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Tradies go digital, staying relevant in a digital economy

Tradies may have been slow to adapt to the digital revolution, but a new breed are breaking the mold, engaging with social media and utilising cloud services as they compete to market themselves online.

The reality is that we are increasingly looking to the web for all our needs – and that includes finding a plumber, sparkie or handyman. Australians have also been fast to adopt mobile devices, which has only exacerbated the move online. For many tradies it has been a choice of staying relevant and going where their consumers are, or going bust. The fact is, going digital has not only helped many tradies to market themselves more effectively, it also gives them the ability to manage their business on the go.

Tradies recognise that going digital will save time, effort and generate revenue. Here are the main reasons why tradies are embracing the online world, and why others will follow.

Survival of the fittest goes digital

 As customers’ expectations change, it becomes harder to stay relevant in a fast paced world. The rise of technology is nothing new, but as the accessibility of the internet and smartphones has boomed, technology has pervaded all industries. Tradies are also moving away from traditional lead sources such as the local paper or the Yellow Pages directory, which are in decline. With word of mouth only stretching so far, online directories and lead generation partners are the new kids on the block.

Go where your customers are

Consumers are now online. Whether that’s for grocery shopping, buying clothes or tickets for the cinema, tradies are accepting that their customers are searching for services online – and they expect it to be simple and fast. We no longer undertake the laborious ring round to source quotes, life has moved on, and customers expect responses fast.

Clever business management, tradies in the cloud

Managing your business has spun away from spreadsheets and telephone calls. Tradies are making use of sophisticated business management tools to save time – gone are the days of using a spreadsheet, accessed in the evenings and weekends.

Other tradies have embraced smart accounting packages which allow them to quote and invoice on the spot from their mobile device. Drag and drop functionality has replaced laborious tasks that may have previously been done after hours or on weekends. Accounts and jobs are instantly accessible anywhere anytime. James Mason, a builder and handyman operating out of Sydney’s inner west, is a good example of the new generation of tradies, embracing the move to digital and thriving.

Besides being active on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, he uses cloud services for all his scheduling and job management needs. Google Docs allows him to easily log and track every enquiry he receives while all his appointments are managed via an online calendar.

Leads, leads, leads – online

Sophisticated services are available to match consumers and tradies, saving time and effort so they can focus on the job in hand. Sites like hipages.com.au connect tradies with potential customers 24/7, allowing them to develop an online presence while they build a consistent amount of work. With SMS and email alerts for jobs, the services cater to the fact that most of their customers (tradies) are often on the move.

Traditionally more comfortable with a wrench in their hands than dealing with the intricacies of marketing their business online, tradies are embracing online tools and dedicated services to help them follow leads and work smarter. Tradies leading this trend are reaping the rewards.

About the Author

Craig Gibson is online editor of hipages.com.au, Australia’s most visited site in the building, renovation and home improvement sector.

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