i4Tradies is an all-in-one cloud-based SaaS platform that aims to streamline a trade service journey for business owners, trade associations, property managers, trade workers and consumers seeking a tradesperson. By partnering with leading trade associations, including National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA), Master Plumbers and Master Painters Association (MPA), i4Tradies give consumers the assurance and certainty that they can easily, quickly and reliably find a trustworthy certified tradesperson.
Due to COVID and its effect on our lives and the economy, people have become more conscious of their spending habits, who they will allow into their homes, and when. Consequentially, many trades services businesses saw a substantial drop in job requests and new business during the peak period of social restrictions.
Many people are likely choosing to put off essential trade work jobs due to economic uncertainty and a desire to protect themselves and their families. In addition, with so many at home and bored, many unlicensed ‘DIY’ home projects are likely being undertaken by inexperienced and unskilled amateur tradies instead of being left to highly skilled and local trade service professionals.
The hassle of finding a tradesperson for home fixes and improvements is also likely a factor in the recent downturn. The ability to find a tradie can usually be a time-consuming and challenging task for most people without adding the complications of COVID. A customer might conduct in-depth research before contacting multiple trade professionals for quotes and often wait for hours, days or weeks before settling on their tradie of choice.
Noticing the reduced demand in trade, i4Tradies decided to launch an Emergency Response Centre (ERC) in May 2020. Using bulk SMS services, SMS automation and a dedicated ‘text-in’ number provided by messaging provider MessageMedia, they’ve created the ERC hotline to help busy and stressed-out individuals find a trustworthy trades service business – simply by texting in.
More importantly, this new ‘text-in’ hotline is helping trade service businesses book more jobs and increase new business by taking the hassle of finding a tradie off consumers’ backs. By connecting the ERC hotline into their lead generation platform, trade businesses can quickly and easily bid on jobs when they have staff available.
How it works (for the consumer)
1. Text in
Customers can text the hotline when a problem occurs, starting with two items:
- What’s the problem?
- What’s your postcode?
2. Optional information
Once the customer has answered this, a further optional short link is sent to you, which you can click and detail a little more about the problem, including whether it is urgent or not. According to i4Tradies CCO Sachi Wickramage, “This is entirely optional and for people who are more proactive, to give them another route to escalate their issue.”
If the link isn’t clicked, or the optional form isn’t used, your problem and postcode are sent straight to an ERC agent who is dispatched to call the texter, get more details and dispatch the call to an appropriate tradesperson.
3. Receive a text message confirmation
As soon as a tradesperson is appointed to the job, an additional SMS is sent to the customer, letting them know that the tradesperson will contact them to set up a time to meet. The entire process takes about 2 hours at most.
How it works (for the tradie/trade service business)
1. Sign up to receive leads
Trade businesses or tradies first need to sign up for i4T leads platform. You do not need to sign up for i4T job management platform — i4T leads platform is free to use. You only pay for the leads you claim.
2. Bid on a job
When a new job is triggered by the hotline, registered tradies on the i4T Leads platform can start bidding on the job.
If won, an SMS is sent to the client alerting them that their job is being assigned, and the tradesperson will be in touch shortly. The company must then assign a tradie on its schedule to action the job and will be reminded to do so.
4. Assign job to your tradie
Once assigned, the customer will be alerted via SMS and notified that they will be hearing from the designated tradesperson shortly. It is then up to the tradesperson to follow up on that lead and execute the job.
What are the other benefits
- Trade businesses who sign up to use the full i4T Business platform can also further modify and customise automated SMS messages for their own business and communication needs.
While 90% of tradies prefer to call the customer to let them know or arrange when they can visit the client, the SMS function allows trades business to set up automated SMS workflows. These automated workflows can be turned into templates or integrated into your appointment setting system so that busy tradies don’t have to stop working to take a call.
- Current competitors charge around $20 – 30 for a lead, whereas i4Tradies has reduced their costs to $5.50 per lead during COVID.
- The i4Tradies lead generation platform is separate to i4T Business management platform, and can be used for free by any tradies who want to use the tool alone but do not want to use the business management platform.
Many trade service companies from plumbing to electrical are enjoying this new SMS-based tool. They are finding that it has brought a lot of new business and new jobs for their various contractors and employees.
Emergency Trade Services, which handles trade jobs nationwide, has seen immediate results in reducing their lead acquisition costs by 35%.
Since we have started using i4Tradies SMS generation module, we have gained a lot more leads for new jobs which would have been otherwise impossible to obtain.Donatella Zatta, Emergency Trade Services BD
Since we have registered with i4Tradies SMS lead generation module, we have seen an increase in qualified job leads while also seeing a decrease in job lead costs across our various trades and services.Jason Bright. Victoria trade service business Taskforce MD
It’s also proving a success with customers too. According to customer Marcel Caldow who has been using the ERC hotline during COVID, it’s been a ‘fantastic’ initiative. Not only has he found a trusted tradesperson for the job within two hours, but he’s also managed to get a job done by the next day.
“We’re all working from home, and our time is precious,” Marcel said. He thinks this is a great shortcut for people who want to free up their time and need a quick response. “I can’t recommend it enough,” Marcel said.
Make sure to check out our tech partner i4Tradies if you’re interested in business management software or looking to generate consistent leads for your trade service business.