EPISODE 17 – Working In The Business Or On The Business?

EPISODE 17 – Working In The Business Or On The Business?

By mick | September 24, 2020


Hey folks and welcome to another episode of Builders Business Success Podcast.

If this is the first time you’ve listened to the podcast, the purpose of the podcast, is to help builders and other trades overcome all of the unnecessary pain, frustration, and problems that generally come about because of the building industry norm.

So we’re kind of rattling the cages, shaking the bushes about those common problems and giving you some ideas on how to overcome them and it might be seeming like it’s swimming against the tide a little bit, but as Walt Disney said, if you wanna be successful, look around and see what the world is doing and don’t do it.

What we’ve found through Builders Business Blackbelt quite often is look around and see what most builders are doing and do the opposite and you’ll become successful.

So a lot of the things we talk about, will be challenging, but they do work. So I look forward to, if this is your first episode, you enjoying it, if you’ve been here before, I hope you enjoy it too.

The Interview

I’ve got a conversation with Greg Layton, he’s the Chief Maker, if you look up Chief Maker on the Interwebs in Melbourne, you’ll learn all about Greg.

We’re gonna be talking to him about his approach to success and helping CEOs of large organizations.

You might be thinking, but why are we talking to Greg about building if he works with CEOs, is because the principles are the same. management principles are the same, psychology with success of a business is the same.

And it’s really interesting to get a slightly different perspective from somebody else to apply it to your business, so are we talking to Greg in this episode.

The Regular Segments

Of course, we’re gonna go with ‘What’d I Say’, we were fortunate enough to capture something that was worthwhile sharing with you during the week.

I’m gonna be answering a question that a lot of builders ask and the answer just might surprise you.


Find Greg and his content – chiefmaker.com

*Transcription of the show*

Hear my conversation with Greg Layton!

So it’s time to listen to our conversation with Greg Layton as I said, he is the Chief Maker and works with CEOs.

One of the common things that happen with both CEOs and builders is that you’ve gone from, you make a transition from a carpenter to a builder, but then to build a building business, you have to become a leader, you have to become a psychologist, you have to become a babysitter, you have to become all of these things.

And it’s so much easier sometimes just to remain that technician, but as we all know, if you’ve ever read the E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber, the biggest failure, the biggest cause of failure for building businesses, is that just because you’re a good builder, doesn’t mean that you can run a good building business.

You have to become that leader, that great example, so I asked Greg about that.

– The transition from technical operational into more senior leadership roles is probably the most difficult aspect of going up through the ladders, it wouldn’t matter if you’re in a small business and now you’re an iron and previously you were a builder or you were an accountant and now you’re leading your Financial Services Department.

It matters not what, what the real challenge is that you getting into this comfort zone of things that you know.

Like you get the operations, you get how to build a building, that’s not in question. And so when you sort of stop walking into topics or subjects, you don’t know as much about, we don’t have the comfort, like strategy, like marketing, and you sort of go, oh, I don’t know what I’m doing here.

You know that sense of flow and you miss that confidence, that comes with knowing what you’re doing and just knocking it out of the park, you know, and you’ve spent years perfecting operational stuff, you become a builder, I don’t know how many, like 10 years.

So and then all of a sudden we’re saying, hey, you’re looking to run a business now and you gotta do marketing and you gotta do finances and you gotta do relationship management, you gotta do leadership and touch people and develop people.

And this is a first move and you looked at it, it was like five or six different things that leaders of businesses, particularly small businesses that are scaling out of, you know, just maybe one or two buildings at a time into three or four.

All of a sudden you’ve got site managers and you got installers mix of them not really caring about or understanding that you’ve gotta run a profitable business, you know, that, that classic mix of, sort of, it’s a white collar blue collar kinda work, you know, I’ve done a lot of work with big construction companies and mining companies, and that’s where it always is a bit of a challenge, is when a new guy from the blue collar front line into more white collar kinda work, they don’t really get each other, you know what I mean, they’re not.

– You get that us and them mentality.

– Yes, and them, so you’re gonna deal a bit with that, plus you gotta deal with the, oh my God, I’ve gotta learn all this stuff.

The challenges are right there, it can be stressful, frustrating, you lose that sense of confidence and more and anything you just wanna put your hands back on the tools, go back and be like great piece of work.

So that’s a real challenge, one of the things that I always work with leaders on is their operating rhythm, their personal operating rhythm.

And by that I mean, essentially your schedule, but over months, quarters and years.

