For Tradies who do their work on site, remote working is simply not an option. But what about sales and pricing?
Many still insist on surveying a site in person and a face-to-face with customers before quoting.
But what if that way of getting work suddenly becomes a lot harder - or even impossible?
Whether you’re seeing it happen in your field, or not yet, there’s a good chance you will, sooner or later. In fact, it’s already happening.
In some cases, businesses have opted to do this to gain the advantage of speed and convenience over their competition. In a lot of cases, it also lowers the cost of acquiring new hobs too.
But right now, with the COVID pandemic still with us, at least in parts of the country, there’s a growing list of customer types who want to strictly limit their contact with people.
In fact, some experts are predicting things will never return to normal.
In today’s environment, having 3 or 4 unknown tradespeople turn up to their premises to quote can definitely seem way too risky.
For instance, the following groups:
All those add up to a shrinking market and less work for Tradies, who can’t or won’t, price up a job without a site visit.
If that sounds a bit like you - we suggest it might be time for a rethink. Or at least to think about a Plan B in case you suddenly need it.
The good news is, for many businesses, it’s more feasible to develop a remote quoting process than owners may realise. But in most cases, it will call for doing things differently and maybe focusing more on certain types of work.
8 - 10 years ago, almost all rooftop solar sales were closed on the back of a site visit from a qualified electrician.
There are still plenty of solar installers who insist on doing this. But there’s growing number in Australia who open and close a high portion of their sales over the phone, without ever visiting the installation site.
This trend has been made possible by a few things:
Remote sales has also allowed businesses to scale by easing staffing problems.
It delegates the sales process to trained tele-sales staff, who don’t need formal trade qualifications.
At the same time, it makes better use of the qualified installation teams who cost more to employ and are harder to find and keep.
Another massive advantage of remote quoting is the way it shortens your sales cycle.
Getting hold of a customer on the phone, or by email, is a lot easier than all the farting about required to fix up a visiting time that suits both parties.
It can literally cut weeks off the time it takes to get the green light on a job and collect a deposit.
Up against competition that still does things the old-school way, remote pricing can mean signing the customer up before the rest have even had a chance to quote.
Just keep this exercise hypothetical for now. The imagination tends to work better when there’s no stress.
Have a think about what a totally remote sales would look like for your business:
Maybe you think you could make the switch to 100% remote selling, maybe you don’t.
Either way, creating a structured sales process, of some sort, will contribute greatly to your financial stability and your ability to grow.
Safe to say, every trade business we’ve ever worked with over the last 20 years has found it moves the needle for them.
One of the major benefits of a structured sales process is that it makes sales revenues more predictable. When you can predict your revenues - both you and your bank manager will be able to look at your future growth potential with a lot more confidence.
If you’d like to know more about creating a structured sales process, head over to our new private Facebook group and join it.
We run regular sales training workshops for Tradies online and off. Some free, some for a fee.
We’ll post news about upcoming trainings in the group.
We Did it Again: Business Excellence Conference Asia Pacific - Best Client Results 2018-2019.
Winning awards as business coaches has never been a driving reason to get us out of bed of a morning.
It’s always been about the results we get for our clients. Life changing improvements to their businesses in terms of money, reduced stress and free time. That’s what we live for. And it’s what people pay us for.
But when we do pick up an award for best client results in a league with some heavyweight competition, it’s a nod from our peers that we’re doing the right thing.
Talking about our award is not something we do just to big note ourselves and try to impress prospective clients. After all, if you don’t know anything about the ActionCOACH community it may not mean much to you at all.
But it is relevant to those of you who’ve done us the honour of choosing us to coach you.
The fact is, anyone who’s worked with us, or considered it, knows we put them under pressure to change the way they do things.
As your business coaches we make challenging demands of you. We often make you feel uncomfortable and sometimes overwhelmed. Inevitably at those times some start to question whether the direction we’re asking them to take will really get them results.
So when we tell you we won an award for best overall client results among all our peers in the Asia Pacific Region - it’s a way of proving our stuff really works. And saying, if you stick with our methods, they really will get you the results you want.
This year’s win at the Asia Pacific 2019 Business Excellence Awards in Vietnam came as a very pleasant surprise.
