Platinum Electricians started as a single ‘man in a van’ electrical contracting business in Sydney. Established in 2001, the company is now a national company with electricians Australia wide.
Platinum Electricians has grown into a franchise operation focused on helping electricians develop and run successful businesses.
As the franchising part of the business grew, it became apparent that technology would be the only way to support the new approach.
Alex Johnson, General Manager at Platinum Electricians said, “Once we started getting interest from other states, we started looking at videoconferencing seriously. We needed a way to stay in contact with customers other than just over the phone.”
The management team spoke with their business advisers, who recommended using either GoToMeeting from Citrix or WebEx from Cisco, two of the most widely used videoconferencing tools. The decision was made to go with WebEx because of price and functionality at the time.
The videoconferencing tool was easy to use, required little training and allowed sharing of documents, enabled videos to be played and computer screens to be shared by users at both ends of a conference.
Platinum Electricians continues to grow, with franchisees across Australia, and this means the company is now reviewing other videoconferencing options to deal with the demands of national online meetings.
“If we want a national meeting today of all parties, it would require 32 people to participate and there would be a limit with the existing system,” said Alex.
“So we are looking at other systems. GoToMeeting has improved over the years and we will look at it again before making a final decision.”
For electrotechnology businesses focusing mainly on local customers and jobs, videoconferencing is unlikely to provide much business value. But for larger organisations with distributed staff, regional offices, regular customer projects and maintenance contracts, it could be valuable.
“It gives us the ability to manage an audience spread across Australia. It allows us to service clients right across the country from one central location in Sydney,” said Alex.
“We save time and we save on travel. It is simple and cheap.
“We conduct regular online meetings with our franchise network and organise real world meetings three times a year,” said Alex.
“We also use the system with our customers and suppliers. It lets us work with national customers and it also allows us to have group meetings with professionals, such as lawyers, accountants and our advisory board.”
Videoconferencing can be very cost effective and provides Platinum Electricians with nationwide video communication for less than $100 a month.
However, there are some limitations to be considered. The speed and reliability of connectivity varies widely across Australia and in some locations is a barrier to successful videoconferencing.
But the risks of videoconferencing are small.
“If anything goes wrong, we are back on the phone,” said Alex. “The only risk is unprofessionalism if the connection fails.”
And there are other human issues to take into consideration.
“The most important thing I’ve learned in the last year is that videoconferencing doesn’t replace face to face. It is a tool to help communication but it doesn’t replace direct contact,” said Alex.