I’m from South Africa but I’ve been living in New Zealand for the last 19 years. I started my training here at a very late age in my life, as an apprentice builder. Then I started my own building company in 2005. I soon realised it’s not that easy and that simple to be a professional builder.
In the beginning, with my own company, I aimed to just get as much experience as possible, so I focused mainly on doing maintenance work for commercial buildings.
Then I discovered it wasn’t quite what I wanted to do, as there really weren’t enough challenges. So, I started working on residential stuff, I did some smaller additions, lots of bathrooms, kitchens and then slowly I started working up to new builds. Unfortunately, the market in Auckland has changed a lot as land has become a lot less available and there were changes in market demands, so I was forced into doing more additions and renovations.
I think I did most of my learning when I started doing re-clads to make sure the house functioned with everything, in line with the building standards that we have in New Zealand. There was a pretty good school where I could see how our building methods work in New Zealand.
The only downside to all this was that I had all the practical knowledge; I can basically build anything I can dream of. The only issue was that I’m not strong on marketing at all. I prefer to deal with timber rather than with people; however, I wanted to grow my business into something substantial.
How I Found APB
It is a personal challenge, to grow my business. Three years ago I took on this challenge to see how big and how effective and profitable I can make my business.
I’ve been looking everywhere to find information on how to market and how to grow a business, specifically a construction business. I’ve had some systems in the past that I started developing and I did have a business coach prior to APB, who gave me some information.
I’d been searching in America, I’d been looking in Europe, I’d been looking in New Zealand, I’d been looking in Australia and in the end, with the bits and pieces of info that I picked up along the way, APB made the most sense for what I wanted to do and they were making the noises that I wanted to hear.
That’s why and how I ended up talking to APB.
I Went Though Everything As Fast As I Could
When I started with APB, because I’m in a big hurry, I want to get things done and want to get it done five weeks ago, so I started basically the moment that I signed up. I went through everything that’s available online for me that I can go through.
I bought some of APB’s shorter courses, but now I’ve been with APB for six months. I often review the information APB provides. When I’m driving through Auckland, I’ve got APB on my radio full-time. In the morning, in the afternoon, every spare moment I get. I just keep on going through all the things that are recorded and that are posted online.
Every time I listen to it, I might not be focusing 100% on it but I keep on picking up new things that I can use. It gives me the opportunity to just rethink what I’ve been doing and I use it to tweak some of my systems.
I mean, I’ve got a great coach in Andy Skarda there, the guy’s really good, I really appreciate him and together with the guidance that he’s giving me, slowly trying to keep me in line, keep in pace with the program and don’t try to outrun everybody and everything. He pulls me back so I can do things properly and get them in line the way that I should do.
One of the good things with the coaches is they really do help you to think again and re-work your systems and make sure they’re the best.
The Most Valuable Part Of Working With APB
There are three things that really stand out for me in the time I’ve been with APB.
The first thing I’ve learnt from APB is how to look at my finances and how to control them. It makes a lot more sense to manage my finances in the way that APB suggests.
The second thing I’ve learnt is the marketing. It makes a lot more sense to me and I’m beginning to understand it, which is a big thing, because I’m not good at marketing or sales. So, to me this is a massive learning curve.
Growing My Business Safely And Securely
The third thing I’ve learnt is getting all this information about how to grow my business. I’m glad I finally made the decision to get a mentor. It makes a big difference to talk to somebody because when you’re a builder and you’re in charge of your own company, there are not many other builders that you can go to and have a discussion about anything regarding building work. There’s nobody else that you can test things with, or who want to think about what you would like to implement or take. That is why coaching, to me, is something that you should really consider and keep in mind.
APB talks to a lot of builders, they obviously have a lot of input from all different sides. They can see where guys are falling and where they run into problems and I can see that they are sharing that type of information.
I Now Know My Financial Position Every Month
For me, the whole financial package has been great. One example is the WIPAA, the pricing for profit, and the way that I can record everything in the KPI spreadsheet. Although I had done this sort of thing before, I’d never organised it in the way that APB does, where I can see the link from one to the other.
I feel now that with information, I can see where my finances are up to and I have the confidence to know whether I can afford to employ the next person, or buy the next hammer or whatever.
And not only will I be able to know when I can appoint the next person, but that I will have enough work for that person so I don’t have to say, “I’m going to hire you for a week,” and then have to fire them three days later.
