EPISODE 101 – Don’t take on Quality Jobs!

EPISODE 101 – Don’t take on Quality Jobs!

By mick | June 3, 2022

EPISODE 101 – Don’t take on Quality Jobs! |

Well, good morning and welcome to the "Builders Business Success Podcast".

As our mate said, I'm Mick Hawes from Builders Business Blackbelt, and I'm a construction business coach, or a builder's coach, and this podcast is all about the challenges and the issues that are very common and often costly in the building and construction businesses.

This is episode 101. And in today's episode, we're talking about, well, the title of it is, don't take on quality jobs. And you might go, well, that's a stupid thing to say, but really the question is, is should you knock back quality jobs?

In my world, the answer is yes, and we're gonna find out why. Not all quality jobs, but there are some quality jobs that are disguised as crappy jobs, and I guess it's best communicated based on, have you ever had a client that you've worked within the past, that seemed pretty good at the beginning, but right now, looking at it in the review mirror, you wish you would never have taken them on?

That's kind of what we're gonna be talking about. Also going to have Steph Campanella's going to lend her expertise in this area as well. She's gonna tell us a bit of a story, how this can affect your business.

So looking forward to that. And also Katie. Katie is joining us, I was about to say, live for the first time, but she's not going to be live, but she is going to be here. And this is what she'll talk.

Today I wanna talk to you about why I believe, 100%, that you should actually knock back quality jobs if the clients aren't the right fit, even if the job is great, and amazing, and a perfect fit for you, the clients aren't a good fit, we need to knock that back, and I'll explain why.

And I agree with that, we're singing off the same page of the hymn book there. Just before we get started, I wanna remind you, as I always do, get yourself a copy of "The Successful Builders Toolkit".

The New Book!

Here is a QR code. If you are watching it on a computer, you can just hold your phone up there and go bing with the QR code, if you're QR codes savvy, and get yourself a copy of "The Successful Builders Toolkit".

It's got everything in it that we cover in our Builders Business Blackbelt program. And even if I do say so, it's a really, really good read because if you open up the front cover, there's a lady mentioned in the front cover, her name is Sheridan Morris over in Western Australia, and she was the one that edited my ramblings to make it make sense, so really, the kudos needs to go to Sheridan in relation to the book, it is a really great read. Grab yourself a copy.  

If you're not QR code literate, there is in the chat, if you're here live, there's a link there that you can click on to go grab yourself a copy. It's 29.95, that include includes postage and the whole shebang. And if you are watching the replay, there'll be a link in the description. So let's get started.

Transcription of the show!

Okay, so beware the great looking project is really the message here. The main thing that I wanna get across in this episode is that we often get sucked into taking on a great project, or we put the blinkers on, or the blinders maybe, that we don't take notice of the red flags because maybe the money looks good or maybe the type of project is an exciting type of project.

It might be a project that, you know, you might be able to enter into the awards or, you know, that it might be in a magazine or, you know, "Grand Designs" is filming it or something like that, and you'll convince yourself that there are these other reasons as to why you should take the job on.

But really, we've gotta make sure that clients or prospects in the beginning are a great fit before we start to move down the line of opening the door and letting them into your business.

Now, Steph Campanella traditionally talks about the digital marketing, she does amazing things with your website, so Google falls in love with it, and you can be seen, and she does great things with AdWords so you can be found as well. But today she's just gonna tell a story about somebody who wanted her services, and just a few things to look out for. So let's hear Steph's story.

Oh, hello. It's Steph, and I'm back for a quick minute for Mick, and today's topic is, should you ever knock back a quality job? And I'm gonna tell you a story, actually.

So we have a certain way that we attract leads and we bring them into our business, there's boundaries, so they've gotta fill in a form, they've gotta book into our calendar, and this helps my team and I diagnose if this customer is actually willing to follow some steps to connect and engage with us, and play the game our way basically.

So we had a gentleman show up, fill in the form, give us all the details, book in the calendar item, you know, obviously book in a time for the two of us to get together on a call and understand if we are the right company for him or not, and then maybe take the next steps.

