespeople when they don’t possess the skills to complete their repair, it’s important to know when to outsource. Online platforms can help create personalised websites for marketing services without a huge commitment from the business owner. Digital Tradesman is an online digital marketing agency aimed at helping builders, contractors, and tradespeople create web optimised sites to increase the potential of new clients.

You might also like: Home improvement and DIY items top Aussie spending lists

Using software to maximise job efficiency

There’s are software solutions for every problem these days, and trades business management is no different. Invest some time and money in quality software options to maximise your job efficiency and save your dollars in the long run. The options vary depending on your needs, and many options also include smartphone apps for business management on the go.

Utilising payroll and accounts software is a must for most business owners or self-employed tradies. Following up quotes and invoices, ensuring employees are paid, and dealing with incoming bills are all necessary but time consuming. This software is not new but it’s essential for saving time, meaning you can spend more hours on the tools and less on the books. There are plenty of options so consider what your needs are and shop around. Xero or MYOB are both popular and easy to learn options.

Job management software provides some payroll and accounting features but is also a complete software system, allowing you to track a job from start to finish. Depending on your software choice you’ll be able to schedule your workers and have their work hours sent to them, stay on top of work flow from initial quote to final invoices, use quote templates to save time on costing jobs, and collate time sheets and receipts to make invoicing a breeze. You’ll also increase the productivity of your workers once you do away with manual paperwork and time sheets. Popular options include purpose-built Tradify or Ascora.

It’s worth spending the time to learn how to use your software of choice – you’ll find this helps streamline your payroll and accounts processes and saves you time in the long run.

What does the future look like for trades?

Technological advancements continue to revolutionise trades of every sector. Virtual reality is one technology that is tipped to change the way tradies do their jobs. Virtual reality technology is already being used for job planning, education and health and safety in the sector. Further down the track using VR technology will allow builders and homeowners to complete virtual reality renovation concept walkthroughs rather than the more traditional plans or models. A huge benefit of this will be clients being able to identify design issues long before construction starts. It can also be a huge asset in the training and compliance of apprentices.

tradie using a virtual reality headset

Related: Your guide to a complete home renovation

Using 3D printing is also set to change the way work sites operate. With 3D printers on site tradies would have the ability to print necessary parts and tools in the moment. This technology is already being used to print effective electrical components including resistors and inductors.

Drones are another technology starting to be used by various trades. While drones are mostly finding use in larger commercial sites, for electricians and arborists there are daily applications. Drones can streamline tasks such as site mapping, surveying, crop inspection in farms and vineyards, infrastructure inspection and wildlife and ecosystem monitoring.

Words by Danielle Austin

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