An important 6 minute read on using your computer to grow your building business
The most powerful piece of kit in your building business is actually your computer. In many ways, the profit doesn’t come from your work on site. It’s what you put into your computer and what you get out of it.
The team at HBXL has put together some tips for success whilst sitting at a computer or laptop. If you’re a business owner/manager working in residential construction – then read on. We’ve split it into two parts:
Part I: General computer-based admin tips
And further down the page
Part II: Computer help specific to builder owner/managers
So here goes. Put your PC or laptop to good use and it will help you save time, protect your mental health, improve your chances of winning decent work and ensure you make money rather than waste it.
Give your day structure – prioritise your tasks – use a calendar, schedule or note app to list specific tasks. Whether your day will be at home, the office or on site. The most successful people plan their day to the minute.
Keep in touch with prospects – regularly email or write to prospects to show your continued interest in their project. Don’t let opportunities drop away. Offer helpful suggestions on maximising their budget or an idea that will enhance the project.
Keep your name out there – If you have a website then make a habit of regularly adding new material, whether it’s a project, news item or piece of advice. If you don’t have a website, do some research via the internet and you’ll soon be on your way to an online presence. Facebook page? This definitely needs regular input. Prospects could think you’ve gone out of business if there hasn’t been a post in months. Take a look here at our short, value-for-money e-learning courses covering Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Search Engine Optimisation, and Social Media for Business. Money well spent sat at your computer!
Research new van advertising – Research local companies offering sign writing and ‘wrap’ services. By the way, every new HBXL EstimatorXpress or Health & Safety Xpert user receives a welcome pack with a large free sticker to slap on the back of their van to promote their high standards!
Ask for testimonials – make it standard practice after each project. And if you’re short on feedback, then go back over past projects, and email customers. It’ll take minutes once you have some wording in place to copy and paste into each customer’s email. If they were happy with your work, they’re sure to oblige. Trustpilot works well for our own business – and pushes us up the google rankings. You can’t put words into people’s mouths or incentivise them so it’s all genuine feedback.
Train yourself on business management – for just £35+VAT per course, use your computer to access our straightforward, online business courses. They’re interactive videos, complete with tutor so it’s visual and friendly. You can do it at your own pace whenever, wherever as they’re all pre-recorded. We offer courses for just £35+VAT on delegation, sick pay, disciplinary procedures, conflict resolution, data protection, and more. Details here.
Get a certificate in health and safety – as above, for minimal outlay you can get you and your staff trained in important subjects relating to health and safety. All virtual courses, all pre-recorded with a tutor. Asbestos, working at height, manual handling, dangerous substances, fire safety, CDM awareness, and more. Most courses are either £25+VAT or £35+VAT. Details here.
Get your head round accounting – if you don’t know your balance sheet from your income statement – even if someone else looks after your books – take the time to understand the basics of accounting. There are lots of useful advisory websites online.
Stay on top of cash flow – are you making money or losing it? Will you only discover when your accountant does the year-end books? Keep a spreadsheet. Update it daily. Note down every last receipt, expense, money in, money out. It’s even easier with a software tool. Research an accounting app that would make the task easier. Think about your overheads. For example, we offer subscription as an alternative to outright purchase of our software tools, which reduces pressure on cash flow. MORE TIPS INCOMING We’re going to be sharing some advice on finances over the coming weeks.
Your building skills are vitally important but you can’t use those skills without pricing jobs and winning them. And you can’t keep the ship afloat without managing the health and safety and payment side. The good news is you can do all of this with the help of your computer.
Cost your projects accurately with ‘fill in the numbers’ templates – as long as you have the dimensions of your project, then you can use one of 100s of pre-populated templates in EstimatorXpress to estimate in minutes. It will calculate you the cost of the project down to the last nail and hour of plastering. Then all you have to do is decide what to quote the customer.
Click to produce stunning visualisation – PlansXpress gives you user-friendly tools to draw professional building plans while the software provides the detail using its in-built building knowledge. From this the photo-realistic images, cut-throughs, overhead shots, the lot, are automatically produced at the touch of a button.
Click for a set of ‘what to do next’ paperwork – Once you have your completed estimate in EstimatorXpress you automatically get everything you need to carry out the project. The build program, materials list, cutting list, labour schedule, cash flow analysis, stage payment schedules, profit forecast and so on…
Click a button to see an invaluable analysis of your projects – not in a maths degree kind of way! The live dashboard in EstimatorXpress automatically tracks your quotes and jobs and analyses what’s working and what isn’t. And that’s just a fraction of what it can do help you make more money, win more work.
Key in project details and get relevant H & S documents – Health & Safety Xpert matches the relevant documents to the specific job keeping you legal, fine-free and safe on site. It even prompts you if you miss anything.
Key in project details and get paid on time without quibble – ContractsXpert writes the building contract to make sure you get paid on time. Fifteen minutes tops to deliver your enforceable contracts, forms, and covering letters required by Trading Standards. No vague agreements or the opportunity to delay paying. Your contracts make it legally binding.
Fill in the fields and view all your project workflows – Rather than letting the projects run you – ProjectXpert puts you in control through effective planning – avoiding oversights, over-ordering or unscheduled deliveries, cash flow blips… You can combine materials, plant and people on multiple jobs to see how to best manage each day. You can see each project’s ‘best scenario’ and also the ‘law of sod’ version.
So there you have a snapshot of our software tools designed to give your business every chance of success. The full list of tools for your computer is here.
Simon and Mark. They could soon become your best friends. They’re The Better Business Group. They help builders (exclusively) to run a better business! They can help you charge the right amount for a job, and advise on how to convert enquiries into business. They can even get you qualified/pre-vetted leads, as well as check out your competition and speak to your customers. Call us on 0117 916 7898 and we’ll put you on to them.
Simply give us the name, address and postcode of six completed projects, and The Better Business Group will send them a survey questionnaire (plus a reply paid envelope for return) asking various questions about the service they received. They will then analyse the findings and come back to you with a Report. There are no strings attached, no commitments at all. Click through here and you’ll find the form at the bottom of the page.
It’s important to remember that the number-crunching, form filling and letter writing wins the work and determines whether you make money or a loss. So put your computer to good use – get it working for you.
Feel free to talk to our guys for a better understanding of how our range of business software for builders can save you hours, and improve your win rate and profitability. Call us on 0117 916 7898 or request an online demonstration here or a free trial here. It’s our 20th Anniversary year so ask about our special birthday deals.
Your building skills. Our building software. Together, let’s build a great business.