I then sat down, ready to go with my sales process, and you know, I dialed the phone. I dialed the phone. Hello? Yep, it's John. Now John's not his real name, I'm just pretending. Yeah, it's John. I'm like, oh, hey, it's Steph from Tradies Go. We've got a call right now, is that still working for you?

And John, yep, yeah, go, go. And I'm like, sorry, John, it's Steph from Tradies Go, we had a call, but you booked in the call with me. Yeah, yeah, go. Yeah, go, just tell me, yep, what do you want? And I was like, John, I'm not sure where right for each other.

Oh, well, I mean, don't you do marketing, like, you know, can't you help? We do do marketing and we do it really well, and we do it for really good, great companies and businesses around Australia.

Yeah, okay, so can you like, oh my God, like I'm not even laying it on thick, like this John was just like attitude from the very get go. In his form, great business, the right turnover for someone that we can help, the right niche, like he was doing the right thing, he was going all in on one thing, so he wasn't wide in his offering, it was quite narrow and niche, which is perfect for us.

But then when I got him on the phone, he was just a gronk, disrespectful, and if he's gonna talk like that to me on the phone, he's gonna then deal or talk like that to my team, and I don't think anyone needs to be disrespected.

So should you ever knock back a quality job? Yes, if the person is not right for your business. Anyway, I hope that was helpful, and I hope you like my story. Bye.

Back to Mick:
Loved your story, Steph, there was a few laughs in there from me, I was giggling in the background. Not sure what a gronk is, but I'm gonna ask her next time I speak to her.

And what I loved about that was a couple of things, one, and this is what we're gonna be talking about, one of the things is having a process. In Builders Business Blackbelt and in Blueprint to Black Belt, we call it the quality client pathway. And it's, you know, I'm gonna explain that in a little while.

But the main thing is before you say yes and open the door to your business, because how many ways can it go wrong when you open the door to the wrong client? And I ask that question in the intro, how many, or do you remember anyone that if you'd had your time over again, you would've said, no, you wouldn't have opened up the door to your business.

And so we need to have a pathway and we need to understand that the relationship is the key to a successful project. Like, I know we talk about profit and so on and so forth, and Katie talks about that.

Katie will be talking about this issue a little bit later, but the key to profit is having a great relationship, because when you come together as a team to work on this project, the effectiveness and the efficiency, the quality communication and the trust are the things that allow or cause most of the costly problems to disappear in the first place.

And just real quick, and I'm telling you this story because I'm hoping it's gonna make a difference to your focus. Many moons ago, when I was a small business coach, in fact, you know, my brain thought that small business was a niche, I mean, it's laughable now, small business is not a niche.

And so we were refining our focus and deciding on who we would focus in on. And long story short, I looked on on Google for all of the different types of small businesses.

It turns out there are about 2,400 types of small businesses like the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, all of that sort of thing. And I printed that list out and I went through it, and the first thing that I was looking for, I wanted to find all of the businesses where their clients come to them because of a want a desire, not a need, right? There's a difference.

No offense, plumbers, but no one calls the plumber around because they want the plumber to come around. They call the plumber to come around because your toilet's blocked or the water's gone off, and they need you to fix it. But with a builder, there is a want there, there is a desire, there is a dream that they have that they want you to help them bring into fruition.

And so I think out of the 2,400 businesses, there were only about 40 odd, low 40s, where the customers come to them for a want, okay? One of them was hairdressers, hair and beauty, another one was golf, I ended up with those three niches. I dunno what I was thinking, but imagine me working in hair and beauty, and I used to be a golf tragic, but I still, you know, it just didn't feel right.

So I ended up in the builder's space, because my dad was a builder, I've been in the building game, not as a builder, but as a tradesman. And the thing that appeals to me about the whole building business, particularly the custom home building businesses, and so you're aware, like Builders Business Blackbelt's focus really is on a husband and wife run custom home building business.

