Whether seeking the services of a plumber, electrician or any other tradesman, chances are consumers are using search engines as their primary mode of discovery. Unfortunately, without an online presence, many tradies are falling behind in the game – despite being the best at their trade. To help tradies experience the full benefits of technology, plumber turned entrepreneur, Matt Jones, decided to form a web solutions company, Tradie Web Guys.
The company kicked off in 2012, under the name Plumber Web Guys. At the time, Jones was working in a sales role for a Sydney-based company that distributed plumbing technology.
“A plumber myself, I always dreamed of being in business however I knew that I had far more to offer my industry than traditional plumbing. I’ve always had a passion for business and I have dabbled in many over the years. I have read more books on business than any other tradie that I know and I would have attended hundreds of business seminars over the years,” says Jones.
While he was working as salesmen, he noticed a common trend within the companies he was interacting with – they were representing themselves poorly online.
“I worked with guys that were the best in their field at what they did, but couldn’t figure out how to let the marketplace know,” says Jones.
While the business started off targeting the plumbing sector, in response to increasing demand from other professionals in the trades industry, Jones decided to change the company name to Tradie Web Guys. The company has one overarching mission: “to help tradies evolve so that they can achieve modern results, from modern methods.”
Tradie Web Guys places a strong emphasis on the implementation of technology into the everyday running of businesses in order to reduce paperwork and systemise proceedings. Various apps and technologies are readily available that can streamline and transform the way that tradies currently operate.
But the company doesn’t just build trade specific websites and leave the tradies to deal with the rest; they also educate them about how they can use available technologies and resources to aid and grow their business.
On the education front, Tradie Web Guys was invited into TAFE to speak to the Certificate 4 business students from plumbing about the implementation of technology into the daily running of their business.
This year the company is developing a curriculum based around the key elements that are a necessity in today’s marketplace, with hopes that the course will be rolled out across TAFE NSW to students looking to start their own trades business. Meetings are already underway with TAFE NSW regarding this matter.
Tradie Web Guys is also in discussion with various financial institutions and TAFE NSW in relation to developing a package that educates and offers practical steps and solutions for young apprentices to start investing some of the money that they make throughout their apprenticeship, so that they can have the foundations to help them start their business when the time comes.
“This is very close to my heart as I fell into the trap of thinking that I was a rock star when i was making money and all of my mates were at uni and as a result have struggled to get ahead. I don’t want other kids making the same mistakes that I did, but I knew no better and had no one that could help me,” says Jones.
The success of his business, to date, has come primarily from strategic partnerships. Every month, Jones aims to form two strategic partnerships – a tough task, he admits.
The partnerships are set up with companies that can provide Jones’ clients and the trades industry with solutions that exceed his own expertise. Examples include a workwear company, a cloud solution and field app company, a price book company and more.
Another reason why the business is operating well is because Jones was a tradie himself – and therefore, can speak their language. Unlike other companies that throw in technology jargon in discussions – which can be a major deterrent to implementing technology in the first place – Jones is able to speak to them on their level.
On average, tradies pay $2,300 for the service – depending on the solution they need. The most expensive sale has been around $8,000.
Tradie Web Guys has been entirely self-funded to date, though Jones is entertaining the idea of raising a small amount of funds – no more than $100,000 – at the end of year. This is so the company can expand their marketing operations and subsequently grow the business.
Like other early stage businesses, there have been challenges. In Jones’ case, it was managing cashflow.
“Initially you’ve got to stay lean. You have to allocate funds carefully. It’s really easy to spend money on people to help with tasks that, at the end of the day, you can do yourself,” says Jones.
“I fine-tuned a lot of things in my business. I had to get rid of employees that were costing the business a lot, without providing much in return. I had to cut back on costs and focus on the core values of the business.”
To stay lean, Jones relies primarily on contractors who work remotely when needed.
Overall, Jones admits how fortunate he has been to have good advisors on board right from the get-go: “They’ve been helpful on multiple fronts. Things went quite well at the beginning in terms of building the brand and approaching companies for strategic partnerships.”
But his greatest achievement thus far is being able to give back to an industry that has fulfilled him for so many years.
For more information, visit www.tradiewebguys.com.au.