Technology-Worker-Tablet

Technology-based Systems— a new road to profitability

Technology has come a long way over the decades. It provides many options to allow contractors to better master their business. Almost every aspect of a contracting company can be systemized using technology of some sort.

Back in the day, there were far fewer tools to help you do daily work tasks. It was a lot more grit, brain power, and hands-on work to get the job done. It required working long days including evenings and weekends, immense stress due to keeping it all in your own head, and a tired body from always being on the go.

It doesn’t have to be that way anymore. Let’s compare:

THEN: picture the contractor who used a dull pencil and wrinkled papers crammed into an overstuffed folder to organize their day, keep their team accountable, hire new employees, and track their profits. Chaotic, right?

VS.

NOW: picture the contractor who uses a smartphone and tablet to systemize many aspects of their business; no mess, just a piece of technology tucked into their work pants, ready to tackle the day at the click of a button. Easy, right?

While there’s nothing wrong with using ‘old school’ methods to run and systemize a contracting business, it can create a bit of chaos if not done properly. Let’s face it, working solely on paper and in your own head can be tough— and lead to missed opportunities, and chaos in the office and job site.

Instead of sorting through dozens of papers scattered all throughout the company van, why not use a digital app to keep you organized and the company systemized?

 

“Almost every aspect of a contracting company can be systemized using technology of some sort.”

 

There are many examples of what technology can do for us:

Organizing our time: now we have Google Calendar, Self Control – one example of a free apps that can block distracting websites from you during the workday, and the ability to set reminders on our phone. After all, why keep all your daily tasks in your own head when you can see them in front of so that you never miss a beat?

Keeping our team accountable: now we have digital checklists connected to mobile apps for employees to use such as the free online tool Trello. We also have software that can track your teams’ work hours such as ExakTime. Why just assume your team is working efficiently without you being there— know for sure so that you’re paying your crew for the time and effort they truly put in.

Hiring new employees: now we have the Internet and plenty of sites to help us find the perfect candidates for a job opening. Kijiji, Craigslist, Indeed, Monster, and Workopolis to name a few. Why just post the print ad on your office window and hope people will drop by— post it everywhere so you get more opportunities to work with only the best.

Tracking profits: Now we can hire employees to use QuickBooks or put together easy-to-read spreadsheets in order to stay on top of our financials. Why just hope for profits when we can plan for them?

 

At Profit For Contractors, we understand the struggle of keeping it all in your own head and not having the time to look for technological tools to help you better organize and systemize your business. It’s why we’d like to help you.

On our upcoming FREE webinar: “Systems & Procedures to Help you get CONTROL of your Business” we’re discussing the top systems contractors are using to maximize profits, get control of their teams, and get time back. It’s happening Tuesday, April 25th, 11:00am EST. Save your spot today by clicking here.

 

If you have any questions contact us at support@profitforcontractors.com or give us a call at 1-613-604-4531.

How Types of Work will Affect your Profits

What do you believe to be the most rewarding thing about owning your own business?

Is it getting to choose the employees that work for you? Is it the culture you get to create? Is it the freedom of leaving early on a Friday just because you can?

If you’re thinking right now, “I don’t get any of those things from my business!” Then keep on reading in order to find out why.

Here at Profit for Contractors, we teach business owners of the trades about the 3 important pillars that construct any contracting business: Time & Team, Profits & Cash Flow, and Marketing & Sales.

Which pillar do you feel carries the most weight?

You got it— PROFITS & CASH FLOW.

There’s no way you’ll have the ideal staff if you don’t have the means of paying for someone with experience. There’s no way you’ll get to run a business with the culture you desire if you’re always scrambling to get things done and scraping up pennies just to make it to the next month. And there’s certainly no way you’ll be able to take off a few hours on a Friday if you’re behind on getting paid and unsure you’re profitable on the jobs you’re currently running.

Unfortunately, cash is king. That’s something we have to always remember when it comes to running our own business.

Maximizing profits allows us to create a business that essentially acts as the vehicle to pay for our freedom.

 

Here are some top reasons why maximizing profits is so important for a business:

1) You can pay other people to do the things that are out of your pay grade

2) There’s less stress weighing down on you not only at work, but at home

3) Less time you have to spend at work evenings and weekends

4) You get to pay yourself more

5) You can afford to put systems in place to automate your business

6) You can grow the value of your business

 

Now, who doesn’t want to increase their profits?

But here’s a question for you: do you test and measure the different types of work you do in order to know which are the most profitable and which are the least profitable?

