Written by Cec Busby.
The most important tool in tradie Tom Watts’ toolbelt isn’t his shifting spanner or electric eel. Instead the second-generation plumber explains the most essential item in his arsenal is his mobile phone.
Professions often run in a family and it’s no different for Tom, whose dad Graeme has been a plumber for close to 40 years. His two brothers are also plumbers. Tom explains he can’t remember a time he wasn’t around power tools or machinery.
“Dad always had race cars and I would often try and ‘help’ him with them,” he remembers. “My earliest ‘tradie’ memory would be working on the race cars with the spanners and sockets after school.”
After apprenticing in his father’s business and working solidly for a decade as a plumber, Tom finally took the leap to go out on his own, starting Plumb By Design.
He soon discovered having the ability to be instantly contactable was essential for his line of work. As he explains, a plumbing emergency can happen day or night.
Having a smart phone in his pocket is his secret weapon to business success.
“I use my smartphone to make calls, send emails, take a photo of jobs, create and send invoices, download spec sheets and the list goes on. Without technology, I couldn’t run my business!” says Tom.
As a small business owner who has to keep so many balls in the air, the plumber says having Vodafone as his trusted service provider ensures he not only has access to the latest technology he has all the data he needs to carry out his business on the fly.
“I often hotspot my laptop and tablet to my phone which allows me to prepare invoices at the job or to show clients different options that they can choose from.”
Tom explains in his line of work unlimited calls and texts and Endless Data are as essential as his tools of trade.
“Wherever my work takes me I can access everything I need to get the job done. I can download product information on the job right in the palm of my hand. I can make video calls on-site with ease if I need to show someone off-site what is to be done.”
In this on-demand world, customer expectations are high, and reputation is everything. Tom says clear lines of communication are crucial.
“Nobody wants a tradesperson who says they are coming but doesn’t show up or even contact the client about it.
The phone gives me the confidence that I can be contacted at any time. Everyone wants instant service… If I couldn’t answer the phone customers would probably just ring the next number until someone picked up, causing me to lose the job.”
While Tom admits running your own business can be all-consuming at times, he encourages anyone else wanting to start a business to give it a crack.
“Be prepared to put in a lot of hours. And business will be slow to start off but once the ball gets rolling your possibilities are endless. The thing I’m most proud of is seeing how my business has developed from my original expectations to what it is now. I love doing a job that I’m proud of and using my hands and skills to create what the client wants. Seeing a happy customer at the end of the day makes it all worth it.”