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Trades Business Hack: How To Get Off The Tools And Win More Time To Yourself


Click on the video to watch it (Runtime 5 minutes and 50 seconds).

Click here to book a 10-minute chat with Jon.

If you’d rather read the transcript it’s here below.


How to get off the tools? A.K.A. How to trust your team to do good work when you’re not there to keep an eye on them?

This video I made is for Stephen Hornby. He’s in Builders Talk Group, and he posted this very question:

“So how many people run their own company and have lads working for them, but you trust them to do the jobs for you so you can step back a little and have a bit more time to yourself? I don’t mean completely come off jobs. I spend all my time on jobs. And I work after work doing quote and materials and whatever else, so I was thinking once or twice a week to leave them to it and recuperate. Good or bad idea?.”

Fair question. 

There was the usual mixed-bag of responses from everybody ranging from, “You’re an idiot, of course you can do this” to “They always take the piss”, to some good advice about supervising and not being there all the time, and about getting good people and hiring supervisors or at least one. And there are a few people who’ve been burnt trying to do such things, and grow a business like that and said, “You shouldn’t do it”.

I’m a business coach and I help people do exactly this. I help people break through that barrier of how to get off the tools and build a business.

And the real answer is you’re not an idiot for posting this question.

It’s a real frustration that everyone has to deal with. Every trade business owner who wants to grow comes up against this issue. And the grumpy, critical guy who said, “You’re an idiot for even asking” because of course, you can. He also has a point.

It is possible. It’s not doomed to failure. People successfully grow businesses all the time.

Look at Layton’s, Hutchison’s, Pimlico Plumbing and people like that. Whatever you think about my examples, people are building larger scale, trade-related businesses all the time – successfully.

Employees aren’t all sh*t. And if you’re one of these people who has had sh*t employees, either you did something wrong or you were unlucky.

Simplistic fixes like paying people on price-work are not the answer. Better people and hiring better.

Hiring supervisors and splitting your time between supervising and the other business growth work will help you head in the right direction, but they’re not enough on their own.

Recommended Reading: The Trades Business Growth Juggle – What Is It And How Can You Manage It?

The truth is there’s no single answer. Good employees are a great start. But, if all you have is some good trades people, that’s all your business will ever be, a collection of people in the same shirts. They’ll do things their way, to their standards. They’ll be governed by their moods. They’ll make their mistakes. And they’ll have their off days. You won’t be a consistent business.

Good employers and good supervisors are great. But if you would just rely on having some good people, they leave. And if they’re gone, you’ve got nothing. You haven’t built a business. You’ve locked in a temporary alliance that’s working at the moment.

I think you need systems and structure. It’s a watchword for me — systems and structure. You need systems for how you hire good people. You need systems for how you do this job. You need systems for how you supervise this job.

I’ll focus on the work – the trades work. This is the way we do this job. That’s what a system is — a procedure, a written procedure so your guys or girls do this job consistently, the same way. This way you’re more than just some nice people or good trades people, you’re all following the same procedures or processes.

Once you’ve got a system, you need to train everybody in it. You need training so everyone understands what the system is and what they’ve got to do.

You need accountability tools. I really mean checklists, but not necessarily on a clipboard. It’s checklist so they can’t forget to do all the things in the procedure. And you need someone to check that they followed the procedure,  checked the checklist, and checked some other jobs. And you need to check a lot until the new procedure is bedded in and everyone’s used to it. And then, you can step back a bit, and supervise much less.

When the new way starts to become the way we do things around here, when the systems are bedded in, that’s when you can step back. That’s when you can start to scale your business and focus more of your time, on hiring more people, more supervisors, and winning more jobs and doing your marketing better. That is how you scale and grow a business. And a scalable business is a systematised business. It’s made systematic.

I can help. That’s my job.That’s what I do. 

  • I’ll help you and hold you accountable. 

  • I’ll help you make the systems.

  • And I’ll hold you accountable for making the systems for the work of your business

All that stuff is important. So to answer your questions, it’s all that stuff that I just said.

Now, of course that’s where I help. I coach people for a whole year. It’s not a quick process. You don’t just come with a quick answer (and Facebook isn’t the answer on its own either).

Business coaching takes a long time, lasts for a while, and you’re going to implement long-term changes in how you run your business if you want to grow to that next level.

If you want me to help, there are four ways you can engage with me:

  1. Subscribe to these emails and get them once a week in your inbox so you never miss a video from me – click here.

  2. Join the Trades Business Toolshed Facebook Group where you can watch these videos, ask me questions or talk to your peers – click here

  3. Attend my next Tools Down workshop – click here.

  4. Book yourself a 10-minute chat with me. We’ll talk about whether coaching is right for you now and if it is, we’ll go further into the process before you have to make your mind up – click here.

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About the Author

Jon Dale

Jon likes helping business owners and especially owners of trades businesses. Life can be a bit frustrating when you run a business and a trade business can be even more so. Jon reckons this stuff is fixable and that you can fix it by making some fairly simple changes to the way you do things. In fact, he runs a free monthly webinar to help explain the process further of moving your business from manual to scalable.

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