It’s time to down tools and enjoy some downtime. In between the prawns and pressies, the change-over of the calendar year gives us all a bit of space to think about the months gone and those ahead.
15 Minute Read
It’s the start of a whole new decade, full of new opportunities to change, improve, and grow your business. If you want to get on the front foot for 2020, here are six tips to help you start the year strong.
Part of growing a successful trades business includes forecasting for busy times, as well as planning for those quieter periods. By keeping an eye on seasonal trends in your business, you can reduce the risk of being caught over- or under-staffed.
Having business reports on hours logged, billable hours, and revenue allows you to be more accurate in forecasting your cash flow, knowing when to bring new team members on board, or even booking in a well-deserved break.
If you’re missing historical data, look back at past bank statements and expenses to start creating a picture of what a general year may look like. While it might take a few months’ of data to start noticing trends, think about this: by this time next year, you’d have a full year of insights at your fingertips!
Only assume you’ll have revenue for 10 months of the year as a safeguard against seasonality. Prepare for only two billing weeks around both Christmas and Easter, and remember you’re still paying full wages without as many billable hours. Forecasting in this way will help keep your business in a healthy financial state.
If you know there are a few quiet months coming up, you may consider investing in some basic marketing activity to help bring in new customers, if you’re not already.
Gone are the days when people flick through the yellow pages to find you. Google search ads are fairly cheap and cost-effective; you can even narrow them down to target just a few suburbs or specific words, and drive enquiries to your website, email, or phone.
There are plenty of companies that can set up Google ads for you on any budget, but if you consider yourself a fast learner and are handy with tech, jump onto Google Ads and have a crack! There are heaps of resources and FAQs to help you to get started.
It’s free to have a “Google My Business” profile, making your business more findable on Google Search and Maps.
Create a ‘Google My Business’ profile listing your hours of operation, address and contact details, and a logo or photo.
Hit up some of your loyal repeat customers to leave reviews on your Google Business profile. To do this, they will need to search for you on Google Maps, open your business listing, and select ‘Reviews’.
Jot down the suburbs / postcodes you might like to advertise in.
Make a list of around 10 words or phrases someone might type into Google to find you (e.g. Brisbane plumbers; electricians in Bondi; commercial air conditioning, Essendon; and of course your business name!)
Pop those words or phrases into a Google search and see what ads come up currently - these are your competitors. What do their ads say? What does your business offer to compete with theirs?
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Whether it’s your job management, invoicing or bookkeeping software, the start of a new year is the perfect time to take stock of these tools, making sure you’re getting your money’s worth and refreshing your team’s training.
Are you up-to-date with the latest release? Are you using all of the features available to you? Any good product has a Client Success Manager whose job it is to offer you support and ongoing training.
Make sure you’re signed up to email newsletters for the tools you use, so you don’t miss out on any helpful webinars that run throughout the year.
Do you find yourself inputting the same information with the same labour costs and same materials into multiple jobs on any given week?
Save time on those repetitive processes by setting up templates for your most common rinse-and-repeat jobs. Even if it only takes you a few minutes to input the info each time, those minutes add up to hours over the space of a month.
Whether you’re using simple Google Sheets, Excel Sheets, or a fully equipped software system, setting up favourite templates or price books will save you time on these quick, common jobs, helping you quote quicker and get more work into the pipeline.
The foundation of any solid business is repeat customers, but the key to growth is new clients. There’s still nothing better than positive word-of-mouth and a good referral, and the best way to capitalise on that is showing it off on your website or having reviews on your social profiles.
The key to a good website for a trades or service business is to keep it simple. That may even mean a one-page website showing the services on offer, some ‘About’ information to build credibility, customer testimonials to build trust, and a contact form. Easy as!
If you don’t have a website or are thinking it’s time for a complete overhaul, websites like Squarespace and Wix make it super easy to whip up a website using simple templates.
If you’re up for going DIY, it can cost you as little as around $150 (that’s $130 or so to use the platform, and around $20 to register your website domain name).
Decide what social profiles you should have. If your customers are more commercial, it may make sense to choose LinkedIn over Facebook. It’s better to have just one well-maintained profile than five inactive ones. Do you really need to be on Instagram? (probably not). Do you know what TikTok is? (nobody really does).
Make sure you get the basics right. That means your contact details, a logo / profile image, a banner image, and at least a couple of posts ready to go. Your team out in the field have phones with them every day - put the power in their hands (literally) to capture those moments and highlights on-the-job.
Decide what you’re going to post on your social channel and when. Once a week is plenty to keep things going, but make sure your notifications are turned on for messages in case a prospective customer tries to get in touch. Pop a reminder in your calendar every Monday to do your social post. There are heaps of free, easy apps to make your social posts look great too, like Canva.
The start of the calendar and start of the new financial year are perfect times to brush up on any new or adjusted legislation. The best place to start is on official government websites like business.gov.au, or your state’s dedicated section on safeworkaustralia.
Don't forget a lot of your insurances are dependant on keeping compliant with legislation. As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to keep up-to-date with any changes that may affect your licenses or the way you work, which can include...
There’s so much to keep up to date with, it’s easy to fall behind and quickly become non-compliant, so don’t be afraid to outsource it! There are companies and outside consultants who can help manage your compliance like health and safety policies, bookkeepers to keep your payroll accurate, and software tools to manage your H&S processes.
Compliance is more than just induction cards and insurances. The amount of workers’ compensation paid each year for work-related mental health conditions in Australia is $543 million!
Your checklist to supercharge your business in 2020
If you’re ready to take your trades or service business to the next level in 2020, start by making your company more ‘visible’ and streamlining some of those repetitive tasks. And, of course, if you’re looking for ways to improve the way you manage your team and your business, Fergus has you covered for the new year and many more to come.
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