Since the COVID crisis struck, the construction sector has experienced the best and the worst of times.
Specifically in Australia, the federal government’s 2020 Home Builder subsidy scheme triggered a residential renovation boom which saw builders and trade businesses booked up months in advance.
The Housing Industry Association’s November 2021 Trade Report indicated the industry was experiencing its most significant skills shortage since the inception of the Report in 2003.
Widespread flooding across the east coast in early 2022 compounded the demand for services, such that it’s now a case of “good luck with that” for anyone looking to have building work done in anything resembling a hurry.
That’s the upside.
The downside? Having a full order book is no longer the blessing that once it was. Keeping good workers on staff and on side has been a real challenge for many business owners.
So has sourcing materials. Australia is in the grip of its worst materials shortage in 40 years, with everything from timber and tiles to kitchen and bathroom fittings in short supply. In an industry where time is money, that’s no minor hiccup.
Prices have skyrocketed accordingly but passing on those increases to customers has been problematic for trade businesses that haven’t allowed for them in their quotes.
This confluence of factors has sent a string of builders, both large and mid-sized, to the wall this year. Subcontractors inevitably share in the misery, when work has been carried out but the bills can’t be paid.
Take the pressure down
Against that backdrop, it’s no surprise many trade business owners are feeling like they’re up against it. More than 60 per cent say work pressures are their biggest stressor, according to OzHelp’s National Tradie Wellbeing Survey Results in January 2022. Family and relationship, and financial pressures come a close second and third.
But while there’s nothing you can do about supply chain disruption, national labour shortages and the other macro-economic factors making your business life trickier than you’d like it to be, there are steps you can take to dial down your stress levels.
Getting more organised on the operational front and achieving greater visibility of your financial position are two of them. Indeed, back-of-the-envelope quoting and seat-of-the-pants accounting and cashflow management are still standard modi operandi for many. The net result? Unnecessary hours spent catching up on paper work over the weekend and lack of insight into how they’re tracking until jobs are done and dusted.
Tools to make the task easy
Fortunately, there are tools to help you get a handle on all these things, improve your cashflow and reduce the amount of overtime you’ve been putting in.
Construction job management software that automates your quotes, timesheets, job scheduling, invoicing and back costing, and integrates seamlessly with your accounting package, can take the hard work and hassle out of running your business.
It makes it easy to price for profit, control your costs, and keep on top of compliance and financial management.
Once the exclusive province of commercial construction companies with sizeable ICT budgets and support teams, this technology is now affordable and easy to use, for every trade business owner with a smartphone.
Taking back your time
Knowing how your jobs are tracking, operationally and financially, means fewer cost blow-outs and greater certainty about the state of your business.
And the hours you save each week can be spent doing more of the things that matter – whether that’s working on or in your business or taking some well-deserved time out with family and friends.
At a time when surviving and thriving in the construction sector is no easy matter, it’s an investment in your health, and the health of your business, you can ill afford not to make.