Business confidence i.e. the confidence to do business
A new client wanted help with their bookkeeping and accounting but also mentioned they wanted some help to grow their business.
The bookkeeping and accounting can be done fairly easily but the conversation about growing the business was very interesting. It mostly boiled down to confidence – business confidence!
It’s a plumbing business and the plumber is a really nice guy who is more than competent at his work.
I know it’s easy to think the grass grows greener on the other side, but there are good reasons to think you can run a successful plumbing business in London:
- there are thousands of properties and a pressing need for new ones
- there are refurbishments and building works all over the place
- things go wrong with heating and water systems and need an urgent fix
- many people are cash-rich but time-poor
- there are lots of plumbers so it is easy to get a sense of the market rate for work
Our guy was suffering through not getting paid enough and sometimes not getting paid at all. Some of the problems were simply because he was poorly organised but a common theme was that he lacked the confidence to run a profitable business.
So we set him thinking about some areas of improvement:
- Always agreeing by email or text the rate for the job before starting it, including (if appropriate) a call-out charge to cover the time and cost of getting to the customer
- Knowing who will pay him – the tenant may suffer the leaking tap but the landlord might have to pay the bill to mend it
- Having a published price list and sticking to it unless there are very good reasons for discounting work e.g. a very large job or a customer who gives repeat work – you have to have a conversation about price at some stage so get it out of the way early on!
- Getting paid steadily during a large job and stopping work if the payments are late – a plumber is in a fairly good position to leave a half-finished job in an inconvenient state which will focus the mind of the customer
- Carrying around a debit / credit card device that works on his mobile phone so he can be paid on site when the work is done
All of these points help to make clear at the outset how much he will charge and if the customer balks at any of it then the plumber should walk away – he has edited out a bad customer, the type he has suffered from in the past. Generally, that will be a good thing to do.
We have all been there. Most business have faced some of the problems our plumber is dealing with and you must have the business confidence to deal with them and to walk away from a customer who is not right for you.
All of which is a little negative, but turn it around and say to yourself “My business does a very good job for our customers and we represent good value for money. Let’s do the job, get paid and hopefully do more work for that customer and anyone they refer to us in the future.”
The business side of running your business is not easy and not always comfortable, but it’s worth a little pain to get to where you want to be. To learn more about our services to help improve client profit, visit our dedicated Profitability page.
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