The majority of our members are husband and wife run. Does it mean that that's all we've got? No, you know, we've got an electrical business in there run by two brothers, we've got building design, Frank, our longest suffering member, he's been with us way before Black Belt, like 16 years or something crazy.

But the majority of them are builders and the majority of them are husband and wife run. But you know, there's some with business partners, and solopreneurs, and all that sort of stuff. But it's more, you know, whether they're the right fit for our Black Belt group is the most important thing.

And so what we wanna cover here are what are the common issues? And I think that the most common are price focused, like when you've got a customer that's price focused, it's really, really frustrating, you know? If they're poor decision makers, like if they take forever to make a decision or they change their mind a lot, that can cause a lot of frustration, and ineffectiveness, and inefficiencies in a project. If they're disorganized, so they don't do their part, you know, if they don't do what they're meant to do when they're meant to do it.

You know, it could be late on progress payments because they're just so disorganized and they don't get things together when they should, or they're not a team player like the in Steph's story, the guy was saying, you know, go, you tell me what you can do for me?

And it's like, I work with Steph, I am a client of Steph's, and I work with her, she doesn't work for me. I work with her as a team, so she taps into my understanding of what I think builders want and need, and she brings her amazing depth of knowledge in relation to how websites get found, and how Google works, and the best way to use AdWords, and so on.

So we work together as a team to get the results. And I believe it has to be exactly that same way when you are working together with your prospects, and then eventually clients, on a building project.

We need to be working as a team, so the whole team is you, your directly employed team, your subcontractors, your suppliers, any designer, or architect, or draftsman that's part of the process, and the client, we're all a team, we all need to bring our skills, our expertise, if you like, like the customer is an expert in what they want.

The customer is an expert in how much they can afford, but they're not an expert on how to build stuff or how to wrangle the team of trades on a project in the right order, and all of that sort of stuff. That's why they need the builder. And we need to work together as a team.

And this is why I think that it's essential to have a quality client pathway. And that's what we talk about very early on in the piece, in our Blueprint program, is the quality client pathway.

Let's talk about the main issues that I mentioned, you know, the price focus, poor decision making, and let's talk about how that can be overcome with a process.

You can call it the qualified process, but we just put a sexy name on it, we called it the quality client pathway, because it is a pathway, it's a series of steps, and at the end of it, you end up with a quality client and you always end up with quality clients because the ones that aren't quality, they qualify themselves outta the process along the way.

And it doesn't always work like this, but majority of time, the worse they are, the worse fit they are for you, the earlier they jump out of this process, they qualify themselves out of this process, which means you waste less and less time, and you get less and less frustrated because the, you know, the ones that are nearly right, but not quite, you might spend a bit of time with them, but at the last hurdle, they'll probably falter, but the ones that you really should stay away from, they will be out of the process quite early.

So part of our quality client pathway is a thing called an initial meeting. So to deal with this price focus thing, there is a bit of choreography in the initial meeting that we teach our builders to implement that causes that price focus to be addressed. And if it's something that can't be overcome, if they absolutely are price focused, and that's it, you can bail out at that juncture.

So this isn't going to become a surprise, you're not gonna be surprised by it down the track. And so there's a whole bit of choreography there that brings that on the table in a really informed way, so people go, wow, you know, it really is detrimental for me, the client, to be price focused.

And when I'm talk about price focused, you know, you can put it in the comments if you want to, but don't bother, because I understand that there's a budget and there are constraints, but within that, if you're constantly penny pinching as a client, it really doesn't make it an enjoyable process for the builder.

If you can work together and be open with the builder, and so the builder understands and wants to understand your priorities, but also has the honest answer of the budget, the availability of money, or any extra money, so they can make suggestions, and if it takes you over your original budget, they know that, you know, there is an opportunity there to give you what you want as a customer.

But we need to bring this up very, very early in the piece, not in the first phone call. The quality client pathway is designed to have little behavioral hurdles through it, and it's a really little one at the start, and as you go through the quality client pathway, the hurdles get a little higher and a little higher.

