Recruiting – Using your team in the process

Recruiting Using Your Team

Getting Your Existing Employees To Help

This is my final recruiting tip I’ve got for small business owners that like to do the recruiting themselves.
A lot of it is geared around getting buy-in from the candidate applying and saving your time through the interview process. And this final one is saving your time in the interview process, the final interview.

After The Group Interview

After you’ve already done a group thing and they already understand all about the company and the culture and the role and their expectations and they’re still interested. They’ve also done the group questionnaire and you’ve asked them a whole bunch of questions and they’ve sent it back to you.

You understand if they can read and write and articulate themselves and spell and things like that. So this is the final interview, which does need you, as the owner, time to spend with them and get into them.

But prior to you doing that, throw them your team, because at the end of the day, they’re the people that are going to work with them. You need your team to buy in on this applicant and make sure they think he’s going to be a good fit and he’s going to work. And I can tell you that very quickly, they will tell you if it’s not going to work, if they don’t want to work with him or they’re not going to have the skills or they’re worried about it and the like.

Team Players

Throw them to your team and get your team to do the thumbs-up and make sure they’re happy with this person. Then you, as the owner, dig in and do the final interview.

So that’s my tip. Hope it works for you. I found that in the past, that it’s a real winner to get the whole team on board to help train and get behind this guy and including him in the business. So I thoroughly recommend using your team with every interview that you do.

I hope that helps you out, and good luck for all your recruiting needs.

Recruiting – Questionnaires? Better employees!

Recruiting better employees

Recruiting Better Employees – Ask A Lot Of Questions

I’ve got another recruiting tip for you, following on from the last one. This tip I find really helps you understand the candidate… better than you would otherwise.   I usually like to use it in the case where you’re doing a group interview, but it doesn’t have to be. It could be beforehand or after, or just even if it’s a one-on-one candidate of application.

It is having a questionnaire, or having something that you get the candidate to feel out, and make him do some work. That’s the basis of it, to make him do some work so you can really dig in and find out more about them:

  • why they’re leaving their last job?
  • what’s the sort of work they like?
  • why they’re applying?
  • why they’re a good fit for your business?

which means they have to go and do some homework, and look at your website and understand more about it.

Candidates Revealing Themselves

They could look at all your social media, and even to a greater extent find some of your suppliers or customers if they’re that motivated. But having a questionnaire that they have to fill out means that you can get much more information about them so you can ask a lot of questions and make them do some work, give them a bit of a hurdle that means that they’ve got to do something rather than just applying.  This is a great one, especially for lower level employees.

For example, trades or apprentices or admin staff and positions like that. So that’s my tip, make sure you have a questionnaire, you make them fill it out, they do it in handwriting, so you can actually see if they can write, you can see if they can spell. You can see how long it takes them. Do they use lots of words? Do they use few words, because different roles will require some of those skills. 

I hope that’s a good tip for you. If you need an example of a questionnaire, I can probably help you out there. But even if you just make it up yourself, that is also certainly okay. Develop a questionnaire for when you’re recruiting and use that before you do the final interview.

Recruiting – saves hours of resume reading

group intewrviews

How Group Interviews Can Help

What I’m just realising is that several businesses I’m working with are recruiting. No surprise really, they’re growing and changing their business, they need new staff, but I’ve been going through recruiting systems with three separate businesses and I uncover the same sorts of things.

Every time we start talking about recruiting, business owners’ grump and they go:

  • oh dear this is going to be a pain,
  • it takes a long time,
  • I’m already busy, and
  • they’re not very good anyway

I’ve got a few tips to try and nail some of those excuses or issues that business owners have when they’re doing recruiting themselves.

Filtering Applicants

The first one is the time it takes to interview people. In short, I’m a big, big fan of having a group interview because when it comes down to it, you put the net out there and you might get 50 or 70 applicants and you might want to invite a dozen or so into an interview.

Whichever way you look at it, if you have to read 10 resumes and then talk to 10 on the telephone it’s a lot of time, it’s a killer effect and it’s the same stuff with every single one.  You’re talking about the culture of the business and what you do and what the role is about and the expectations are and why you’re doing it and it’s the same for every business owner, every prospect employee that you’re talking to.

How do you save that time and the answer is do a group interview. Set the time a couple weeks out, meet at your office or workshop at 5:30 p.m. one night.
You can just stand up and answer all their questions and talk to them about everything you’d say, the same things you say to every single person who applied.

It’s a big benefit in that, it saves you lots and lots of time and you quickly understand or realise which ones are good and not good as well. Then the ones that are good stand out which will probably end up being like one, two, or three, and then you’ll look at their resumes and call them up and invite them back in. So there’s huge value, can’t recommend it more highly, use a group interview it’s just fantastic. Hope that’s a great tip that’ll help you. See you then.

