Whether you’ve spent much of your working life on the tools, you’re new to the industry, or you’ve been in business for years; when running a building business there’s always something to learn, a way to do things differently or a reality check to be had. To bring fresh perspective, gain business know-how, and get some time back in your life, consider a business coach.
One builder who attributes much of his success to the support of a business coach is Lachie Gales, who together with his wife Beth, is the owner of Wangaratta-based Ovens & Kings Builders. Lachie and Beth, customers of Dahlsens Myrtleford, have spent years working with a professional advisor who has helped transform their business.
And, the results speak for themselves. As well as winning the prestigious 2021 HIA Greensmart Home of the Year award, Ovens & King Builders – specialists in high-quality and energy efficient homes – have a waiting list of clients wanting to work with them. Plus, the ability to pick and choose the projects they want to build. A builder’s dream! Dahlsens took the opportunity to catch up with Lachie and learn about his experience with a business coach. Here, we share that experience with you.
Q. What areas of your business did your business coach support you with?
“I think the core thing that he taught us was the financial aspect of our business. When you’re young and inexperienced you often see your financial situation in black and white. You’ve got money coming in and money going out, but you don’t really understand the importance of a strong balance sheet, what a profit and loss statement can tell you, and how you can use this information to improve your profitability.”
Q. How long did your business coach work with you?
“We started in 2001 and we had an ongoing relationship for about 10 years. Since then, we’ve kept in regular contact and had him back twice. Today, he’s back a third time and working with us on developing a succession plan.”
Q. Did the results outweigh the investments?
“Looking back, we were putting our faith in someone who we thought – at the time – was basically selling us air. We were getting advice, but it’s not as if it was tangible, like a new car or site gear. It was a leap of faith. Within six months our turnover had lifted and any fears we had were gone. We knew we’d made the right decision for us and our business.”
Q. What areas of your business benefitted the most?
“For me, the greatest benefit was the personal development. It made me a better person in business and life. It’s not just about the client and the build, it’s about the staff you manage, the subbies you engage, and the financials you have to deal with to keep you in business, your team employed, and your projects on track. It’s about your personal and professional brand. Not only did our own brand of doing business change on the recommendation of our coach, we also changed our business brand. That brand is now 21 years old and is an absolute asset. We’ve built a strong brand which our community identifies with and which represents exactly the kind of work we want to be associated with and keep doing.”
Q. What would you say to the next generation of builders starting out now?
“I would say to them: You’ve been taught a trade through a period of formal training and mentoring. The next step is not just to learn how to create a business of your own, but how to properly manage that business so you stay in business. You don’t necessarily receive that type of information and direction when you’re learning your trade, so be honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and be open to seeking advice – especially from outside your usual networks.”