‘Business owner’ and ‘stress free break’ are not phrases that usually go hand in hand. James Chillman, UK Country Manager for Fergus, explains how, with just a little planning, you can make sure your summer holiday isn’t interrupted by business calls and problems.
Following two years of starts and stops, material shortages and rising prices, it’s been a stressful time and has left plenty of installers chomping at the bit for a much-needed break this summer. But if you’re a plumbing and heating business owner, you will know just how hard it is to leave your company and take a proper break, really kick-back, relax and be present with family and friends.
It all hinges on getting your business, and yourself, ready in advance of that well deserved holiday. So tick off the five steps in this action plan and move closer to clocking out for your summer holiday.
1. Plan for a pause and get financial commitments sorted
It might sound obvious, but it’s amazing how many small business owners don’t work out calendar commitments in advance. Make a list of any financial responsibilities like running payroll and sending invoices and then check your cash flow. Remember, it may not be just your holiday you’re paying for – you may also need to work out the cost of any employee holidays. While you’re sorting out your wage obligations, you should also work out what you need to fork out for all your tax bills, especially if you are VAT registered. There’s nothing worse than holding off until tax deadlines hit and then not having the cash to pay up. Contact your accountant or payroll person well in advance of your break and ask them to work out the finances for you. Once you know you’ve got enough coming in, it’s the first step to switching off and relaxing.
2. Send your invoices and chase payment
This one goes hand in hand with checking your cash flow. Hopefully, you are hot on invoicing your clients. That way, you will know how much cash you will have at hand during your break. If you have fallen behind on invoicing, this is your biggest priority before you go.
Ideally, depending on the size of your business, you should be dedicating at least an hour to invoicing (and nothing but invoicing) every working day. You should aim to get 80% of your invoices out within 12 hours of completion.
While making sure all of your invoices are out the door is critical, actually collecting the money is what matters. You need to know whether you’ll be paid on time or not, so if you haven’t started calling your customers, do it as soon as possible. If there are any issues with your customers paying, ask for clarity around when you can anticipate receiving payment. Get family members or friends to help you if you are struggling with time to do this.
3. Communicate your holiday plan and choose your ‘right hand man’
Everyone needs to take a break, and while customers will be putting the pressure on to get things finished, it could be that you can’t get all your jobs finished. With this in mind, consider selecting someone to step up and take the reins in your absence. This person should be clearly told what decisions they can make and what should wait until your return. And of course, that person needs to know exactly how to reach you in an emergency.
You’ll also need to clearly communicate your holiday plans to any subcontractors you work with as well as your customers, to manage expectations and avoid disappointment. Customers will want to know any closure dates and whether anyone from your team will be available for
emergency call-outs during the break. As a bare minimum, change your voicemail recordings and set up your out-of-office or holiday reminders on your email account.
4. Find a check-in time
Okay, so this isn’t exactly taking a complete break, but for many business owners managing two weeks away without any contact feels nearly impossible. Scheduling a short check-in time, 15 minutes once or twice a day, can really help keep on top of any issues and allow for a more stress free break, knowing the business is rolling on nicely in your absence. But there’s one really important point here – choose your check-in time and stick to it!
5. Get creative to bridge any cash gaps
Off the back of the last two very turbulent years, there’s a chance some plumbing and heating businesses won’t be in the position to take a long summer break. If this is you, taking a shorter break or working through the summer months and taking a break later in the year could be a great idea. With much of the competition away on holiday, you may be able to win new customers by fulfilling emergency work. Another potential avenue for income could come from approaching larger companies in need of maintenance while their own offices, factories or warehouses are unoccupied during summer holiday season.
When you come back from your break, it will be all too easy to go back to working all hours and get ground down and stressed. It doesn’t have to be like that. Although it seems like a long way off, getting your business in shape for 2023 starts now.
One way to streamline your business and free up some time is to consider replacing your traditional admin tools – pen and paper job sheets, spreadsheets, emails – with an online solution such as Fergus which allows you to see the status of all your jobs at a glance and gives you the best possible chance of having and keeping healthy finances. Fergus lets you track everything from quote through to payment, ensures you get paid quickly and allows you to check that every job is profitable. This clear overview of your business and finances reduces stress and frees up more time for the things you love.
Fergus was created by Dan Pollard, an experienced plumber in New Zealand. Using his own experiences, Dan created an app to save time, streamline admin, and ensure you can work efficiently. He named the software after his trusty best friend, Fergus, his dog. Dan knows what it takes to run a plumbing business, and how valuable it is to have the time to do what you want to do – like going on a brilliant stress-free holiday.
For more details and to book a demo visit: https://fergus.com