The key to growing your building business is getting off the tools.
Learn how you can use trust, communication, and systems, to have more time and more money.
Watch the video now, or read the transcript below.
One of the keys to being able to grow your building business is getting off the tools, because obviously if you’re constantly on the tools, you can’t really scale your time, you can’t scale yourself. That’s pretty much the limitations of your business. For some builders, that might be the way that they want to run their business.
But if you do want to have a team, and you want to be able to step off-site and be able to focus on other things, then figuring out how you’re going to be able to do that and trust a team to deliver your work becomes really important.
You’ve obviously been able to achieve this. What has been the key to being able to do this in your business?
Building trust. But I think to build trust, you need to work with your team, and this is definitely one that doesn’t happen overnight. It does take time, and you’ve got to educate your team on your expectations, and why you are doing the things that you’re doing. But for me as a builder and coming from on-site doing my carpentry background and working through it, it’s been a very hard transition to figure out.
I can turn up to the site and I can pick straight away, or why are they doing that, that’s wrong, why are they taking so long, start pulling my hair out. It would be very easy for me to turn up to site and still keep doing that.
Don’t Just Assume
So we’ve had to develop systems and processes to get around that which we now have in Live Life Build as part of our course. And for most people that I guess will be watching this, a lot of them have probably come from a trades-based background, more than likely carpentry. So much of what we do is in our head, and we assume a lot.
So we turn up to site and we see the guys or, actually if we go back even further. We’ve looked at a job on paper for sometimes months, if not years before our team gets to site. We’ve been working through the design. Working with our clients, doing all the costings, doing takeoffs. We’ve built the house 50 times in our head. We put so much pressure on ourselves, we turn up to site, we see something that’s not being done, how we’ve worked it out, and we get frustrated with it.
All that comes back to communication.
And so I think having regular site meetings, and setting expectations. We’ve been able to get so much of the information in my head, and not just my head, the guys that taught me when I was an apprentice, like 25 years of tricks and information, onto paper and that’s our system. Even our system for marking out a frame has lots of call-out boxes.
And it’s one of those things, that because builders assume, they just assume that their carpenters are on site, they’re standing up the wall frames. And genuinely, and I found this, you’re putting so much pressure on your team to just keep pushing forward.
Grow With Systems and Processes
So normally, the first push is to get the slab down. And then the next push is to get the frame to a point you can put a roof on, and then you work backwards. You come back and you fill in, you do your noggins and stuff. But getting it right from the start.
Being able to have a system that outlines what we expect our team to do, when they’re marking out the frame, put call-out boxes on it, that’s got a heap of little tasks that we want done. And that can be things like putting in all your double studs for the joints in your cladding. So, even with having that in our system, it’s going to make them look at the documents, double check what type of cladding it’s got, and complete the framing in the one time. Like don’t rush through to get the roof on and then have to spend hours coming back putting those studs in later because it just wastes time and money.
So again, setting an expectation and getting things out of your mind and the big thing for me that has allowed me to do that is our systems and processes.
It’s been really interesting, once we were able to get all of those systems documented. What I think is really fascinating, and it works with any team member, is that you can think that there’s only really one way to solve something or to do something, and then they go about and do it an entirely different way and you get really frustrated because you’re like, why did you make that decision? That doesn’t seem logical. Surely you should have known to do it X,Y and Z. At the end of the day, you’re expecting them to be a mind reader, and to know your way of wanting to do something.
And even something like building a house where it can feel like there should only be one way to do it, but there’s not. And so those systems do enable you to train your team. They give you a tool to actually train your team against. You can get their input as to whether there’s things that need to be changed or shifted in that system that might help them deliver them better almost in a small streamlined way. And then you’ve got something that actually manages the quality control of how that gets executed on-site. And you’re not leaving things up for guesswork and assumptions, which can always cause loads of problems.
There can be an assumption for lots of builders that if I’m not on-site swinging a hammer, my team’s going to think that I’m slacking off.
We see this mindset challenge for a lot of the builders we work with, who realise that they need to step back from being on site all the time, if they do want to grow their business, they need to be working on their business more than in their business. This really is the way to grow your building business.
How have you dealt with that issue of feeling like, oh, they’re just going to watch me thinking that all I’m doing is swanning around meeting clients, sitting at a desk, I’m not actually doing any real work.
It definitely can be challenging, but I think it all comes down to again, just having open, clear communication with the team. Letting them know where they stand in the business, and the direction you want to take the business. It is something that I struggle with, but my team knows that I don’t waste time. Just because I’m not on-site, I’m always doing something.
Working ON Your Business
I think for me as a builder, completing the systems and processes for our building business, and then implementing them into Live Life Build, was a bit of an eye-opener, I think for both of us. When we actually got everything on paper and all the tasks that it takes to run a building business.
It is quite incredible that only around 20% of the tasks it takes to run a successful, sustainable, profitable building business are on site.
I’ve actually been spending a bit of time educating my team on this. And it’s been a real eye-opener for them as well.
It’s one of those things as a builder, you can’t grow your business by being on-site swinging a hammer. So you’ve really got to build that trust, build the culture, and have a great team, that when you jump in your truck to go and have a meeting or to spend a day in the office to keep the business going, they appreciate that you’re doing that to keep them employed, and to keep them paid, and to keep the business going. So, it’s open communication, being personal, and letting them know.
I want my team to understand. I don’t want my team to just be carpenters. I want them to be educated on the whole process as well because that’s going to make them enjoy their job, because they’re not going to have the s… thinking “hey, he just ducked off around the corner, he’s going to get another coffee or whatever”. It’s a team environment and building a good culture.
I think that trust piece is really important because it can be challenging to trust and then see a mistake get made, but know that that’s actually going to be part of the process of people learning and growing and being able to step into those roles that you’re asking of them, isn’t it?
Yeah. Teaching, well not so much teaching, it’s keeping everybody informed. And I think, educating them on why things happen a certain way has been a big change in our business. Like I said before, I don’t want my guys to feel like they are only carpenters. And if they feel they’re only carpenters, they’re going to make decisions on site that may not have got the best outcome or kept our job on schedule.
So educating them on the outside of what’s happening off-site can also go a long way to them understanding that’s why he’s telling me he wants that done, because we need to do that over there first, because the rough-in trades are coming. So, once we get all that ready, they can continue and then we can keep going on with this work. So it’s all definitely about open communication, education, and getting everybody on the same page. So your site team understands what it is you’re expecting.
When your team is working well, it is going to enable you to grow your building business. Head over to www.youtube.com/@LiveLifeBuild and subscribe for more coaching for residential builders.