Five years ago I had a brainwave. BigChange, which was just a start-up back then, was starting to make an impact and we had amazing customers coming on board every single day. That’s when it hit me: wouldn’t it be incredible if I could help these companies work together to grow, and become more successful than they could on their own?
That was the seed of an idea that would grow into the BigChange Network, a directory where our customers could find contractors, share jobs, and expand, both geographically and in terms of the services they could provide. Today, we have over 550 customers on the Network and we’re beginning to see how collaboration is accelerating their growth and success.
Imagine you’re a plumbing business based in Brighton, and a customer in North London needs a job done. It doesn’t make sense to send someone all the way from Brighton to do the work – not from a business or carbon efficiency standpoint. So, you look on the Network, find a great London plumber, give them a call, and then send the job over via the BigChange platform. Once they accept, you can track the work in real-time. Once the job is complete, you have all the paperwork required for the end customer, with your company branding, and you get the signed off job card including all the completed health and safety processes and photos. This collaborative system also means that you make a nice profit on a customer that you may have had to turn down otherwise. What could be simpler?
In fact, our innovative customers are using the Network to solve increasingly complex business challenges. Lori Kidd, who manages the Network, has found all kinds of fascinating user cases. “We have some customers who offer maintenance but might be approached by customers looking for an installation,” she explains. “If they say they can’t instal the equipment and the customer goes elsewhere, that other company may end up servicing the equipment later, so the customer has lost out twice. We are seeing those companies finding an installer through BigChange and then handling all the future maintenance afterwards.”
I love hearing stories about how smart business leaders are using the Network to test out new services, expand their geographical reach, and take on urgent jobs when they are booked solid. I’d like to share some of these with you today. Even if you’re not a BigChange customer, I hope these insights fuel your ambitions, and if you are, and you’re not on the Network, I hope this inspires you to take the plunge!
Offering a seamless service
Steve Baker is the founder of Jardak Services, which started out as a contract cleaning company but now offers a full facilities management service. The business has been going for 22 years, and now employs 60 staff. Steve believes that the Network has transformed the way he contracts out work. “We have a sister business, called Trustwater, which offers fire risk assessments and health and safely consultancy,” he says. “Trustwater is on BigChange too, so we use the Network to refer jobs between the two businesses while ensuring that all our paperwork and processes are completely consistent. It’s an example of how you can use the Network internally to make the sub-contracting process even more seamless.”
Contract out with confidence
Dan Rochester founded Target with his brother Dean in 2014. From a standing start, the property management and fire protection company has grown to employ 90 staff and turn over £8.5m. “We have found the Network really helpful for finding like-minded companies and sharing jobs,” he says. “Because you are dealing with a BigChange customer, you know what kind of company it’s likely to be. We have found the standard of work has been very high, and we know that they can provide all the information we need in the right format for our records and our health and safety processes.”
Boost your revenues
Aaron Eastwood is the co-founder of Site Secure, a CCTV manufacturer and fire alarm installation firm. The business has been running since 2018 and joined the network a little over a year ago. “We always use the Network as the first port of call to find sub-contractors,” he says. “Without the Network, we could use some of the people we already have on our books as approved contractors but there would definitely be some work we would have to turn down without it, especially the stuff that is out of our area or is really urgent.” Aaron says that the Network has increased revenues by 10%-15%. “That has the ability to grow as we use the Network more and more,” he adds. “We are doubling in size every year.”
“I can’t understand why every BigChange customer isn’t on the Network,” says Jardak’s Steve Baker. “It’s free publicity for your business. Once you’re set up to take on jobs, you don’t have to do anything, and the referrals come in whenever someone needs your help on a job.”
A virtuous cycle
When you refer a job to a contractor through the Network, you forge a new professional relationship that could result in more work coming your way in future. “We’ve had a few instances where we have referred work to a BigChange customer and then they have given us work back,” says Site Secure’s Aaron Eastwood. “We always give new contractors a ring when we find them on the Network, so you get to know each other.”
Sharing best practice with existing customers
It’s always useful when you find out an existing customer is already on the BigChange platform, according to Dan Rochester. “You can work together to improve the reporting and processes that you get from each job. I have one client that I work closely with, and we are always sharing our learnings and helping one another to get even more out of the software. I’ve made a lot of changes to our back end – it looks very different to the off-the-shelf product now – and I’ve shown him all our workarounds.”
Save time and resource
“When you search for contractors on BigChange, it shows you the exact catchment area they work in, and all their specialist services, which is a real time-saver,” says Jardak’s Steve. “We would otherwise use Google to try and find someone but then you often call up and they don’t work in the area that you searched for, or they don’t offer the specialist service that you need. Given that we only tend to subcontract out the more specialist stuff, we can’t afford to waste time ringing around.”