When to review new employees

Dealing With New Staff

Recently I’ve done a lot of videos about recruiting for small businesses who want to do it themselves. This is a little tip to, I guess, set expectations with your new employee about how you’re going to review them and what you’re going to do in the next three months. Because of course, they’ve taken a risk, left their job and come and joined your business and now they are sweating on this three month probation period.

What I do on the first week along with the onboarding document is what I call the one, four, 11.  and you tell them this from the very start.

At the end of week one, we’re going to sit down and we’re going to have a discussion about how you found the week and what you’ve learned, what you’re doing well, what you could do better.  For us it’s about how can we help that new employee do better in his job and pick up how to work in your business faster and better and deliver more quickly and what do we need to help you out there.  So set that up. You do that week one and week four.  I mean you probably should do it much more regularly too I might add, but actually specify, we’re going to sit down with a specific hour and talk about these things.  It’s nothing to be afraid of.

We want you to win!

We’re here to try and help you out.  We’ve taken the punt. We’ve done our research. We’ve got you on board. We want you to win here. We want you to have an awesome time here and enjoy it and we also want you to do great work for us too, so, that’s what it’s all about.

One, Four, Eleven

One, four and then 11. Now, of course, 11 is a week before the 12 week mark, so that’s where you have time to spell out exactly where they’re at in the business and of course you’ve got some big decisions to make and make sure you let them know that you want to take them on and they are then permanent and you’re not still questioning, you know, that week 12. So that’s what I do when they start.

You can put it in your diary. Go one, four, 11, put it in your Outlook and make sure there’s a reminder and make sure you do it and make sure you tell the new employee that you are going to do it. I guarantee that’ll certainly help them feel like they’re part of the team and help them realise how well they’re progressing and it’ll help you too, and you don’t find yourself in an awkward situation down the track.

Hope this helps you out.

How to best onboard new employees on day 1

Make Employment Expectations Clear From The Beginning

Recently I’ve done quite a few videos on recruiting for small businesses who want to recruit for themselves, and so this is an extension of this. This is a great tip.   If you’ve gone through the recruiting process, you’ve got the right guy, he’s just started. Now one of the things I think is the most important thing you can do now is onboarding them, like setting expectations of how they work in your business.

The businesses I’ve done this within have been hugely successful. This is how it goes.  Have a written document that spells out, this is how we do the job. This is how you behave around here. This is what we expect you to do in the next few months.

A couple of things like, you know, what times does work start and what does that mean? Does that mean you come at five ’til eight and get dressed and have your coffee and we start at eight o’clock?  What time do we finish, and what about if you’ve got to go to the dentist and when do you put your timesheets in and does that have any impact on when you get paid?  

Spell them out, how you treat company vehicles, should they be left with fuel, left full of fuel, or should they be cleaned out at the end of a week.  Really important things like if you’re using like software tools and you’re a service-based industry to update the notes and take photos of jobs or spell out all the things that this how you operate in your business.

Really important, and this is the really powerful thing is to actually set the expectations for the next three months, so that in the next three months what we want you to be able to do, you need to learn these skills and these are our expectations of you.

Get Them To Buy In By Signing In

The feedback that I’ve got was really good from the new employee. They say, “Right now I’m really clear about what I’m expected to do,” and “Will I get past the three month period and stay on?” and things like that. Then what I’ve done is I’ve actually created a written-out document, it’s like a culture-statement almost, and get them to sign it. You talk through it and you ask them to discuss with you what they think it means. Sign it off.  It takes a little while, it takes, you know, an hour an hour-and-a-half, but then they are really clear.

How I came up with this document is, chunk it out into a couple of sections that make it clear to break it down. For example, I’ve got workshop, and I’ve got customer service, on the job, work behaviours, sales scripts that you need, and break up a bunch of headings and put a few dot points under them, and then virtually, you’ve got your few-page document.

Go through it with your new employee.  I hope, well in fact I’m sure if you do that, it will really help you to bring up to speed your new employees when they’ve just started. And, that will be really clear, and they’ll perform better, and they’ll feel like they’re going to fit in, and this is the right place for them too. 

I hope that helps you out. Got any questions, don’t hesitate to call me. Ph: 0409 402 474

Getting customers to pay on time

getting paid on time

Cashflow is king

Today I’ve got a little topic that came up with one of my customers which is really common. It is getting paid on time. This business is in the construction industry and it’s the start of February and guess what, they haven’t been paid from their builders and they’ve got a huge amount outstanding.

It’s a big issue for a lot of businesses I know.  What do you do about it because it’s a big problem?  It’s a cash flow problem for this business. These are the tips i’ve got, to try and help you out.  There’s no better solution than having payment upfront.