Here’s an example: Let’s say you do residential, industrial, and commercial work.

You make 10% gross profits on residential, 20% gross profits on industrial, and 30% gross profits on commercial work.

You would have to generate 50% more sales in residential just to make the same profits as you do in industrial, and you would have to get 100% more residential work in order to make the same profits as industrial.

 

Think about the effects of having to increase your sales by 50%-100% just to make the same profits:

  • You would have to quote more
  • Your overhead would go up because you have to do more work (more crews, more material)
  • The amount of time to manage the jobs goes through the roof
  • More work typically means more call backs (requiring more of your time and more arguments amongst the crew)
  • Your cash flow tanks because as we know, you have to pay for your material and pay your guys before yourself
  • You overall risk more

When you focus on getting the types of work done that are most profitable, you flip every one of these negative effects around and start to build a business that maximizes its profits.

 

Here’s how:

STEP 1) List the types of work you do

STEP 2) Get your bookkeeper and admin person to systemize the paperwork coming in from the crews, so that the material and labour for each type of work are separated

STEP 3) Determine the gross profit average for each type of work

STEP 4) Inform your sales and marketing team that you need to create a new marketing plan to land more of the higher profit jobs

STEP 5) Put the plan into action!

 

Focusing in on the most profitable types of work can be a game changer for your business. Just remember that every day is a chance to maximize profits, or lose them. Your job as the owner is to ensure that every type of work your team does, maximizes profits with the least amount of effort.

Keep in mind; this is just 1 method of many in regards to maximizing your profits.

You can have the freedom you desire, you just have to do the right work for it.

 

If you want more information about this topic, or have any questions about the services we offer, please visit us at profitforcontractors.com or send us an email at support@profitforcontractors.com

 

4 Core Signs you’re Playing to your Employees Strengths

Some people are great at a variety of things. Some people are great at just a few things.

Some people are ‘naturals’; they’re good at just about everything they lay their hands on— but that doesn’t necessarily mean they enjoy doing it.

Even though these people can do just about any and all tasks, I wouldn’t consider most of them their strengths, and that’s because it may be draining to them— stressful, energy-sucking, difficult, you name it.

If you can recognize the true strengths in your team members, you can play them to the best of their abilities and it’d only be beneficial to not only them, but to you and the business as well.

You have to claim your strengths and recognize the signs that define a strength. If we can apply this to ourselves, we can easily apply this to our team. If we can find things we’re good at— that also ‘fuel our tank’, you’ll have a lot more success. And it’ll be a lot easier to move forward in strengthening your business.

There are four core signs, or emotions if you will, to knowing something is truly a strength:

1. Success—

When you do the activity you feel effective and you feel in control. This is where you feel self-sufficient— you can work on your own and know you’ll rock it every time.

2. Instinct—

When you go to do the activity, you look forward to doing it. You’ve got this natural ability for doing this task or activity.

3. Growth—

While you’re working on it, you’ll be very focused and you may lose track of time, because you’ve just lost yourself in the task… in a good way, because you’re keen to learn the task or activity.

4. Needs—

After you’re done the activity, even if you feel drained, you feel fulfilled.

It’s important to understand this because when we get so busy in our work, we sometimes define what we’re good at based upon results. Or we may do the same with our team members.

How many times do owners promote a team member and have them resign within only a few months? How many times does a person land a new position, who’s capable of these higher-value tasks, but in just a few months their performance fails drastically?

Perhaps it wasn’t because these people couldn’t do the jobs, but that the job required them to constantly do tasks and activities that didn’t play to their strengths— it became draining and unfulfilling to them.

You can’t make a weakness a strength— you can help diminish the weakness, and make certain daunting tasks and activities less so, but it’ll never be a natural or true strength.

So how can we minimize our weakness?

1. Stop doing it— team up or delegate the task or activity to others, if possible.

2. Defaulting your time— fill your day with your strengths and gain your energy from those tasks so that when you must handle a task or activity that is your weakness, you don’t get completely overwhelmed in your day.

3. Change your lens of strength— change your perspective on the matter, because sometimes you may think an entire task or activity is your weakness, but in reality only one small aspect or detail is. i.e.: You hate confrontation and arguments with clients or coworkers, but love research, problem-solving, and asking questions. So next time you find yourself in an argument, take it upon yourself to ask a lot of questions in order to solve the problem, and play it from a different angle.

Now that you have better knowledge on strengths and weaknesses in the work place, it’s time to step back and evaluate your team members.

