I’m Lee Makin, director and owner of Makin Homes. We’re based on the west coast of Western Australia, about an hour south of Perth. It’s a coastal suburb and we have a nice canal system over here as well. Obviously, people here have a love of the ocean, so we do a lot of waterfront properties and the like.
The water and the lifestyle are the reasons why I moved down this way and the reason we enjoy building what we build. There are lots of homes with great ocean views or canal aspects, so it’s an enjoyable place to live and work.
As a custom builder, I’ve been building since 2005 so that’s getting on to 14 years now. We’re a small to medium custom home builder. I’ve been travelling along okay, and times are good at the moment.
Why I Needed Help
I felt though that sometimes we weren’t getting the recognition that we deserved. We build high quality homes, but I found it difficult to express to the public what we actually do. I found it wasn’t easy to communicate that.
I came across the APB website and saw that APB offers the Builders Mentoring Program.
I was hoping to get a better understanding of my business, trying to drive it to the next level. I wasn’t necessarily looking at being the biggest builder in my area, I just wanted a little bit more time for life and enjoying the area that I live in.
And importantly, I felt I needed to be able to let people know what I actually do and the quality of the work that we perform. Being with APB is a portal to do that, a stepping stone from which to do that, so I can hopefully grow and build my business.
Changes We’ve Made Since Joining APB
When I was looking through some of the APB documents and short videos, I could see they had the ability to be able to let me forecast my income correctly and work out if I should take on more work or when I should hold off, or when I should advertise and when I should employ more staff. Since joining APB, I’ve noticed that one of the best aspects of it for me is the KPIs.
My bookkeeper and I have been trying for ages to develop something that actually all comes together where we can have all the information in a snapshot in front of me so that I can evaluate my current position and see where my profits are and the like.
And it can be difficult sometimes in the building industry because there’s nothing else available that really puts everything together. There are so many aspects: your income, subcontractors, deposits, supply deposits, so it was hard to put that together and get a firm position on where we stood.
And when we had a look at a couple of short videos on the APB website, we found that the information on KPIs was what we were looking for. Since we’ve joined APB, my bookkeeper and I have utilised a fair part of the KPI information to move forward, so it’s really given us a definitive position. It enables me to know when to employ staff or to slow up or possibly even just to get a better positioning.
So that was one of the main reasons why we joined APB. It’s been advantageous that way, for sure.
How APB Has Helped My Business
When I think about the greatest benefits that I’ve gained out of the APB group, the KPI spreadsheets are definitely a big benefit. I also found the Pricing For Profit extremely helpful. We made the margins required to move forward, and some of the one-on-one coaching has been great too.
Sometimes you can be a little scared to ask for advice from other people within your industry in case you’re giving away any of your secrets. You often wonder whether or not other people are actually going to be truthful or if they’re going to fabricate some figures. Some people always believe that “We’re okay over here, and the grass is always greener, and we’re making heaps of money and it’s all good,” but balancing some honest ideas through the one-on-one coaching with Andy, our APB Coach, in this situation has been excellent.
It’s been a great relief to know that I’m not alone and that some of the figures that I was looking at were realistic. And it’s just great comfort to know that there’s somebody there who I can actually ask a lot of these questions and get some truthful answers. That was one of the best things that I gained out of joining APB.
And there’s some great checklists. I’ve found also the checklists to find genuine clients quite good as well. Beforehand, I always stumbled around that first interaction with contacts. I was always worried about how to approach them and if they were actually worthy of my time. I don’t want to sound horrible, but sometimes you get led down the garden path when you think a contact is really interested in having you build their home. Then you discover that, really, you’re just a yard stick for another builder. But some of the checklists that APB have got now help me recognise the real leads that I need. I’m now able to put the ones that are just looking at me as a yard stick off to the side and that lets me concentrate on really what I need to be doing, working with clients that want to build with Makin Homes.
APB has some other good checklists, too. They might seem obvious, but goal setting is something I always knew should be done, but never got around to it. Once you start doing the APB work, it says, “You must do this and this is how you should do it,” and it gives you the format. You just have to give it the time, and by the end of it you think, “Well, jeez, I know that it should have always been done and it’s obvious now.” Once you actually do it, it makes so much sense, and that’s been a great tool for me as well.
