Knowing Your Customers

Published on 04 April 2019

Photo of Courtney Abell from SmartHub Rockhampton and Wendy Bishop from Business with Diamond

Paperwork is a fact of life for every business, but not every business knows exactly what paperwork they should be doing. In a recent Hub Live, Courtney Abell sat down with Wendy Bishop from Business with Diamond and Projects One to learn more about how she is helping Tradies revolutionise their business by knowing her customer’s needs and providing excellent customer service.

See a Need, Fill a Need

Wendy Bishop created her business, Business with Diamond and Projects One to help people in the construction industry with their immense amount of paperwork. “The construction industry is such a minefield of paperwork. It takes someone a very long time to do all the workplace health and safety, taxes and finances, and we found that Tradies either just didn’t want to do it, didn’t know how to do it or they did it the hard way. So, we’ve spent the last two years developing our business in order to help them.”

Wendy’s partner is a painter by trade, and she would help him with his paperwork and send it with him to work. “The paperwork used to get lost, dirty, not filled in, covered in paint. We had to find a better way. We talked to a lot of other Tradies and found they were in a similar sort of situation. It is a big pain point, so we had to do something about it. I developed Projects One to help people like him, who want to jump out of the vehicle and get started with their job and not have to worry about safety.”

Starting with the SmartHub

Since joining the SmartHub, Wendy’s business has changed and grown, and her safety app Projects One Safety is almost ready to launch. “We want to help the little guy compete with the big guy out there, so they’re not overwhelmed by the safety requirements.”

Wendy’s journey started 18 months ago after attending a Lunch and Learn at SmartHub Rockhampton, where Courtney convinced her to sign up for one of the SmartHub’s Startup Weekends. The Startup Weekend supports people who are new to business or thinking about starting a business to learn essential skills to get their business to thrive. The Startup Weekend helped Wendy discover the next step in her business, as the product she sells is for a niche and complex market. “People really need their safety documentation, but they don’t always know what they need. So it all goes into the too-hard basket or it gets swept under the rug. They just assume that they don’t truly need it and just hope like hell that nothing ever happens.”

After the Startup Weekend Wendy began doing more research and developing her ideas. “We knew we could provide good sales and deliver a great system, but we didn’t really know what our customers wanted. And if we didn’t have any customers, that meant no money and I’d go back to working for somebody else. I really didn’t want that to happen, so we did more research and learnt more about who we were selling our product to. We deep dived into what they wanted, where they wanted to get it, when they wanted it, why they wanted it, and how they wanted it. Those were the six key components that are now being put together to create Projects One Safety Online.” Taking the time to get to know who the customer is and what you need to be offering to get that sale is key for any business, especially for niche markets such as Business for Diamond’s.”

Developing Projects One

One thing Wendy discovered during her research for Projects One was that there were a lot of different things that influenced what the Tradie wanted in terms of safety. “There are principle contractors out there who want different things, so we’ve had to take all of that in. It’s not just what our customer thinks they need, but what our principle contractors think they want, what they say they want and what Workplace Health and Safety requires.”

The focus of Projects One remains on the little Tradie. “They’re fantastic with their hands, whether they be painters or plasterers or brickies, whoever they might be. They do great jobs, but paperwork is not why they go into business. So we had to look at that, when we were designing stuff.” The software for Projects One has to be user friendly, comprehensible and able to work on devices out on the worksite.

The Provider/Client Relationship

The relationship between Wendy and her clients is key to how she gets sales and keeps people coming back. “It’s really about talking to my customer, getting to know what they really want, not forcing something upon them that they don’t understand and not overwhelming them. In safety, you can be easily overwhelmed with all the forms that you need. They don’t always understand how they need them, so I’ve had to educate my clients from the beginning and find out what they know about safety already and build on that. My clients will say, “I need this,” and I’ll do that for them. During that process, we’ll have a conversation about what else they might need. Are they growing their business? Have they got staff onboard? And just talking about that process of safety, just one step at a time, helps them understand it. There’s no point in just throwing all the stuff at somebody or they just throw it in the too-hard basket and that’s where it stays.”

Supporting a client as their business grows is something Wendy loves doing as a service provider, even after they’ve paid the bill. “A constant thing we do is to keep working with them on their business. I don’t just kick them out the door and say, “Thanks very much!” Sometimes I see a tender come up, I’ll have a look at the documents required and I’ll see which one of my clients might need extra documents.”

Communication is key to any kind relationship, including the one between Wendy and her clients. As well as email, she also has a messaging system built into Projects One. “I know my clients quite well and I consider if their partner at the computer and able to answer any questions or read my emails? Or is it a Sole Tradie who doesn’t have any kind of Admin in the office and they want just a text message? Or maybe they’ll want a call after work or on a rainy day.” Identifying when a client will have time to talk on their preferred communication platform, shows great care and is an excellent example of good customer service.

Growing with the SmartHub

For those considering starting their own trade business, Wendy recommends joining the SmartHub like she did. With events like Startup Weekends that kickstarted her business, people to collaborate with and mentors to help your business grow, it’s a great way to start your business with a bang.

With various levels of membership available, the SmartHub is great for those who still work and have their business as a side project. Wendy works full time within the SmartHub and is happy to talk to new Tradie businesses and give her advice. “There’s 80 painters between here and Yeppoon that we have to compete with, but we do really, really well. There’s plenty of work for everybody, but you need to know your business before you get started.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Projects One, head over to www.projectsonesafety.online, and if you’d like to learn more about joining the SmartHub, you can drop into Customs House at 208 Quay St Rockhampton anytime to check out the space learn more about the services on offer and how they can help your business.