- Posted by Ally Roos
- On 11/07/2018
There’s no shortage of work for tradespeople in Australia. From the smallest residential communities to urban environments, everyone wants something constructed, installed, renovated, or fixed. Yet, this abundance of jobs doesn’t change the fact that every trade industry, whether it’s construction or plumbing – is highly competitive.
Oftentimes, the deciding factor between two contractors with similar experience and skill sets is how well they serve their customers. To help get you started, here are seven (7) tips for creating and cultivating a competitive edge.
#1 Put safety first
The biggest misconception about improving your firm’s productivity is by ignoring safety protocols. But that’s neither smart nor ethical. What if your workers get injured? Not only will you be penalised for cutting corners, but you’ll also lose out on weeks of productivity.
Making sure workers undergo safety seminars and reminding them to bring helmets, safety vests, and work shoes can help them work more efficiently the right way.
#2 Make use of timesheets
Filling in timesheets and progress reports may seem like tedious work, but they do allow you to track how much time everyone is spending on projects, travel, and admin-related tasks.
Three months worth of data should give you a clear idea of your team’s productivity levels and help you identify time-sucks that must be addressed. For instance, if you notice that your productivity levels fall when employees take too much time to acquire the right tools, or they have problems installing electrical panels, you and your managers can create new workflows and training regimens to remove those roadblocks.
Timesheets are also a great tool for holding everyone accountable. Think about it, when your field technicians know that you are keeping a close eye on them, it’s a lot more difficult for them to think they can procrastinate or spend company hours inefficiently.
The biggest critique with timesheets, however, is that the time spent doing them may actually be a bane for productivity. But that’s only if your timesheet system takes the form of paper printouts or shared spreadsheets that have to be filled in manually. Robust job management software like WorkBuddy offers automatic time-tracking features that immediately record time spent on a particular project as soon as you hit ‘start tracking’. It also records that information in a centralised database, providing valuable data without wasting anyone’s time.
#3 Plan out your projects
Job management software also boosts productivity with project planning features. Start by laying out all your appointments and listing down all the equipment, materials, and expertise required for each project. Then, create a bulleted list of measurable goals for your workers. A renovation project, for example, would look something like this:
- Week 1: Remove counter tops, cupboards, flooring, etc.
- Week 2: Install electrical outlets and light fixtures
- Week 3: Set up plumbing and mechanical
- Week 4: Finish insulation and flooring
- Week 5: Tile, paint, and install new appliances
- Week 6: Perform final interior finish and quality control checks
In between those goals, you should also add the materials that will need to be ordered in for each day. By breaking up large projects into smaller chunks with deadlines, workers will be far more motivated to complete tasks. They’ll also know what they’re supposed to do, which means less time wasted wondering what they should do next.
#4 Set up clear lines of communication
Effective communication can turn an uncoordinated group of individuals into a cohesive team. When field technicians have tools like VoIP and instant messaging at their disposal, they can easily contact managers and clients to clarify what they need to do. This eliminates misunderstandings that often cause delays and errors that jeopardise the entire project.
As the manager, you get instant progress reports, so if a problem occurred, you’ll be able to make split-second decisions and advise technicians on how to fix the issue.
#5 Take advantage of mobile apps
Rather than going back to the office to fill out paperwork and sort out quotes, tradies would benefit greatly from a mobile app that contains all the features they need to work remotely.
With mobile job management software, employees can check their appointments, process documents, and figure out the client’s location without having to set foot in the office. At the same time, back office personnel can provide field technicians with all the documentation, customer histories, material requirements, and plans to carry out the job.
All this translates to less time on the road, which could add hours to your day.
#6 Streamline invoicing
Invoicing is a vital part of any tradie business. Sadly, this process can consume more than an hour of your technician’s time, which is why you’ll need to invest in cutting-edge software solutions like WorkBuddy.
Apart from time tracking, WorkBuddy consolidates all business information into a single dashboard so you can track materials ordered, labour costs, and pricing. From there, all you need to do is press a few buttons to generate an accurate invoice and send it directly to the customer via email, significantly cutting down the time your staff spends on paperwork.
#7 Outsource tasks
There are only so many hours in a day, and if you spend most of them doing time-consuming tasks you don’t like to do, business productivity takes a massive hit. When done right, outsourcing can free up your technicians to work on more worthwhile projects.
The first thing you should do is identify the tasks you’d rather offload to a third party. Naturally, you’ll want to keep core tasks like construction and maintenance. Admin-related responsibilities, however, can eat up a lot of your time, so if you’re getting more work, it makes more sense to give the task to a reputable and affordable professional services firm.
For more tips on how to improve your contracting business’s performance with technology, contact WorkBuddy, we offer all the productivity tools you’ll ever need and more.