Some of the checklists and some of the things that APB, I wouldn’t say push you to do, but advise you to do and go on with, they’ve been great as well.
When I looked at the program and the online portal, I have to admit it looked overwhelming, there was so much information on there. I was thinking, “Where do I start? I’ll start over there. Or do I start there?” I suppose what I was trying to do was look at the whole page. Once I went back to the start, I could just work through it. APB actually listed where I should start and it’s got some key points.
I have to admit I jumped from one area to another because of what was important to me so when I initiated my relationship with APB one of the biggest things for me was to get a better understanding of my business, so that’s what I concentrated on.
I had the sales there in place, whether it was by chance or hard work. I had just been fortunate enough, so I concentrated my efforts on the running of the business.
My goals now are to look closer at the KPIs and ask Andy a few questions here and there. As I’ve progressed, I know now that we’re looking at the sales. Marketing is obviously my next goal, I need to get a good understanding of marketing.
I found that APB is well structured and with the way the material and the videos are presented.
At first it may be a bit overwhelming, but once you break it down and you isolate where you want to concentrate your efforts on and bring it back to basics, I found it quite good.
And I’ve got my staff to utilise some of it as well, whether it be for Facebook advertising or Instagram or I can just suggest that they watch this short little program or this 30 or 40-minute video.
We can save ourselves a lot more time if we just watch it for 40 minutes and put some of those things into practice. We actually have put many ideas into practice; for example, we’ve cleaned up our Instagram page and our Facebook page and it’s been very helpful, that’s for sure.
One of the best things I’ve gained from APB and how it has actually impacted on my business is structuring and making sure that we’ve got the right people in place. Using the one-on-one coaching has been beneficial for that. Talking to Andy about the correct way to advertise for employees has been excellent.
Also, making sure that within the KPIs we’re able to take somebody on was a great benefit.
I’ve always doubted myself when thinking of taking on extra staff. I’d wonder, “Do we have enough work up ahead? And what’s going to happen?” Now, all of a sudden, I’m looking at the money, the contracts, the amount of work that’s going to come in over the next X number of weeks and that’s all calculated through the KPIs.
And it’s confidently letting me know that yes, I can actually employ somebody and we’ve got X number of weeks ahead of us and our profit margins should be this and it’s within our fixed expenses to actually employ somebody. Then, hopefully, we’ll then continue to grow and grow.
The Support APB Provides
If I didn’t have the support of APB I’d be probably second guessing myself constantly about whether or not to put somebody on or if I should advertise. Two of the best aspects of working with APB are the one-on-one coaching sessions and the KPI spreadsheets. Going back onto that spreadsheet has really been beneficial for the growth of my business.
When I started with APB I was a little hesitant because I didn’t want the other builders to have an edge on me. At the end of the day, we all want the edge on our competitors, but what I can also see is that there are quite a few builders going under because of the downturn in the economy.
But I also believe that for everyone to be on the same platform is also very important, and it’s a matter of ethics to make sure that everyone has the same chance.
But when a builder unfortunately goes under for whatever reason, mismanagement or not enough sales, or some other reason, if they actually took on some of the suggestions from APB they wouldn’t have been in that situation. Unfortunately, when one builder goes down, we often get associated with them and then the community as a whole loses trust in these builders. We need niche builders, the smaller builders, to give certain clientele the unique homes that they like.
Not everybody wants to go to the larger building companies.
In saying that I would recommend APB to other builders to make sure we’re all on the same platform and that other builders don’t go into receivership or fall over due to a bit of poor management.
I believe that APB can give us the support we need to move forward on a level basis and to make sure that nobody falls into hard times.
Finishing up, I’d just like to say that I’ve enjoyed my experience with APB and I expect it to go on for some time. I’m looking forward to my monthly meetings with my one-on-one coach; the information that he provides is invaluable and I’m always putting it in place.
I didn’t necessarily agree with all the information at the start, but now we’ve put it in place, we can see why it was required. The time that we spend putting these strategies in place is very rewarding to me and beneficial for my company.
So, yeah, I’m very happy.
– Lee Makin
Owner, Makin Homes