Top Mistakes Construction Business Owners Make and How to Avoid Them with Jason Graystone Transcript

Greg Wilkes (00:01):

The construction industry can be a tough business to crack, from cash flow problems, struggling to find skilled labour and not making enough money for your efforts, leaves many business owners feeling frustrated and burnt out. But when you get the business strategy right, it’s an industry that can be highly satisfying and financially rewarding. I’m here to give you the resources to be able to create a construction business that gives you more time, more freedom, and more money. This is the Develop Your Construction Business podcast, and I’m your host, Greg Wilkes.

Greg Wilkes (00:43):

For this week’s episode, I’m actually a guest on Jason Greystones podcast. Now Jason’s got a fantastic podcast series called “Always Free: and it’s about getting financial empowerment and security. Three things that Jason always talks about like I do, is how business owners can get more time, freedom, and money. In this week’s episode, we dive into some of the frustrations construction business owners have and how they can be overcome. So have a listen and let me know what you think.


Jayson Graystone (01:14):

Welcome to the podcast guys. I hope you’re doing well. If this is the first time you’re listening, this is the number one podcast for financial empowerment and wealth creation. If you have just joined us for the first time ever, go back to episode one and start there. You’re going to get a lot of value from that. If you are not new and you’re an avid listener, then welcome back. Hopefully at episode 142 (or wherever we’re at) hopefully you’ve left a review by now! If you haven’t, please go and leave a review. But onwards and upwards this week, we’re in for a treat. I’ve invited back Greg Wilkes. We had a popular session on my “Always Free” show. This show is obviously about wealth creation and building a business that is a lean and profitable, but also allows you to live the life that you want.


Jayson Graystone (02:05):

You don’t want to go into business to be resentful and end up doing all the things that you feel a slave to the business andyou’re not earning the money that you feel you deserve. As you know from last time, Greg specialises in helping, particularly construction business owners, scale their business and generate fair advantage profit in the marketplace so that they can focus on things that they’re good at. Frst of all, I just want say thanks for coming back, Greg.


Greg Wilkes (02:36):

Yes, awesome to be on. Thanks for inviting me, Jason. Appreciate it.


Jayson Graystone (02:38):

Cool. We’re going to have some valuable discussions, but also we’ve got an announcement at the end of this that I think you guys will be very interested in, particularly if you guys are one man / two man bands, or maybe even you’ve got a successful construction business. Maybe you’ve just got a business in that field and you feel like you’re burning out a little bit. We’ve got something to announce at the end that I think you’re going to be really, really interested in. know that it is something I wish I had back in the day and you know it’s going to be great.


Jayson Graystone (03:18):

So Greg, this time we’re going be talking about key ideas and key implementations around what you must do as a business owner if you want to have everything we just said about right? Profitable, more free time, do things you enjoy. Let’s start by….We’re going go hard on this one. Let’s start by saying, why aren’t most people able to create a business like that anyway? Usually in construction, they’re working for someone else and they think “I could add more money, so I’ll go and start on my own.” And then they take the leap and then it’s downhill from there <laugh>, right? What happens?


Greg Wilkes (04:08):

Yes, I think the key problem with most, there’s a great book by Michael Gerber called “The EMyth”. What he discusses in that, is that a lot of people are great tradespeople, they’re great engineers and they’re great at what they do, but they…


Jayson Graystone (04:22):

Technicians, he calls it.


Greg Wilkes (04:23):

Technicians. Exactly, that’s it. They just haven’t had the training in how to run businesses. So the idea of being self-employed, which we will want to have time, money, freedom, which you often talk about sounds great. You might be working for a company and think, “No, I want more time. I want to have what the owner of the business has.” But the reality is sometimes when you step into that, you go into it with no real plan, you’re sort of winging it a little bit and you don’t really know all the hats that you’ve got to wear in business, the hats of finance and marketing and operations etc. So a lot of people are going into business completely blind and they manage to get to a certain size. Oftentimes, if you’re on the tools, you can get to probably between £250k to £450k turnover relatively comfortably. But then you hit a barrier and you can’t seem to get any further. If you do manage to get further and you haven’t got a plan, often it’s because you are busting the gut to get there and you’re working all the hours under the sun.


Jayson Graystone (05:29):

Yes, and I think it’s important to mention as well, if they get to £250k and above, you’ve got to be doing well to go £250k and abov. At that point you’ve kind of sussed some stuff out, at least delegate something. But what I would say is a fair statement, is by the time you get to £250k – £400k, there’s no more money in the world that you can be offered to work more, because it’s just like “Flipping hell!” You’re sick of it, you’re doing everything lconstantly and it’s having an effect on your family life, i’s having an effect on your relationship with your kids, your wife, your mood, your sleep, and it can be awful.


