Contracting a simple service

21 Jan, 2016 01:00 AM
contractorcloud innovators, Tim Lee and Andrew MacAlpine. Photo: Liam Mendes
contractorcloud innovators, Tim Lee and Andrew MacAlpine. Photo: Liam Mendes

If you’ve every dreamed of a simple way to source a contractor for on-farm services, or hire casual labour to lend a hand, a new website hopes to provide the solution.

When mates Andrew MacAlpine and Tim Lee discussed Andrew’s experience with a hay contractor cutting a crop then running, they decided there must be a better way to find the right fit for the job.

So was born the now business partner’s one-stop-shop for sourcing contractors, advertising for casual labour as well as posting contracting services they launched in December last year.

The partners admit surprise that the service hadn’t been provided before.

“We thought surely there was some sort of forum or website where we could just post what you need - and only people in the area, that have availability and are willing to do the work would respond so you cut out all the noise and go straight to the actual contractor,” Andrew MacAlpine said.

Further discussions led to the casual labour board being added - providing the network for both labourers and employers to tap into the same central resource.

“There's already avenues for fruit pickers, but this opens it up to generic farm workers for smaller farms to employ someone rather than just the big fruit picking operations,” Mr MacAlpine said.

There’s also the labour requirements that continue to emerge from the adaptation of technology into farming - data management, drones, robotics and the like that might see a demand for skilled but casual workers.

“The average age of farmers is 55 and they tend to not leave their properties or want to leave the business but also can't continue to do everything so we forecast an increased demand for short sharp contracts - someone may be willing to pay to help them out with tractor driving duties to ease the burden for example,” he said.

A third strand to the website will be the roll out a rating system for users from both sides of the equation to mark their experience.

“We wanted to keep it simple so if a farmer was using it to find a contractor then it could also be easy for them to find casual labour - we think that is a growing market in the industry.

The challenge for the service is to build awareness - the more users the better the experience.

“It’s when we get to the critical mass stage that you see with airbnb and the like that it works well but it will be hard slog and we’re rolling up our sleeves,” Mr MacAlpine said.

The site is providing a forum to engage with users and provide direction and advice for those looking to work on farm. “Once some people have success with it we expect it will very quickly spread around.”

The obvious exposure mechanism is the social media scene. The duo is tapping into twitter and Facebook and also the peer group from their boarding school days to spread the word.

“From there it will be driven by people using the service, having a good outcome and moving on with it,” Mr MacAlpine said. “we are confident with the idea and we have had a lot of people sign up and we are getting people posting and hiring.”

Postings are geo-located so contractors serving certain areas are not spreading the message to thin and employers are not wasting time. “You can also set up alerts so contractors who are interested in fencing within 200 kilometres of the Geelong are sent alerts when a job is posted for fencing in that area,” Mr MacAlpine said.

“We’ve also kept it very simple so it re-sizes for a mobile device and is friendly. Once you are logged in and set up the dashboard is very easy to use from a mobile as well - an app is something we’ll look at down the track as it grows,” he said.

“We now want people to get familiar with the functionality and we’re also had interesting feedback from users with ideas as well and we are flexible about its future development.

“It’s also why we’ve got the blog which has seen questions about insurances, the laws around visas and payment and what happens with food and accommodation for on-farm labour.

“We think the demand is definitely there, we’ve just got to make sure we get the marketing side and usability side of it correct,” Mr MacAlpine said.

Tom McKenny

Tom McKenny

is the national machinery writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media


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