Do you use systems in your building business?
Creating systems for a successful building business can seem challenging.
Many builders experience the everyday frustration that comes when you run a building business without proven and documented systems.
You may believe that you have systems, but if you’re finding that your team are making mistakes, your phone doesn’t stop ringing with questions, or you’re unable to be free of your business at all, then chances are the systems you have are actually not systems at all.
Creating systems helps create reliability and consistency in your building business. It gives your team clarity as to the way things are done. It assists with delivering quality. And it also enables you to operate professionally, and give clients confidence that you have their project in hand.
Ultimately, it frees you up from your business, and gives you the opportunity to take time away, trusting that things are being carried out as you want them to be.
Here’s our 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, of creating systems for your successful building business.
5. GETTING STARTED ON SYSTEMS
As a builder I’m sure you have situations on a weekly or even a daily basis where you think to yourself what is going on.
- Why can’t my team just do things the way I want?
- Why does everything have to be so hard?
- How come I can never have time off without everyone needing something?
- Why can’t people just do as they are told?
- How come I must always repeat myself?
- How come no one listens to me?
- Why can’t clients just leave me alone?
- Why, why, why?
If just by reading these, you are getting all fired up knowing that this is exactly what happens to you all the time, then you need to keep reading.
It’s very common for builders to be doing things in a specific way because it’s what you see others doing, and it’s what you have been taught during your apprenticeship and by the builders you have worked with.
A huge problem in the building industry is that very few builders have put in the effort to do extra training to improve their business. So, we’re in a situation where the new generations just keep picking up old (bad) habits as no one knows differently.
The other big factor in all of this, is that builders are usually not recognised as professionals. Builders tend to be seen as just another tradie that manages the whole project, instead of a professional business operator with a huge amount of risk and liability.
For you, as a builder, to be seen as professionals you need to change your mindset from thinking you are simply a builder, to instead thinking of what you do as a business.
Builders build homes for people; businesses have systems and make profit.
The reason you have the problems we listed above is because you are expecting your employees, your contractors, your clients, your suppliers, and everyone that you deal with to just know what you want.
Yet, how are they to know just from you pointing your finger, telling them over the phone, or explaining something in ten minutes? Especially when that task might take them hours to do, especially when they’re looking at contracts and only seeing documents for the first time.
You may think you have systems and processes, but do you really?
Many builders believe they have systems, and yet they’re still the only one able to fully understand what’s required, mistakes get made, and it’s very difficult to delegate work, let alone trust it will be done properly.
And if you’re constantly tied to your business, acting as the person that everyone needs to speak to and check in with, then chances are you don’t have great systems either.
If no one has ever explained to you about how powerful systems are and how they can solve so many business problems, then let’s look at an example: McDonalds.
It doesn’t matter who you are, if you have the money to buy a McDonalds franchise you will make money. The reason for this is that they are completely systems driven. When you buy a franchise, you are buying a fully tested and proven systems manual that is constantly being improved by McDonalds, so they remain the leader in fast food.
Believe it or not this is something you can do in your business.
4. THERE IS A SYSTEM FOR EVERYTHING
Systems are the key to business success and freedom. Once you start developing systems in your business it doesn’t take long to see how they will change not only your business but your life.
Do you dream of having a business that you can control from a distance?
You can go on holidays with your family on trips with mates and not have to be contacted. You can take the kids to school, pick them up, spend time with them after school and on the weekends.
Do you dream of having nights and weekends without your phone ringing, worrying about checking emails or receiving text messages from clients after hours?
Systems can and will do all of this when you put the time and effort into developing them.
Now I’m sure you are reading this and are suspicious of how well systems work for a builder. Especially a builder who is doing custom new builds and renovations where every project, site and client is different. They might work for the big cookie-cutter home businesses. They might work in the office for the regular tasks. But there’s no way they can work on site. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as you can create systems for everything.
Most people think of systems as:
- How-To manuals
- Procedure manuals
- Standard operating procedures
- Dot point lists
However, what a system REALLY is, is this:
>>> The RIGHT PERSON
>>> Doing the RIGHT THING
>>> In the RIGHT WAY
>>> At the RIGHT TIME.
When you think of systems like this, it’s easy to see how you can solve all the problems in your building business, as you can create a system for absolutely everything.
3. WHY DO YOU NEED SYSTEMS WHEN EVERYONE KNOWS HOW YOU DO THINGS?
The best way to get your head around systems is to think of some of the simple things you do regularly. There are so many things that you do or that you purchase every single day that we are sure you don’t even think twice about, but there is a system behind them.
As an example, let’s talk about coffee.
These days most people can’t start the day without at least 1 if not 2 or 3 cups of coffee. Everyone has their favourite and can tell straight away after the first little sip if it’s made to their liking or not. I’m sure you have never thought about your coffee like this, but when you get a cup you don’t like, the reason it’s wrong is because someone broke the system.
There are thousands of types of coffee in the world, however there are generally around thirty that are the most popular. Even with only thirty of them being the most popular, each of those thirty are all made a different way. Then on top of this, depending on who makes your coffee, it can also be different.
Try doing this exercise at home or at work:
- Ask a group of people to write down the steps they take to make a flat white
- Don’t give them any advice, just let them write down how they do it.
