A new app is revolutionising the way power tools are repaired by providing real time updates for customers.
By Frank Leggett
The constant stress and pressure put on power tools from everyday use invariably leads to breakdowns, repairs and servicing. Getting these machines running again is essential to all industries but registering and tracking the repairs is a time consuming and protracted process.
At least, it used to be.
Madeline Hargreaves was born into the power tool industry. She is the daughter of Jenny and Andrew Hargreaves, owners of CSS member store Centenary Power Tools in Brisbane. The business has been part knew there had to be a better way for customers to register and track their tools.”
Hargreaves created an app and website called MyStrac that allows customers to book in their tools and then track the repair. Each tool can be followed online without the need of phone calls, emails or a paper trail.
“I put a lot of work into this app because it’s very close to my heart,” says Hargreaves. “We’re a family owned repair centre and my family has real pride in our business. We want to of her family since she was a baby and Hargreaves has worked in the service department for the past 10 years.
While Centenary Power Tools sells a lot of tools, a large proportion of the business is servicing and epairs—and Hargreaves is in the thick of it.
“We have between 800 and 1000 tools booked in each week,” she says. “We deal with large companies like Bunnings, Sydney Tools and Total Tools, so the work is constant and high volume. I was overwhelmed with phone calls and emails requesting status updates. Everyone wants to know how their tools are going. I ensure all our customers have the best experience possible.”
One of the major issues with power tool repairs is miscommunication. Someone will find a fault in a tool, explain it to the boss, who tells someone else. They tell the person who’s dropping it off at the service center, then they’ll explain the problem to the repair team.
There were simply too many opportunities for information to be lost, mixed up or misconstrued. This led to the barrage of phone calls and emails that was making Hargreaves’s life a misery.
With MyStrac, the customer books in their own tools with detailed notes about the fault. They can be booked in 24/7, while the customer is at work or at home in their living room. A job number is produced for each tool and the customer can drop it in when it suits them. Any queries about the status of the tool and the lifecycle of the repair—whether it’s further issues, the process, waiting for parts—can be answered immediately with a click on the app.
“MyStrac has streamlined a clunky part of our business,” says Hargreaves. “Customers can see exactly what’s happening with their tools in real time.”
While Hargreaves knew her concept would work, she needed a programmer to make the app functional. After much searching she found Michael Randall, who wrote the program that turned her idea into a reality.
“Michael was great,” says Hargreaves. “We put a lot of work into it and spent a lot of time making sure it was perfect. He loved my idea so much, he joined me as my business partner.”
The MyStrac concept was first trialled at Centenary Power Tools with a few customers and it worked extremely well. There were no glitches in the system and clients loved the convenience and accessibility.
“I’ve expanded the use to about 50 of our customers with more to be added soon,” says Hargreaves. “It also became obvious that the potential of this is huge. It saves time and money and isn’t just limited to power tools. It can be used with anything—fridges, washing machines, anything that needs repairing.”
Hargreaves and Michael Randall designed the app on a Microsoft platform and their eff orts did not go unnoticed. Recently, Microsoft reached out to them and after discussing what she is trying to achieve, signed her onto one of their development programs.
“I’m so grateful they want to be part of the journey,” says Hargreaves. “This is really going to help me realise my dream.”
In the next few months, Hargreaves plans to have all the customers at Centenary Power Tools using MyStrac for all their tool repairs. It will streamline the entire process, save time, and reduce the paper trail while keeping customers informed and in the loop.
Her next plan is to release the app onto the open market where it can be used across most service industries.
“At present, there’s a lot of different platforms and the approach is very piecemeal,” says Hargreaves. “MyStrac offers a way to unify repair tracking and for the service industry to come together as a community. If everyone is on the same platform, it’s simpler, easier and much more efficient. My ultimate goal is to standardise the way repairs are handled and processed right across Australia.”