How getting your tradie business in order can boost your wellbeing

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Tools to make your life easier

It’s Tradies National Health Month and a great time to focus on destressing your business life, writes Michael Savanis, Chief Revenue Officer, NextMinute

Are you as busy as the proverbial one-armed bricklayer in Baghdad, getting quotes out to clients, running multiple jobs and trying to keep on top of invoices, payroll and your dealings with the tax man?

If the answer is an emphatic ‘yes’, you’re far from alone. Across Australia, dozens of tradie business owners are running themselves ragged, working six and seven days a week to keep their operations afloat.

Right now, doing so is no mean feat.

Boom times

Since the Covid crisis struck, the construction sector has experienced the best and the worst of times. The federal government’s 2020 Home Builder subsidy scheme triggered a residential renovation boom which saw builders and trade businesses booked up months in advance.

The Housing Industry Association’s November 2021 Trade Report indicated the industry was experiencing its most significant skills shortage since the inception of the Report in 2003.

“All regions across Australia are reporting an acute shortage of skilled trades and all trades are in short supply,” HIA economist Angela Lillicrap noted.

Widespread flooding across the east coast in early 2022 compounded the demand for services, such that it’s now a case of ‘good luck with that’ for anyone looking to have building work done in anything resembling a hurry.

That’s the upside.

And bust

The downside? Having a full order book is no longer the unalloyed blessing that once it was. With construction work as plentiful as it has been for the last two years, keeping good workers on staff and on side has been a real challenge for many business owners.

So has sourcing materials. Australia is in the grip of its worst materials shortage in 40 years, with everything from timber and tiles to kitchen and bathroom fittings in short supply. Some builders are waiting weeks and months for essential components, such as trusses and engineered wood products. In an industry where time is money, that’s no minor hiccup.

Prices have skyrocketed accordingly but passing on those increases to customers has been problematic for trade businesses that haven’t allowed for them in their quotes.

This confluence of factors has sent a string of builders, both large and mid-sized, to the wall this year. Subcontractors inevitably share in the misery, when work has been carried out but the bills can’t be paid.

Take the pressure down

Against that backdrop, it’s no surprise many trade business owners are feeling like they’re up against it. More than 60 per cent say work pressures are their biggest stressor, according to OzHelp’s National Tradie Wellbeing Survey Results, published in January 2022. Family and relationship, and financial pressures come a close second and third.

But while there’s nothing you can do about supply chain disruption, national labour shortages and the other macro-economic factors making your business life trickier than you’d like it to be, there are steps you can take to dial down your stress levels.

Getting more organised on the operational front and achieving greater visibility of your financial position are two of them. While we see the odd individual who’s all over the business of winning work, tracking costs, getting invoices out and keeping on top of their compliance obligations, many trade business owners have lots of room to improve in this regard.

Back-of-the-envelope quoting and seat-of-the-pants accounting and cash flow management are still standard modi operandi for many. The net result? Unnecessary hours spent catching up on paper work over the weekend and lack of insight into how they’re tracking, until jobs are done and dusted.

Tools to make the task easy

The good news is, there are tools to help you get a handle on all these things, improve your cash flow and reduce the amount of ‘overtime’ you’ve been putting in.

Construction job management software that automates your quotes, timesheets, job scheduling, invoicing and back costing, and integrates seamlessly with your accounting package, can take the hard work and hassle out of running your business.

It makes it easy to price for profit, control your costs, and keep on top of compliance and financial management.

Once the exclusive province of commercial construction companies with sizeable ICT budgets and support teams, this technology is now affordable and easy to use, for every trade business owner with a smart phone.

Taking back your time

Knowing how your jobs are tracking, operationally and financially, means fewer cost blow-outs and greater certainty about the state of your business.

And the hours you save each week can be spent doing more of the things that matter – whether that’s working on or in your business, or taking some well-deserved time out with family and friends.

At a time when surviving and thriving in the construction sector is no easy matter, it’s an investment in your health, and the health of your business, you can ill afford not to make.

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