Now, that can come at the expense of not getting some work and I know in the construction industry, everyone’s used to 30-day terms so rocking that boat can cost you. But if you can get 50% upfront or the whole lot upfront, like you’re well ahead. That resolves all your issues.

Your Terms Of Trade

So, the next step is to negotiate terms, negotiate terms upfront. So be really clear, say ok, we want to give you the order. These are our terms, is it okay to pay by then? And when it’s coming up to Christmas, what does that mean in January? I mean, are you going away?  Is it going to be excuses that my staff are on holidays or you’re away on holidays therefore you can’t pay?

Try and get rid of those issues right up front, or preferably have standard terms that are quite short.  The other strategy is sometimes put in place or negotiate different terms for first-time customers.  I’ve had a lot of success with this.

We don’t have a good history with you so that’s why we ask for 50% upfront.  That’s a bit of a problem, or would you like to apply for an account with us but accounts usually take a month to sort out, and if you want to do background checks and see if they’ve got any outstanding debts with other people that’s fair.

I guess this one doesn’t apply for things like contractors installing your hot water service but if you’re a surveyor or a graphic designer you can just not deliver the final product. You’re going to give them a draft and have them accept it and say well, we only deliver on final payment.  If you’re delivering a video and things like that, or drawings if you’re an engineer for example. So that’s great for them but for others that go and install things on someone else’s site, that’s a problem, I know.  My last strategy is to provide discounts for paying early or penalties for late payments. The late payments one is a real slap over the wrist which I have to say I’ve never seen anyone be successful with.

Early payment discounts

Discounts for early payment, yes, you can do that a little bit but sometimes that hurts you too because they’re comparing you against other people.  The very important thing if they’re not paying is you have to follow up fast and follow up regularly and every time you do, it’s not just an email or an automatic thing, it’s phone calls, email, processed standing account, plus outline the next steps for your business.

Your business might have, a tiering process where it eventually ends up at a debt collector in a set amount of time.  You need to spell that out so that the process is really clear to them if they don’t deliver.

These are my tips for now. I hope they help you out and there’s  lots more out there but they’re the ones I find most appropriate for trade type of businesses or B to B businesses because at the end of the day, you want to do a good job, you want to get rewarded for it,  but you also don’t want to piss off your customer because you want that customer for life, you want them to come back to you again.

Rebrand your company – When should you do it?

rebranding splash


Today I want to talk about why rebranding a business might be a good thing to do in your business. I’ve got a great example that I’d really love to share with you because, I have to say, I’m really proud to be involved with a business called Lorne Plumbing and they’ve gone through a rebranding process. And you might say, “why?” Most people say, “yeah I don’t want to spend the money and do I need to, I’m already busy” and all that sort of thing.

This is the way my first take on it. I really love the internal aspects of it but on an external front, having a great brand is like creating a great first impression. So, put that to one side, what I really love is the internal thinking that goes into it.

For example, it’s like, when you’re coming up with a new brand you have to all of a sudden realise:

  • “Where’s this business going?”
  • “Who are we going to work with
  • “What sort of work do I really love to do?”.
  • “Where’s our niche, what are our competitors doing?”

After they’ve put a lot of thought into what their products and services are, this is what’s going to really get sort of wrapped up into this brand or logo that they really want to choose and not just the name itself.

Lorne Plumbing Example

For example this business was called Lorne Plumbing and I’m going to show you their new branding. These guys are second generation, they took this business over from their dad, who had a partnership. So the business has changed and their services have changed. They were a local plumbing business, but now they do excavation work, they do roofing work and they travel a lot further away than just Lorne.

So the old name wasn’t hugely appropriate. But thinking through, “well where’s this business going to go?” as they do a fair amount of excavation work for plumbing.  They want to grow that aspect of it so the excavation part is a key part in that branding.

They do a lot of roofing and plumbing for builders now, where originally it was more maintenance-style focus, which is a different sort of market.  Now they do lots of home builds with builders, and they do commercial building and excavation as well.

trickey bros

They needed more of a corporate logo, so you’ll see this coming up. The warm and fuzzy part of it that I really love is the guys got really engaged in coming up with a name. Now it’s their name, Trickey Brothers, it’s their surname and they’re putting their stamp on it.

So just imagine a customer going, “oh, so why did you change the name of your business?” and you can just imagine the passion that would come pouring out of their mouth as they explain they are putting their stamp on it and the reason for it, and the business is going great, and so that’s something they can be really proud of. So that’s where I see the big value in the branding.

I hope that’s got you thinking about rebranding and if you ever want to in your business.