So for example, instead of focusing on your ‘Employee A’ as being lazy because they constantly forget to fill in their paperwork, take it upon yourself to make this something positive. Play with your strengths, and help them diminish their weakness. If you love playing the role of leader and love the task of being educator, then this is a perfect opportunity to dig deep and explain why this is important and go over how to do the task once more.

Why Defining a Workplace Culture is so Important

“Why should I have written rules and practices in my business? Shouldn’t every employee know not to smoke on the job site, be 5 minutes early to every shift, and know not to wear stained jeans and a ripped t-shirt when meeting with a customer?”

Sadly, no, that’s not always the case. Especially in the trades industry— let’s be real here.

Written rules and unspoken practices must be set in place within your business. You need to set order and structure within your walls so that every team member is on the same page and working well with one another.

As business owner, you have to determine the ‘personality’ of your business. Establish the values, beliefs, and habits you want your team to follow and be on board with. Every business owner will have a slightly different work culture— formed from their own interests, experience on the tools, and things they find important.

The two main reasons you want an established work culture are:

  1. Because everything you and your team does determines how you come across to customers!
  2. Because when everyone is following the same rules and practices, people work better together!

From day one, each new employee needs to be shown the work culture and told how things are run, so that everyone is operating on the same level. It’s important that you hire people that’ll be a good cultural fit with your company.

It’s a lot harder to start changing and implementing work culture 20 years in, but it can be done. Unfortunately some team members just might not make the cut— it’s a sacrifice you may have to make in order to maintain a strong team and professional image.

Some common examples of work culture rules could include:

  • Shaking hands when greeting people, and not interrupting others when they’re speaking
  • Being professional on all communication fronts: in-person, in emails, in written letters, etc.
  • Being punctual, dependable, and respectful
  • Being well-groomed and following the dress code
  • Not swearing or smoking on job sites
  • Following company procedures

One thing to keep in mind is that a positive work culture will always give the best results. As business owner, you too have to follow these rules and treat everyone with respect and realize that everyone is important to your business and has the potential to grow.

A work culture won’t be maintained if it’s unrealistic and you don’t follow the practices yourself, because team members will pick up on that quickly and soon go about their day in their own way—causing chaos, a lack of structure, and an unprofessional image.

If you need help defining your work culture, or have questions based on this subject, don’t hesitate to book in a quick chat with us by clicking here.

1st Live Workshop of the Year a Success!

Over 40 contractors and their team members from around Ontario and Quebec stepped away from their job sites, projects, and offices yesterday, Tuesday, March 22nd, to take part in our Marketing & Sales Live Workshop. After 2 months of planning and preparing for the event, I taught the crowd how to better their contracting business through proven strategies, tools, and templates.

My brother, Robert Houston of Rep Tradie, was our guest speaker, and explained to everyone the importance of reputation marketing, the rise in technology and its power, and the effect it could have on your contracting business— both good and bad, and how to deal with it and use it to your advantage.

Members of Boone Plumbing and Heating Inc. were in attendance and had a major role in promoting the Live Workshop. Jiffy Print and Photo provided all Sales Kit examples that included door hangers, lawn signs, posters, and postcard examples that were used during our presentation. A huge thank you goes out to these two amazing companies!

With a room full of different tradespeople, the day was full of networking, learning how to improve a business, and laughs— it was certainly a memorable day for me, and we can’t wait to provide you more great strategies and lessons in our next event, the ‘Chaos to Control’ online workshop happening April 19th 9-10:30am.

The Boone Academy

The Boone Academy

We are pleased to announce a new line of training available to our clients this year. We have paired up with local company Boone Plumbing and Heating Ltd. to provide you in-depth training on how to enhance your contracting company.

Together, we have one goal: to help as many tradesmen better their business as possible. To help them earn more time back for their families, to make more money, and to make it easier for them to run their business versus it running them.

Starting January 2016, each quarter, for two consecutive months there will be one online workshop a month, and the third month will be a live workshop held at the Nepean Sportsplex. This process repeats each quarter.

Topics will be specific to our 3 core pillars— applicable to any contracting business: Time and Team, Profit and Cashflow, and Sales and Marketing. You’ll notice these topics will be in sync with our seasons and the reason behind teaching topics at specific times of year is so that they can be as beneficial to you as possible— something you can take and apply to your business right away.

Look out for our invites either online or in-store through the Boone Academy.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. Otherwise, look out for upcoming events on our Home Page.

