Can mobile spark your business into a fire?

The mobile revolution has now made available much more technology to trade businesses who are naturally on the move. This article looks at what the implications are for a trade business, what can be done with technology today and what tomorrow is likely to bring.

Trade businesses including electricians, installers, builders and many more all have a lot to gain from the advances of mobile technology.

Remember the year 1999? It was pretty interesting for those of us working in technology. Aside from the general Y2K paranoia, you know planes falling out of the sky and cash machines exploding it was also the first time the term 'mobile internet' entered our vocabulary.

I'd just left the cinema having watched The Matrix for the 5th time and the must have piece of technology was the Nokia 7110. Not only could it save Neo from the machines but you could also access the internet. Yes, THE INTERNET, on your mobile phone, how insane is that!

Whoah.

Whoah.

The truth is in 1999 mobile internet sucked, us early adopters were burnt with technologies such as WAP. However, roll forward to 2018 we are actually so used to having connectivity everywhere there really is no difference between 'the mobile internet' and the thing you have in your home or office, its just 'the internet'. We’ve hit the mobile tipping point as there are now more internet connected smartphones than people in the UK, if you don’t have it you’re in the minority.

It’s no longer a case of asking whether mobile technology is important to the field trade industry, we know it is! 

As an industry we are uniquely positioned to take advantage of it. Without being too stereotypical we are typically mobile and (although I hate to say it) generally adverse to complicated computer systems that tie you to a desk. This particularly applies to smaller electrical contractors that can’t afford dedicated admin staff.

The first question to ask is why would anyone in our industry bother with new technology at all? The answer to that, there is considerable opportunity to save time (and therefore money) and to improve quality.

The pluses of technology

Computers save time when it’s less effort to produce a necessary result than paper based alternatives. It’s not an exaggeration to say that smaller trade companies hate paperwork with a passion. They generally don’t even want to spend any time thinking about it. However, if investing will yield benefits, it has to make sense. The analogy is buying great tools. All successful companies understand that investing in the right tools and training can yield major benefits.

Doing paperwork on the job and on a mobile means you don’t need to do it later, getting your evenings back. Emailing paperwork means no messing with envelopes and stamps. You can find things on a computer months later, much more easily. You can re-use previous work. That’s why nowadays even sales people, previously notorious for poor paperwork, are as hooked on computers as anyone else in business.

What else?

In the last few years, there has been an explosion in systems that can help trade companies. Risk assessments can be done online and method statements developed. Hours can be tracked. Expenses can be recorded and customers quoted and invoiced on the spot.

My company, Powered Now provides part of the jigsaw and there are many others that provide other parts. For instance, the Expensify app is great at tracking expenses and Harvest does the same for time sheets.

So while it’s fun to look back and reminisce about technology I really believe the greatest is yet to come, especially for electricians and trade companies. In 1999 being a mobile business was hard, the technology simply wasn’t there to support us, today mobility gives the aspiring trade business owners an advantage, are you making the most of it?