How to work out your profit margin

Calculating your profit margin

There are many reasons people decide to run their own business and one of the most important is to make profits.  So let’s learn the proper way to work out how to quote for jobs with a specific profit margin.  Just like the last blog, it’s easier to follow the process by using an example.

To keep everything clear, we’ll use straight forward maths so the process is easy to follow and you can repeat it in your business.

Let’s say Business XXX has sales of $100…

Sales $100
Cost of Sales (labour, materials, etc) -$50
Overheads -$20
Profit $30

From an accountant’s point of view, this is a profit margin of…

Profit/Sales = $30/$100 = 30%

For this example, let’s say 30% is the desired profit margin. But we also need to think about it from a cost plus work point of view and that means adding more than 30% to find the mark up rate required.

We do this by looking at it from the contractor’s point of view.  We know your labour, materials and overheads equal $70 and you want to make 30% profit on your job.  So the question is – what do you multiply your costs by (Y) to make a 30% profit?

Y = $100/$70 = 1.43 times the cost.

(1.43 x 70 = $100)

So there it is – an easy, no fuss method of making sure your profit margin of 30% is consistent for all your quoting.  You simply need to multiply the cost of work by 1.43 to achieve a 30% profit margin.

The next video will bring this calculation and the previous one altogether.  It’s quick and to the point so click on it and see how it all makes sense.

If you do want to get a better model for quoting and costing projects book in a free 90 minute session with me and I’ll go through everything you need to know to understanding quoting and costing jobs in your business. Call me today Ph: 0409 402 474

Time management tips for Trades


Time Management For Tradies

Sick of being busy and not getting ahead?  Well join the club.

This is a common theme in the construction and technical trades space so I think it’s time to do something about it.  After all, when you work, you don’t just want to make ends meet.  You want to make a profit and have time left over to enjoy life.  Right?

As a business owner, you need to free up time.  If you’re on the tools, on site or in the workshop then you’re not acting like a business owner who’s growing a business.  You’ve got to resist the temptation to do these things you know like the back of your hand and focus on growing the business.  So think about employing someone to help out.

Reset Expectations so your goals are achievable.  Don’t be afraid of handing out additional responsibilities to your staff.  Spot the guys who are great at what they do and come to you when they’ve finished asking for more.  These people are ready to become the backbone of your business.  By resetting their expectations you’ll create a new path for yourself.

Blocking out Your Diary is the only way to ensure you have the time to build your business.  When you adopt this strategy, be sure to tell the people around you that you are unavailable during this time.  If this is a new strategy for your business, you need to train those around you to respect that commitment you’re giving to business growth.

Focus on –    Selling Better Jobs so you enjoy work more and make more money.  These jobs take less time and have a higher margin.  Win/Win!!  But you need to find them and that takes some strategic thinking and activity.

Training and Systems create efficiencies and boost staff morale.  People love to learn new skills and put them into practice.  So put the time into your people and it will come back in spades.  Many business owners don’t see the advantage of this but it really does work.

So there you have it, some simple strategies to ensure you find a little more time in your busy day.  These will feel clunky in the beginning but stick with them – they work and will become your new normal soon enough.

Full cost plus work calculation

Calculating and adding your profit margin

This is the last video in the three-part series on how to calculate cost plus work.  In the previous two blogs and videos, the different parts of this calculation have been covered and this final one brings them altogether.

To keep it simple, we’re going to use the same example of a business with the following profit and loss…

Sales $100
Cost of Sales
Labour & Materials $50
Rent & phone etc $20
Profit $30

As a contractor, you’re often doing what’s called bottom-up calculations.  This means you add up all the costs (labour, materials, overheads etc.) and need to work out how to make a specific profit margin.  In this example, the required profit margin is:  (Profit/Sales = $30/$100)

This is a simple four-step process…

1) Labour (Real wage cost takes $36/hr employee to $50.47/hr from previous blog/video)

2) Materials
Labour + Materials = $50 3) Overheads (40% of Labour + Materials)
Overheads = $20

Therefore Labour + Materials + Overheads = $70

4) To add Profit of 30%, we learned to multiply $70 by 1.43.
$70 x 1.43 = $100

There it is, an easy series of calculations that will enable you to work out how to accurately maintain a 30% profit margin.  To adjust the profit margin up or down, simply increase or decrease the 1.43 multiplier.  Call to learn how to set different profit margins by doing this.

So now it’s a case of putting your new knowledge into action.  For some, this could be challenging due to time constraints or other reasons.  If this is you, and you’re tired of not winning jobs because you feel your quoting is off or you’re not making enough money on the jobs you do get, then call me.  I’ve been helping technical and trades businesses for a long time and I’m certain I could save you time and help you make more money on each job. Call me today for help with this Ph: 0409 402 474

Let’s get your business profitable today!