Greg Wilkes (06:16):

It’s Draining, yes. It’s hard.


Jayson Graystone (06:18):

It’s draining.


Greg Wilkes (06:19):

What’s really tough, especially in construction, is that it’s a physical job. We’ve got some that are out there, really working hard, physically demanding from (whatever time it is) eight till five o’clock. They’re on the phone, they’re starting at half six/seven o’clock trying to order materials or pick some stuff up on the way in. Then they get home and then the paperwork starts at five/ half five when they should be spending time with the kids and the family. People are working 12-14 hour days and like you say, there’s not enough money to do that. That’s the thing.


Jayson Graystone (06:54):

And it’s the mental capacity as well, to chop and change between those different roles, right? You’ve got to go from invoice mode to then quote mode and like loving the customer and sales mode. Then you’ve got to go to paying your suppliers mode and all this kind of stuff. It’s just the mental challenge of going between all those different Jekyll and Hyde’s, literally. You mentioned something interesting and we look at their boss. We look at the owner of the company and we think we’ll have that life, but in actual reality, most businesses don’t make money. The person you’re looking up to, the business that you think that you could run, they’re not even running well and they’re probably in that position where they’re over broke or they’re really stressed themselves.


Jayson Graystone (07:48):

The reality is most businesses don’t work. Most businesses aren’t run well, and they generate a profit, but they can’t run it in a way that allows them exactly what you are helping people achieve. Freedom and all the rest of it. So It blows my mind when it is like a vicious cycle. When you try and teach them something, they say, “Oh, well they don’t do it like that. It’s not done like that in my industry. That’s not how we do it in our industry.” And you think, but the people you’re looking up to aren’t making money either. You’re looking up to a broken model.


Jayson Graystone (08:30):

One of your big focus points must be, that whole paradigm shift of “Look, that doesn’t work in this industry. You have to do this, which is the opposite of what most people are doing.” How do you even approach that? What do you tell people?


Greg Wilkes (08:47):

Yes, without a doubt. I think it’s really interesting the perception, isn’t it? You can look at people and think, “Yes, they’re doing great” but when you really have a bit a deep dive into what’s going on… That’s what we do before we take anyone on in coaching, we’re doing a deep dive into what’s the crux of the issue here? What’s going wrong in business? Often, the business owner they can’t see what it is. They think it’s one thing, but actually when you start diving into it, there’s a multitude of of things that are leading up to that. They’ll come in with one perception of, “Oh, it’s because these people are letting me down. I’ve got the wrong staff and they’re making mistakes.” And actually the reality is you haven’t put the systems and process in place for your staff to follow. That’s why it’s going wrong. I think there’s a big blame culture that goes on with business owners generally because it’s always someone else’s fault. Whereas sometimes, you need to look inwardly and think, “Well actually, what have I done to contribute to this? Where am I going wrong?”


Greg Wilkes (09:45):

I’m talking to people that have got huge, million pound, 2 million pound businesses and they first come on and it looks like they’re doing great stuff from the outside. Everyone’s thinking, “Yes, that business is fantastic.” But in the background, they’re falling apart. They’re breaking at the seams as a business owner. That’s what we’re trying to fix.


Jayson Graystone (10:07):

I think a lot the blame comes from, first of all, it’s lack of responsibility, as you say. You can blame someone, but actually if you look in the mirror, it is something I always say. Every time for example, the phone goes and you roll your eyes, every time that happens, you haven’t done something. You are missing something in your business. You haven’t put a system in place or you don’t have an asset in place that allows you remove that pain. It’s easier to say, “Oh, I can’t trust anyone and they didn’t do the job properly” But actually, if you just take, take ownership for it, it’s up to you to train that person.


Greg Wilkes (10:53):

A hundred percent. I always said in business (I learnt this the hard way really) but when I worked out the right way to manage people. One thing I always said that is, if a mistake was made, the first thing we’d do, we wouldn’t blame the person. We would first look at, what’s gone wrong? How has that gone wrong and what system or process have I not put in place to for that to happen? So it doesn’t happen again. Now, if we’d actually put a system and process in place, and then the person’s trained on how to follow that system and process, and then they’re go and make a mistake, then there’s a different issue there. Now, now you’re thinking there’s potentially a people problem rather than a system problem. But most of the time it can be avoided when the process is documented and videoed etc, can get over those things.