– Right.

– What one thing I learned from Elite Sport in particular is they will do anything possible to automate the pursuit of excellence.

So on a week to week basis, they have, as an example, they might play a game of footy on a Saturday, Sunday’s a rest day. Then on a Monday, they’ll come in and they’ll have a really detailed review of the game.

They’ll look at footy each, they’ll look at statistics, they’ll look at the applies on interpretation of what happened, they’ll look at the coaches interpretation and I have a really good long list of hard questions to answer.

What that means is growth, immediate growth, right, and if you can put something like that, into your week, on week, on week, you know, your Monday morning team meeting with your site managers and site guys and talk about how well they executed the plan for that week or what was good and what wasn’t and where did we go wrong, and what can we learn from that?

Is there any sort of turning a bit of a sporting sort of spirited kinda meeting, people will respond to that and if you make it every week, you start to get growth.

What we also wanna do with that is do that for you as an individual, what’s your weekly checking stop, 15 to 20 minutes, or maybe an hour, depending on how busy you are just to really set yourself up for your priorities and your goals for the week ahead.

Now that’s going in a week to week basis, what are you doing month on month and quarter on quarter?

So I’ve got a tradition when I went on a lock down is every quarter, I go to the mountains just outside of Melbourne, Mount Madison and Zuora and I’m like, it’s only about half an hour from home.

And I spend at least half a day, once a quarter, going back to my plans for the business, the medium to long term, how that aligns with our family, reconnecting with exactly where we’re going and making sure I know what the priorities are. The benefit, a lot of people do that annually, right, it’s too long.

– Yeah.

– Right, because somewhere between one quarter or two, or about halfway through the year, you have drifted away from the direction you should have been going.

So bringing it back every quarter, keeps you focused again and again and again, and you’re talking often three half days a year, it’s all it takes and as a result, you know, what I’ve found is instead of drifting like this, just do a bit of this, but I’m always going towards the right and ’cause I just, it’s like when you, just say if you’re navigating in a yacht, you’re just getting your bearings again, ah, oh, I’ve drifted off course a bit, let’s just get our bearings again.

But if you don’t keep getting your bearings, where do you end up, the wind waves—

– Anyway all in all not where you wanna be.

– They can’t, you’ll just get drifted away, right, and particularly if you go back to working on the tools, that’s what happens. So that’s maybe one thing that might help.

– I get so many builders reaching out to us for help, and quite often I get in a conversation with them and say this, we can help you do this, we can help you do that, we can help you do this.

They say, how does that work?

I say, well, you’ll get this training, you need to dedicate a few hours a week to it and all that sort of stuff, I just haven’t got the time to do it they say, so basically they’re too busy driving the car to stop for petrol, if you do that at some stage, you’re going to run out of fuel and it’ll probably be in a neighborhood that you don’t wanna run out of fuel in to use that analogy.

So I asked Greg, what do we need to do to make that mental shift from just being busy doing our own stuff, to building a bit of business.

– Well I think the answer basically is that you do have to stop, in order to make improvements, but that’s just what it is right, the challenge is right it’s the habit change of the allure of going back and working on the tools or 50 plus things that you’ve gotta do.

So what I would, what I would suggest, there’s a couple of things that I think might be helpful. As an individual sit down and write down, as at the end of a week, an audit of where you spent your entire time for the whole week.

Right, yeah, oh well I spent time maybe five hours on accounts and I did four hours sending emails and just have a look at that list and categorize what you’ve done, right, admin, finance, on site travel to and from, work all that out.

What I’ve found is when you do that, people immediately go, oh my God, that’s how I’m spending my time.

That’s remarkable, that’s remarkable. Then the, my proposal then to anyone is let’s just say on average how many hours a week would most of your guys work?

– I would suspect 50 upwards.

– Okay, let’s say 50, right, so what I’d like, I’d like 1% of their time, I need, I need two hours, right, I need two hours of your time, it’s 4% of the time.

Right, it’s all it, because in those two hours we can do, or you can say to them, hey we’re gonna do like weekly focus session to get you focused on things that need to happen and we’re gonna do the one or two most important marketing things that week, one or two most important financial things that week, to make your business and two power hours a week and I reckon they would change their game.

Now here’s the key thing, I was working with this mining company in Tanzania in Africa, right, and we had a leadership team for mine, it was one of the biggest mines in Tanzania, turn over about $ 300 million a year, so really sort of pretty large kinda business, so about 1500 to 2000 employees they are going through a big transformational change, program all this kind of stuff, culture, like massive capital investment in the way they’re running the mine.

