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LNAT Feature in the Cairns Eye on 2nd March 2011! - 3rd March 2011

Ever longed for a reliable tradie to do jobs around the house? That's exactly what frustrated 27-year-old Simone Fielding thought and has now developed - a rated tradie directory that's in hot demand by clients and businesses alike...

For once in their lives tradies around town are paying very close attention to lipstick.

And very close attention to a woman who has initiated a new website that helps put them in touch with potential customers.

Simone Fielding, daughter of a plumber, launched Lady Needs a Tradie last year and what a success it has been already.

Within a few months of launch she had exceeded her goal of 30 tradies listed and she is fast-tracking her plans to launch in other regional Queensland centres.

The 27-year-old is one of those high achievers who make the rest of us mere mortals wonder what we’ve been doing with our lives.

The daughter of missionaries spent five of her childhood years growing up in a remote Northern Territory community before moving to the tropics of Queensland.

She started working in pharmacies at the ripe old age of 14, by 19 was retail manager and by 21 was brand development manager for V Pharmacy.

A move to Abacus Shop Fittings where she was brand development manager for two years was followed by a role at Dedicated Training as marketing and development manager.

While Simone has a Diploma of Management and is part-way through a law/commerce degree, she says most of her skills are self-taught. "My dad was very entrepreneurial so I learnt a lot from him. He started Acacia Plumbing with just a van and I think he had $1000 in the bank. It went on to become a massive business and it’s still running today."

She says the website was simply the result of frustration.

"I was renovating an investment property and I was sick of tradies not turning up on time or doing a lousy job. I was really frustrated and started talking to girlfriends about their experiences.

"Having a partner who’s heavily involved in the construction industry and my dad, I’m lucky to have a network of tradies I can call on, but not all my girlfriends have partners or men in their lives who were blessed with the ’handyman gene’," Simone says.

And she says if a tradie is chosen from the phone book, there is no real referral system.

"How do you know if they’ll do a good job, or turn up on time or leave a mess?"

Hence the website.

"I knew I was doing the right thing when my brother who’s in the UK said he might get his wife try to do the same thing over there," she laughs. The site works as a referral service. Tradies apply (and pay a fee) to be listed on the site but it is far more than a list of tradespeople.

Each has a lipstick rating, and if they are found to be lacking in any area, their money will be returned and their name removed.

"We survey their last five customers, not the ones whose names they choose, we ask them a series of questions around reliability, cleanliness and promptness and we do have a blacklist of people who we won’t list.

"But before we put them on the blacklist we give them an opportunity to explain their side of the story – if we get negative feedback we check both sides of the story. We put a lot of work into it."

At the end of each quarter she compiles a feedback report for each tradie and follows up on any feedback. Women (or men lacking the handyman gene) can search either the listings, check out the lipstick rating and contact the tradie directly, or ask for a quote request.

She says she is happy to "cherry pick" listings as she wants to maintain the site’s integrity.

Future plans include uploading photographs of each tradie so customers know what face to expect at their front door. As for the fun lipstick rating, Simone says she wanted something different to a star rating – a bit feminine without being offensive to men.

When we first met, Simone was about to finish her full time job at Dedicated Training and devote all her working hours to Lady Needs a Tradie.

Oh, and having a baby, due in May.

"It’s been a long 18 months. I’ve had a few people say that I couldn’t do it, but I have. I’m thrilled with how well it’s going," she says of the site.

Finally, the power of the lipstick is paying off.

The feature can be viewed online here: http://www.cairns.com.au/article/2011/03/09/152015_lifestyle.html



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