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Last week, we invited two long standing MyBuilder tradesmen Luke Stagg and Dave Gilbert to our office. They took part in our live online discussion to talk about their personal experiences using MyBuilder. Here’s what we found out…

Dave Gilbert started in the trade at 23. “Doctors were retraining as plumbers as they were earning more at the time”, he told us. “I tried 300 electrical employers in Berkshire before one of them would take me on. I worked and trained there in 2010.”

Once qualified, Dave headed to the big smoke where he landed a 6 month sub-contracting job. After discovering MyBuilder, he started taking on small electrical maintenance jobs and his career progressed from there.

Luke Stagg, from Croydon, completed a crash course in plumbing around 7 years ago. He had high hopes of qualifying and landing loads of work, but as a newly qualified plumber that wasn’t the reality. Luke worked hard for 2-4 years to gain some solid experience and then started making a decent living – joining MyBuilder contributed to his success. He says the site “changed his life.”

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We asked both tradesmen if they found it hard to win work when they first started using MyBuilder:

Dave: “I found it very easy – I saw that most of the work coming through was what you might consider electrical maintenance, small jobs. I soon worked out how to approach these jobs, for example how I’d message the customer and the speed of responding. The penny dropped that I could start my own business just from the work I was winning on MyBuilder.”

He found that by doing the smaller jobs initially, his feedback quickly grew as well as his client base. Happy customers were recommending him elsewhere and his business thrived. He could then win bigger jobs based on his feedback.

For Luke, success didn’t come as fast, but he kept at it. “It took me a couple of weeks to get shortlisted for my first job. I was up against guys with over 100 feedback.”

“There was one guy who would go for every job I went for and I originally thought “oh I haven’t got a chance.” Then I got shortlisted for a few jobs and bent over backwards for the customer – I still do. Once I got a few good pieces of feedback on my profile I found myself getting shortlisted more and more.”

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Feedback is something both tradesmen agree is the bread and butter of their business.

Luke is obsessed with keeping it positive. He even has bad dreams at night where he receives negative feedback. “It’s really sad I know! I’ve woken up and thought oh, no! To me my feedback is massively important and it pushes me to deliver my best at all times.”

As Dave puts it “great customer service skills are necessary when you’re a tradesman. We’re in the service industry so you have to be polite, punctual and honest with the customer at all times. Otherwise you risk giving them a bad experience.”

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Initial messages are a huge factor when it comes to winning jobs on MyBuilder.

Dave and Luke both make sure every first message includes a warm, friendly and personal introduction. Dave added that he states his hourly charges in this first message, as well as a time prediction of how long he thinks the job will take. Usually he’s pretty spot on.

“I try to put myself in the customers shoes and think about what they’d want to ask.” noted Dave.

Luke also makes sure he reads job descriptions well so he can tailor messages to each customers needs. “Templates save a lot of time, I have 5 or 6, which I always tweak for each customer. I also include my quote if I feel I can give this over a message, if not I’ll ask for photos so that I can quote in my second message.”

Luke does point out that quoting over messages isn’t always perfect, but sometimes it’s worth it because it means he wins the job quicker. “Sometimes I do quote, and realise I under quoted when I get to the job. But I just bite the bullet. Some guys would go out and then double the price for 20 extra minutes of work but I say that if you want the good reviews, sometimes you have got to bend over backwards to get them.”

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During the live chat, it became clear that speed was imperative for both tradesmen when it came to getting shortlisted and bagging that job.

“If you hang about, then you can end up wasting a couple of quid on a shortlist fee, that’s a pint of beer!” exclaimed Luke.

“I have alerts set on my iPhone that make a noise every time MyBuilder emails me leads, I get in there straight away. Especially after being shortlisted, I’ll try and contact the homeowner as soon as I see it.” He adds “You have to be like that with the whole job. If your communication is brilliant, and the customer knows what’s going on at all times then they’re going to be happy.”

Dave: “Like Luke said, it’s about being quick. They’re really impressed when you’re fast at responding once they’ve shortlisted you.”

One tradesman wrote in and asked “What do you do if the client has invited you and another tradesman at the same time?”

Luke: “Go go go! Quick!” – for him it’s about speed.

Dave on the other hand, is a little more careful. If the job has been flooded with loads of interested tradesmen he lets it go – especially if he’s already quite busy. But he says every situation is different and sometimes it’s best to just express interest and call the customer to find out.

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“When you started on MyBuilder what sort of area did you cover? And how was it easiest to win work?” – Anthony Millington.

Dave explains that setting your working area on MyBuilder is a huge advantage. He has friends who get up really early to drive a long way for jobs. But all he does is set a 5 mile radius on MyBuilder and works within that every day. This is much more convenient and saves a lot of travel time.

When Luke first joined MyBuilder he tried to cover as big an area as possible. “Soon I realised I was getting more jobs locally. I fine tuned my working area to cover the ‘hot areas’ which were located closer to me anyway.”

For more trade tips please check out our Advice Centre. We’ll also be blogging part two of the town hall meeting next week, so keep your eyes peeled!