Running a profitable business with staff is challenging and bringing it all together is often where business owners struggle. With the right systems in place and a good business coach these challenges can be overcome.
Tim Wilken Plumbing
Gray St, Hamilton VIC 3300
Tim Wilken runs a successful plumbing business in Hamilton and surrounds. He’d been in business for 5 years, with 2 plumbers and an apprentice, and his wife would help out with the accounts occasionally. He’d built up a great reputation doing new builds, maintenance and farm plumbing, and most of his business came from word of mouth.
Tim's frustration began when he started losing quotes and hearing stories of bad work from his team, so he reached out to Hugh for advice. Once they started looking at the business they realised there were a few areas in need of improvement.
Tim was working a stressful 60+ hours per week and not generating enough profitable income. They had issues with finalising jobs properly with the team not taking the right tools to work sites and having to return later to finish the job leaving a few frustrated clients. Tim also struggled with invoicing promptly to secure cash flow.All of this was leaving Tim little time to focus on the areas of the business that he wanted to improve, and very little time for himself outside of the business.
Tim wanted some clear direction, financial advice for equipment purchases, strategies for hiring staff and and a plan for the future.
Hugh and Tim realised that out of all the work Tim did, he really had a preference for working with farmers on larger properties. They were good payers and they valued his service. The smaller maintenance jobs had lots of undercutting and clients were more price sensitive, and Tim didn’t enjoy the work as much. He had been working a lot with builders too, but they decided to create a long term plan to acquire more farmers.
Getting Down To Business
Hugh and Tim put a plan in place where they would contact Tim’s existing database to pre-arrange a scheduled time every 6 months for work needed. This would make Tim and his team the ultimate service plumber for farmers. Being in a regional town getting supplies was sometimes an issue so this would allow them to order parts and supplies in advance and get cheaper pricing.
They then developed a system around preparing team vehicles and what to take for each job including checklists for his staff to ensure they had the right tools to complete each job in one go. This was so important as many of their customers were miles away, and returning to finish the job at another time was just too costly.
They created systems around the trailers they used, how to leave the trailers, and if there was damage to the trailer plug – what to do to fix it easily. The staff knew what the expectations around this was, and the checklists and systems helped them to keep on track.
Tim and Hugh then looked at the pricing and slightly increased the hourly rate. They also put a system in place for materials and consumables and implemented a minimum charge. A lot of their work was charge up work, but not all labour was being charged to the jobs, so they created rules around this and gave clear written instructions to the staff as to what time should be allocated to each job. For example, making sure travel time was charged where appropriate.
Certain equipment like the dingo, and sewer cameras had specific cleaning requirements after each use, and the time for this wasn’t being charged either, so rules and costs were put in place to account for this.
Tim had some admin issues, and he never had time to do invoices. So Hugh helped him to setup a default diary, and allocated time weekly to get this done. They setup some rules around invoicing so Tim would know how much he needed to bill every week to minimise cashflow issues in the future.
They started using the Fergus Job Management System to help with accuracy and speed to get their invoices out, and in turn this helped with scheduling staff, jobs, and ordering parts.
Terms and conditions were also created to protect the business and an administration assistant was hired.
These changes have made Tim’s business run more smoothly, given him a higher profit margin, and most importantly allowed Tim the time to spend on growing the business the way he wants, and giving him more time back for himself and his family.
Call Hugh Today
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