Water Tight Canberra
"I love digital technology. It’s given me my Saturday’s and my afternoons back to spend with my family and helped me to build the successful business that I have now."Tom Martin
Small business stories
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TEXT: Small Business Digital Taskforce. Water Tight Canberra.
A young man has dark ginger hair and wears a black polo shirt. Monogrammed on the shirt is the company name ‘Water Tight’ and the name ‘TOM’ opposite. A white ute is parked behind him with the company name also stencilled on the side. The ‘R’ in Water is shaped like a dripping tap and the ‘G’ in Tight is a spanner.
TEXT: ‘Tom Martin. Owner. Water Tight Canberra.’
My name's Tom Martin. Water Tight Canberra's my plumbing business and we've been in business for eight years, since 2010. I started at 16. I left school and I got straight into the trade. After completing my six year trade course, I continued on with a small business course at CIT and a Cert III in accounting with TAFE New South Wales. And then went out on my own in 2010.
Tom’s ute is parked outside a new apartment block development. On the side of the ute, in red lettering, is stencilled: “Canberra’s Relaible Plumbing, Drainage & Gasfitting Service’ and a telephone number.
So we started off in 2007 and it was just myself. And then, since then we've grown to a team of five plumbers on the road and two in the office.
So as part of my plumbing course, I did have to do a six month business course where the teacher highly encouraged us to take laptops around in our trucks with us and to process invoices directly in the trucks. This is before the days of mobile data being a common thing. And so as soon as we got home, the laptop would connect to the wi-fi and invoices would get sent out on the spot, saving us from doing double entry when we get home.
After being in the industry for seven years, I realised that there was a fairly large gap in the strata maintenance field. Particularly where most places were doing reactive maintenance instead of preventative maintenance. So, we believed we could save customers money by introducing preventative maintenance plans, which to date we have been doing.
So, we do a 24-hour emergency service. So we offer our normal services between the hours of 7am and 4pm. And we do have an emergency tradesman on call, 24 hours a day for your emergency blocked drains or other emergency work. Digital technology's definitely added value to our business. We can contact our accountant at any time and talk to them about live numbers that are true to the day. We can account for our tradesmen no matter where they are in Canberra and ensure that they're arriving on jobs on time and as promised.
By having a good quality job management system, we can ensure that the customer is getting the best value because we're turning up on time, we're charging for every bit of material that we've used and nothing more and nothing less.
The advice I'd have for young plumbers would be to adapt to the new technologies and to learn all the intricate features of the technology. Don't just start using it and only use 10% of the capabilities of the software. You're really selling yourself short if you don't find out every feature that it's got and implement it. I've always been quite nervous before starting with a new software product, because I'm concerned about keeping costs down for the business.
The one thing I've learned throughout every single bit of software we've implemented, is that any cost that it might take out of you, saves you significant money in the long run in terms of administration costs and ease of doing business.
Digital technology plays an incredibly important part of our business. It runs our office, it runs our tradesmen. And to be honest, we couldn't do business without it anywhere near the high standard that we currently do. We'll definitely always keep our eyes open for up and coming technologies. Anything that can make our life easier in the office or in the field or anything like that. It's definitely worth implementing and definitely worth getting on board with.
We'll continue to grow our business and continue to focus on our strata maintenance and our residential customers, definitely. Ideally, in ten years time, we might have doubled in size. We will still be using digital technology to run our business. And hopefully, that will mean that we won't actually be doing anymore administration work, because it'll all be built in.
I love digital technology. It's given me my Saturday's and my afternoons back to spend with my family. And it's helped me to build the successful business that I've currently built.
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