Why Marketing?

“Why Marketing?”

If you’re currently in a slow slump; not getting enough leads resulting in no new customers, then listen up.

Small business owners, particularly contractors like yourself, wear many hats— working multiple positions and running many tasks simultaneously, which can be the main reason as to why you don’t have a marketing plan carved out already.

Many of you have put in the time, energy, and money into marketing but saw no difference in cash flow.

Small business owners state the following as their biggest hurdle for getting results from their marketing efforts:

  • The economy is slow
  • Lack a marketing budget
  • Lack knowledge of marketing
  • Don’t have the time
  • Are confused by the (sometimes) conflicting information out there

These are valid reasons as to why you don’t have a great marketing plan, but it doesn’t mean that’s the end all be all. It doesn’t have to be hard. You can create a marketing plan that attracts clients even in the toughest of times.

The secret to making marketing easy is to:

  • Immerse yourself in your customers world— try to put yourself in their shoes so you get the message across most effectively.
  • Uncover your customers pains, struggles, worries and concerns to leverage your unique ways to assisting these people.
  • Find out where your potential customers hang out (on and offline) so that you can find the right channels to get your message across. (Grocery store bulletins, Sports centre entrance ways, on Facebook, on Linked In, at home looking at flyers and newspapers, etc.)
  • Learn to test and measure so that you know where to apply your marketing budget. (Everything is trial and error at first, and that’s okay!)

Take the time to discover your ideal market— learn the systems and methods that will get you more clients, higher profits, and time for life outside your business. Knowing your marketing problems and seeking out solutions is the first step to achieving success!

If you need help with your marketing and getting more leads, then click here have a chat with us.

Top 5 Areas to Master as the Business Leader

Join Profit For Contractors June 27, 2017, at 11:00am EST for a FREE Leadership & Communication Webinar! Click HERE to register.

In order to master your business, you need to master a few things as leader and business owner. Keep in mind, being adaptable and open to change is key for any business owner in order to see positive change and growth.

Here are the 5 areas to focus on in order to better yourself and your business this year:

1. Master your Teams 

A happy team is a productive team. Ensure everyone understands the common goal of your business. Tell them the values you hold, and the environment you wish everyone to work in. Ensure there’s open communication and that you take the time to reward your employees for their great work.

2. Master your Money 

The strategies you have in dealing with money will either make or break profitability, thus affecting how long you will be in business. Have plans for budgets and auditing account receivables so that you can avoid any problems with your cash flow. You should constantly be adapting to pricing increase.  

3. Master your Marketing 

In order to offer value beyond just price, you should be focusing on the customer themselves. Know their values and trigger points— what’s truly important to them and why. Master how to increase conversion rate, the number of transactions and the margins of each sale so that you can maximize profits. Never forget up-selling and cross-selling.

4. Master Technology

Technology doesn’t have to be complicated— embrace it as it’s the way of the future. When used correctly, it can help you stay organized and better on top of tasks as well as make them easier. Find tools that have a positive affect on your profits such as tools to systemize account receivables.

5. Master Self-Growth

As a business owner, you want to invest in learning so that you can stop constantly making the same mistakes. You don’t necessarily have to seek formal education, but you should want to seek answers to your biggest business problems.

Passion alone will not lead to profits, but knowledge will get you to a path of better understanding your business because you’ll be focusing on the important questions and tasks, resulting in better decisions and actions. When you are a business owner, think like a leader, not as an employee.

Change won’t happen overnight— it’s going to take some planning, searching, teaching, and learning. But nothing will change for the better if you never start.

Join Profit For Contractors June 27, 2017, at 11:00am EST for a FREE Leadership & Communication Webinar! Click HERE to register.

5 Apps to Maintain Control and Save you Time

It’s the day and age of technology, so why not use it to your advantage? Sure, learning how to use a new app or computer program may sound daunting, but it’s very much worth the efforts. The reason these apps were created for your industry is to SAVE you TIME, and to help you MAINTAIN CONTROL.

