He arrived as promised, fixed the problem and I happily paid the bill. We had hot water again and could go on with the weekend. Since the heater was about 15 years old I asked the guy when I should replace and he answered: When it's still going, let it go, but anything after 12 years is up for replacement one day. It was a nice guy, I valued the service he delivered and decided he would deserve my business when I need to replace the heater.
About two/three weeks ago the heater was giving troubles again. Most of the time it was working, but very often it first required a couple of kicks before it would deliver hot water. A bit annoying and time for replacement of the heater. I called the guy from a year ago, we had a chat and he also remembered last year and we agreed that he would send quotations for two different options. He asked if he could email the quotation on which I gave my email address and asked how to confirm the preferred option. He proudly replied: I'm modern and automated, you can view and confirm the quotation online. As promised I quickly received three emails, each with a quotation and additional information and specifications. I choose one of the options and could indeed confirm online. I liked what I saw and with my background in business software was interested and explored a bit further. I saw he was using MoneyBird a simple online quotation and invoicing solution in the Netherlands. A few days later we exchanged some emails to plan the day for replacement.
He arrived as promised and did a fine job. While he was busy we had a chat and he told was running his own business now for a little more than a year and a half and he was getting busier all the time. By the time he was done he took his iPad, and explained how convenient it was to immediately send out the invoice and process the payment (on a separate device). He emailed the invoice, I paid, he left and while he was driving around the corner I already received confirmation of the payment and a thank you for the business.
What did I learn from all this:
- There is a huge opportunity for software vendors by providing simple solutions that enable entrepreneurs to deliver better service
- The iPad (or any other tablet when they get good enough) is the gateway to automating these independent entrepreneurs.
- Small entrepreneurs are looking for convenience, Software as a Service offers this.