We could not for the life of us initially get them to spend the time on the projects that we’re gonna make the money, they just went back to normal and everybody does I get it.

So what we did was we said, okay, every Wednesday from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm, what we’re gonna have is a strategy execution meeting nobody knew what the strategy was, so we got, we sort of met in this boardroom and we shut the doors and said, look no one’s leaving, what you’ve to do now is just spend two hours, and these guys work more like 70 hours a week, just two hours this week telling us, oh, working on the stuff you’ve gotta do for strategy execution.

So what they did the first week, I came in and I sat down and looked around, okay, is there an agenda? No, no, open your computers and work, just get this stuff done, make the calls you need to do to get the people to do the work we need them to do.

So the first week I did that and because I understand we’re lone there talking to each other, there was, you know, things started to happen.

Another week goes past, we come back and all of a sudden they walk in the room they already know what they’re doing, right, so they start doing it.

So the first week they did two hours on strategy, when they came back, they knew that there was this meeting on Wednesday and so they’d probably get another hour or two of preparation, so now they’ve done four hours on strategy execution.

And that was the tipping point when they got to doing four hours a week, things started changing, it’s all a talk right, an hour a day, less than for them ’cause they work six and a half days a week, right when they’re on site, done right, they ended up spending most than what they would have probably spend in the end, six to eight hours a week on that.

And they’re talking major, major problems at work that required at least that kind of attention, you know, that probably not required as much for a small medium sized building company.

What I, go back to the automated pursuit of excellence, set up a thing in your calendar, and maybe you don’t love doing it during business hours, maybe it’s 6:00 am to 8:00 am get up early, or maybe it’s a long lunch, sit down with your business partner or whoever you work with and set it like this Wednesday lunch 12 till two, we’re gonna have lunch, we’re gonna make it enjoyable.

During this time, this is our weekly get things done on the strategy pace, two hours, like two and a half, I don’t care, make stuff happen.

A few, what you find is you’re getting in the habit and then what’ll happen is, more and more happen during the week and you’ll go from two hours, to three hours, to four hours and that will be probably enough to shift the door.

– Yeah, perfect, so talking to Greg about the analogy and the difference or the similarities rather between sport, football for instance and business, there are so many parallels.

And one of the great parallels is when a builder is moving from being the on the tools to starting to manage the business and Greg was talking about the difference between being a player, being a playing coach or a captain coach, and just being a coach.

And the difference that you need to make in your mind is quite profound, so here’s what he said about that.

– Yeah, this is the tricky basis that once you transfer from I think really applier and a captain, like a captain would be like your own site manager and now you actually going to being a coach.

But my experience with a lot of people, as I try and think through, excuse me, they think they’re a captain coach.

But really I don’t think that serious so much anymore is from the amateur days, you know, ’cause the big difference, this is the number one difference between a captain and the coach is the coach cannot lace up the boots, right, that’s the difference.

The only way you can get things done is through influence, through leadership, showing the way.

If you even gave yourself that challenge of a week and say, okay this week, I’m just gonna go, maybe two days, Monday, Tuesday, I’m not gonna touch the tools once, all I’m gonna do is practice to start off this week, just being a coach.

If I was to coach someone, if I was to tell a player to run on the field, right, and do this without me going on, how would I need to describe that?

Maybe you’ve got a young player who’s just hitting, you know, first ground for the first time is a bit scared, doesn’t know what going on, keeps getting the left-handed screwdriver, you know, this kind of stuff, right, what would you say to the kid who’s picking up and asking everyone for the left-handed screwdriver, well I know the right-handed hammer?

You know, these are, these are real challenges you face because you just wondering what the hell they’re gonna do when they’re trying to build the, you know, the new second bedroom.

I think there’s that shift right, to now you’re in the coach’s box and all you’ve got is a radio, all you’ve got is a runner to send a message, like it’s just not as easy and I think putting that hat on really, really helps, okay.

So think about that particular transition out of captaincy into being a coach ’cause that makes, makes an enormous difference.

There was a guy I met a long time ago called Daniel Hunter and he was the CEO of this group called HealthShed in New South Wales, and they do all the, the linen, the food, the patient transport, all sorts of things for health in New South Wales, there was even 7,000 employees, big company.

