A small business helping other small businesses grow and thrive. That’s what Marblehead resident Tom Strachan envisioned during his time working at a small equity office in Texas, when he decided he wanted to become an entrepreneur.
Now, that vision has become a reality with the launch of his company, Service Buddy, a management software that serves tradespeople and home-service companies.
“As I started talking with folks, a lot of them have built really good businesses. They were really good at whatever their trade for their contractor was, but optimizing your own small business is a whole other challenge that a lot of them didn’t go to school for,” said Strachan about the inspiration behind the business model.
He said that one of the biggest services that his company provides is eliminating unpaid invoices, as well as allowing company clients to pay by card and increase profit margins.
“For a small business, especially a small business that if you’re paying for labor or paying for materials prior to a job, you really can’t afford to wait 45, 60 days to get paid,” he said. “That’s a huge issue. It just hinders a small business. You can’t grow the business or predict what’s going to happen next month if you’re still chasing down these unpaid invoices.”
Strachan announced his business publicly on Monday after working with a handful of clients for seven months, adding and testing features that customers had requested. But the vision for Service Buddy started well before last fall.
He began his career working tech sales in Boston, then traveled south to work in Knoxville, Tennessee with a private-equity firm. There, Strachan said, was where exposure to different entrepreneurs set the groundwork for his business’ origins.
“It was there really that I got exposure to different entrepreneurs that were starting small software businesses,” he said. “It’s sort of there where I got interested in starting my own thing, but wanted to learn more about truly running a high-quality software business and what that really entails.”
Over the last seven months, the clients he has worked with include landscapers, plumbers, and even a rug restoration business based out of London, England. According to Strachan, the customers he has worked with so far have seen sales increases of roughly 30 percent. He added that one of his goals was to make the service as easy to use as possible, including having a central hub for all of his clients’ business-management tools.
Among the features that Service Buddy provides for customers are the ability for customers to leave reviews, link company social-media pages for publicity, and track invoices. Companies can also easily review financial data like quotes converted to jobs, sales numbers, and more.
One of the benefits of being a small software business, Strachan says, is that he can listen to client feedback and requests in order to make the product better, and wants to keep that as a main focus to ensure businesses succeed and feel important.
“Because we’re a young company, we can build out a lot of features that our customers ask for, and we’ve been doing that for the past seven months,” he said. “But that’s a totally different experience in working with some large software business that doesn’t really care about small business. We do, and we’re going to do a really good job of serving them.”
Strachan said that in doing local market research, he found that more than 60 percent of tradespeople and contractors are still using paper invoices and no management software. With the public announcement of his company, Strachan is hoping to help a town like Marblehead, that is full of small businesses, evolve and grow in that market.