Isaac Horneman –
Kalinda Constructions

Isaac Horneman got his pricing and hourly rates correct when he started working with Jon and Small Fish to systematize his numbers process. Now he feels more confident with his price and started to make healthy margins.

Emily: Why did you come to Small Fish? We want to talk about what your frustrations were with your business before you joined.

Isaac: Yeah, so for me probably the primary factor was just getting our pricing and hourly rates and everything correct. So just getting some help in getting all of our actual sort of budget and everything structured and understanding like the real costs of labour, so that was the first time that I stumbled across Jon. 

I was going through some of the financial information in the Big Numbers Tracker through YouTube, searching around, so that sort of was what I was looking for at the time. 

I guess some reassurance because I felt like we were getting too expensive in our marketplace and going, ‘Oh you can’t charge that or you can’t charge this and then being able to get more of a professional opinion to sort of see where we actually really sat and then really understanding the numbers and overheads and everything associated with that. 

So that was where we sort of started. 

Emily: Okay, cool, so you came to Jon with wanting to look at your numbers in Big Numbers Tracker, did you jump onto that straight away or did you integrate them into your job management system that you guys have been using? 

Isaac: Yeah, so at that stage, we only had sort of fairly simple job management systems. We were using Tradify at that stage and then, yes the Big Numbers Tracker was the first thing we jumped in, getting all of our overheads and everything out of Xero into there and basically really actually working out based on what we were charging, what we should have been charging which was quite different. 

I think at the time was around about $10 or $15 an hour which was good. And then we were able to implement that without getting really actually any pushback which was pretty disappointing because I would have been way better to have done that earlier but I guess that’s one of the things for me that Jon’s given me. 

It’s just the confidence to back myself – that sort of self-worth for us and our tradesmen. 

Emily: So before you came to Small Fish, you felt pressured to not charge more even though you might have been making a proper margin of your jobs and Jon kind of wanted to push past that pressure or see that there wasn’t any pressure there in the first place?

Isaac: Yeah, probably more actually saying that there wasn’t as much pressure as what I thought there at the first place.  It was more for me – my development and understanding and going ‘Well, yeah it is okay to be charging this and fair to be charging this and this is actually what it costs.’ 

Emily: And what else have you worked on in terms of your confidence within your business? I know that it’s a big thing. There’s a lot of trades business owners with confidence and marketing confidence for your clients. Is there anything else that you changed whilst with Small Fish? 

Isaac: Yeah, definitely. I think overall like just having Jon sort of on top there for booking those 20’s and catching up as well just sort of reset my and make sure that you’re spending the right time in the right areas in the back end of business. 

But yeah, definitely there’s I mean with having that for me anyway, having that confidence then in the numbers and what things really cost that then is a flow-on effect of having that confidence with your clients submitting proposals, backing yourself on all of those things and not letting people talk you around or sort of tell you otherwise whatever their opinion is, it doesn’t really matter because you’ve got the hard numbers and facts right there. 

And then whenever something does arise it is great having Jon to fall back on and just get that advice reset and go, ‘Yeah, that is the right way to go’, and continue on with that. 

Emily: Okay, cool. So did you work on your online proposal with Jon when you first came to Small Fish? Did you start doing the sales properly, or in presenting, sitting down with the clients, was that something you were doing before Small Fish? 

Isaac: No, we weren’t doing that before. That is something had a personal relationship with them through either being family or friends. The market down here has been very busy the last few years so it’s sort of at the moment I think everybody if you know somebody, they’re hounding you because they already have a connection with you so to get anybody to complete any sort of work for you, that’s your best way to get on a list other than a couple of years wait. 

So I guess that process has been a little bit more informal because there have already been those established relationships there as opposed to tendering with somebody that you’ve never met before and are trying to really impress and get runs on the board where I already know you… 

So that’s something I haven’t technically needed to push as hard recently because of the lack of competition as well as already having an established trusted relationship with that particular client. 

Emily: Is that one of your biggest successes in coming to work with Small Fish? Or what would you say about any of the three biggest successes after joining? 

Isaac: Well, I’m actually starting to make some profit, raise more profit and we’re getting very close now to sort of springboarding into that next step.

Jon: Did you make quite a significant turnaround in your profit?

Isaac: Yeah, last year I think we turned it around $150,000 going from negative.  I think it was a $140,000 or $150,000 turnaround. That’s something that is good to be reminded of which Jon is good at looking at the numbers and going, ‘Oh, we only sort of made this much’, but then when you look at it holistically from where you came from the year before that and actually go, ‘Well, no, that was actually a much larger turnaround than what is actually showing on paper in terms of you just made in that year’. 

I wasn’t really thinking about what we recovered from from the year before when we didn’t have things running appropriately and we had things underpriced. So, as we now move forward year on year, that will continue to build so our profits are looking very good respectively for the next couple of years. So we just need to keep on tightening things up and things are only going to get better and better from here so that’s quite exciting. 

Emily: That’s really exciting. So you have the ability now to look back at what all the businesses come from which I think some can be skeptical from my understanding. 

People begin to look back at what happened and then they don’t see the progress they’ve made. I think that’s a big part of what Jon teaches at Small Fish. 

Isaac: Yeah, and I mean small things too even like just with the actual office systems and those sorts of things, things that used to stress you out in the past, you do forget about that as you move on and you’re sort of dealing with the next struggles and challenges I suppose or whatever the priorities at the time. 

But a few weeks ago whatever we had had a really big day and this and that it was just the simple thing of with now having the bookkeepers helping us to be able to jump on, click two buttons everybody’s paid, all the payroll is done.

And that’s all I’ve had to think about it for that day and I was able to focus on what was actually going on within the business and on-site helping the guys doing what we needed to do that day and I no longer had this cloud of payroll and all of these other things hanging over my head that two years ago when I was trying to do everything myself and before getting in and actually systematising and creating processes and employing the right getting in and actually systematising and creating processes and employing the right people to do the right tasks within the business. 

You forget about that stress that you had to deal with beforehand and all those extra tasks you were doing after hours or this or that to then go, ‘Well, yeah I still need to do something there; but it’s now only a 30-second task, not half an hour now. 

Emily: So has your team grow since you started with Jon?

Isaac: So when I started with Jon, I hired four people. And before that, including me, we were a  team of three at that stage. So I feel more than sort of double the size of a team, things are much easier.

Jon: Thank you, Isaac. 

Emily: Thank you so much, Isaac. 

Isaac: No worries.

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