After the Global Financial Crisis we had to pivot quickly.
Calling on Russ’ 25 years of experience in business and combining that with the lessons that had been learned from owning a building company we looked to provide services to other residential home builders.
From our own experience we knew how to produce the systems builders needed, such as building contract proposals that looked professional and contained the key elements that progressed an opportunity into a sale. So we started sharing those systems and templates covering contract preparation, period contract agreements and safety documentation with other builders.
The safety documentation business was the one that took off. However, it wasn’t a purchase that builders were excited to make. It was something they needed rather than wanted.
However after each sale was made Russ kept talking to the builders and we always got onto the topic of sales and marketing (which is what really excited them).
It was as a consequence of those conversations Russ Stephens was having with builders that led Sky Stephens and Russ to set up a marketing agency dedicated to the construction industry.
We called the company ACRIS Services which was an acronym for something that now makes no sense whatsoever!
Anyway, things went well and the company grew.
We developed a CRM system specifically for residential home builders called Keep In Touch, we built websites and we managed advertising campaigns on Facebook and Google.
However, after a couple of years of doing this, we noticed something interesting…
We could generate the same volume of leads for two different builders, but with very different results. One builder would be extremely successful, while the other struggled, often claiming that the leads were rubbish!
Initially it made no sense until we started digging deeper, and that’s when we realised that the one thing separating the winners from the losers was a sales process…
The guys that followed a documented process had higher conversion rates and higher margins…
The guys that complained the leads were rubbish had no process and were literally sitting back waiting for the phone to ring.
They obviously needed help so that’s why we set up a new business called ‘ACRIS Sales Training’ which was dedicated to helping builders to close more opportunities into contracts.
The results were incredible and within 12 months ACRIS Sales Training had more clients than our marketing agency!
At that point, it looked like we had the complete business solution for builders.
We generated the leads, and then showed our clients how to convert those leads into contracts following a repeatable process that had been proven to work time after time…
However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for our clients.
Because while they now had an abundance of leads, and a queue of clients wanting to build with them, life was not great for a lot of those builders.
They were time poor, stressed and working flat out in their evenings and weekends just to keep up.
But the worst part, financially they were no better off.
They were building more homes, working longer hours, taking bigger and bigger risks that exposed them personally, and yet at the end of the year they had very little to show for it.
We knew within 20 minutes of talking to a builder what their problem was. We’d spent 20 years selling millions of dollars of toiletries on tiny margins that required cutting edge efficiency in the business just to stay profitable.
And we’d learned the hard way from owning a building company the devastating effect of failing to calculate work in progress correctly or failing to price complex jobs correctly and factor in the fixed costs as a percentage which ensures a net profit.
For these guys, it didn’t matter how many leads we generated for them or how many contracts they signed, they would never get off the hamster wheel and start making real money until they implemented proper systems into their operations and started understanding their financials better than their accountant.
And that is why on the 31st August 2014 we launched the Association of Professional Builders. It was no longer a case of helping builders to generate more leads or sign more contracts. This was about creating systemised residential building companies that would improve the industry.
The Association Of Professional Builders now provides the systems, templates and training covering advertising, marketing, sales, pricing, operations and team to residential home builders all across Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA.
We do all of this with one clear vision…
To improve the construction industry for both builders AND consumers.