And he really nailed it one day, he said, when you dip down, when you lace up the boots and go and do your people’s jobs for them, they resent you, they actually hate it.

And I think, sometimes you can really forget that, that the last thing someone wants you to do is lace up the boots and run on the field and be the hero. It just sucks the life out of them, so I think you’ve gotta remember is when you become a coach, you’ve retired, you’re not going back out there again.

– Yeah, one of my greatest influences through this personal professional journey has been a chap by the name of Jim Roney, he’s no longer with us, but one of the things he always used to say is our biggest problem is that we major in minor things. I mentioned that to Greg, here was his response.

– I’m trying to get into the mind of the individual here, I mean, if you, if you get back to that audit of, you know, do a daily audit of everything you spend your time on, here’s another way to think about it is you do that audit and then and what I want you to do is under each category, put a $ per hour value on each of those categories.

So if you’re the doing admin stuff, if you’ve gotta go to the post office, if you, do a $ per hour, I would has it as a guess that there would be several hours a week, possibly more than 10, that’s a $25 an hour on that job.

And once again, we’re not trying to take, like if we got 10 hours a week back, I mean, how could, if I said to anyone of your, your listeners and your subscribers and your clients, if I could give you 10 hours a week to work on the business would you take it, for a price of $250, $12500 a year.

– No brainer.

– Right, for, you know, 10 hours a week, 500 hours a year, like, oh my God, like that’s just pure all gold. The hard thing with working on strategy and I think this is often where we, we might trip ourselves up on the value.

When you go and hammer an iron, you see a result, right, when you finish a room you see a bathroom and you finish your result.

What we’re talking about here is things that take three, six, 12 months, to show any sort of return on investment and that is not what builders are used to seeing.

– They see plumber turns up, all of a sudden kitchen is ready to go, you know, there’s electrician turn up we’ve got new lighting, great immediate return on investment, I can see the value in the building now.

When you’re adding value to a business, that’s harder to see and it takes longer to get so what it requires is patience and requires a determination to say and discipline this a lot , what I’m gonna do now is over the next year, I’m gonna spend two to five hours a week working on the business as a minimum.

And that investment of how many hours a year that is, is gonna either grow the business and prough that profitability, and that two to five hours a week, I’m gonna shift off and outsource the admin staff at the bottom end so I can work at the top end.

– Yeah, Mick this has been absolutely sensational, I was very inspired watching your stuff, you know, we were introduced by, by a mutual friend I started to, you know, find out what you’re about, I was very inspired by what I read, by what I saw, by what I heard, and I’d really like to encourage everybody else listening to, to track you down, start stalking you all of that sort of stuff so where do we find you?

What’s the best place to go sort of start to look at you?

– My day to day website’s best Mick chiefmaker.com, it’s got like 200 podcasts on there, heaps of resources, free stuff, just fully booked.

– Fantastic, I can’t appreciate enough your generosity of time and knowledge, coming onto the show, I certainly hope we can do this again, it’s been an absolute hoot, loved everything that you’ve shared with us.

– Cool, thanks mate, I mean great work, I love the work you’re doing on that side, it’s a magnificent little good business you got down there and I think a lot of people in the industry would really benefit from it, so I keep flying that flag, man.

– Thank you, Greg.

What’d I Say?

People tend to have a problem, they will ask some information about the problem, they’ll go ahead and fix that problem. Problem done dusted, next, next, we’re always looking forward.

I guess we’ve, we’ve been taught to not look back, look at what you wanna accomplish, focus on what you wanna accomplish, don’t look back.

Because of that I suppose, hypnosis, we’re really bad at appreciating our changes when you say you haven’t had a win today, or this week, there are so many people out there who don’t do that and didn’t gain the benefit from it.

But we, we do these things and they start to become habitual, they become part of our regular routine and we don’t appreciate the value of the decision to do those sorts of things.

And this is really, really important, I was saying to the guy yesterday, you know, if you’re out in the middle of the desert and you’re walking and you only ever look forward, what do you see?

It’s just more desert and you’re looking forward and it’s just sand to the horizon.

You’ve put the energy in and you don’t appreciate how far you’ve gone and you’ve gotta look back until you see, look back and you’ll see your footsteps in the sand and that gives you a perspective on how far you’ve come while you’re constantly looking forward every day, you don’t have that perspective, it’s just, you know, I’m so tired and look how far I’ve got to go.

And that, that will do you a heading, you know, really important to, to remember your wins and appreciate your wins every day.

