Builders! Six reasons why you need to be on your game…

  1. Potential customers don’t like poor communication even if the quote is in the right ball park for them

Do you ever have dead cert, ‘in the bag’ jobs that still go elsewhere? What went wrong? The price was slap bang in the middle? They seemed interested…? Well you might be surprised to know that often the customer chooses the (often more expensive) contractor who is always prompt with email, text, phone replies and provides clear, professional looking paperwork. Since they’re going to be spending a lot of money, you can’t blame them for thinking this attitude bodes well for the job itself. You only have to ask BBG, our partners, who help building firms to win more work – they see this outcome all the time.

Solution – the cost itself is only part of the decision-making process. Nail your presentation, time-keeping, attitude to answering their questions, and even managing their expectations. If you know the quotation won’t be with them for a fortnight – be honest with the customer – they prefer it.

  1. If you don’t have a method for checking off every last cost you WILL forget something – you’re only human

There’s nothing worse than having to ask the customer for more money because you’ve forgotten a particular material or piece of equipment. Actually worse still is not being able to charge the customer at all, and swallowing the extra wages, materials, fees or hire charges.

Solution – this scenario is where an estimating service comes into its own – the kind of service that reminds you about every aspect of a project; even wear and tear or wastage. A service that has already factored in every last screw that goes into a wall etc.

  1. Material prices keep rising and profitable companies charge it on

There doesn’t seem to be any let up in the price rises. Bricks, insulation, timber, tiles… the list goes on. There are some scary statistics out there of building firms reporting losses because they can’t keep up with the latest increases, or are quoting with outdated figures in mind.

Solution – rather than put a squeeze on your profits, we use the latest prices in our estimating service. And if you would like us to we can also highlight the likelihood of price rises in your quotes, as well as draft them into your contracts. Right now building firms are booking as far as one year ahead. No one knows how much bricks will cost then!

  1. Even the friendliest customers can still withhold the final payment

But they’re so nice? They make cups of tea. Conversation/communications have been excellent. You accommodated a change of plan. All good. All bad. When it comes to the final payment they can turn on you, claiming you haven’t done something that they asked for. It could end up in court. You could very easily wind up out of pocket, with a cash flow crisis at the very least. Sorry…

Solution – You either keep chalking it up to experience or get us to produce Small Works Business-to-Business contract, Consumer contract or a Subcontract contract. All of them will leave no-one in doubt about the work covered, its value, obligations, payment timings, defects, termination, warranties, insurance, dispute resolution and so on.

  1. The HSE really DO make surprise visits to check up on site safety

‘We’re going to be in your area’…You’ve seen the Facebook posts, you’ve read the news reports. And it’s true, the HSE is on a mission to visit small sites across the UK, and clamp down on unsafe practices. They’ll look at any possible health risks arising from the work you are doing; look at any machinery or other equipment that you have; ask to see records or other documents; and take photographs. If you have it all in hand, you can sleep easy. If you don’t…

Solution – No software can make your site safe, but the right health and safety documents will make it clear what you should be doing, specific to the job, to ensure everyone’s safety. Telling the HSE that you know what you’re doing isn’t the same as physically showing the authorities the policies, documents, checklists and so on, that you are diligently following and working from. In fact they won’t take your ‘word’ for it – they need the evidence, either printed out, or accessible on site on a computer that everyone can assess… 

  1. You’re busy now but who knows what effect Brexit will have…

We’re not trying to scare-monger…but… Future-proofing your business isn’t easy when you don’t know what’s to come. But let’s face it, building a decent financial buffer thanks to profitable jobs, is good business practice anyway. Sadly, 3% margins aren’t going to really make much of an impression. You need to think bigger. And what if Brexit results in building materials becoming even more scarce? What if Brexit puts a real squeeze on consumer spending? It will all become much more competitive…

Solution – the companies who will survive the inevitable turmoil are already running a lean business, are working with professional estimating solutions, have money in the bank, have an excellent reputation in the market, have a good presence on the internet, are thinking outside the box, and very possibly offering design as well as build, and even buying land to build on.

Adrian Wild, founder of HBXL Professional Services, a champion of the SME builder, believes builders can do many things to improve profitability, reduce admin hours, and win more, better quality work. And HBXL Professional Services was created with this in mind.

To find out more about the service that will keep you on top of your game, have a chat with the HBXL team any time between 9.00am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday on 0117 916 7894. You can leave a message out of hours or via the website. We’re here to help!