The final hurdle is, are you willing to invest X amount of dollars into getting a proposal put together? Because we don't do free quotes. Here's the reason that we don't do, and all of the reasons are focused on the client and our feedback in Blackbelt.

So having this quality client pathway and having these hurdles in place is super, super important.

So this quality client pathway with the hurdles, super important, little hurdles and the hurdles get bigger. And I was about to say like, Matt would, he's been sending messages through. He's one of our Blackbelt members that he has 15 in a row, so 15 initial meetings in a row where he said, there is an investment for the proposal, the people have all said yes, 15 in a row.

Yes, we're happy to pay that fee for the proposal. And they all agree that it's a much, much better process than the free process. And he wouldn't do it any other way now, but it is a hurdle. Poor decision making, again, if your prospects aren't on the same page when you're asking questions about budget or particularly about priorities, so what is the most important thing about this project?

If they're not singing off the same page of the hymn book, that's gonna be a problem because you're going to have potentially competing priorities. So you've gotta make sure that you get them together before you move ahead. Maybe they might be disorganized.

As Steph said, they've got a questionnaire, and it's part of the quality client pathway also, that we suggest that you have a questionnaire. And the questionnaires purpose isn't to gather information, although you might as well be smart and gather some good information, its purpose is really to say, can you get that back to me by a deadline?

And you negotiate with them when they can get it back to you and just sit back and see whether they do what they said they're gonna do it. It's not a deal breaker, it's not the end of the world, it's not gonna kick 'em out of the process, but it's just a little flag. It's just a little indicator as to whether they're the sort of person who, yep, I'll do that, and they do what they say they're going to do. Maybe they're not a team player.

Somebody was telling me about that in Blackbelt just the other day, you know, the wife was really, really open, and pleasant, and all of that sort of stuff, and the husband was a professional grunter, you know, what should we do here with the question?

And it's like, until and unless you build a connection, and a relationship, and a rapport with both of them, I suggested not to go ahead, because that will bite you in the bum throughout the project.

You've gotta make sure that all the stakeholders are there and are singing off the same page of the hymn book, as I keep saying. And all of these things that I'm talking about, they're not red flags, oh, sorry, they are red flags. They are red flags, but they're not show stoppers or deal breakers, they're just indicators.

And what I suggest you do is when a red flag comes up, you address it, you don't ignore it, you put it on the table as a discussion point and help them to understand that if we can't address this, if we can't solve this little issue, it may become a big issue throughout the project.

So we need to address it, fix it, sort it before we get started. And if they're not willing to do that, I suggest you take a hike, no matter how good the project looks, profit wise, the type of project, all of that sort of stuff. It's so important to have the relationship. Regan says he's been doing full paid prelims for all of our jobs for about five years. I love it when I hear this.

Our biggest one has been 70K for a full development application of a duplex and a reno of a house on the same block. 70K to put the whole application thing together. You know, I love hearing that, well done, Regan, love hearing that. So I hope this makes sense.

You know, you've gotta have a quality client pathway in place, and you've gotta stick to it because it's there to protect both you and the client from having a bad experience.

You know, there are so many nightmare stories that you'll hear from customers of builders about their experience, and it wasn't always the builder's fault, you know, and I'm not here to apportion blame, I'm just here to talk about how can we fix these issues so you can really enjoy what you do and have a more profitable business and some more time freedom to enjoy the results of all your hard work.

And to do that, this is what we need to do. We need to build the relationships with our clients.

So, as I said, Katie, this is the first time Katie is been on the show. So we're gonna hear what Katie's got to say about this from a financial perspective.

Is there a time where, even if the job looks like it's a perfect fit for you, perfect fit for your team, it might be in the right area, it might be close to another job, everything seems to be ticking all the boxes, but sometimes there is going to be times where it may tick all the boxes, but if you don't tick the box that the client is a good fit to work with you, then it doesn't matter how fun, or how enjoyable, or how interesting that project looks like it's going to be, if it isn't a fit with you and the client, then yes, it's time to knock back that job.

Now, from a financial perspective, I see this a lot where clients take on jobs that look like they're going to be great for them, and they might be making really good money on it, and because of that, they overlook the fact that the clients are already showing signs of being a little bit painful or sometimes a lot painful.

And we really need to think about more than just how much money we are going to make on that project, or how much money we hope to make on that project, because obviously that is vital, and we're when I'm talking about things, I'm always talking about financial perspectives and how can we make sure that we make a profit and pay ourself a wage that we deserve every week, and put money aside for rainy days and so on?

But if you can't tick the boxes that the client's gonna be enjoyable to work with, then it is time to say, no, thank you to that job. Now that's not to say that you have to horrible about it or mean about it, you can just simply tell the client that you just don't have capacity for that at the moment.

And that is perfectly okay, you don't need to tell your client that you are turning down exactly why, it may just be that you just may get a bad feeling about working with them or something about their personality grates on your nerves a little bit, but often I see clients who will overlook that because they feel like the financial reward is going to be worth it.

But even from somebody who talks about profit and making money all day, every day, there's no profit that you can make on a job that will outweigh working with clients who are not a good fit for you.

So I always encourage my clients, when they're taking on new jobs to look, yes, from a financial perspective, is it gonna be worth your while? But also have a think about, can you work with those clients? Are they already showing signs of being difficult clients, of being late payers?

Because often the perfect job with clients that are a little bit difficult, the first thing they do is they withhold payment and then that's going to affect your cash flow. And then that's gonna have a flow on effect to everything else in your business.

Absolutely, and I'm sure you can relate to what Katie said there. And as I said, you know, they were a great looking client at the start, but now if you had your time over again, hmm, maybe not so much.

So there are lots of things to consider. And it was interesting listening to Katie saying that, you know, even though she's a profit first professional, she will encourage her clients to look at the relationship.

Obviously look at, you know, it just makes logical sense to make sure that the job is a profitable job and you've considered everything, but even Katie, as a profit first professional, is saying that relationship is so important, to make sure that you've got the right connection, the right relationship with your clients before you open the door.

So I hope you've enjoyed this episode of "The Builder's Business Success Podcast". Before we get out of here, I have a question for you, and I'd love you to put it in the comments, if you're watching live, if you're watching the replay, put it in the comments under the replay, I want to get a discussion with you about this.

And the question is, which is the worst problem for you, in your experience which is the worst problem, was it the, you know, the price focused, or they can't make decisions, or you know, it was sort of, that they weren't team players, they didn't work with you, they kind of were like Steph's potential prospect there that just wanted her to do it, and you know, treated her just like a number, and just wanted a financial transaction?

Which is the worst problem that you've experienced out of all of those? And even if I haven't addressed it, I want you to put that in the comments as well, particularly if you're watching the replay, so we can get a bit of back and forth going and come up with some experience and some solutions from different people's perspective. So we can make these problems a thing of the past one.

One of the things that I'm huge on is, rather than just coming up with solutions to problems in the way of a cure, is preventing them from happening in the first place. That's something that I'm absolutely huge on. And so let's get a discussion going, tell me what you think, out of all of these, or even ones that I hadn't mentioned, what is the worst problem that you have experienced in a project?

Love to hear about that and see if we can come up with some solutions to avoid that in the past. The reason we wanna have a conversation about it is so people that haven't had that problem won't have that problem. That's going to be the key with this.

So jump into the chat, tell us what you think it is, and we'll get into a conversation about it. If you want a hand with anything that we've talked about, as I always say, you can reach us in the chat, you can just search for us in the chat, or there is a place where it says, get personal help, in the tool shed over on the left hand side, click on that, and follow the prompts, and we'll get into a conversation and see where it takes us.

So hope you've enjoyed today's episode of "The Builders Business Success Podcast". I'm Mick Hawes from Builders Business Blackbelt, I'll be talking to you again next week. That is all, bye for now.