I often ask my mates in the Trades industry what their biggest challenge is when it comes to running their business. Not a single one of them ever talks about the actual job they do. Why? Because they all are exceptionally good tradesmen and they know their stuff like the back of their hands. Where they are lacking is the business side of things.
If you are reading this I can already tell that you are sick of spending hours putting quotes together, tracking which employee is working on what, sorting out the paperwork on weekends and may be even spending more time on the tools than you would like.
This is a story I’ve heard more times than I can remember. But I’ll tell you what; the journey from being a great tradie to becoming a great business owner doesn’t have to be so hard, with the right mindset and the right systems in place.
It’s simply an ART that you need to master.
Why do I call it an ART? Let’s find out:
Running a one-man show is just about doing the job. Running a team? Well that’s a different ball game altogether. As your business grows, you realise that you cannot be at 10 different places, doing 10 jobs a day, at the same time. You need to hire people and delegate tasks.
With tight schedules and endless work to be completed, you need a system in place that gives more autonomy to teams that can manage jobs on their own, with minimum oversight needed.
The first step in achieving this is to equip your teams with the tools they need to work independently but not alone. With a self-managed team, once a job has been assigned, there should be no need for you to keep calling to check on progress. The teams should be empowered to directly communicate with customers and with each other, start and finish jobs on their own, and contact you only if there is an issue that needs your attention.
The second part of running a self-managed team is to simplify the reporting process. Despite the fact that your employees are working independently, you’ll still need to keep track of daily progress, due dates, payment collections and any problems that arise in between. That’s only possible if there is a system which employees can use to report back to the main office.
Not knowing what your customers want from you can be stressful. But for customers, hiring someone they know nothing about, can be even more so.
In my experience having worked with hundreds of Tradies, most of the Customer-Tradie disputes arise from mismatched expectations on time, quality and cost, which in turn results in payment retention, bad word-of-mouth or a poor customer review.
The best way to avoid this is to set out expectations before the work begins. And this goes for both the customers and the business owners.
Sending a detailed written quote and getting it approved by the customer is where you start. Keep customers informed of any changes in the time, scope or cost of job and once it’s completed put a system in place that makes it easy for them to pay on the go. Collect feedback and act on it to deliver a better service next time.
This is how you nurture relationships and can even turn difficult customers into loyal brand advocates.
Not enough time in the day is the story of every trades services business owner. From daily team meetings to taking calls, sending quotes, overseeing tasks and sending out invoices, it’s never an all-done-now-I-can-relax moment for you.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Scheduling tasks well in advance can give you foresight into what your week is going to look like and also gives you the freedom to make slot for emergency jobs in between the days with ease.
Additionally, you can move from manual invoicing to a cloud accounting system that sends automatic feeds to the system when a job is completed and invoices customers electronically.
This will cut out the hard work from managing your business replacing it with smarter ways to achieve more in less time.
Team management, time management and customer relationship management continue to be the leading issues Tradies struggle with when they expand from a being solo trader to a registered Trades services business.
With technology already transforming the lives of Aussie Tradies helping great Tradies become great business owners too, it’s about time you contemplated what aspects of your business can benefit from new technology out there making waves for so many and which ones are still better off the old-school way.
The choice is yours.
Here’s a video for you to see how one Tradie whom I had the pleasure of working with, transformed his entire business from being a novice on technology to a master, with a customer focus and the right system to help him along the way.
Here at i4Tradies, we help tradies challenge their business status quo and make their operations more streamlined with changing customer demands with our cloud based customer experience management solution. Get a 2 Week Free Trial with i4Tradies and watch how you can enhance efficiency and transparency with your customer base on every aspect of your job service delivery.