Technology a tradie’s best friend

New research reveals that construction workers, wholesale trade workers and real estate agents, all often depicted as technological laggards, are more tech savvy than they’re given credit for and realise the benefits of automation.

An independent survey of more than 1000 small-business owners across Australia conducted by Xero challenges many of the technology stereotypes small businesses in various industries face.

Tech-savvy tradies

52 per cent of construction-business owners took less than a year to implement software, the survey found. By adopting software and other technologies, 96 per cent of construction-business owners say their lives were made easier, with automation of administration the biggest hassle-saver (46 per cent).

There’s little fear of a mechanical takeover in construction, either: 84 per cent trust technology to help run their businesses, and 27 per cent believe automation will become an issue for their business.

The rise of online property listing isn’t deterring real estate agents, with just 11 per cent believing automation will hinder their business growth. 78 per cent of wholesale tradesmen trust technology to run their business, and 41 per cent actively seek technology solutions.

By contrast, the survey found some industries were laggards in technology adoption, including:

  • 33 per cent of agriculture businesses and those in transport and warehousing waited more than five years to implement software
  • 61 per cent of arts and recreation businesses are passive when it comes to searching for software and technologies
  • Accommodation, transport and manufacturing industries are most fearful of automation impacting their business and removing jobs.

One such a tech-savvy tradie is David Robbins of Waste Deep Plumbing. Robbins embraced technology early on, switching to the cloud when Xero first opened its doors in Australia.

“Cloud technology has been a game changer for my business. I use Xero and Tradify to get full visibility and manage everything from my financials, invoicing and quotes to scheduling staff for jobs. It saves me substantial time and has allowed me to focus on growing my business, rather than being bogged down with administration,” said Robbins.

Xero’s data has found that small businesses are connecting multiple apps together to help manage their businesses more effectively. The most app happy are manufacturing businesses where around 40 per cent opt for multiple apps.

“Having an iPhone with my business apps in my pocket, or my iPad in my bag, gives me more flexibility and the ability to manage business wherever I am located for a job,” said Robbins. “That means I get more freedom, I work more efficiently and most importantly, I get to spend more time with my family.”

Small-business owners go mobile

The mobile revolution is helping small businesses work from anywhere. Small businesses less than a year old are far more likely to use a smartphone to run their business than a desktop computer, while laptops remain the most popular platform.

Real estate agents are most dependent on their smartphones (74 per cent), relying on them more than desktop computers (68 per cent). 48 per cent of warehouse and postal workers use a tablet.

“When we think of construction workers or wholesale trade workers, we think of clipboards and hard yakka, not software or apps,” said Trent Innes, Managing Director of Xero in Australia. “Construction isn’t necessarily the lagging industry that many think it is. Technology can help these businesses stand out by helping them work more efficiently, giving them more flexibility and helping them get paid faster.”