- When everyone is finished, compare the steps that each person has written down.
Now obviously there is no real set way to make a flat white. The objective of this exercise is to demonstrate how everyone will have their own way of making the flat white. And everyone will have a different way of describing the steps they take to make a flat white as well.
Now to an average coffee drinker, or someone that doesn’t drink coffee at all, this may not sound like a big deal. But to a coffee addict they will be able to tell straight away that each flat white has been made differently.
So, you can see from this exercise even something as simple as a cup of coffee can have a different outcome if there is no system to follow. And that if you leave it up to everyone to decide on the steps towards an outcome, you’re likely to get a bunch of different approaches, which may not get you the result you want.
Think about all the situations you have in your building business. You might have some really great tradesmen and apprentices, but you are always getting frustrated with how things are being done.
The fact is that you could have twenty amazing carpenters on a project and still have huge problems unless you have a documented system. Each of them will have their own way of doing things and if you haven’t documented it the way you want it, then you will just keep getting frustrated by them all doing things in different ways.
Think about your systems like the step-by-step process of describing how to make a cup of coffee. Don’t assume knowledge. And remember to think about it in terms of the right person, doing the right thing, the right way, at the right time.
Using that as a framework for creating your own systems is a fantastic way to get started on your systems development.
2. GETTING IT OUT OF YOUR HEAD
Early in 2021, we were fortunate enough to spend a week with a systems expert and Duayne kindly opened up his business for us to use as a base.
Now you have probably heard Duayne talk about how he has systems and processes in his building business. And it’s something that has made a massive difference to everything in his business and life. But even Duayne had no idea about how much improvement was about to be made during that week.
This is what he said:
“It was an enormous week of ten and twelve hour days working through as much as we could. Then for the following three months, my team and I spent over 300 hours completing all the tasks that came from spending a week with a systems expert.
The results have inspired me to keep going even further and systemising everything in my building business. And I mean everything: I’m even doing a system for sharpening a carpenter’s pencil!
We have started sharing the systems that we’ve been working on with our ELEVATE members, so they can fast track their own systems development.
You see, I had that moment where I understood why I was having so many little frustrating challenges on a regular basis in my business.
Now I am addicted to working with my team so that together, we can systemise everything and be on the same page.
The big win for me that week was realising that so much of what I do is in my head and not documented. And now that I understand how a real system works, I can get everything in my head and my team’s heads clearly documented on paper for all of them to follow.”
If everything is in your head, then it’s why everyone else is always needing you, asking questions, not understanding, doing things different to what you want. You’ll find clients are not leaving you alone, and you’ll never be able to switch off. The main reason so many business owners end up feeling trapped in the business and like they can’t escape, is exactly because of this.
This is the power of systems and how you get your life back. Get it out of your head.
It can feel overwhelming to get started, and like a big mountain of work. But in three months time (when you’re still frustrated by the mistakes and inconsistencies), you’ll have wished you started today.
It’s amazing too, how once you start, you will build up momentum very quickly. And once you’re using your systems and see it free up your time and improve the business overall, you’ll get addicted like Duayne is!
1. THE KEY TO SYSTEM SUCCESS
Once you understand the power of systems and you have put in the time to develop them for your business, you then need to get your team involved and do some training.
A lot of businesses put so much time into administration and documenting things but never do anything further. Everything they do just gets put in a filing cabinet or filed on a computer, and they think they have done a great job.
We are sure lots of builders have some sort of systems in their businesses, but it’s most likely that no one knows about them, except the builder or an admin staff member.
So many businesses do things like this and then get frustrated because no one is doing things the way they want.
There are 3 steps to having freedom from your business:
Step #1: Create systems for everything in your business
Talk to your team on site and in the office, talk to your clients and suppliers. Get feedback so you can make sure the systems you have make the most improvement.
Step #2: Train your team
There’s no point systemising everything in the business and then not using those systems you’ve created.
Systems are only valuable if everyone follows every step in them. So, have training sessions with your team so they know what to do and why they need to do it.
If they don’t understand the importance of why the business has systems then they won’t follow them. Get them involved and ask for feedback so they feel like they are contributing to the business. Ask your team if they have ideas for systems for things you are getting them to do.
Step #3: Provide support and reviews
Once you have created the systems and trained your team about them, i’s really important you support them and encourage them to speak up if they have any concerns.
Make everyone feel comfortable about bringing up any issues, improvements or just asking questions. The more comfortable you make your team feel, the more likely they are to get involved.
If you put in the time and effort to these three things you will not believe the difference to your business and life.
You will have freedom to move on to other areas of the business, growth, improvement, lifestyle and most important your health.
So, here’s our 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 to identify your ideal project.
5. Have you asked your team what their goals are?
4. How can you help and facilitate your team’s goals?
3. What are your goals as a team?
2. Holding people accountable.
1. Celebrate the wins and create a good work environment.
Live Life Build’s 6P Methodology unlocks the 6 ways to elevate your building business:
PERSONAL | PROJECTS | PEOPLE | PARTNERSHIPS | PROCESSES | PROFESSIONAL
Want to fast track your systems development? Access our Systems Library in our group program, ELEVATE. Learn more here.