The UK housing market has been on the rise and that in turn is driving the demand for tradesmen. However, it seems that many householders find the process of hiring a tradesman a supremely frustrating experience, particularly around issues concerning general organisation and reliability.
What homeowners think
A Devon-based company, Powered Now, decided to conduct a consumer survey to evaluate the root cause of customer complaints with the idea of launching a smartphone app as a possible solution.
The company commissioned Toluna to question 260 householders focusing on their experiences with tradesmen. The results were enlightening.
Highlights from the research revealed that 83 per cent were unhappy about the speed of receiving quotations and 71 per cent said that a professional-looking quotation would determine which company they chose.
When it came to doing the work, 85 per cent of home owners said that tradesmen failing to turn up as agreed were a common experience for them and a further 84 per cent complained about the final bill being more than expected.
One of the root causes of this discontent is paperwork. Quite simply, tradesmen are bogged down with quotes, receipts, invoices, safety certificates, CIS and so on, and that in turn drives an apparent lack of professionalism.
Worse, it can mean that completed jobs fail to keep in line with initial quotes and budgets. The result of all this is that complaints from customers begin to soar.
Solving the problem
Having identified the problem, the company then developed an ingenious solution. Instead of tradesmen having to carry around bags of tatty-looking paperwork, why not just digitalise it and put it all on a smartphone app?
The result is Powered Now, an app for iPhones and iPads which completely eliminates the need for builders to carry even a notebook with them. Instead it enables the tradesman to quote, invoice and manage projects while they are with the customer, or allows them to send it all via email.
With his brother, James Chandler runs Chandler Building Limited on the Isle of Wight and has found the app wins them more work: “We turn up on a job to quote, do it all on the phone and send it to the customer while we are on site. We’ve noticed getting the paperwork out to the customer quickly normally means we win the job.”
“Home owners’ expectations are higher than ever before,” said Powered Now CEO, Benjamin Dyer. “While there is a current boom in work for the field trade sector, it’s also never been so competitive. We are aiming to provide the tools that make it easy to manage the paperwork and look professional with minimal effort. The results of the survey confirm our view that tradesmen who use technology intelligently have the opportunity to not only save time, but make more money too.”
An app for all that
The Powered Now software also enables the customer to pay electronically by debit or credit card, or by PayPal, solving another major headache for the builder, while also enabling customers to pay faster.
And there’s no danger of any information being lost because the app also automatically backs up all information to the cloud at regular intervals.
This means that if a particular device is lost or damaged on site, the data can simply be downloaded on to a new device.
The app has a simple interface and can generate estimates, quotes, invoices and other documents quickly and efficiently. You can even attach relevant files if required, such as a photo or schedule.
You can rapidly alter pricing and record customer details, requirements and contracts while keeping internal notes confidential.
Documents can be professionally designed with a company logo and they can be rapidly despatched to customers by email saving postage and stationery costs.
When customers accept quotations or submit payments, the app generates notifications to keep you informed.
You can also generate worksheets for your team so that they are properly briefed and tasks and reminders recorded.
As well as being able to back-up information to the internet (known as ‘the cloud’ in this case), the app can also protect information through data encryption, synchronise information between multiple devices and provide financial summaries.
For further information on Powered Now www.powerednow.com