Pipes Plumbing Tells Us How Mobile Invoices and Payments Have Changed the Game for Tradespeople
Andy McKinnar opened Pipes Plumbing almost a year ago. As an on-call plumber working in the Melbourne area, Andy is constantly travelling around the city, responding to emergency calls at any time of the day or night.
Andy uses Square Reader to accept card payments on the spot, as well as Square Invoices to send secure, online invoices quickly from the Square Point of Sale app for larger ticket jobs. He was also one of the first tradespeople in Australia to use Square’s full set of payment products.
We caught up with Andy to hear about his motivation to be his own boss and about how mobile payment tools are helping him grow his plumbing business.
Why did you start Pipes Plumbing?
I had been working for other plumbing companies for around 12 years, so I thought it was about time to take the plunge, find some clients of my own and try out being my own boss. Now, I look after all facets of plumbing — whether it’s a leaky tap, a problem getting hot water or routine maintenance.
Take us through a day in your life.
When people call a plumber, it’s usually because there’s a problem. I get in there and solve the issue within half an hour, and it sort of makes the customer’s day. People stress out at the start and then once they see how easy it often is to fix the problem, they relax a little. It makes you feel like you’re making a bit of a difference. Some people think that it’s going to cost them a lot of money to get things fixed, and it’s nice to provide them with peace of mind when they realise that it’s not.
What has it been like for you to start your own business?
It started off being pretty tough. The hardest thing with most businesses is getting clients. Managing the cash flow is another massive thing — you want to make sure that people are paying you on time. It’s definitely rewarding, and there’s plenty of work out there. It’s just important to advertise in the right areas and make sure people know the quality of the work you’re going to give them.
How do you keep on top of your cash flow?
Before I had Square, I basically relied on either cash, cheques or direct debit from customers. Cash is king in the plumbing game, but nowadays people don’t want to carry around that kind of money. In the past, I’d complete a job, write up an invoice, email it or post it to the person, and then I’d wait for their response. Sometimes I’d get payments straight away, and other times I would wait a couple of weeks or I’d have to follow up and have those uncomfortable conversations. That’s where Square has helped out.
What’s it like getting paid now that you’re using Square?
Now, I can invoice them as soon as I’ve finished the job, or process their card, and they get a receipt emailed to them straight away. You save time, so you can spend more time growing the business instead of chasing payments.
Any tips for tradies thinking about starting their own business?
You have to be motivated. People will call you at any time of the day, because plumbing issues don’t just happen between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. So you’ve got to be motivated to get up and go when the work’s there.
What makes it worth it?
Customers will tell you face to face that you’re doing a good job, or if you’re not, so you know how to improve. You know exactly where you stand with people, which is good.