Multi-ethnic team of blue collar air conditioner repairmen at work.  They prepare to begin work by gathering appropriate tools from their tool box.

The typical tradesperson didn’t start their business to deal with administration, but it’s one of the biggest constraints on their ability to work.

Research shows that one in four tradies have been forced to give up jobs because admin puts such a burden on their work. The work that they give up is not insignificant, either – the average value of work lost to admin is $120,000 per year, depending on the trade.

This is because tradies are spending 14 hours per week on general administration and preparing quotes. This is time that they don’t need to spend, as automation can take a lot of this off their hands. It’s for this reason that we’re seeing a “rise of the digital tradie” in this sector, which is traditionally known for being conservative with technology, however, is now embracing the opportunity that digital tools present to them.

 Automation boosts productivity

The right software solutions can take so much of the busy work out of a tradie’s day, assisting them with business management, accounting, payroll, project management and even customer support. Automation can instinctively set and assign projects, calculate and send billing, and reduce travel time between jobs. Seven out of ten tradies agree that this kind of application of technology can save them time in this way alone.

For example, the right team management platform will allow a tradie to brief their employees about a job via site images, rather than needing to physically be present on site in the initial instance. This extra time saved can be reinvested into business development, managing more projects remotely, and growing the business.

 E-invoicing is the big one

Receiving payments (37%) and preparing quotes (33%), are two of the biggest headaches for tradies. What’s more, 33% of customers don’t like paying in cash. For the tradie, the pressure has already been to “go digital,” and, in addition to shouldering the burden of preparing quotes and monitoring for payment, a digital payments platform, backed by automation, can help maintain a tradie’s business in many ways.

Take, for example, human error. A miscalculation on a quote could result in the customer either feeling overcharged, or the tradie being committed to a project that won’t provide profit. Furthermore, automation can more accurately track unforeseen costs, and provide a layer of transparency to the customer that ensures that they’re happy with the results. Even beyond the time consideration, embracing automation for the payments platform is a good step for the health of a tradie’s business.

 Provide better customer service

The right digital platform can help deliver exceedingly good customer service. By tracking the movement and time spent on tasks for each employee, the digital platform can “predict” when someone from the team is going to be late for an appointment, and communicate that with the customer in real time.

Once the business is working off a digital platform, predictive analytics can become another opportunity to enhance the customer experience. IoT sensors could be installed on site to monitor equipment and, in the event of a fault, schedule a work order to repair it before the customer is even aware that they have a problem. Within the organisation, automation can monitor inventory levels so that the customer never needs to wait for a component to be ordered.

Automation can also assist with customer service, with AI chatbots and similar technology being available to trade businesses of all sizes, and being able to immediately give customers answers to common questions. For the more complex answers, the AI will refer the task to someone within the team, but by having to address fewer enquiries around common questions, the tradie again saves time, which can be plugged back into the business.

Grow the business

Generating leads is always time-consuming, but it’s essential to growing the business. Technology can help here, too, and indeed 57% of tradies believe that the rise in technology is helping them to grow the business.

The greatest example of intelligent operations is the CRM. A well-designed CRM such as Microsoft Dynamics 365, that has been integrated into the digital platform will collect information on a person’s every interaction with the company. With that information, it is possible to reach out to them with highly targeted communication, tailored to their unique needs. It also ensures that a customer is never “lost”, with a field agent being able to access the same history as the customer service representative, and each person on the team can continue a seamless communication with that customer. For the tradie, demonstrating that level of professionalism and deep understanding of each customer will significantly boost business growth strategy.

The challenge is in finding the right digital platform, as every business needs a solution that meets their objectives and unique approach to the market. Nexon has a long track record in delivering solutions to tradies that are tailored to their sector and their approach to the market. Contact the team here, or read more about the Nexon Field Service Solution here.