This year, Auckland-based Paint & Plasterboard Finishing Ltd was named Master Painter of the Year, Overall Residential Master Painter of the Year Award 2016 and won the Residential Exterior Character Large Award.
I asked owner Arjen Bloem what he had learned in creating such a successful painting business.
Here are his seven tips for a successful business.
1. To win awards you need to have a healthy business.
You need to know the numbers in your business and you need to work with them. The thing is, if you’re not making money you won’t be around for long enough to build a company, let alone a successful company! If you aren’t good with the financial numbers it’s unlikely you will build a financially strong business.
It’s no good hiding behind the excuse, “Oh my accountant takes care of all that stuff!” Imagine trying to build an architecturally designed home with a team who can’t read a tape or who don’t understand a plan! Impossible! It’s the same with a business. You’ve got to know how to handle the financial tools.
2. You need to become selective.
You need to become selective about what you do (what you are good at) and for whom you will work. Then stick to it. In other words: find your Niche. The most successful companies know who they are and what they do best. For example. Could Nike develop work boots or jandals? Of course. But they don’t. They do one simple thing. They make the best sport shoes. Air New Zealand sticks to air travel, Mainfreight only does freight, and The Warehouse retails cheaper lines.
Choose the jobs you’re good at, the clients you want to work with, and then specialise. Find your Niche.
Yet many small business owners think that they have to offer everything to everyone in order to get ahead! It’s way better to choose the jobs you are good at, the clients you want to work with, and then specialize.
It took us a while to identify what we do best: large character repaints in Remuera, St Heliers and Herne Bay. People call us all the time with different work and in other areas. But we know that these jobs will be more difficult for us with less predictable results and therefore reduced client satisfaction and profit.
Being selective means you get paid enough to do the job really well. The result? A strong reputation.
3. To have a growing business, you need to create an effective sales process
Our entire marketing and sales process is designed for our particular market – and only that market.
We have learned (by trial and error) how to reach them with our message. Also we have fine-tuned our system so we make around 20 appointments each and every week. Each appointment is in the exact geographic area and with a prospective client that has been well qualified. We already know that they are likely to need our particular service.
Further our process qualifies out those potential clients who may not value the product mix we offer, so we don’t end up wasting time (ours and theirs) by pricing their work.
When you control the nature and type of your workflow you get consistency. Then it is much easier to systemise your operation.
4. Create systems
To make sure that your people don’t repeat the same mistakes you made while learning the best way to do things, you need to create systems for your team to follow. It can be as simple as bullet point instructions on how you want things done.
Start simple and require your staff to work these systems. With reliable systems you can guarantee that what you promise will actually be delivered.
5. Develop personal resilience
Building a company is a long game and you have to make tough decisions. Some will turn out to be wrong, even though you thought long and hard about them. That hurts!
And then, some things go wrong for no apparent reason. But you need to suck up the pain and learn from it. Use setbacks to develop better thinking, better people and stronger systems.
6. Employ the right people
To do a good job you need the right people. Sure it costs money, but if you focus on only selling and doing work that earns you money, then you can afford to pay the higher wages that good people can command.
Right people want the business to succeed. They will do what it takes – something you won’t get from the wrong people. So focus on getting people who fit your company. Don’t be pushed to lower your standards should the labour market be tight. Persevere!
7. Get the best business coach/mentor you can find
I did, right from the very start of my business. I wanted the best possible assistance I could get, so I checked around and made sure that I was getting business coaching and not more business information. I wanted someone who would not only support me, but tell me the stuff I needed to hear: someone who would be committed to helping me become a successful business owner.
Take away for your home building business
- Have a healthy business – be familiar with your businesses financial details and work with them.
- Be Selective – find your niche
- Create an effective sales process
- Create systems to guarantee that what you promise will actually be delivered
- Develop personal resilience – Use setbacks to develop better thinking, better people and stronger systems.
- Employ the right people – don’t lower your standards because the labour market is tight.
- Get the best business coach/mentor you can find