Confident as we were our clients had done well, no one besides us has won the award twice in a row. We’d already won the award for 3 years running, so it seemed a long shot.
But we did win it again. This time now, for the fourth year back to back.
So we didn’t just get lucky last year with a couple of star clients, or the years before that. 4 years in a row says we’re on to something and being consistent. We’re getting the same sort of results for different clients year in year out.
Here are a few examples of client financial results that helped us over the winning line.
Along with many examples of financial gains like these, we also helped many, many clients simply improve their lifestyles by systemising their businesses.
The big lifestyle payoff in most cases has been that they have more time to spend with their families and can take real holidays for the first time in years.
One client took 4 months off to spend with his family, while his business ran perfectly well in his absence. Numerous others have taken multiple month long vacations while their businesses have continued to thrive in their absence.
So if you’re struggling with a business that’s not giving you the results you want - maybe underpaying you or taking all your time here’s a simple truth.
However hard it feels right now - there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Whether or not you can see that light today makes no difference.
As your business coaches we know where the light is for a struggling business and exactly how to get there. We’ve been proving that for years.
Follow our methods, do the work and we promise you’ll get the outcome you seek, whether that’s more money, a better lifestyle, or both.
If you’re a already an Action Centre client, do you know anyone who could use our help? If so please share this article with them and let them know how we’ve helped you.
If you’re not a client and would like to find out how we can help you, drop us a line and we’ll be glad to explain how we work.
Jack and Linda were pretty much like most tradies that I have met. They worked hard, did the best on each job they were called out to, tidied up after themselves, and had a good service relationship with their customers. They had a couple of small customers and one major customer who brought in the majority of their income. That was the problem. They had a lot of their eggs tied up in this major customer’s basket. Didn’t matter that they kept their end up and turned up 24/7 for problems to fix. What happened with Jack was his major customer didn’t treat his company with the same level of consideration.
The issue Jack’s business had was that the major customer didn’t pay Jack’s company at the time they said they would. And, to top it off, when they did pay (months late!), they would call Linda up to try to get a lower the price. Why? Because they knew they were the biggest customer to Jack and Linda’s business.
I don’t know about you, but when Jack and Linda told me about their situation, I was thinking how none of it was making any sense. Anyway, I put that thought aside for a minute, and It wasn’t long in the conversation before we talked about other plumbing businesses and trades. Jack said that most tradies quote on a job, do the service, and when there’s changes, the cost to the customer is a bit more. That’s what usually happens right? Not in this Jack’s case which is why I wanted to share his story in my blog.
There are times when small business owners get stuck in a situation or an awkward position then believe it’s happening “to them” or it’s out of their control (we’ve all been there). Plus, both Jack and Linda are reasonable people, and even with their level of patience, it didn’t change the fact that having fees negotiations months after a job was done was very frustrating. So when I started coaching them, it was up to me to come up with ways to help them believe something different could be done about their situation.
Firstly, let me say that difficult situations don’t last forever. What they do show us is that they can be looked on as opportunities for us to change. Secondly, people have choices. Jack and Linda could pick up new tactics to use, keep servicing the major customer and not lose out on income or damage their customer relationships.
What kind of tactics were used?
Apart from a change in thinking there was a truck load of learning new skills. I wanted to make sure they get paid for a job that was agreed on without Linda negotiating too hard or taking a hit when it came to debt collection time. So it was time to skill them up and get them ready.
The first thing we did was work out what was unique about their business and what “niche” they could “own” in the market. Once that was worked out, we change the business name and the marketing that went along with it. They were no longer “Jack and Linda Inc” they had a new business name, which wasn’t their family name and it reflected their new direction to attract the customers they were great at servicing. Putting a few of their eggs out of the major customer basket and chasing some new baskets was the aim of the game. Reinventing and repositioning the business went really well. They did get some great new customers out of their new marketing activity.
Next, Jack continued to be on site and manage his team while Linda got stuck into the workshops that I had designed for them. Linda learned all about pushing her marketing dollar further, mastering her finances to find hidden profits, how to hire good talent into her team. She found out that she liked learning new things and was a good student too (I took some of the workshops she went to and she either had her hand up, asked questions or was furiously writing away in her notebook).