Jayson Graystone (11:39):

Yes. All you end up with, in blaming peopleand never taking responsibility or ownership for the problem anyway, is you have no more free time. If you’ve got this attitude, “I might as well do it myself”. Well, guess what? You’re going to be doing everything yourself forever, and that’s going to be moving you further away from why you started the business in the first place. It’s very counterintuitive.


Greg Wilkes (12:04):

A lot of people want control and they can’t release that control and they think, “Well, no one’s going to do it as good as me.” But oftentimes, like we said, you can release the control if you tell people the exact way you want it done <laugh>. If people are following the way you want it done, then people can follow along with that. Oftentimes it’s because it’s not documented and systemised. People don’t know what to do. They don’t know how you want it done <laugh>.


Jayson Graystone (12:30):

I know. It’s up to you to tell them. Ultimately, really freedom, which is essentially what this podcast is about, if you’re in a any business, you just want freedom. That’s what you want. You want freedom of choice to do what you love, whether that’s in the business or out of the business etc. You have to master delegation. You have to master delegation. In business, the way that that hands out is you have this plan that’s a little bit of a longer term play, where you start earning money and instead of saying, “I want the Ferrari straightaway” you have to play a bit of a long game where you just go, “Any profit I get in, I’m going to delegate any stuff I don’t like doing, I’m going to make a priority to pay someone to do that bit, and then I’m going to do the next thing. I’m going pay someone to do that.” Then you eventually end up with the system working like a well oiled machine and then you can start taking your money. You can start taking your income. At that point, you are being paid to literally do whatever you’ve chose on that list. That is your job. That should be the thing that you love doing.


Greg Wilkes (13:42):

Yea, a hundred percent. I’m just going to jump on that though. What’s really interesting, is some people go completely the other direction with this. Once they realise that they can delegate and that’s the way forward, they end up doing everything too fast. They’ll delegate everything and they haven’t got a plan on when people can be brought on board. We see this all the time, people come in and they look like they’re making great money on their projects, but now they’ve got two project managers and they’ve got an admin person, the bookkeeper etc. But the business can’t sustain that level of delegation <laugh> because they’ve not thought about the financial plan that’s involved in, when should you hire these people? That’s often a big barrier to growth too. When do you hire and when do you delegate?


Jayson Graystone (14:26):

That’s a really good point. Also what comes with that, if you go too fast, they get a bit comfortable and they’re think ” Oh, this is nice.” They get complacent, then they don’t get work and then they can’t afford to keep the staff. It snowballs out of control that way. That’s a really good point.


Jayson Graystone (14:44):

So, let’s talk about, what ‘to do’ because I take it at this point in time, we should mention that you’ve got a real nice event coming up in June, right? Tell us a little bit about what that event is.


Greg Wilkes (14:59):

Yes, so it’s Friday the 30th of June. It’s our first live in-person event. The reason we wanted to do in-person is, we do so much training online on Zoom, and I think Covid just pushed everyone that way. I think people havehad enough of that. I mean it’s great because you can do it from any location, but being in person and mixing with a group of peers that are all gunning for the same thing, it is powerful to be in that environment. You come away feeling really inspired. We wanted to get some real high performing individuals together. We’ve got an event (only limited to a hundred people at this event) and we’r also bringing in a few of my mastermind clients that are going to be coming as well. Some of the real elite that have managed to take their businesses to around the 5 million turnover, have put all the processes in place, they’re really running a business that gives them time, freedom and money.


Greg Wilkes (15:54):

The event is at the Hilton Hotel in Heathrow, so nice and nice and easy for everyone to get to or stay over or get transport links to. We are going to do an intensive one day exercise where we are really going to show you all the steps it takes to get you from wherever you are now (whether that’s £250k – ,£400k) up to, how do you build a 5 million pound business.


Jayson Graystone (16:18):



Greg Wilkes (16:20):

It’s going to be incredible. It’s absolutely action packed and what we are doing is, we’re taking all the training that we’ve been doing over the last few years, some of the best trainings that have had the biggest impact, and we’re putting them into this event so that people can go away mind blown with what they can achieve in their business. That’s exciting.


Jayson Graystone (16:37):

Really cool. That sounds so good and I’m going to be there as well, so I can’t wait to pop along for that. Tell us a little bit about, if you were to break it into categories or share some kind of topics of what you’re likely to cover? Can you share some of that and then we can talk about why that’s important?