They’re the things that give you the perspective give you the energy and the motivation to keep going, you’ve gotta learn to appreciate the accomplishments.

Q & A

So quite often I get asked the question, how do I respond when people sort of arc up about you asking to be paid for your quote? And it’s a fair enough question, because if you just say we charge for quotes, you’re not offering any additional value.

And I know in the past, I’ve, I’ve spoken about that and I used the restaurant analogy, you know, if people put the prices up and the menu remains the same, you get pissed off, but if I rejigged the menu so it represents a whole lot more value and the prices go up a little bit, we don’t get that upset about it we actually see it as more value.

And that’s what we need to do, when you’re a builder and you’re now asking to do something very, very different to what your prospect is expecting ’cause they’re expecting not to pay for a quote, they’re being programmed for the free quotes.

The answer that I often offer is you don’t need to say this is what we do and if you don’t like it, I can’t work for you.

What I would suggest you do is actually recognize and acknowledged that the person feels that they have the right to have a free quote.

And the old sales technique is feel, felt, found and what I would suggest that you say, I totally understand how you feel, you know, you expect that you would get a quote for free and we’ve found so feel, and we’ve felt is the second one, we’ve felt that most people feel that they need to get the quote for free.

And then you do the found bit, which is well found by following the process that we’ve created that our prospects or our customers really get a hell of a lot more value when I look at the project from end to end, they’ve really enjoyed the project and they’ve got far more value from their investment.

One of the reasons that we don’t do free quotes is that we used to do free quotes and to be competitive, we had to do it quickly, we had to put the lowest price items for everything, which weren’t the items that the customer was expecting, so we’d get into this argument about variations and it would inevitably cost them significantly more than what they thought at the start.

So we don’t do that anymore, we have a process that takes everything into account, you know, exactly what you’ll be paying before you even move ahead so you don’t get half a project done when the money runs out, plus you enjoy the whole process.

So that’s, that’s the reason that there is a fee, but even taking that fee into account, when you look at how much you pay for the whole project, you get significantly more value plus enjoy the process.

And then I suggest that you ask, does that make sense? And this is some questions that were taught to me by my coach, Taki Moore, and he calls it the three question loop and he says, once you’ve given them the two different pathways, you can then say, does that make sense?

Question one, question two is are you a 100% comfortable with everything that we’ve talked about? And then question three, is where do you think we should go from here?

And then you’d be completely silent and wait for their answer.

More often than not, if you’ve given them the pathway and you’ve given them significant enough value from their perspective to take the choice that you’re offering, they will more often than not say, ”what do you think I should do?’’.

And that way you can guide them through your process, protect them from unnecessary price rises and look after them through out the process and it’s a much better way of doing things.

That’s the answer to that question, when somebody asks you, why should I pay for a quote? That would be the way that I would approach it.


So that’s it for this episode of Builders Business Success Podcast, I hope it was valuable for you, I hope you got a lot of ideas from it, I want to extend a helping hand as always, it is our mission to help builders, build a better business because there customers win, the builders win, the builders family wins, the builders team wins when they have a better operation.

And we’re all about helping you build your business so it gives you more time, plus money freedom and more enjoyment, more meaning that’s the main thing I think with a building business you’ve really gotta love what you do all of the time.

And so we’re here to help you and I’d love to have a conversation with you.

Reach out to us, tell us what the challenges are in your business, what you would like help with and we can point you in any number of directions.

We can point you in the direction where this, all of the stuff is free, there’s no cost to it whatsoever and you can get a whole lot of really good content at no cost.

If you wanna take it to another step, there are entry level things that we can talk about and then obviously there is the Builders Business Blackbelt, which is a conversation we can have as well.

If that’s something that if you’d like to talk about to see what’s the direction to help you and we will help you no matter what, no matter what situation you’re in, we will point you in a direction that will help.

All you need to do is jump on a call with us, you can hit the button underneath this video, that’ll take it to a form, tells us a little bit about your business, then you can schedule a call and it takes you to our calendar.

If you’re listening to this on the audio only version, all you need to do is navigate to buildersbusinessblackbelt.com.au and there’s buttons all over the page that you can press to schedule that call and have that conversation.

Look forward to speaking with you in person at some stage, I hope this is helpful and there’ll be another episode of Builders Business Success Podcast coming your way before you know it.

I’m Mick Hawes Builders Business Blackbelt, that is it, Bye for now.

Leave a Reply 0 comments

Leave a Reply: