CASE STUDIES - Business Owners From Colac

The best way of showing how business coaching can help your business is with case studies. We coach tradies but have dealt with a variety of regional businesses over many years.

52A Rae Street, Colac, Vic, 3250

Craig Kerr from South Western IT offers his clients quality products, service and support for all their IT needs. His main clients are local businesses such as the Meatworks, medical practices and AKD Softwoods, as well as the general public.

When he started working with Hugh he wanted a clear vision for the business, wanted to increase his income and to get more time back for himself. He had issues around pricing, staff productivity, some outstanding debtor issues, and very little marketing.

Craig and Hugh had a look at each of these areas and drew up a plan for the business. Firstly, they realised the main focus needed to be the productivity of the staff, so they created position descriptions with Craig’s team to get them more engaged.

They also realised there were many missed sales opportunities for up-selling to clients, so Hugh ran sales training for the team. The staff then started recording the number of transactions within the shop, so they could identify and improve their up-selling techniques.

Secondly, they looked at pricing, and changed the way they invoiced for time that wasn't being accounted for. They also surveyed the market and realised they had been undercharging for the value they had been providing. Southwestern IT were offering too much help without billing for it, so they created rules around this for pricing.

Thirdly, they looked at their terms and repositioned some clients who were notoriously late payers.

"We fixed his outstanding debtors issues, and developed a system to encourage people to pay on the day." recalled Hugh.

As well as tidying up a few things like the website, and fixing the shop layout. Small but significant changes can make a huge difference in your business.

382 Princes Highway, Colac West VIC 3250

Tim Reinen runs Otway Precast, a company that manufactures precast concrete products for domestic, rural and construction industries. Tim started the company and he’s great at his trade, but he knew the business side of things wasn’t his speciality, so he came to Hugh for advice. He didn’t really have a plan for the business, and was already working 60+ hours a week and had a team of seven staff.

Hugh and Tim discussed his business at length, and realised there were several areas that needed focus. He had outstanding debtors. No systems in place. Didn’t really have a true understanding of the costs of the business and labour. He had some HR problems like high staff turnover, culture issues, and productivity issues.

Problems with time management, and cashflow. It seemed like a lot to deal with, but Hugh came up with an action plan and they got started.

Firstly, they put measurement systems in place to record leads and calculate conversion rates. This helped to predict future workloads and the employee numbers he would need for these jobs. This system became the backbone of their business, and they are still using it to this day.

They made some changes to the pricing systems to better estimate jobs, and put in a monthly reporting system which covered leads every month and this converted to cashflow predictions.

Secondly, they developed a recruiting system for the major roles within the business: Estimator, General Manager, Workshop Manager, Tradesmen, and Office Admin.

They created job roles and held group interviews for each position, and then a questionnaire was provided to each candidate which helped to find the right person for the right job. This process has saved Tim many hours over the years.

Then they focused on creating and enhancing company culture, which in-turn improved team productivity, and pretty soon Tim needed to expand the business and over the years grew the team from 7 to 30 staff. As the team grew it was so important to have a system in place for conducting valuable team meetings, where they would discuss operations, upcoming jobs, and any issues with staff, which made a lot of problems evaporate.

The last key area was to put a Job Management system in place. They decided on JCA, where all jobs were recorded, as well all parts and materials. This system can also develop a huge number of specific reports on all business financials (including specific jobs) and keeps track of retentions. It enables Tim to put in budgets and stages of jobs and check how each job is tracking in relation to the budget.

These changes enabled the business to expand drastically and in the first 4 years of working with Hugh they had a revenue growth of 237%, which enabled Tim to invest in a new block of land for future expansion of a new facility.

55 Hugh Murray Dr, Colac VIC 3250

Joel Borch is the owner of JK Windows & Doors, a company who work with architects, designers and home owners to create bespoke architectural solutions for residential and commercial building projects. Joel had purchased the existing business back in 2004, and by 2014 had 3 guys in the business, had great machinery and great skills, but he worked way too much (60+ hours a week).

When he spoke to Hugh he knew what some of his main issues were: He had no systems in place, and wasn’t making time to quote his jobs properly, and their scheduling wasn’t great either. He rarely got to see his family so he wanted to look at his time management and see if he could make some changes and get some time back for himself.

Joel and Hugh decided the time management should be a major focus, so they created a default diary for Joel, to free up some time so he could do quotes and work on his business, and this allowed him the time to measure up jobs and quote properly.

Next they looked at his pricing systems. His conversion rate was already high, but they could make more money out of jobs he was getting if they redid his pricing. They worked on margins for different sized jobs, and repriced to ensure smaller jobs were worthwhile.

Then they put a recruiting system in place, to try and attract the right sort of guys that were more likely to stay in the business long term. One of the biggest issues facing Colac business is finding good people. The new system included a questionnaire and a good job application to attract the right people.

And after these changes Joel is still able to create amazing windows, he has an impressive workshop and equipment. But now the business is making more money, has more structure, and Joel actually has more time for himself and his family.

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Hugh Bowman is a specialist in business coaching for trade businesses and is a former engineer and technical expert. He has lived and worked in many parts of regional Victoria coaching tradie business owners.

Ph: 0409 402 474