By Donna Stone, Business Coach and Consultant
As a builder or tradie, you have a few critical resources: labour and materials. If you are in other areas of the building industry, like architecture, your critical resource is manpower. But for every business owner in the industry, time management is absolutely crucial.
So here are my top five quick and easy tips for ultimately improving efficiency and your bottom line:
1. Focus on what you do well.
As an experienced business coach, I work with lots of tradies who spend time on activities they are sometimes not good at. And usually, it’s bookkeeping. But with programs like Xero, it’s easy to share functions like invoicing, payroll and billing. You can even contract a bookkeeper to tie it all together. Yes, you’ll pay for their time, but think about this: What are you worth on-site working, or better, out promoting your business, quoting and getting new jobs?
2. Use technology to streamline processes.
There simply is no excuse to not be efficient, these days. You can invoice and have a mobile EFTPOS machine to accept payment, all on-site. Accessible apps to help you quote, schedule jobs, track your fleet, organise your crew and keep projects on track. The same can be applied in systemising the office. The options are endless and often free for single or limited users. So spare yourself going back to the office or home to play paperwork catch-up.
3. Share your knowledge.
If you have a few people on your team who are experienced, have been with you a while and have some people skills, it’s time to train them on what you know so they can share your burden. Start with your tried and true best practices and tools, from using a job checklist to preparing a quote. Many hands truly make light work.
4. Add FAQs to your website.
Let’s say you’re an electrician who doesn’t do air conditioning, but you get a heap of calls about it. Put your list of services—and other frequently asked questions—on your website so you save everyone some time. Remember, you always have the option to offer that service down the road or partner with someone who does, for a more comprehensive package. Better refer to a strategic partner or non-competitor than lose a prospect to a competitor who does both.
5. The phone shouldn’t drive you crazy.
I know a few tradies who don’t publicise their mobile phones because they are sick of calls—especially whilst up on a roof, digging a trench or up to their armpits in wiring. The problem is many people need (and want) an instant response. Chances are most people will just move on to your competitor if they don’t get ahold of you. Consider diverting your phone to an answering service, employing a virtual or remote assistant and ensuring calls are handled well if they are answered. The person who takes the call should answer basic questions and book jobs (another great reason to have mobile scheduling software).
As with everything you do, I recommend clients audit their processes. Look into what is being done in your business and find ways to streamline, improve and be more efficient to save time. Always remember that time equals money.
About the Author
Donna Stone is a business coach with three decades of experience. She grew her own business from a garage to a multi-award-winning operation that spans five locations, nationally. Donna works with business owners and other business coaches, consultants and trainers to help them build their own success, and her Coach the Coach™ program is exceedingly popular. Donna is a prolific writer with hundreds of articles and six books published—her fifth, titled ‘Build Your Profits’, specifically for tradies. Visit www.donna-stone.com.au for more information. ©Donna Stone, 2017