Tempting App for Trustworthy Tradies
By Sami Cooke
June 5, 2019
Robert Bride’s frustration with unreliable tradesmen when he was renovating his Wallsend home was the catalyst to develop the Trusty Trady mobile app. As a first time entrepreneur, Bride hopes to tap into the $173 Billion a year Australian construction industry. Currently calling upon trustworthy tradespeople to join up, for free, before the official release. This new app is aimed to be the primary mechanism for tradespeople and homeowners across the Hunter to connect.
When starting renovations on his home, Bride received ridiculous quotes and timeframes from tradespeople as far down as Sydney. Being a Newcastle Air Force Flight Lieutenant, he was aware that his main issue was not knowing what a fair price was for the job, making it easy for him to be taken advantage of. Eventually, he was forced to pay extra for a Central Coast tradesperson, while completing a large amount of the work himself.
“The websites that I used were very much like; you put a job out there and hope that someone good calls you or contacts you, but I found that I got very mixed results,” Bride said.
Due to this experience, Bride decided that the Trusty Trady app will not only offer homeowners the ability to find reliable tradesmen in their area through the GPS location, but it will also offer guidance, advice and tips on how people can complete certain jobs themselves. Supplying this type of information will allow homeowners to learn what to expect.
Having similarities to Uber, Airbnb and Hipages, Trusty Trady targets local Newcastle and the Hunter homeowners and tradespeople. Each tradesperson will set up an account where they can supply information such as job qualifications, location and images of completed work. Homeowners will set up a profile too where they can search tradespeople, leave reviews and communicate via the app.
Ensuring that all involved get the better end of the hammer, the app’s main features include that it’s free to use, uses GPS location, easy to communicate, ability to send quotes, potential to post reviews and most importantly, all the payments are handled via the app.
While having an emphasis on helping homeowners, the app can be directed largely towards protecting and assisting tradespeople too. With the main attribute for tradespeople being focused on security and assurance of payment.
“Tradespeople want to get paid on time. I don’t think they should have to chase people for money. The way [the app] works is that when the customer accepts the quote, their money goes into a holding account, along with a small service fee.
“This allows the tradesperson to know that when they come to do a job, they are going to get paid… For homeowners, this protects them... if there are any implications, they are covered,” Bride said.
The tradesperson will get their full fee and the small fee will be added to the homeowner for accessing the app.
“The customer is paying for the insurance of us assuring that they’re getting a good tradesperson. If they’re not, they have the ability to write a review and then we’ll show them and teach them how to seek recourse, action and support through us via the Department of Fair Trading,” Bride explained.
After reaching out to a number of homeowners and tradespeople during a Housing Industry Association’s (HIA) building and home show expo in Newcastle, Bride received first hand information about the issues people face when working with one another. He gathered this information and applied it to the app, with the main issues being revolved around payment, reliability, proximinity, timeline and job completion.
HIA Economist; Thomas Devitt explained that “the HIA currently has over 60,000 associated members.” This number shows the impact the construction industry has with “the value of renovations (‘alterations and additions’) for the Hunter Valley excluding Newcastle” was calculated at “$58.30 million in the year ending September 2018.
Craig Jennion, HIA Hunter Executive Director continued on saying that “Thornton-Millers Forest is again the Hunter region’s number 1 Hotspot this year with $96.3 million in building approvals and population growth of 7.7 per cent.” This industry is continuously expanding and this is exactly what Bride was hoping for.
As a novice in the business sector, Bride explained how difficult it was to find a developer he could work with, and to find one that offered a fair price.
“I first went to a local company and they quoted me over $60,000 to do it and that was for a very minimal product… To me that was too expensive, you know, I couldn’t afford it as I just bought a new house and got to pay it off,” Bride said.
Starting with a local developer, switching to a Melbourne developer to finally connecting with the team of developers in India, he stressed that is was important to stand his ground and stick to his idea, especially when things got tough.
“I looked around, went online and tried Airtasker... Someone down in Melbourne contacted me and said he’d do it. He just wasn’t reaching his milestones. He wanted to charge me more money but kept delaying the product... it actually is a good explanation of how my app works… because there was no accountability there, there was no review system, it wasn’t a set deadline and milestones to be met… I had to draw the line and start fresh.
“I ended up finding a company called Upworks. From there, I found some overseas developers who could do it at a better price. I’ve been working with them and they’ve been great,” Bride stated.
Bride encourages any future entrepreneurs to “Just do it”. He described the process as being very similar to studying a bachelor’s degree.
“It’s not just about the idea, there’s a million wonderful ideas out there, it’s about really having that drive to see the completion - just like studying a masters or degree, you really have to have that drive.”
He attended many startup weekends, masterclasses and workshops where he mixed with other entrepreneurs, learnt from experienced people and worked on his idea.
“From going to these startup weekends, you’ll end up meeting the right people and understand where to go with it. In this case of an app, you need to start talking to people that can develop an app so google it to start with if you want, then ask them.
“Eventually I stumbled across Upwork which is a good app, which can be used to connect with other developers and then move from there so, it is definitely a lot of trial and error and trusting your drive on where to go,” Bride explained.
Clarifying how each of the developers worked differently, the two year development of Trusty Trady has almost come to an end. All that is needed now is interest from both homeowners and tradespeople to help get the app up and running. Bride is currently planning to visit hardware stores across Newcastle and the Hunter such as Bunnings and NHS to encourage tradespeople to sign up to the app.
Speaking to Jason Maxwell, owner of Newcastle business Maxbuilt, he explained that “what I hear all the time is people ring up a couple of tradespeople to get quotes and half the time, they don’t even rock up... So, I understand why people, especially those who aren’t in the industry, get really stressed out and annoyed at trying to get tradesmen to do the work.”
Being on the smaller side of the construction industry, focusing majority of his work on residential properties, Maxwell explained that an app like Trusty Trady is exactly what the industry is lacking. Working with a group of sub-contractors, he discussed how beneficial the app would be for his business, especially to help find local contractors for small jobs.
“As a business owner, if I need to find a new plumber... I can see myself using it. Especially if it is local cause you can see where they are. I do look it up online to try to find out where people are as I don’t want to pay big money for travel and have half a day of them just trying to get here,” Maxwell explained.
He also added that the biggest benefits are that it is free for the tradesperson, while still being very secure for both the homeowner and the tradesmen.
“I think it sounds pretty interesting to tell you the truth,” Maxwell said.
Trusty Trady is soon to be released to the public, aiming for late August. Meanwhile, the app is ready for any tradespeople that are interested in joining. For more information, visit www.TrustyTrady.com.au and prepare for the release of Trusty Trady in Newcastle and the Hunter.
Bride summarised that Trusty Trady is really there to be used to help “expedite the whole process. It extinguishes the need for the tradesperson to drive to the house to view the job, wasting their time, fuel and money to secure a job that might not even be suitable for them.
“The intent is to grow it so we could provide advice to first home owners and tradespeople… Down the track, I intend for there to be a training link in there so people can actually just look up some good links to websites and stories like that [to] educate themselves.
“A lot of people want to do the work themselves but they just don’t know how or don’t have the time. But it’s also helping the people that may not have the ability to do it. So having a review system, you can trust someone, a Trusty Trady.”