The Seven Essential Systems for a Successful Trade Business
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
It’s true that businesses require different things at the many different stages of their existence. In my first job, the managing director who hired me got replaced after a year by someone better at Managing Directing (that’s what they called it). They meant managing systems and structure and being professional and dignified. The old guy had been a superb salesman but now the business was wanting to play with the big boys and he didn’t fit the bill.
It’s apparently a common thing – startup leaders don’t do so well when their company gets bigger and they often get replaced – you see it on the news, don’t you?
It’s true on a smaller scale for a trade business. You’re probably not going to have the luxury yet of replacing yourself with an experienced general manager but you’re definitely going to have to change the way you run things if you want to grow your business to that magic next level.
When you started the business, your main focus was finding and winning work and doing it. Admin and management of money fitted in around the edges in the evenings or at weekends.
That’s how most trade businesses start off, then you start hiring people – tradespeople and apprentices, maybe someone to help with admin. And you can’t operate in th same fashion any longer. Or if you do, the cracks start to appear.
When you’re paying someone else to do the work rather than doing it yourself, it matters a lot more that you get the quote right. If you’re paying someone and they take longer than you allowed, you can go backwards, quickly.
If there’s no work for the business when it’s just you, it doesn’t matter if you make less money. When you still have to pay your team and for vehicles or premises, having people with no work to do is not good.
Your focus needs to shift. What you do with your week needs to change.
Instead of being closely involved with sales, and with doing jobs (or staying close to jobs to make sure they go well) you have to step back a bit (but not too far).
You have to focus a lot more on building systems and setting up structures for other people to use so they can do their jobs up to a standard you’re happy with, rather than doing lots of things yourself.
I’m fond of saying this;
“When you’re on the tools, all your doing is saving your business $40 an hour”.
“The money is in finding the work for other people to do”.
Now there, I’m referring specifically to being on the tools but the principle applies broadly.
I’ll just qualify my statement quickly.
You can’t take a giant step back and completely change how you operate your business all at once. That would be problematic. You have to do it a bit at a time in a controlled manner.
And what systems and structures would you be building, did you ask?
Well, you need a flow of leads, don’t you? Leads means you can be confident – confident when you’re selling and when some ar***hole says “you’re too expensive” and confident about hiring people and investing in your business.
So you need to build a marketing machine to bring your business these leads. What your marketing machine looks like will depend and what you do, who you do it for and why you’re good. Get in touch if you want more detail. I’ve written a guide (of course) or set up a call and we can have a proper conversation in more detail.
Once you’ve got leads enquiries or quotes or tender opportunities, you need to turn them into jobs.
If marketing is finding work, then sales is winning it. You need to build a sales machine to win work. It needs to be professional and protect your margins, it needs to focus on why you’re good and building a relationship with potential clients, not just on providing a quote.
Once you’ve won a job, someone needs to do it (or some people). You need to build operations machines so other people (not you) can do the work to the right standard – on time, on budget, and without you having to be closely involved, helping.
You need to get paid for the work your business does and pay everyone who needs paying, you need to do all the admin and meet your compliance obligations and you need to manage your money and keep a close eye on your profitability.
This is important and even more so the bigger you grow. You should be profitable on every job and on every tradesperson and every week or every month.
The final thing you need to attend to is your people – you and your team.
You need to manage yourself so you focus on the right work (as I’ve been describing) and so you perform well.
And you need to manage your team so they perform well too. Like the money management, this gets more important as your team grows.
So, if your business has grown and you do good work, you might have done the first part of growing your business properly but it might be time to change how you operate it (and yourself) and start focusing on these systems and structures.
If this is resonating with you, why don’t you get in touch and we’ll think about whether my program is what you need? It might be.
Otherwise, comment ‘STRUCTURES’ for the guide.
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.
2. Join the Trades Business Toolshed Facebook Group where you can watch these videos, ask me questions or talk to your peers.
3. Attend my next Tradie Profit Webinar.
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.
See you later.