Back in December, we wrote a blog discussing the possibility of an 'Uber for electricians', essentially; an app that would allow tradespeople to connect with homeowners where and when they were needed. Since then, this prospect has become more of a reality for the UK, as a man from Lincoln sets his sights on a £500,000 growth project to expand his business, using crowding to back his plans.href
Paul Gascoigne, who shares his name with the former international footballer, launched his trading app last September with a view to eventually expanding his efforts. Since its launch, the app has gained over 1, 3000 installs on devices, and has more than 1,000 active users. Mr Gascoigne hopes that with sufficient funding, he will eventually be able to able to expand his business further, setting a goal of obtaining 100,000 users by the end of the year.
If the campaign for funding is successful and the app continues to grow in popularity, the app could soon become a staple amongst tradespeople UK wide, but is this a good thing? To weigh in on the issue, we thought we'd draw up a list of pros and cons which outline the possible benefits and drawbacks that such a plan could have, along with the impact this could have on the industry as a whole.
Flexibility: One benefit of this type of service would be the flexibility and ease with which tradespeople would be able to accept offers of work, allowing them to advertise their services in a convenient and fuss-free way. According to current user Pete Stothard, it is also useful for filling in unexpected gaps in a tradesperson's schedule, due to issues such as last minute cancellations.
Honest Review System: One plan for the app is to add a review system, whereby users would be able to leave recommendations and view those of others, to see how many a tradesperson has received, and perhaps even to find out if they have been recommended by a friend.
Better for Self-Employed Tradespeople: This app could make it easier for self-employed tradespeople to gain work and reach new customers, by allowing them to offer a fast and efficient service. People just starting out or deciding to go it alone may find it difficult to compete with larger, more well-known firms, but an app like this could present them with an opportunity to link with new customers and gradually build their reputation.
Lack of Face-to-Face Contact: Charlie Mullins, founder of successful London plumbing firm 'Pimlico', says he does not think that these apps would offer the same level of trust as traditional methods. According to him, this type of service would not be able to compete with established trade businesses, simply due to the fact that a personalised level of customer service would be able to be replicated on this scale.
Risk of Fast Service Over Good Service: Another possible drawback that comes with this sort of service, is the possibility of a customer choosing the option that takes the least effort, over the option that would offer them the best service. Just as people who shop online often choose the cheapest option with the fastest delivery time, it could be the case that customers turn to this app for the sake of convenience, as opposed to doing some research and seeking out the best option for their requirements.
More Issues in Service Delivery: Like any third party service, this app could create more problems than is solves in some senses, particularly in relation to issues such as payment and review systems. If the app goes offline for a period due to technical issues, will this affect the customers relying on services and the tradespeople who are expecting to receive calls to work? The review system would also have to be well-thought out an thoroughly monitored to be successful, in order to prevent rival firms and others with ill will from unfairly impacting an individual's reputation.
As with any industry, the future of tradespeople will no-doubt rely on technology in one way or another, although the true extent of this is not yet clear. As the app continues to gain momentum, we should be able to examine its impact more closely, and gain a clearer image of how it is changing the business for better or worse.
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