Traditionally many tradies are known for being somewhat disorganised on tasks such as invoicing and admin. This is the story of Tradify – a simple job management digital tool that helps them work way more efficiently. It all began in 2010, when Kiwi electrical engineer Curtis Bailey became increasingly frustrated by the amount of business […]
Traditionally many tradies are known for being somewhat disorganised on tasks such as invoicing and admin. This is the story of Tradify – a simple job management digital tool that helps them work way more efficiently.
It all began in 2010, when Kiwi electrical engineer Curtis Bailey became increasingly frustrated by the amount of business paperwork he had to deal with. He decided to build an app himself to solve many of the fiddly admin issues that tradespeople struggle with – admin such as estimates, supplying accurate quotes, invoicing and sending out reminders, all of which can take up 15 to 20 hours of precious time every week, and can be easily initiated via a smartphone.
After securing some funding and carrying out more development it didn’t take long for his app, dubbed Tradify, to become reality, and popular, on both sides of the Tasman.
Fast forward to 2021 and there are now more than 20,000 trades businesses worldwide using the Tradify app – including Australia, the United States, United Kingdom and South Africa. Clients range from sole traders to companies with 20 employees.
Tradify CEO Michael Steckler was on the company’s board for a couple of years before taking over the leadership role from Curtis in June 2020. He explains that the mission of the company is to give tradies their life back. “They don’t enjoy the paperwork; they’d rather be on the tools, and Tradify can save them a ton of time.”
The beauty of Tradify is that it dovetails nicely with Xero, and therefore eliminates double-entry. A trial period is offered, which includes phone-based training and allows users time to get comfortable with the app. Generally users get familiar with the key features first, starting with the invoice function.
“Principally we’ve built an app that’s really like any other consumer app you would use on your phone – it needs to be just as good and as easy to pick up,” says Michael.
He says his team measures the success of the app in two ways. First, the NPS (Net Promoter Score), which tells them how many people are happy with the product and would recommend it to others.
Secondly, they look at how many customers are using the platform on a global basis. While they’ve had considerable success so far, they’re now looking to ramp things up.
“We estimate there are roughly six million tradespeople in companies across the world, and at least a million in our small business sweet spot,” he says. “So really we’ve only just scratched the surface.”
Michael says growth in app sales will come as a result of the generational shift of former trainee tradespeople who’re now graduating into their own start-ups and are much more tech-savvy than their predecessors. There is also the rise in government-backed schemes in many countries to encourage apprentices into the trades.
“The other thing that has happened is that Covid-19 accelerated the need for a digital footprint of what you’re doing,” explains Michael. “We’re talking along the lines of track and trace and the greater efficiency of worker deployment.
“If a customer needs a plumber in Auckland’s Mairangi Bay, for example, and you have two plumbers currently out on jobs – one in Remuera and one in Takapuna – then you’re obviously going to contact the latter in the first instance. And there’s no need to interrupt them with a phone call.
“Consumers have also become more comfortable on devices. As long as we make the user experience simplistic, even people who haven’t used an app before will pick it up quickly,” he says. “Paying invoices by phone or email has also become much more widely accepted.”
Michael believes it’s not an exaggeration to say that the Tradify app has been life-changing for many tradies. He says feedback often revolves around spending more time with family, or pursuing pastimes such as fishing.
In recent times the Covid pandemic has been responsible for a boom in home renovations, as funds normally allocated to overseas travel get spent closer to home. This has resulted in tradies having more work than they can cope with, says Michael.
There has also been a requirement for more electronic tracking and tracing, which has helped cloud-based solutions like Tradify, while the lockdowns meant there was more time for tradies stuck at home to reassess their business and how they do things.
It’s been a perfect storm for Tradify’s expansion, and just as Xero’s reach has extended around the world, Tradify’s is expected to follow.
Promotion through online marketing and partnerships with various trade associations has secured additional sales, but Michael says word of mouth between tradies has been the primary driver of accelerated growth, as have the free two-week trials followed up by expert phone-based on-boarding advice.
The future of the company is looking extremely promising. Staff numbers have grown to around 70. The latest funding round carried out in March will see the proceeds ploughed into more product engineering, customer support and sales.
Marketing efforts are largely focused on creating a strong community of tradies, says Michael.
He says Tradify helps that community with really useful digital content, such as tips on how to set up your business, hire an apprentice, and a cashflow forecasting tool.
Tradify is a business that makes perfect sense, he says. It solves a massive problem for tradies all over the world and has huge growth potential. He believes it can be the global leader in its space.
“It’s number one point of difference is its user experience. It was built for tradies, by a tradie, and we invest a lot in research to continually improve the product and ensure it works seamlessly across different platforms.”
When you factor in the considerable stress currently being experienced by New Zealand’s building and construction industry and the thousands of tradespeople who are its lifeblood, it would be hard to find a tool in the toolbox that is more useful and beneficial than Tradify.