Many tradesmen start out in the business because they grew up with it, but for Bradley Jones, life as a tradesman is a real family affair.
Together with his dad, Steve, and brother, Danny, Bradley is 33% partner in their business, Johnson & Jones, which takes on a range of projects, from boiler replacements and demolitions to renovations and large loft conversions.
Going into business with his nearest and dearest wasn’t always in the plan though - it took leaving home for Bradley to realise where his passion really lay.
“At school I was always really good at certain subjects - maths, chemistry, physicals, all of that, I always did really well and was in the top set,” Bradley told us. “When I finished school, I wanted to carry it on, so I went to university to study maths. I was there for a year, but I realised I didn’t like living away from home, so I came back. Then I had to figure out what I wanted to do next.”
Bradley’s dad, Steve, was a gas engineer of 35 year’s experience, who’d spent most of his career working alongside a close friend. Bradley said: “I didn’t really want to go into the same line of work, but when I was sat at home, I realised I could help him out a bit. I got him joined up to MyBuilder, set up a profile for him, and started using it to find him jobs. Anything he got through the site, he’d give me a cut at the end. After a while, as well as doing that, I ended up going out with him on site, helping out where I could, cleaning up and stuff. I started to think about what else I could do to help.”
With brother Danny already following in their dad’s footsteps as a gas engineer, Bradley decided to follow a slightly different path. “I decided to become an electrician,” he said. “I knew electrics could be something I’d enjoy, because there’s a maths side to it, there are calculations to do - the electrician is always the cleverest person on a building site - although I would say that!”
Bradley committed to becoming a fully qualified and accredited electrician, becoming certified through NAPIT. “The fact that we have gas engineers and an electrician means we’re able to take on more jobs - we can cover everything. I can even go out by myself on weekends and evenings to do littler emergency jobs. If someone posts something up at 8pm, I’ll just head out and get it done.”
With the three working together and able to turn their hand to a variety of jobs, the company has grown massively, now employing a team of ten. “Any job that is there, we can undertake it,” Bradley said, “from something big like a loft conversion to smaller jobs stripping out a room or fixing up a boiler. We use MyBuilder to pick up quick jobs and fill in the gaps between the bigger projects.
Though based in Chigwell, Essex, the family work a wide radius, picking up jobs across London - they even did some work this autumn taking apart the old MyBuilder HQ when the company moved into new offices (we left positive feedback).
Despite all the time spent working together, Bradley says arguments between the trio are rare. “My brother and I never argue - I can’t think of a single time we’ve ever really had a falling out. It’s usually more that me and him will be up against my dad, because he has a different way of looking at things. Dad’s always think they know best! They don’t like to listen to their sons because they think they’re right. But to be honest, it doesn’t happen very often, and it never lasts long if it does. If anything, my mum will get involved, get everyone together in the front room, and force people to make up.”
As for taking work home with them, that’s just an occupational hazard. “Every time we come home from work, mum will open the door and make us take our work boots off before we come in the house. She must be sick of it - we’re out all day on jobs, come back late, then spend another two hours talking about work. Even when we’re out for dinner somewhere, we’ll be talking about work. She deserves a nice holiday.”
The future looks promising for the business, with the team looking to take on work with local councils to renovate and expand their housing stock. “It’s something we see more and more of,” Bradley said. “Generally, people seem to be moving less, so they think more about expanding. For councils, they need to maximise the space they offer, so they’re doing the same thing.”
If things do get busier, there’s always more manpower on the way. “My younger brother, Sam, is training as a carpenter - so hopefully he’ll be joining in soon.”
Advice for Tradesmen:
- Work on your messaging: “Your initial message must be strong. It has to be professional. You can’t just say you’re interested, you’d love to quote and so on - it has to be in depth, introducing yourself and the company and what you do, and outlining potential costs based on what they’ve posted. And no spelling mistakes helps as well!”
- Build your profile: “You need a strong profile. It’s your showcase. Especially with pictures, show off what you do and make it relevant - show off the big jobs and the small jobs so people know you can do everything.”
- Go the extra mile: “Go that extra step for every customer - if it’s just 10 minutes do something while you’re already there, why not? Clean up after yourself, and take away your rubbish. The customer will remember you, leave great feedback, and call you when they need something again.”