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How did the idea evolve?

How did the idea for Fintrano evolve? Iain Row explains all.

If you haven't read Part 1 - Where did the idea come from?, you might want to start there.

In early 2023 I had an idea for a system that would help control centres coordinate their mobile workforce. I felt that the ideal system would help them:

  • Find the best worker for the job, filtering on requirements like 'Needs DBS' or 'Gas Safe certified'
  • Track their location using the Fintrano app on their smartphone
  • Notify the customer automatically of everything that was going on.

Find, track and notify became Fintrano. (Yes, I was very pleased with myself - not least because fintrano.com was available to register).

The next step was to talk to some friendly companies who work in this space, so see what software they used, and if they would be interested in an offering from us.

I spoke to the lovely team at BHC Heating & Renewables, who explained that they used Simpro and that it worked very well for them, even though they didn't use it for customer messaging. They suspected that customer messaging was a feature it offered, but that they didn't subscribe to it. Essentially, with a small team managing all of their customer interactions, they didn't see the need to automate it.

Simpro DID give all of their mobile workforce an app, exactly as I had envisaged, but with far more options, like undertaking health and safety audits before arriving on site. I felt that something much simpler would be easier to work with.

I felt that something much simpler would be easier to work with.

It was slightly disheartening, as I had no interest in challenging a billion-dollar competitor, but I had already arranged appointments with other companies in the same industries, and decided to continue talking, even if my original idea would clearly need some tweaking.

So, I continued to talk to contacts in the trades. And what I discovered was that the smaller the company, the greater the enthusiasm for Fintrano.

It makes sense, I suppose. If you have taken the pain of growing to a certain size, you will almost certainly have resolved the issue of how to manage your team. As I'd discovered, there were plenty of tools to help businesses manage a mobile workforce. 

What was lacking was a tool to make it really easy for a small company, maybe just a sole trader, to do the things a larger company would do as a part of their usual professional processes.

the smaller the company, the greater the enthusiasm for Fintrano

Things like sending confirmations by text and email, and automatic reminders the day before the appointment. The small businesses I spoke to loved the idea of letting their customers know their location when they were on their way.

"It's like DHL, or Uber," was the most common response, usually followed by a big grin.

When I spoke to the public, the enthusiasm was equally strong. Literally everybody had a story of waiting in for a tradesperson who didn't show, or who had given a large appointment window, and arrived right at the end, pinning them to their house for most of the day..

But actually, the same was true for the tradespeople themselves; they all had stories of confirming an appointment, and when they got there the customer had forgotten, and was out, costing them time and money.

It was clear to me that I was on to something. The biggest complaint from both sides was not the work; it was the communication. And if I did find a sole trader who was brilliant at communicating, or who hired an administrator to do it for them, the issue was that it was labour-intensive. If they wanted to hire more workers, they eventually had to hire more administrators.

It was clear to me that I was on to something

I knew we could help, with a system that did the legwork for them in a consistent manner. And yet, I very nearly made a huge mistake, which would have made Fintrano much less attractive to the real companies in this industry.

In Part 3 I'll describe how one conversation completely changed the underlying model - luckily, before we'd written a line of code!

About the author

Iain

Iain is a software developer with over 25 years in the industry. He runs Prominent Media, a software company based in Milton Keynes. Fintrano is his brainchild.