XU Magazine - Issue 11

Plumber on a mission:How this tradie spends more time on his passion and less in his business

Ever dreamed of spending more time on your passions and less on your business? Meet a Melbourne tradie reaping the rewards from a powerful combination of beautiful accounting and full featured job management software. Xero and AroFlo not only transformed his business, but allowed him to follow his heart to India helping young schoolgirls in need…

Time – along with money or love – it’s the one thing we all crave more of. Time to spend with family and friends. Time to do the things you love. Time to give back to your community. Time to work ‘on’ your business, not ‘in’ your business. It’s a lament many small business owners face. Justin Morris of Precision Electrical and Plumbing knew that pain all too well.

Justin is a rarity in tradie terms – where most tradespeople are singularly qualified, he is both a plumber and an electrician. It’s a winning combination and huge drawcard for Justin’s clients. But as his business skyrocketed, Justin found himself drowning under an avalanche of paperwork, wasting hours each evening keeping up with the administrative demands of running a successful business.

By day, he was on the tools servicing clients in and around the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. By night he was invoicing clients, reconciling purchase orders, chasing missing payments and piecing together handwritten job cards and timesheets retrieved from the back of utes. It was a chaotic situation; one that meant Justin wasn’t spending time doing what he loved, let alone focusing on his business goals.

“The end goal for my business is to make money, but not so I can live in a big house and drive a flashy car,” says Justin. “My passion lies in using my trade skills to help those who are less fortunate in the community.”

To find more time to do the charity work he loves, something had to give. Justin knew he had to get smarter in how he operated his business, finding the right tools to do the grunt work, so he could work on his business at a higher level rather than getting bogged down in day-to-day administrative tasks.

Shifting systems (and opinions)

Justin was struggling with the limitations of his existing desktop accounting system – it was inflexible, onerous to use and didn’t integrate with any other programs. Drawn by Xero’s promise of ‘beautiful’ accounting that was super easy to use, Justin made the decision to switch. Industry mates had also mentioned AroFlo, a job management software with powerful features that helps tradies whip their business into shape. The two cloud-based systems integrate, giving Justin the solution he needs to effectively run his business. He was hooked.

But Justin had a hard time convincing his bookkeeper that Xero and AroFlo would be the right fit for his business. Still very much entrenched in the legacy accounting system she knew so well, she had concerns about this flashy ‘new kid on the block’. But Xero’s ease of use, mobility and constant updates eventually won her over – and neither of them have looked back since.

A match made in tradie heaven

Being cloud-based solutions, Xero and AroFlo can ‘talk’ to each other, allowing for the seamless flow of client data and financial information between both systems. In the field, Justin uses AroFlo to schedule jobs, track his staff, order materials, invoice clients and more. It means he can do once-deskbound tasks on the run, from his phone. With a simple click of his Xero integration link in AroFlo, Justin’s client data, purchase order and invoice information gets instantly updated across both systems. It means he stays on top of his financials at all times.

Small business owners often get bogged down using multiple systems to meet various business requirements. From job scheduling, timesheets, invoicing, inventory management, accounting and document storage, bouncing around from one system to the next creates more work. AroFlo gives Justin everything he needs in one succinct package. His bookkeeper reconciles his monthly bank statements in Xero, which then pushes all client payment details back into AroFlo. There’s no jumping from one program to another to get simple tasks done.

And we all know cash flow is the life blood of any small business. Justin’s Xero-AroFlo integration helps him quickly identify clients who owe him money, even when he’s out on the road. In one classic scenario Justin was called out to a vet clinic for an emergency blocked drain. He arrived early to the job and logged into Xero to fill in time reconciling bank statements while waiting in his car. Justin soon realised the client hadn’t paid for a job from a few months prior. A conversation with the vet manager ensued and prompt payment was arranged as Justin cleared the blockage. It’s a perfect example of agility – getting things done fast, with minimum hassle.

The biggest benefit of the Xero/ AroFlo integration, however? The savings in time. “Being a business owner you’re never not thinking about work, so it frees me up to spend more time with the family,” says Justin. “I’ve got four kids and they’re growing up fast – you never get that time back. Now, instead of me spending hours and hours doing bookwork every evening, it’s now an hour or so a day.”

Off to India: Finding more time to do charity work

With his business running smoothly, Justin was able to redirect his energy towards his other passion – charity work. In a twist of fate, a chance meeting with a client drew Justin to India, as part of a special project close to his heart. The client had started a charity, We Can’t Wait (wecannotwait.org), which installs toilets for schools in India and aims to build awareness of the sanitation crisis affecting billions of people in the developing world.

A regrettable outcome of puberty for Indian schoolgirls is that it negatively impacts on their education. They stop attending school for one week each month, or drop out of the education system altogether; purely because they lack access to basic toilet facilities. According to the charity, more than 100 million children across the globe go to schools without toilets.

Utilising his electrical and plumbing expertise and a generous grant from plumbing supplier Reece, Justin travelled to India to lend a hand to rural communities, providing simple, adequate sanitary facilities to local schools. It was an eye- opening and rewarding experience – for both Justin and his 14-year-old daughter, who accompanied him on his second trip – and one that gave them greater awareness to the plight of young people striving for a better education in third world conditions. And thanks to Xero and AroFlo’s cloud capabilities, Justin was able to keep on top of his business even while he was working half way across the globe.

Get it right from the start

With AroFlo and Xero supporting Justin’s philanthropic pursuits and business vision, he has full confidence he can continue kicking both personal and professional goals for the years ahead. So what advice does Justin have for the young guns, the sole traders just starting out?

“You have to be online, and your business systems need to be cloud- based,” Justin says. “New business owners might think they’re saving money on technology if they stick to a paper-based system, especially in the beginning as they struggle with cash flow. But in the long run they’re going to end up wasting a lot of time and money. I know guys who are just using Xero for their standard business operations but I tell them they need to get a job management system, too. My decision to integrate both Xero and AroFlo into Precision Electrical and Plumbing transformed not only my business, but also my life.”

From India to Melbourne, Justin’s passion for helping people by doing what he does best shows no signs of abating. As to next steps, his ultimate goal is to get off the tools entirely and move into more of a strategic managerial role within his business, freeing him up to do more charity work. And with Xero and AroFlo working hand-in-hand behind the scenes that dream looks like becoming a reality.

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About the author

Katrina Miller

Katrina is a marketing professional with more than two decades’ experience working with established global brands and ambitious start-ups. She joined AroFlo in 2015 and has spent the past two years cementing AroFlo’s reputation as the most trusted and reliable job management solution on the market. With a strong customer-centric focus, Katrina loves discovering the unique and varied ways cloud technology can transform the businesses and lives of AroFlo clients.