Learn how a gas services business speeds up sales with Powered Now
Helping to build a trusted business during the pandemic
What does it take to build a successful business straight out of the blocks? Skills, demand, market share?
Paul Randall of Gloucestershire-based Randall Gas Ltd would say all of these – plus investment in the right kind of tech to support you from day one.
After 23 years as a British Gas Engineer, Paul struck out to begin his own business in August 2019.
It was quite a leap of faith, without even knowing what would happen in the world within a few short months.
“Looking back on it now,” Paul says, “I have to take a moment to think that I was pretty clever to start a successful business before Covid kicked in!”
An eye for technology
Being quite tech savvy, and with a good amount of corporate experience under his belt, Paul knew the first thing he needed was an IT set-up that would help with business efficiency right from the start.
“In my spare time I’m a qualified pilot, so I like gadgets and tech, and I’m often an early adopter of tech that goes on to become industry standard.
“I had a fairly good idea of what I was looking for to manage Randall Gas Ltd – I needed a tool I could just put information in and have it all in one place. It was just a matter of finding it.”
Finding that tool didn’t take very long!
As Paul explains: “I went along to a Vaillant event down at SS Great Britain, where PoweredNow were showcasing their platform.
I chatted to the lovely Chloe from the PoweredNow team and challenged her to put her money where her mouth is to get me on board!
Just over a month after I’d left British Gas I made my first entries on the PoweredNow tool – on 26 September 2019.
Chloe told me I’d never look back – and I haven’t.”
Paul had a very specific shopping list of functionality that he was looking for – and PoweredNow ticked all the boxes.
Forms and Certificates
“It’s so brilliant to be able to present customers with digital forms and certificates straight away,” says Paul.
“This has been particularly useful when carrying out gas checks on properties with absent landlords or doing gas safety surveys on properties on behalf of estate agents and solicitors.
Within minutes of me finishing the check the landlord or solicitor can have a safety certificate in their hands.
As a result they’re more likely to pay the bill – and give me repeat business.”
Diary and CRM
The diary functionality was a key requirement for Paul to get his schedule organised as he began his new venture.
In addition, commenting on the convenience of having all customer records in one place, Paul says: “When Mrs Jones phones and expects you to remember servicing their boiler last winter it’s really handy to be able to bring up the information.”
“Pictures tell a thousand words and photos are a great memory jogger,” says Paul.
“Mrs Jones’ job records with all the photo evidence are right at your fingertips – and she’s always impressed that you remember her Vaillant is in that funny little cupboard in the kitchen!”
“Being able to show customers photos of the work that needs doing, or that has been done, builds credibility and trust. It’s the way forward really. You can’t deny that there’s sludge in the central heating system when you can see a photo of it!”
Paul also found the benefits of photo evidence during the lockdowns too. He says: “It was massively useful to be able to send customers photos of the work while social distancing in their house!”
For Paul the quotation tool has been the least used of all the functionality – but for a good reason!
“It’s ironic really,” he says.
“I don’t usually need to actually send a quotation. Once I’ve generated it and the customer sees the survey report and the photos and understands what work needs to be done they tend to agree on the spot!
I’m sure for bigger jobs where a number of engineers are being considered this would be priceless, so it’s great that PowerdNow has it.”
Paul knows exactly where he is going using the built in gps, as well as being able to track team members.
He says: “Knowing how far and what time it will take to get to the next customer is one thing. The ability to text or email the customer with your eta is the icing on the cake.
It makes planning so much smoother and gives the customer a better experience.”
Collecting payments has never been an issue in the history of Randall Gas Ltd.
“Digital invoicing through SumUp means that customers pay more promptly,” says Paul.
“And automatic reconciliation with my accounting system means there’s a lot less work for me!”
In Paul’s experience PoweredNow has enabled his young business to be in a different league.
“The branded software, emailed reporting, digital invoicing and certification all go to show customers that you’re not in white-van-man territory!” he laughs.
“PoweredNow definitely helps present a much more professional persona to the customer.”
Customer Reassurance and Retention
Since starting the business in 2019 Paul has only seen his customer base grow.
“It’s the thoroughness of the reporting and the professional way it’s presented that really wins people’s trust,” he says.
“The photos reassure customers that jobs have been done properly – and even if you make a mistake you can sort it out more easily with photographic evidence.
I’ve also had customers make easy referrals for me too as they’ve been able to show their friends and colleagues the evidence of a job well done.”
Accelerated sales and payments
Trades business need to keep on top of cashflow, and Paul finds PoweredNow’s digital invoicing very effective.
“SumUp makes it really easy,” he says. “Once customers see the proof of the work and receive the certificate, 97% of bills are paid within 7 days.”
Paul is also pleased with how PoweredNow helps speed up sales too.
“The photos I was able to send to an absent landlord showing all the gunk in his property’s heating pipes sealed the deal on a £1000 boiler upgrade,” says Paul.
“It’s the compelling evidence that a job needs doing that secures the sale a lot more quickly.”
The detailed reporting, photographs, certification and job records make audits and inspections much more straightforward.
“The Gas Safety Inspector told me how much he loved the tech I was using – and that it was like he was looking over my shoulder as I was doing the work,” says Paul.
Business growth from scratch during the pandemic
There is no doubt that going from zero to a business turnover of approaching £60k in two and a half years is no mean feat – especially at a difficult time.
“It’s been a great experience and I definitely give PoweredNow a lot of the credit for getting Randall Gas Ltd to this point,” says Paul.
“Nothing’s ever a problem with PoweredNow,” says Paul. “The training and support are superb. If you’ve ever got a question, they talk you through everything.
I would definitely recommend PoweredNow as the best platform out there for gas engineers. It’s the backbone of my business to be fair.”
In conclusion, Paul says: “Speaking from experience – if you think you can’t afford to use PoweredNow you’re not charging enough. It’s a no-brainer.”