Tony Short has poured his 30 years of experience operating as a self-employed tradesman into the development of a new app. Professional Builder’s Lee Jones talks to the bright sparks behind a new business management solution.
That time is money is a very old adage but when you’re running a small business, and balancing the demands of multiple roles, it’s a rule that the trades live by. That was certainly the experience of Tony Short, a Fareham-based electrician who operates across the south east of England as a sole trader through his firm, Securus. So much so that it is a message conveyed as an acronym in the first three letters of the business management app that he has produced for the benefit of the trades – Timter.
“Any tradesman will tell you that paperwork can be a particular pain point, and I’ve always been open to any process that can improve the business – and save time,” explains the 52-year-old. “I’ve been able to organise myself through spreadsheets for many years, but they will only take you so far. When you’re doing so many different types of job, the man-hours involved in keeping them current starts to add up. I’ve always thought there must be a better way.”
The germ of an idea came when Tony was in search of an inventory and stock control app, in order to manage what tools and materials he had at any one time but couldn’t find anything that would suit a firm of his size. “That was the start of it, but it then occurred to me that what the trades really need is to be able to manage their business as a whole through a mobile app on their smartphone, and the result is Timter.”
Tony approached two existing customer of his electrical business, who are experts in the field of digital technologies – and are now partners in the Tradecraft Tools business that is behind the app – and from there a clear idea of just what could be achieved would emerge. “I had all the experience of what tradespeople needed in terms of the functions, and they had the technological nous. It was a journey that would take four more years to come to fruition, and I’ve been working full-time as an electrician all that time, but the first lockdown gave us the extra impetus to make the app a reality.”
Indeed, the pandemic has brought the power of digital tools into sharp focus, with huge levels of adoption reported, but where Timter departs from many of these is that it is specifically designed around the needs of the self-employed tradesperson, bringing multiple functions into one package. “It always had to be an app,” continues Tony, “because I know all too well that you don’t want to be going home to stare at a computer at the end of the day, and the guiding principles are simplicity and mobility. Instead of relying on two or three different software programmes, and an accountancy or bookkeeping app, Timter puts everything in one easily accessible place.”
Timter is the partner in your pocket through the lifetime of your projects, from initial professional quotes, to ordering products, project management, stock control and invoicing. Billable extras can be recorded, and more easily communicated to the client, and costly mistakes and omissions can be eradicated at every level. “Whether you’re working to a fixed price, or charging on the basis on time and materials, the app can manage both, and it’s functions can be tailored to a particular trade. You can track the time you’re taking on a job as a whole, or constituent part of it, and if a customer wants an appraisal of your progress you can pull out your phone and demonstrate that you have all the information to hand.”
The app is now ready to download via the Google and Apple app stores and is available to use for free for a 45-day trial, after which people can continue to use it without charge with limited features. A subscription to the full product after 45 days will cost £30 a month, but to help trade professionals recover from the impact of COVID-19, Tradecraft Tools is offering a discounted rate of £20 a month until February 2022. And, by subscribing for a year at £200, users can effectively get two months free. The company will also offer this discounted rate to newly-established trade businesses beyond February 2022.
“It’s about working smarter, not harder,” concludes Tony, “and at the same time projecting a professional image.”
For further information on Timter visit https://timter.com/