Here’s 5 amazing apps currently on the market that can truly change the way you run your business:

1) Jobber App

You’re already busy enough with managing your projects and team. When you add administrative work to the mix, you’re working overtime, correct? Save time in your day with Jobber. https://getjobber.com/industries/general-contracting/

  • Batch Invoicing
  • QuickBooks or Xero Syncing
  • Scheduling
  • Route Optimization
  • Drag-and-Drop Calendar
  • Financial Reporting
  • Invoice Templates
  • Expense/Payment Tracking

2) ExakTime App

Does your service crew get to the office to fill out their paperwork after 6-8 hours running calls? Are their often mistakes and unhappy customers because they make mistakes on monitoring their time? Not any more with ExakTime. http://www.exaktime.com/solutions/time-clocks/exaktime-mobile/

  • Crew & Cost Code Tracking
  • Field Notes
  • GPS
  • ID Confirmation of crew members
  • Team View Map

3) JoistApp App

Constantly working over time in order to get paperwork done? With Joist, you can tackle everything from the job site or in the truck in order to get it done right away. This allows for less mistakes and things to be forgotten. https://www.joistapp.com/

  • Estimates
  • Invoices
  • Management

4) FieldLens App

Do you struggle to communicate with your team while they’re out on job sites? FieldLens App allows you to control your team and projects from a distance— so that you can focus on your own important tasks. http://fieldlens.com/

  • Reporting
  • QA/QC
  • Punch List
  • Safety
  • Manpower
  • Realtime Project Communication
  • Audit Trail
  • Progress Photos and Videos
  • Integrations

5) Tradies App

Are you struggling with creating your own forms, templates, and paperwork? Fear no more. Tradies is a mobile tool that provides you with quick solutions to all the paperwork forms you may need in your day. They also provide tons of support through how-to videos on their website. http://www.contractorsapps.com/our-apps/tradies

  • Site Diary
  • Change Orders/Variations
  • Quotes
  • Invoicing
  • Toolbox Talk
  • Meeting Minutes
  • Request for Information
  • Sub-Contractor Agreements
  • Tender Request
  • Estimate
  • Backcharge Notive
  • Purchase Order
  • Site Instructions
  • Extension of Time.

Stop drowning yourself in paperwork, and start saving time by investing into an app built for your industry! These apps provide automation in your business operations that will help you to systemize and get back control. Find an app that suits you and your business best so that you can start getting time back to spend with your family and work on bettering your business.

4 Tips for How Contractors Can Best Communicate Price Increases to Their Customers

Unfortunately, not everything is within your control. You know that if your suppliers raise their prices, product price goes up, and what you charge your customers will have to too in order to maintain profits, or worse, take from your own pockets.

You’ll probably want to offer up dozens of discounts in other areas in order to maintain clients, but bending over backwards like this can be just as damaging to you and your business than outright telling your customers, like a cold slap in the face, that there’s going to be a price increase.

There’s got to be a good middle ground!

Here are 4 tips that will help you make the transition:

1) Know the ‘secret psychology’ of your customers. What is important to your customers beyond just price? It could be family safety, cleanliness, timeliness, amazing craftsmanship, professionalism, etc. When you go to your customers, keep in mind the key elements that make you and your company unique and better than the competition, in order to keep your customers.

2) Provide them the information ahead of time. Whether it’s online through blogs or social media, through personal email, or in-person, write about the fluctuations in the economy, talk about suppliers costs going up, and discuss seasonal changes and their effects on a contracting businesses— explain the what, who, when, how, and why. If you’re able to have an informal conversation relevant to price increases ahead of time, it lessens the blow for when it comes time to tell your customers prices are going up.

3) Practice having this conversation in a team meeting. Grab not only your sales and marketing team, but everyone you can! The more people that practice and know what they’re talking about, the better. Enough practice leads to a conversation that truly sounds authentic (because even if it really is, it can sometimes come off as an act to your customers; they’re smart and know what sounds valuable.)

4) Don’t get intimidated. There will always be customer’s that push back and argue over everything. Does that mean you should offer up dozens of discounts in other areas to please them? Not necessarily. Does that mean you should cave and maintain price just for them? No. Does it mean you should offer up a lower quality service or product in order to keep them? Not recommended. The thing is, you most likely will lose a few customers— these are customers we classify as ‘D’s as they only care about winning best price. In a professional, polite way, you must explain in detail why prices are increasing and how it’s important, as well as why they should stick with you (reflecting back on the ‘secret psychology’ and your practice conversations.)

When it comes down to it, telling customers your prices are increasing is never easy. Showing value to your customers in other areas, is. Rating clients accordingly will allow you to determine which clients can be offered specific discounts or deals, and which will be content with a polite explanation of the situation. If you’re curious about the ‘secret psychology’ of customers or how to rate your customers from class A-D and what that means, we have specific tools to help. Click here for a chat with Andrew to find out more.

All the best, Profit for Contractors.