Transforming Into A Professional Builder
The biggest benefits that I see that I will get out of APB is summed up by one word – professional.
And that is what I absolutely want to be. Some builders think it’s important to be cunning and sneaky – there’s a saying, ‘Only the spiders will know’, but to me that’s both cunning and sneaky. Or some builders will give a cheap quote so that they can get the work. Those are the things that I’ve decided on right in the beginning that, I will give a fair price, I will do it honestly and I will tell my clients up straight, this is what is going to happen.
I’m really doing a lot of stuff to be seen as a professional. From the moment that we start with the CRMs that I’ve gotten through ACRIS and right ’til the very end when we get down to the stage where we get referrals from the client, and even still one, two, three years after, to keep in contact with them. When they hear from us, they have a smile on their face.
If I scare them away to go and build with somebody else, that’s fine. To provide your clients a good experience, I think, it’s crucial to be honest, straightforward and upfront about what things are going to be and combine all that with good communication.
Another goal is to be able to communicate in a professional way with a client and not exactly call a spade a spade, but to show them, guide them so that they can really see and understand how things are going to pan out for them. I’m trying to build up the system to prove to the clients that they are dealing with an honest and upfront professional builder.
Once again, APB has provided me with systems and methods of doing it. You start off with how do you generate leads? How do you follow up on them? How do you qualify your clients? And the way that APB has presented that kind of information has helped me so that you build yourself up little systems, you create check-lists.
Why I Recommend APB
It’s one thing to be a builder, but it’s another thing entirely to build a business. You start really thinking of how can you systemise your building; if you’re really building your business, you actually need to understand the thing.
The same way that you would try to build effectively, you need to apply that same concept to your business and that is, whenever you build something on a building site, you try to systemise whatever you’re doing so that you can know whatever you’re doing, you do it properly. It’s the same with your business; you need to have that same system mentality; we need to have systems in place.
That’s a great thing about APB – their experience and the clients that they’ve helped out.
But they’ve already started generating systems that we can copy cat and we can improvise and make them a bit better or customise them to our businesses just so that it works the way that we feel comfortable in working with it.
That is something that’s crucial because once again, I don’t have to think about the system, I’ve got one that APB has suggested. I can customise it so it fits into my business and that’s the beauty of what APB is providing.
I Did Have Another Coach Previously
The previous business mentor I had has really been good to me and he’s a really nice person. He’s also trying to uplift the builders community to being on a professional level; you’ve got to take your hat off to that.
But then if I compare APB’s information and the way that the team works, I can see there’s a lot more depth in there, there’s a lot more preparation that has gone into it, a lot more thought has gone into it.
And it’s great that their information is online and they keep reminding people about that. It’s great that they ask, “Has everybody been there?”
It’s also great that I can go online at any hour of the day. As a small builder, you do all sorts of funny hours! I can listen to their stuff, I can think about it and I can go and rewind and re-listen to it again or play it again, or view it again or whatever I want to do with it. It’s 24/7 available and that to me is massive. That’s really one of their biggest assets.
It’s the fact that their stuff is online and I can go and visit it whenever I want to and I can adjust or do whatever I want to do with that information. It is really a game changer for me.
The fact that it is available and that all the meetings and things are recorded and even though I can’t get to it at the time that I would like to, I can still get to it and that to me is very important.
Something that has given me great comfort is the financial bit, the WIPAA and the pricing for profit.
That has put me and my financial brain in a happy place; I’m grateful for that.
My marketing brain is still sweating it out; I’m burning my brains every day when I start to think about marketing. I’ve written so many elevator pitches and USP’s and UVP’s and I just keep on throwing them in the waste paper basket. But it’s getting there.
With the marketing stuff, I’ve grown a lot but I’ve got a hell of a long way to go with that. Alex, the whole team and even Owen from ACRIS, you guys are great and I really appreciate all the work that you do and the information that you have available.
Why I Recommend APB
In the beginning it might look expensive, but in the end when you feel the results, you see the results, you grow more comfortable in what you do, more secure in what you do. The moment that you start to realise the quality of advice you get from APB, you realise it’s definitely worth it.
I’d like to honestly thank APB for their input and thank them for the work that the guys are doing, all of them. It’s great stuff, I really appreciate that, thank you.
– Neil Myburgh
Director, NEDs Projects Ltd