Greg Wilkes (16:58):

A hundred percent. I think the first category always starts with the plan. So wherever you’re at now, one of the things we’re going to be doing is coming up with a bespoke plan for you and your business at that event. We’ve got other coaches there that are going to be helping us do this too. It’s exactly what we said, like what is the financial plan on how you’re going get there? We know that you are going to hit certain barriers at different stages and we need a bit of a financial plan to break you through that barrier. So exactly what we said first, when is the right time to hire my first admin personal bookkeeper, when do I then bring on a project manager that’s going to come and help? We’ll help you analyse all of that and show you the KPIs, the Key Figures and Numbers that you must be monitoring in order to break through those barriers. That’s probably the number one that we start with, get that plan.


Jayson Graystone (17:48):

That’s such a big one. Having clarity over that, and a solid projection, something tangible to work towards. I do the same on my program. If you want to become financially free, a lot of people don’t know what that even means or when it is or what it’s defined by. Just having those numbers, milestones along the way, then you can focus your energy and effort and attention onto so that you are definitely making progress towards that goal, is so powerful, so powerful. Particularly in business when you’re kind of lost and you don’t know when you can afford to employ people, you’re not too hot on tax and you’re not too hot on PNL even. A lot of business owners, as you say, they’re tradesmen, they’re not accountants, they’re not wealth management experts. That’s just so, so powerful. What next?


Greg Wilkes (18:45):

Yes, so once you walk away with a proper business plan and you know your figures (which as we said is the the most important thing) then we need to think about how we market you and how we brand you as a company. If you’re starting to scale, you are going to be evolving as a business in the type of clients and the type of projects that you want to start winning. If you are currently doing 50,000 pound extensions, you might then think, “Right, actually, I need to elevate this to a £100k or £200k or £500,000k projects”. Most people get stuck in a category, they get pigeonholed into a certain category and they think that “I’m only ever winning the type of work that I’ve always won.” We need to break you out of that. We talk about the top branding tips so that you can find and attract your ideal clients and your ideal project types. That’s a really, really interesting piece, because most people don’t how to do their social media and their website etc. We’re going to show you how to really get that performing well.


Jayson Graystone (19:43):

That’s so important as well. And also get paid the same, because I think this is a big struggle, where people try and take on anything because they’re in business. They think “I’ve just got to get some money in to pay the bills” and they take on any type of work, and that’s when they end up with the headache clients. The people that pay the least are the biggest headaches. What you’re doing is essentially teaching them strategies on how to elevate their brand and stand out a little bit more, so they can be more picky over the work but be paid the same, because they’re charging higher and they’re working with better clients, right? I know that for myself as well. A really important one, but a scary one if you don’t have a strategy. What’s after that?


Greg Wilkes (20:24):

The main crux of the day is going to be showing you a strategy, a key marketing strategy on how we are going to generate you unlimited leads and opportunities in your area for the job value that you want. This strategy is something that agencies use and they will charge you a percentage. You can go out there now and you could approach an agency and they’ll say, “Right Greg, here’s a 500,000 pound project, but we’re going to charge you five or 10% to put that project on your lap”. We are going to show you the secrets of how the agencies do it so you can generate it for yourself for, not pennies, but it’s really, really cheap. You won’t believe how (well it’s not easy to do) but once you know the strategy, it is relatively easy to implement. We’re going to show you how you do that in-house.


Greg Wilkes (21:13):

Now this strategy alone could literally thousand x the cost of the investment of the ticket (of the conference). If you walk away from this and it’s a light bulb moment, you say, “I now know how I’m going to generate a million pounds worth of work this year” and you are paying a couple of hundred pounds for a ticket. This is the big one <laugh>. We are really excited about this. This is one that we’ve been testing for a few years now with our mastermind clients and I can promise you, it’s literally responsible for generating millions of pounds worth of construction projects for our clients. We’re going to show you exactly how to do that on the day.


Jayson Graystone (21:50):

Wow. Amazing. Incredible. So look, this all sounds great, right? But if there is any construction workers or construction business owners listening to this, one big thing that you must come up against us a lot is where they say, “Yeah, but doesn’t quite work for mine, I’m different. It doesn’t quite work in my industry, It wouldn’t work for the work that I get.” What do you say to them?


