Deputy Editor Tom Hogarth spoke to Anne Timpany, founder of On Tap Plumbers and ATRA Group, about her new innovation; On Tap Toolbox.
Currently in its ‘soft launch’ phase, On Tap Toolbox is an online resource for those in the plumbing a heating industry to learn business skills across a range of subjects, from money management to marketing.
Anne Timpany is a founder of On Tap Plumbers, a plumbing and heating company that has grown exponentially in the last 10 years, primarily down to a focus on the customers, according to Anne.
She believes that resources like this are the key to moving the HVAC industry forward and helping plumbers to develop skills that they may be lacking.
Anne said: “The only way we’re going to be able to plug the skills gap in the future is to attract young people into the industry, and that’s really tough at the moment.
“That has a lot to do with the fact that we’re up against other way more attractive industries, which are innovative, diverse, and doing so many more exciting things, and construction is still very traditional, still very conservative.”
According to Anne, one of the best ways to attract the younger generation into the industry is by transforming plumbing and heating businesses into innovative, skilled, and forward-thinking enterprises, experts in not only heating systems and plumbing, but also in finance, marketing, customer service, and sales.
“It’s not necessarily that plumbers don’t want to grow their businesses, it’s just that they don’t know how. They don’t have that skillset, they don’t learn that in college.
They learn how to solder a pipe but they don’t learn how to run a profit and loss report or how to go out and find new customers,” she continued.
Anne says that, at the moment, small businesses in the plumbing and heating industry are limited to options such as business development consultancies and certifications, both of which require more time and money than is practical for the kind of businesses in this industry. The kind where work never stops, and the owner is often still on the tools, with little time to spare.
Because of this, On Tap Toolbox is designed for tradespeople to be able to digest “bite-sized” video content and blogs, which Anne explains is much more suited to those who are fitting this education into breaks in the van or small periods after the work day ends.
At the moment, On Tap Toolbox consists of a monthly membership (priced at £15 per month) where subscribers receive weekly business tips and advice, as well as access to a growing library of video content covering a range of topics around business management. Business tips will reportedly be distributed via email, WhatsApp, and potentially Facebook Messenger on a twice weekly basis.
Customers can also trial the service for free, gaining access to business tips, as well as one marketing and one sales video, to get a taste of the content and dip a toe into the water to find out if they can benefit from the expert insight provided by the company.
Anne explained that the service will eventually expand to include a series of face-to-face events, a paid-for purpose-built networking forum for Toolbox users, as well as an advanced Accelerated Program to be completed over the course of six weeks.
Aimed at more ambitious plumbers in the industry, Anne says this course will allow tradespeople to learn how to negotiate, estimate, and deliver large contracts, and learn more advanced business skills than they would gain through the content delivered through the rest of the Toolbox.
Finally, Anne divulged her opinion on what the most important skill for plumbing and heating businesses is.
She said: “For me, the most important thing, and the only reason we could grow our business to the level that we have, is money management. Knowing what’s going in and going out, tracking, monitoring, and understanding the money side of the business.
“For plumbers, that is often something that doesn’t come naturally, but they’ll be able to learn every element of how to manage money better in a business through On Tap Toolbox.”
Anne regularly contributes to HVP Magazine in business advice-focused columns, which you can find on page 14 of this issue, as well as online in our Opinion section and digital issues. For more information about On Tap Toolbox, head to www.ontaptoolbox.com.