For our third interview in the “How They Work” series, we put the important questions to Clinton Cowin of TradiePad. After Clinton and his business partner discovered a way to increase the efficiency of their plumbing business with computer technology, they launched TradiePad to help other small business owners do the same. Find out the software Clinton used to plough through three huge paper bottlenecks, and discover the CRM that’s built for “phenomenal” expansion. And what does TradiePad’s managing director have to say to business owners who are hesitant to use the cloud? Read on for the entrepreneur’s great advice…
So, first off, who are you and what do you do?
I’m Clinton Cowin, the founder and managing director of TradiePad. We are mobile technology and cloud software training specialists.
I’m a plumber by trade, who discovered a way to run my plumbing business using mobile devices and cloud software. This changed both my life and my business partner’s life, but came as a result of much fumbling, trial and error, and painful business changes. However, the benefits were so successful that our discovery spawned the idea that other tradies could also make this change in a simple and painless manner with the right help.
So TradiePad was born.
I now manage a team of guys changing the lives of trade and service business owners all over the country, by helping them to embrace technology to improve their operations.
What software do you use to manage your emails, contacts and calendar?
Google Apps was the first product we used in our plumbing business Waste Deep Plumbing, and was responsible for replacing 3 huge paper bottlenecks! It’s so easy to access Google Apps on mobile devices, and provides a bulletproof communication and sharing platform. It’s absolutely perfect for mobile businesses.
We now use it to run all communications and scheduling in TradiePad. For sharing and collaboration from simple documents to huge video files, it’s second to none.
Do you run a CRM, and if so, what is this?
We use SalesForce – it’s a beast but it’s built for scale. We use a tiny portion of it now, but the scope for expansion is phenomenal. The best part of it is the SalesForce1 App. We’re on the road nearly all of the time and I have never come across such a simple, feature rich mobile interface for a CRM product. Very impressive.
It’s not the kind of thing I would ever recommend to our core client base, but for our operations it’s spot on.
We also use Cirrus Insight as the connector between Google Apps and SalesForce. This is an amazing little bit of software that operates straight from Gmail in the browser. Cirrus Insight provides direct access to your SalesForce contacts info without leaving Gmail. Plus it provides Google Contacts and Calendar sync as well. Huge time-savings.
What’s your best software advice for running your job role day to day (tasks, to-do’s, follow ups etc)?
I’m a huge fan of Apple products, and the built in apps they’ve developed in their iOS and Mac OS platforms are simple, synchronised and pretty much bulletproof. Reminders seriously changed my life – this was one of the most influential tools I had back when I was plumbing, as it was always with me and meant that I would very rarely forget to follow through on something I had committed to. Time of day and location based reminders are a staple now both in my business and personal life. A shared Reminder list is a seriously powerful thing!
What’s the biggest advantage of cloud software for you in your role?
By far it’s accessibility. Being able to access any file, email, document or project from anywhere on any device means we can work from anywhere. Offices are great, but I love being out and about, working with clients, attending events and working with the team. It’s all possible now. Traditional software and solutions meant being tied to a central location or machine, but this is long gone, thank goodness.
What one piece of advice would you offer someone who’s never used cloud software?
Cloud software will seriously change the way you think about and look at your work. As scary as it may seem, throw your existing business process thoughts out the window and start to think about how your business could run if you had the ability to collaborate on projects/jobs with your whole team at the same time, from anywhere. Think about a live feed of data from you to your staff and clients, and how much more efficient things could be. Think about not having to physically share information with people, be it by phone, paper or email. And think about not having to duplicate data a bunch of times to get it from one end of the process to the other. This is the power of the cloud.
What other productivity tips do you have (software or otherwise)?
I believe synchronisation is the key. Make sure you leverage the full power of cloud software by syncing across all of your devices. One copy, one version, and multiple access points means you can get stuff done right now, instead of having to delay it until you’re in front of the right machine. This goes for software solutions too. Having full functionality on all of the different devices is super important.
Thanks for your time Clinton! That’s great advice. Stay tuned for our next instalment of the series, and if you try any of Clinton’s suggestions, please let us know what you think. Until next time…