Craig Bowie began his plumbing career back in 2005. To launch their journey into entrepreneurship Craig and wife Sarah bought an existing business in August of 2013. Now, with a Business of the Year award to their name and a team of 36 they’ve found a recipe for success that allows the venture to run itself when they need it to.
The aim was always to join Laser, when Craig initially bought Osborne Plumbing back in 2013. Sarah worked at Laser Group’s support office at the time, so they knew Laser’s systems worked.
Remember the old green writing on a black screen? Well, that was the software that Osborne Plumbing was operating with when Craig came on the scene - naturally, you can imagine it was a bit of a shock. It was clear that the company’s operating system had been designed before the advent of the mouse, so let’s just say that Craig realised pretty quickly that LaserPro Enterprise was going to be a much better option.
It was only one year after acquiring the business that Craig joined Laser and set about implementing their processes and tech.
"Straight away we could see that LaserPro was a more attractive option" - Craig Bowie, Laser Plumbing Grey Lynn
Keeping the team working as one
Sarah takes care of Health & Safety, payroll, HR, vehicles and “the fluffy stuff” as Craig puts it.
Presently, their company’s staff count has reached 36, so growth in recent years has been significant to say the least. Such swift expansion has meant that Sarah has actually been kept busy with “that fluffy stuff” which has built a solid team.
"Networking within the tea is very important" - Sarah Bowie, Laser Plumbing Grey Lynn
Craig attributes his ability to handle such rapid growth to the support of his team. He believes that taking a company from a staff of 5 to 36 within 5 years requires a lot of support and having the right people on your team, and the right people around you.
"To handle the amount of growth that we went through takes a lot of support from your team. You have to have the right people around you." - Craig.
How to keep a remote team feeling like a team
The Connect app has had an enormously positive impact on efficiencies for the business because field staff travel to the office a lot less. It also means however that staff are seeing each other less.
Craig and Sarah are very aware of the importance of keeping a tight knit team and making sure that staff feel valued, important and heard. The team are part of the family and they do a lot together.
Then there are the social occasions. The team do it all, from go-karting to fishing, ten pin bowling, dinners out and a lot of fishing, an activity that is only enhanced by Craig’s passion - boating.
"We care about out saff and feel like they're part of our family" - Sarah.
How to handle an administration-heavy plumbing maintenance business
With a focus on maintenance work as opposed to large projects, the business processes a higher volume of jobs, meaning their need for an efficient and capable administration is doubled, if not tripled!
Craig says he couldn’t imagine trying to manage 25+ plumbers in the field without LaserPro.
"You have to have the systems in place. I don't think we could possibly have 25 plumbers on the road and use handwritten job cards." - Craig.
Managing day to day operations is one thing but being able to understand your business is another. Monitoring the productivity of staff, profits made on jobs, materials and even clients all goes a long way if you want to intimately know your own business.
This is where LaserPro Enterprise sets itself far beyond the competition. By running reports, it’s easy for Craig to identify which employees are being most productive and just as importantly, which clients are actively using their services and which aren’t.
One particular client was recently identified as ‘going cold’; Craig noted in a graph that their job requests had dipped considerably. A quick phone call to the client and Craig was able to hear the client’s albeit small concern and remedy the issue. Job requests from the client returned to normal overnight.
Business of the year award
Last year at the Laser international conference, Laser Plumbing Grey Lynn was nominated for several award categories, most notably winning the Laser Plumbing Business of the Year award. A huge nod of recognition for all the hard work the team had put in.
How the LaserPro Enterprise software has affected Craig's role
In the early days Craig and Office Manager, Lorraine began by micromanaging everything and had paperwork everywhere. Nowadays, Craig is no longer on the tools. His main focus is to work on the business, taking care of key clients and training staff. Craig has had to relinquish responsibilities, and has placed the right people in place to assist with the vision and plan. Craig uses LaserPro everyday and spends more time analysing reports.
Time to step away
Now the business runs autonomously. In fact it only took 9 months of LaserPro until Craig and Sarah were able to take the family away for a Christmas break for 2.5 months! As the right systems and team were in place. And when they returned? Everything was fine. Craig was able to check in remotely to monitor the business.
Downtime for the family includes time tending to kids activities and of course, time on that boat. In fact Craig enjoys boating so much he’s applied to join the New Zealand Coast Guard.
"You need distraction in your life - so you're not sitting at home thinking about plumbing" - Craig.
Check out more about Craig and Sarah Bowie, and Laser Plumbing Grey Lynn here.
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