Following a disruptive year featuring construction starts and stops, material shortages and rising prices, there’s no doubt that those in the trades are champing at the bit to take a much-needed break this holiday season.
To have a proper break, where trades business owners can really kick-back, relax and be present in the moment with family and friends, hinges on finishing the year well.
You can do just that by ticking off the 5 steps in this action plan before you clock out for the year.
1. Confirm you can meet your financial commitments over the break
If you know you’ve got enough cash on hand, to cover time away, then chances you’ll actually be in a position where you can switch off, slow down and enjoy the holidays.
If you have a few staff, it’s amazing how much the holidays can cost you over December and January. Think about paying staff on leave, GST, ACC and any other commitments. The best thing to do is contact your accountant or payroll person and ask them to work it out for you. You just have to know what you need, so you don’t get caught short.
While you’re sorting out your wage obligations, you also want to work out what you need to fork out for all your tax bills and then make the voluntary payments. There’s nothing worse than holding off until tax deadlines hit and then not having the cash to pay up.
2. Send your invoices and call for payment
Hopefully, at this point of the year, you have already sent your invoices and know how much cash you will have at hand for the break. If you haven’t, this is your biggest priority right now.
While making sure all of your invoices are out the door is critical, actually collecting the money is what matters. You need to know whether you’ll be paid on time or not, so if you haven’t started calling your customers, do it as soon as possible. It’s likely your customers will be feeling the pinch of Christmas as well, so ask for clarity around when you can anticipate receiving payment. If you don’t have the time to call customers who owe you money, rope in a family member, friend or contractor to make the calls for you.
3. Communicate your shutdown plan
Everyone needs to take a break, and while customers will be putting the pressure on to get things finished in time for Christmas, it’s unlikely you’ll close all your jobs out. With this in mind you’ll need to clearly communicate your holiday plans to staff and customers to manage expectations and avoid disappointment.
Your employees will want to need to know your leave requirements in advance so they can do their own planning. With staff out of the workplace, now’s the perfect time to get your company vehicles in, service and restock them so they’re ready to start rolling in 2022.
Customers will want to know your closure dates, as well as whether anyone from your team will be available for emergency call-outs during the break (and how they can get in touch).
As a bare minimum, change your voicemail recording and set up your out-of-office or vacation reminders on your email account.
4. Get creative to bridge any cash gaps
Off the back of a turbulent year, there’s a chance some trades businesses won’t be in the position to take a long summer break. If this is you, you may consider a shorter break so you can bridge any cash gaps or simply line your pockets with some extra cash to start 2022 strong.
With much of the competition closed, you may be able to win new customers by fulfilling emergency work. Another potential avenue for income could come from approaching larger companies in need of maintenance while their own offices/factories/warehouses are unoccupied.
5. Think forward for a strong start to 2022
If you’ve got a little bit of time up your sleeve, or need a break from all the festivities, here are a few things to prioritise working on over the break to ensure your business is humming come the new year.
- Favourites: If you’re not already using Favourites, now is the time to set up a few different folders with commonly used materials so your guys on the tools can quickly find what they need when ordering for a job. Watch this video to set up Favourites.
- Forms: Get organised and create new Forms that will need to be completed on jobs for 2022. Watch this video on how to create Forms.
- Checklists: Make it easy on yourself [and the team] by setting up checklists now so you know all internal processes are up to date. This is great for meeting H&S standards around COVID-19. Watch this video on how to build Checklists.
- Supplier Integrations: Fergus saves you the painstaking task of downloading, importing and reconciling material invoices manually for hundreds of trades suppliers across Australia and New Zealand. Get set up via the Fergus Integration Centre to receive invoices from these suppliers directly into your Fergus account.
Not on Fergus? See how our Job Management Software can help you manage and improve your cash flow, sign up for a free trial today.
Don’t leave your finances (or your Christmas cheer) to chance! Make that call to your accountant now. Find out what your obligations are and make a plan from there. When you’re kicking-back, you’ll sure be glad you did.
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