Supercharge your trades business in 2021

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.

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Turning a new leaf

In 2020, heaps of businesses around the world found themselves in a tight spot. Now, with the new year on the horizon, it’s never been more important to make your business as secure as possible. Let’s take this opportunity to start afresh and strong. Here are six key tips that will help you set the new year in motion and make it the most successful one yet.

01
Prepare for seasonal peaks and dips
01

Prepare for seasonal peaks and dips

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 could have a full year of insights at your fingertips!

Tip

Only assume you’ll have revenue for 10 months of the year as a safeguard against seasonality or the unexpected. In case there is another COVID-19 lockdown, for example, make sure that you’ve put together a plan that will set out the rules for your customers and staff. 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.

02

Help customers find your business

If you know a few quiet months are 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 flicked 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 get started.

Did you know?

It’s free to have a "Google My Business" profile, making your business more visible on Google Search and Maps.

Top Google search result for a quick plumber in Parramatta

Example of a Google My Business profile example for a plumbing business

Example of Google Reviews for a plumbing business

5 tips for getting started on Google:

01

Create a "Google My Business" profile listing your hours of operation, address and contact details, and a logo or photo.

02

Hit up some of your loyal repeat customers to leave reviews on your "Google My Business" profile. To do this, they will need to search for you on Google Maps, open your business listing, and select 'Reviews'.

03

Jot down the suburbs/postcodes you might like to advertise in.

04

Make a list of around 10 words or phrases someone might type into Google to find you (e.g. Brisbane plumbers; electricians in Fremantle; commercial air conditioning Essendon; and of course your business name).

05

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?

03

Get the most out of your (tech) tools

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 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.

"I don’t think we’d have a business if it wasn’t for Fergus, and that’s honest. We certainly needed job software that was built for the trades." – Tyler Sprunt, Co-owner of AXT Plumbing

Go to Customer Stories
04

Streamline jobs with templates

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 speed up the quoting process and get more work into the pipeline.

05

Spruce up your online presence

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 your own 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).

Example of a website for a plumbing businessTradewinds Plumbing

Your first three steps to social success:

01

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. Is Instagram where your potential customers are spending their time? Do you know what TikTok is? (nobody really does).

02

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.

03

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.

06

Health-check your compliance

The start of the calendar and the 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 Safe Work Australia.

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:

  • Employment requirements
  • Tax requirements (Payroll, GST, Prov. Tax, ACC)
  • Workplace Health & Safety
  • Consumer Protection
  • Construction Code Compliance (e.g. Electrical/Plumbing Codes)
  • Licence Requirements (e.g. Tradesperson Registration Requirements)
  • Industry Compliance (e.g. Electrical & Gas Certification)
  • Vehicle Compliance (e.g. Road User Registration)

There’s so much to keep up to date with that 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 with the likes of HR, health and safety and other policies, bookkeepers to keep your payroll accurate, and software tools to manage your health and safety processes.

Did you know:

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!

If you’re ready to take your trades or service business to the next level in 2021, 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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