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Five quick tips for small trade businesses

Starting a business? Here are a few points worth keeping in mind.

With booming housing markets and an endless call for repairs and renovations, it is a great time to be a tradesperson in Australia.

Plumbers, builders, roofers and tilers are all in high demand, with many customers prepared to pay a premium for quality, long lasting service.

Running a successful trade business is about more than beautiful finishes. If you have aspirations for being to go-to person in your field, these are some things to keep in mind:  

Customer service counts

As with any business, much of your success is built on reputation. While there may be a high demand for tradies, there are likely to be plenty of competitors who are offering the same or similar services.

A business operator who returns phone calls, gives well-presented quotes and is punctual will always be in line for repeat business and referrals.

In the age of social media, you might be surprised at how many customers come to you because someone shared a beautiful picture and a rave review about your attitude on Instagram or Facebook.

Customer management is made easy nowadays with the help of a fast broadband connection, such as via services over the nbn™ network.

You have the option to deliver instant online quotes, set up customer relationship management software that sends auto-responses to new enquiries, and even send out feedback surveys once a job is completed as a way of improving your service.  

Your digital presence is important

Ever played around on Pinterest or Instagram? Even without a lot of followers these platforms can work in your favour.

By uploading photos of your recent work and adding search engine friendly captions (i.e. kitchen renovation St Kilda), you can expose yourself to a wider network of customers.

Many small business operators are so busy that they neglect to maintain a website. If you’re looking at growing your business, this strategy is an important one that might put you ahead of the competition. A modern, well-made website can help you attract more business by:

  • Ranking more highly in search results
  • Sharing positive customer testimonials
  • Demonstrating your handiwork through photo galleries
  • Having positive copy that incites your customers to get in touch
  • Being easy to view on mobile for people who need someone at short notice

When operating your own website and social media accounts, upload speeds are important, which could be made easy with access to fast broadband, such as via services over the nbn™ network.  

Save time through tools

And we don’t mean drills and dremels.

There are dozens of online tools designed to help you to run your business more efficiently. From generic communication and time management tools to apps and software that are specially designed for your industry.

Some basic apps and tools to check out include:

  • Voxer - turns your phone into a walkie talkie
  • Wunderlist - for keeping up with your tasks on the go
  • Hipages - get notified when someone is looking for someone with your skills in your area
  • HoursTracker - for keeping track of working hours

Money matters

Keeping an eagle eye on the money coming in and going out is non-negotiable if you want your business to succeed in the long term. Using accounting software is one way to do this.

These systems can be linked to your bank account and organised to calculate your business activity statements, issue invoices and send automatic reminders about overdue accounts.

You can use them to see at a glance how much you have spent on tools and equipment, how much you need to pay your workers and who owes you money.  

Free your time by outsourcing

Many self-employed tradespeople try to do everything themselves. They can end up overwhelmed and forced to put in extra hours to keep up.

If you don’t feel comfortable managing the accounts, marketing your business or hiring labourers, or if this is taking up hours of your working week, consider finding someone else to do it.

This frees you to either spend more time on the areas of your business that are most profitable, or enables you to have more downtime outside of working hours. It can be a simple process to find the right person by searching online or posting a job on a website like Airtasker.

Tiler and business owner Vince operates Ital Tiles from his headquarters in Brunswick. He has been able to save two hours a week since implementing cloud-based payment and accounting software via services over the nbn™ network.

This means he is no longer chasing a paper trail or waiting for frustrating uploads.* Check out Vince’s busy working day below: ^

Check your address to see if you can connect to the nbn™ network.

* End-user experience, including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn™ network, depends on the technology over which services are delivered to your premises and some factors outside our control like equipment quality, software, broadband plans, signal reception and how the end-user’s service provider designs its network.

^ Vince was part of the nbn™ S-ME Time campaign

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