Tradies and timesheets. If you manage a team of plumbers, electricians or builders you’ve probably already learnt that the two don’t always gel.
No matter how many times you ask nicely, there’s usually blearing gaps when it comes time to organising payday or figuring out how many labour hours to include in an invoice.
And like Rick Jones from Malady Electrical found out, poor timesheet management can have a massive effect on profit for any trades or service business.
To get your team completing their timesheets correctly and on-time, take a look at these simple suggestions.
Set up a system
An easy-to-follow system is going to make it clear what’s expected of everyone, remove confusion, and stamp out bad practices.
If you haven’t already, first work out what works for you and your team and then create a simple step-by-step process for completing and submitting timesheets.
It should include:
The cut-off date and time for timesheet submission
What each team member needs to fill in on every job (such as labour hours and travel time)
Any job-specific information that needs to be filled in (such as the type of job completed, and Health & Safety checks)
What to do if they’re having trouble submitting a timesheet or if they won’t be able to get it in on time
Once you’ve set up a process, take everyone through it at the next team meeting. Make sure it’s also kept somewhere that’s accessible to everyone. Pin a one-page cheat sheet up in the garage, keep a copy in every work van, and make sure it’s saved to a shared drive.
Encourage everyone in the team to give you feedback and keep refining the process until it’s working for everyone
Make it crystal-clear to new starters
Spend some time getting new starters up to date with how the timesheet system works.
If they know what’s expected of them from day one, they’re more likely to start off on the right foot and stay there.
Let’s face it, no one likes filling in paperwork. Of course your team is going to let timesheets fall by the wayside if they don’t grasp why they’re necessary.
Take some time to explain exactly how timesheets are a key part of the billing cycle and keeping up with a healthy cash flow. After all, you might understand how a late or incorrectly-completed timesheet can stop an invoice from getting sent out on time but the rest of the team might not.
Keep it simple
If it’s taking your tradies more than ten minutes to fill in their timesheet then it’s time to rethink the timesheet form.
Do away with complicated excel documents and multiple-page forms that require too much detail. Instead opt for a simple, user friendly form that includes what’s necessary and nothing extra. You can find plenty of examples online.
Even better, get on to a Job Management Software, such as Fergus, that lets tradies log time spent on the job straight from the mobile app.
With Fergus tradies just click the start timer when they arrive at a job, and hit “Stop” when they are finished. The information automatically populates timesheets - saving them from having to fill out a form at the end of the day or week.
It’s also going to save you from having to track down and input data from paper timesheets.
Say no to rewards and penalties
An advertising agency in Brazil got so frustrated with employees not filling in their timesheets that they had to get creative. They programmed the company’s beer fridge to not open on a Friday afternoon until everyone has filled in their time for the week.
Before buying a beer fridge for your team, consider whether offering a reward for completing a timesheet is really the right move. Shouldn’t rewards be for employees that do great work or go above and beyond the call of duty?
Likewise, also think hard before introducing any penalties for late timesheets such as delaying staff pay. It could create hostility between you and the rest of your team.
Over to you
Employees not submitting timesheets is compounded just one aspect of the difficulties of financial transparency. If you’ve ever had trouble seeing how much you’re making on a job, download our Free Profit & Loss Calculator. Find out how you’re performing on any job before, during or after the job, and then check out the analysis. Better yet, see first-hand how Fergus's job management software can help you effectively manage timesheets and stay on top of the work carried out across your trade business. Start your free trial today.
If you’d like to find a smarter and easier way to manage timesheets, sign up here for a free trial of Fergus smart job management software.