June-July 2015 New Zealand Construction News
Getting rid of trade cowboys through software, education and training
Andrewe Brown, founder of NZ Trade Group, knows that training, education and trade-specific software are the key to electrical firms in New Zealand getting a bigger piece of the pie.
NZ Trade Group regularly updates its trade software for its electrical members, and the upcoming release places an increased emphasis on trade business training for electricians who often need a guiding hand in running a successful and sustainable firm. Mr Brown is a firm believer that the electrical trade needs education and training if it’s to continue to lift its game.
Every year, the electrical trade contributes $1.785 billion to total construction spend in New Zealand, so the scale of the industry is significant. With construction levels ever-increasing, there’s potential for the value and volume of electrical trade to go up as well.
However, Mr Brown says that although there are many skilled electricians, few are taught about how to run a business, so the inevitable business hiccups can affect the success (or failure) of electrical firms and impact the reputation of the trade, as well as the quality of people doing the work.
WHAT’S BEING DONE?
NZ Trade Group offers its current members a three-legged ‘stool’ comprising software, services and suppliers. Underpinning each of these elements is training, mentoring, support and member education.
Training coverage includes all areas of a modern trade business, including leadership, culture, health and safety, HR, marketing and sales, as well as key operations. The training element of the Trade Group is delivered through a consulting model directly to businesses that request it.
Mr Brown says the training makes for a potent cocktail of knowledge and learning, with combined business and trade learning rolled into one consultation, which is highly tailored for electrical trades businesses.
“Our training team brings credibility to the consulting and learning we offer members, because we live and breathe our trade. We’re not trying to deliver theoretical management models or outside-the-trade advice and that’s a key difference,” he comments.
IMPROVING THE REPUTATION OF TRADES
Tradespeople want to run their businesses well, and they need trade-specific advice to be able to do that, Mr Brown notes. “It is one thing to be good on the tools, but it’s another thing entirely to be a good business person and employer. We’re trying to close the gap between those two things, and with over 100 member businesses in NZ Trade Group, our approach is meeting a key need in the sector.”
He says that everyone benefits when there’s a focus on ongoing training and education in the trades. “Skilled tradespeople can run their businesses better, new hires get higher-quality training, health and safety regulations are properly integrated into business practices, and of course construction partners and builders get better and more reliable service.”
He adds that there is a flow-on effect in that NZ Trade Group members are able to give consumers more professional, accurate quotes and an all-round better experience with the trade.
WHAT’S AROUND THE CORNER?
Mr Brown says that the latest version of NZ Trade Group’s proprietary quoting and job management software, which is being launched later this year, contains a number of updates that will benefit tradespeople, with a heightened focus on training and education.
“We’re excited to be bringing the updated software to market. Our new learning modules will deliver bite-sized courses to our members at the exact time they need it. For example, we know that around 70% of our members operate businesses with between one and five staff, so we are excited to deliver learning in ways that will be useful, relevant and timely for those businesses as they grow,” he adds.
“By closely linking the training and education to the maturity of the member business, we can ensure our members get training on inducting new staff as they bring them onboard, or managing a remote team once growth is achieved.”
Mr Brown says a key strength of the training modules is that a trade business will be able to prepare for growth in advance of experiencing that growth. “And in business, that’s what makes all the difference,” he concludes.