Episode 54 – Alison Warner
Get More Business, Make More Money And Find Great People To Build A Better Business
Alison Warner is the author of Build & Grow, an Amazon best seller and the founder of Evolve & Grow, an organisation focused on developing trade based businesses by helping them answer questions such as
- Why am I not making enough money?
- How can I get more business?
- Where and how can I find good people?
- How can I create a stronger, more reliable team?
- How can I have a better work/life balance?
Allison has worked extensively with construction and trade businesses. She formed a specialist division for this sector; Build and Grow in 2015, as well as the BUILD system, which enabled Allison to train other coaches to support more clients. This 5 step system takes the business owner through key areas of their business, identifying the gaps and implementing the necessary systems and processes required for growth.
Discover the health of your trade business here.
What is the biggest barrier to a small to medium sized construction company making more money?
Having worked at many construction companies and businesses, what in your opinion would be the biggest barrier to a company making more money?
Without a doubt, recruitment, the people, because the rest of them, it has to be either training somebody to understand something, for example, the numbers, or it tends to be implementing a system or training them in a time management technique. It’s all tangible. But people, and I used to say this at Starbucks to my managers, it’s not like when the coffee machine breaks down, you go and get the engineer. We’re all different. So what one technique will work with one person won’t work with the other.
If you’re managing people, you have to be sometimes the disciplinarian, sometimes the motivator, sometimes the counselor, sometimes the psychologist. You have to wear all of these different hats to get the best out of your people, to know who is the right person for your business. And then once you have them, how do you then keep them motivated and keep them performing?
So without a doubt, the people. That’s one of the questions I ask prospective clients, where do you want to get to and what do you think are the three challenges in your way? And I kind of know who’s got the most awareness, I guess. If they mention people at the forefront, I think, okay, well, you’re aware of it. You’re on track.
How can construction companies find great people to join their team?
So how can we find good people?
I don’t have a pink magic wand. Unfortunately, I will say that. What I’ve done is essentially taken the recruitment process that I put in place at Starbucks and Pizza Express, and that we kind of had at Pizza Hut as well, and I’ve just taken it into the world of construction and trade.
The simple answer to that is get the job advert right. Cast it out to as many people as possible. Get on all of the job boards and we partnered with a company that does that at a reduced price, social media, and ask your networks. If you think of a funnel, get as many people in the top. What tends to happen in this industry is the person feels, “Oh my God, I need somebody.” They start asking around and somebody gets recommended and they, at best, meet them for a coffee and a chat. At worst, just put them straight on the tools and fingers crossed and sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t. Invariably, they don’t.
What we want to do is have the job advert worded correctly so it attracts the right people. We put it everywhere so that we widen the net and get loads of people in the funnel, so to speak. And then we have a really good sifting system starting with telephone interview. If it’s an office position, psychometric testing. If it’s a trade position, you’d go straight to final interview. Sounds very corporate and it kind of is but I give the person the tools and then you use them in a way that feels authentic for you.
But it’s asking proper structured questions, giving examples. So for example, tell me about a time when you dealt with a challenging customer. What was the issue? How did you deal with it? Blah, blah, blah. References. A lot of people, and this is across all industries not just this one, they relax at this point because they’re like, “Oh, thank God. I found somebody,” and they forget the importance of checking references. And often, again, this happens in big companies, they forget the importance of then inducting them properly into the role. That’s what I mean by the whole recruitment process.
Why should I share my profit targets with my employees?
I think the most effective thing that works in this industry is some sort of profit share scheme.
So doing it on a quarterly basis, where you have a target. I’m a big believer in sharing the figures with the team. A lot of people are sometimes nervous about doing that, but I think if you trust them and you show that trust, they appreciate it and they understand how much it costs to run a business.
Can you explain that one because I’ve seen it done, I’ve seen it done very, very well. Just for those that maybe listen that haven’t come across profit sharing, could you explain what it looks like and the benefits of it?
So there’s various different ways of doing it, but generally I would say, have your quarterly target, share it with them. So say to the guys, right, we’re anticipating turning over, I don’t know, 200,000 in the next quarter, and from that, we’re anticipating making 40,000 pounds profit. Anything that we make in addition to that, so let’s say we make 50,000, that additional 10,000, either all of it or a proportion of it, goes into a pot and it’s then shared out equally amongst the team.
Now you can get, if you want to sort of have two tiers, so your more senior people get a bigger chunk, you can. There’s different ways of doing it. My advice is keep it simple, keep it so that people can understand it, and share with people how the company is doing month on month. So the idea is that that should drive a certain behavior. So you’re wanting people to work harder. By that, I mean, not necessarily more hours or anything, but to treat the company as if it were their own. So to think about wastage, make the right decisions for the company, as well as themselves, so they feel part of something.
And then, because they’re part of something and they’re being communicated with regularly around how they’re doing and how the company’s doing, they then get a slice of that pie. I think if you leave it any more than a quarter, like every six months or once a year, it’s too long. People lose sight of it. And every month, in the construction industry, it’s too topsy-turvy sometimes. So a quarter, three months, gives you, you know, it’s probably about the right timescale.
I absolutely love that, because retaining staff, it’s very easy in this industry to have our heads turned by a shiny looking company over here that maybe might give me some better overtime rates or maybe a bigger size company, where there’s climb the ladder opportunities. But a lot of the time, creating that culture where boy, I’m motivated to be a part of something, like I’m actually a part of this and we’re all in this together type of culture, I think is brilliant. And with wanting data on [inaudible 00:02:51] that just sticks out there, as you’ve described, was creating these disciplines, whereby the first thing that comes to my head, five o’clock is our knock-off time. We’re on job with [inaudible 00:03:01], we don’t expect people to do overtime for free, but you know what, if we kick on until six here, we’re going to get this done and that’s going to affect my quality margin.
And that’s the first thing, creating little disciplines across your team, which could make a huge difference to that team not having to go back to that job at eight o’clock the following morning and be finished by 11. And what happens to that day? Yeah, I absolutely love that.