Greg Wilkes (22:19):

Yea. It is really important to address some of that because it does work for all industries, but what we’ve got at the event, which is really key, is we’ve got other coaches there. I’m there, we’ve got coaches there, and sometimes there does need to be a little tweak to it. You just need say, “actually, this is what you need to do in your instance.” We’ve got that covered. We’re going to make it bespoke for you and your industry, and if you did come along, you learnt a ton of stuff, but there was something that you thought, “That just doesn’t work for me” then we’re putting our money where our mouth is, an if you’ve not got value out of the event, we’ll give your ticket back. We’ll pay you back in full for your ticket. We want this to work for people. This is really important. I’m absolutely passionate about making sure businesses and business owners enjoy their lives and have a successful business. If this doesn’t work, I’ll pay you back. <laugh>, I don’t want to waste your time.


Jayson Graystone (23:14):

That’s why I love having you on the podcast as well man! We’re so aligned with what we’re trying to help people achieve and the power in it. I know that, I practice what I preach and preach what I practice, and I live and and breathe what I teach. I know that you’ve just recently moved over to Australia and you’re living in a beautiful house, you’ve got all the time in the world. It really is, a remarkable place to be. I want everyone to be able to experience and live to their full potential and enjoy the experiences they want in their life. So just to round it off, what is achievable? Let’s just say that people come and take some knowledge and they implement the strategies. What can it look like for them? Like really?


Greg Wilkes (24:08):

Yes and this is reality and because we’re doing this with our mastermind clients. What we really want as a bit of a benchmark, is we want a business owner to be able to create (it is going to vary for different business owners) but we believe you can easily create a one to 5 million pound company and when you get to just to a million pounds, easily you should be taking about 150,000 pounds a year profit out of that, as a business owner. We are demonstrating that again and again. That’s number one, you should be earning 150 grand a year. But also, we believe you need time back, and we are showing you the strategies to work a four day week. We believe you can earn 150 grand a year in a four day week and we’re going to show you all the ways in which you can do that. That’s going to give you more time, freedom to go and do what you’re passionate about. I think what’s enabled my move over to Australia is when I implement these strategies and I got that time and freedom, one of the first things I did was get into property development, which I know so many construction business owners want to. It’s a goal that’s there, but it seems so far away. We are showing you how to create that time and freedom and have that profit buffer so that that becomes a reality. You can now say, “Lok, I’ve got 500 grand saved now and I can do property development” and we want to show you how to do that. That’s what’s enabled my move over here, because now I can do property development in Sydne s as a bit of a cycle as well. So it’s great. It can be a truly fulfilling life having a construction business. If you’re feeling a little bit burnt out and you’ve lost the passion for it, don’t because it’s exciting if you get it right, it can be an incredibly rewarding life.


Jayson Graystone (25:49):

Yes. Just stop doing what most people are doing and do something different. Come to this event and we’ll see you there and we’ll have a good chat with you guys.


Jayson Graystone (26:00):

Awesome. So mate, that’s been really valuable. If you’re listening to this and you’re in that position, as Greg says, just come to the event. I remember attending a webinar once, I paid about 150 quid for this webinar and the idea that I got just sparked something. I didn’t even apply the idea to that particular direction, but I had this idea that I could use this information elsewhere and literally within two/three years it generated over 600,000 pounds worth of business. Today, it’s probably generated over millions of pounds worth of revenue just from this kind of idea that I’ve implemented into my businesses.


Jayson Graystone (26:42):

You can’t lose by attending an event like this. It’ll be great to see you guys there. I was in construction industry as well in my previous life, so it’s close to home. I know how you feel. I know how I felt waking up, sweating in the middle of the night wondering how I’m going pay people sometimes and people not paying invoices and all that horrible stuff. I know what you’re going through, so I’d love to have a chat with you and Greg will be there as well. Greg, thanks for coming on mate. It’s been a good chat and where can they find you just in case they didn’t see you at the show that you came on?


Greg Wilkes (27:20):

Yeas, sure. So it’s developcoaching.co.uk or I’ve got a book (you might be able to see it in the background) “Building your Future.” We’re giving that book away for free. If anyone wants that book, just go onto our website and you can download that book for free. Like we say, we’re not selling a book to make money, we’re here to really help people. If you want that for free, we’re happy to give you that. The actual event itself, just go and developcoaching.co.uk and there’s a link there to, to book your ticket.


Jayson Graystone (27:46):

Awesome. The links will bein the link of this podcast as well. That leaves us to say thanks for coming on Greg, and until next time guys, have a great rest of your day and weekend and I’ll see you at the event. Take care.


Greg Wilkes (28:08):

If you’d like to work with me to fast track your construction business growth, then reach out on www.developcoaching.co.uk

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