John needed help organising and automating his growing painting business. Hear how he's streamlined his admin and taken the stress out of job tracking and team management.
John Niesar has been a qualified painter for almost 15 years. Starting his apprenticeship at the age of 15, he’s now the proud owner of Niesar Painting where he currently employs around 12 staff.
John has worked hard to earn a great reputation as a Master Painter in and around sunny Cairns; working on everything from spec to high quality homes and commercial projects. We had a chat to John about the growth of his business and how Fergus is helping him better organise the team and keep jobs on track.
Running the painting business in the early days
During John’s apprenticeship, his boss taught him how to paint well but also shared his knowledge around running a business. This gave John the confidence to go out as a sole trader at the age of 21, before officially starting Niesar Painting in 2015.
In the beginning, John was very involved in and worked on every job himself and admits that a lot of guesswork was involved when it came to managing the workload.
"I used to get the guys to text me through their hours on pay day and whatever they’d text me, I’d pay. For job costs, I pretty much just winged it. I never had any order numbers or job numbers; the team was a lot smaller so I was across everything.”
As the business grew, this simple approach was getting difficult. Having started to win some big commercial tenders, John decided to better leverage technology to help him out.
“Things weren’t too complicated in the early days, but now the team is that much bigger and I'm also doing big commercial jobs where there’s different stages and products and I’m ordering pallets and pallets of paint, I've got to be more organised.”
John paid an adviser $6K to help him set up his first job management tool. However, once he started using it, he found it to be pretty clunky. In particular, the scheduler wasn’t doing what he needed it to do, meaning John couldn’t get a clear view of what everyone in the team was up to.
He got talking to a fellow tradie who told him to check out Fergus and he hasn’t looked back.
John did partake in Fergus's training, but said it all came pretty naturally to him and for the most part he could work it out himself.
Nowadays John’s day-to-day consists of 90% bookwork and 10% painting. It was important that he get the right tool to speed up the paperwork side of things.
Fergus now handles all John’s quotes and right off the bat he says he was able to cost jobs more accurately, with the extra insight from the App.
How Fergus supports the operational side of Niesar Painting
Alongside better job costing, John’s favourite thing about Fergus is the calendar feature and how it helps him manage the team.
“Hands down for me it’s the scheduler. The calendar feature helps me plan the workload and the team more efficiently. With Site Visits I can also set up different stages to the job. For example with Spec homes there are always 3 stages; Prep, Internal/External and Touch-Ups, so the guys know exactly what stage of the job they’re going to be doing that day.”
John is also using Fergus to communicate important information to his team.
“I also really like the Notice Board, you know if I’ve got a Toolbox meeting coming up I just post it on there or if I need to let the team know about a hazard on site or anything it’s a quick and easy way to reach everyone.”
John is a heavy user of the Status Board for job tracking, as well as the reporting functionality within Fergus. The Financial Summary enables him to keep on top of job profitability, the Timesheet Summary helps him process the team’s pay and the Work-In-Progress report gives him that high level view of how the business is performing (not to mention keeps his accountant happy).
“The Status Board is really handy, it gives me a quick snapshot of what’s going on at any one time and from there I can drill down to jobs at different stages. I also use the reporting all the time. I just click on the job and go to the financial summary to see the breakdown and make sure the job is on track to make money.”
This along with GPS, map and added safety features have made Fergus a winning solution for him and the Niesar Painting team.
John’s tip for fellow tradies
John is conscious of keeping work at work and makes an effort to separate it from home life.
“I have my office and workshop in town and I don’t have a computer at home. I did before and I’d end up sitting in the office until 9-10 o’clock at night, but now when I get home and I can have a bit of a break.”
However his top piece of advice for fellow tradies was “don’t let your business run you, you have to run your business.”
“Before I had Fergus people would call me up and I’d end up with 5 jobs for the week and be full hectic. I didn’t have a good idea as to what was coming up. The Fergus scheduler has really helped me to plan better, avoid taking on too much work, missing deadlines or rushing the job because I haven’t planned it out properly. That’s what I really like about Fergus and that’s how I keep winning more work.”
We think John’s doing a fantastic job leading the Niesar team through what’s been a turbulent time. If you’d like to follow John and his work check out his website or follow Niesar Painting on Facebook or Instagram.