Running your own business, while rewarding, is hard work. James Chillman UK Country manager of Fergus gives his top business tips to help you excel in work and make more time for play.
No one said running an electrical contracting business would be easy, and the sense of achievement a business owner feels is all the greater for knowing they’ve worked hard to achieve it. But there’s no need to make things more difficult than they need to be. Burnout is always a risk for the small business owner and a healthy work life balance is important.
So, how do you go about working hard, but also having the quality time needed for family, friends, and leisure activities? Thankfully there some processes you can put in place, and even better, automate them so that you have even more time free for the good things in life.
Lose the paper
Despite the digital revolution of the past 30 years, most tradespeople – over 75% in most markets, according to internal market research commissioned by Fergus – are still using manual, often paper-based systems and processes to manage their businesses. This ultimately leads to poor cash flow, lower profits and significant stress on the business owner.
The trades have effectively been left behind and ignored by the software industry, predominantly because the average size of trades businesses was considered too small to matter. This reliance on paper-based systems and other processes, such as email, which aren’t joined up, leads to inefficiencies which make running a business laborious and stressful. It’s all too easy for things to slip through the cracks, whether it be late payments or invoices. Job management software is one solution and the best ones allow you to integrate your business as a whole, granting you complete oversight from start to finish.
Get the basics right
Always know your day-to-day costs and what you need to cover equipment hire and wages. You should always have the minimum your business needs in your account and never go below this. Keep a close eye on your accounts and payments in and out. Know when a customer has failed to pay an invoice, or when you’re due to pay a supplier, or when a late payment needs chasing. Spend some time every day on your accounts and file receipts and invoices as soon as you get them. It saves time later when you need to file your tax returns.
Control your overheads
Keeping abreast of costs allows you to control your overheads, which helps eliminate waste. Fergus, for instance, integrates all aspects of your business and gives you to a powerful, and easy to read, visual overview of your business in its entirety. You can see the status of a job, from quote to completion.
By giving you the power to plan ahead, you can employ sub-contractors when you need them and hire equipment when necessary. You can assign staff to jobs in seconds by just dragging and dropping them onto it. They’ll automatically receive notification through the app, and there’s no need to phone or meet with them.
You can build bespoke quotes in minutes, adjusting pricing or mark-ups on materials, or offer discounts where necessary; create digital job cards which can be seen anywhere and by anyone on your team, by just logging into the app; fill out templated gas and electricity certificates; log hazards and on-site incidents, and record sign offs, all within the app.
Tackle problems fast
Problems can arise on any job and if not dealt with fast, they can escalate. This can then delay completion and eat into your bottom line. So, it’s important to spot them as soon as they happen and deal with them. Fergus’s status board is colour coded and easy to read at a glance. You’ll be able to see what’s going wrong should a problem arise and quickly fix it.
Chase late payments
Get in the habit of issuing clear and easy-to-understand invoices as soon as a job is done. Fergus simplifies this task. By logging your costs, the materials you purchase for a job, and tracking the time you and your employees spend on it, the app has all the information it needs to feed into the invoice for you at the end. You can follow up late payment with automatic SMS messages.
Cultivate a reputation for efficient reliability
With the tips outlined above, you’ll be able to run your business more efficiently and more profitably. You’ll be happier, able to achieve a good work/life balance, and have more time to do the things you enjoy. Your customers will be happier too and will see that yours is a business they can rely on. A satisfied customer will likely recommend you and your business can grow.
For more free information and advice on running a successful trade business, as well as a free trial, click here