Linda called me up to book herself into the next workshop (Team building I think it was) and told me she started night school to learn more about estimating. I even received an email from her shortly after to ask me a question about what she read in her other class on tender writing course!! Not bad for a mum of three school age kids.
Did we manage to get their major customer under control? Yes we did.
I helped them implement the most efficient job estimating system into the business for all their customers. For their major client, they had one (last) set of negotiations that got them a signed service pricing schedule on all the works they do for them. All estimates to their customers are itemised and signed off before the work commences and have strict payment terms. Any late payers are are chased up by an external group if they appear on their red-light debtors report.
The changes in their business were simple and easy to do. It sounded like Linda had to learn everything but that’s Linda. Reading loads of things might not be something that you like to do personally, but someone in your business might be good at it. Jack was happy that Linda took that on and helped the business while he was out managing the team. Everyone’s dynamics are different and I worked with business owners who have completely different learning styles and get the same results. It all comes down to attitude. Jack’s attitude was consistent. He enjoyed his job and loved his business. Linda liked numbers and calling in the jobs for the team. They both liked helping with other people and worked hard to support themselves and the families of the tradies that worked for them.
I caught up with them the other day to see how they were getting on it was on a Friday afternoon. They put on a barbeque at their head office for the all staff - it was great! For people who looking after others every single day, with my coaching I managed to look after them for a change.
Navigating the world of a business' accounts means that Business Leaders will invariably be asked to read through a Profit and Loss Statement (P&L). At this point, it’s worth remembering that amongst the jargon of accounting, there are two central reports in business - the pinnacle of Profit which is the P&L Statement and its companion - the Balance Sheet which reflects the cash position of a business, because we all know that Cash is King.
Therefore the P&L statement is representative of the efforts a business makes in order to reach a profit from the total number of sales transactions it has made over a given period of time. The P&L will show total sales minus expenses i.e. cost of goods and other costs related to the production of the good or service1. This may mean that after those deductions are made, there is a “Profit” appearing on the P&L Statement.
Why isn’t there any cash in the bank?
There are a few reasons why there isn’t any actual cash materialising in the business. The P&L doesn’t reflect all uses of cash2 and therefore it won’t be clear from just that one report why the business doesn’t hold those funds.
A good place to understand the cash position of a business after reading a P&L is on the Balance Sheet. This will provide valuable information on financial position of a business in a given time period.
For example a loan repayment may only appear in part on the P&L and similarly, any fixed assets such as capital equipment, won’t appear on the P&L either. In fact, fixed assets won’t appear on the P&L at all. Those items will be recorded on the Balance Sheet. That’s why the two reports work best together rather than in isolation of each other. When they are used together it may be found that the cost of loans and assets on the Balance Sheet has exceed the profit made on the P&L, which means that, at the end of the day, the business has made a loss and not a gain.
Another good example where there actually is cash in the business but it hasn’t materialised is when the business has sent all invoices to their customers but the customer has not paid them. An accumulation of unpaid customer invoices may represent a figure as high (or higher) than $100,000 in a given period. Unpaid invoices appear as a “debtor” and in some cases these debts can sit in the business ledger for over 120 days uncollected. This is becomes a serious problem in businesses where the terms of payment may be as short as 14 days from the date of issue.
Information on a Balance Sheet
A business’ Balance Sheet will show the financial position of the company from the point of view of its assets and liabilities. Here is where a Business Leader will see actual cash in the bank, debts owed to the business, stocks/shares, capital investments (equipment, buildings, acquisitions) and liabilities which may include creditors, loans and overdrafts. Providing a clear reconciliation of funds works best when the Balance Sheet (financial position) is reviewed alongside the P&L (sales position).
Build an “all-in” list of expenses
In the event that the report that a Business Leader is currently receiving hasn’t captured all expenses, implement a priority project within the business to itemise all the expenses. Once those are understood, the accountant or financial manager can re-run all the business P&L and Balance Sheet numbers. Allocating the expenses to the appropriate report.
Clarity in accounting is paramount to steering any business forward and having a comprehensive P&L and Balance Sheet report will provide solid ground to work on.