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How to target trade and construction firms

With the building & construction boom, demand for tradespeople is far outstripping the supply across all major western countries. Trade businesses are drowning in work. Consequently, trade business owners are drowning in paper and admin making them the perfect growth industry for accountants & bookkeepers to add the most value.

Many small trade companies with one-five employees struggle with fitting bookkeeping and administration around their long hours of physical work. Because of this, they don’t have enough time in the day to look at key financial metrics and understand what that means, tax compliance gets left behind and they have little visibility over what’s going on in their business.

This is a golden opportunity for you, because there’s a lot you can do to help. If you’re focusing more on your advisory model, these small trade businesses make great clients – they’ve often spent years doing their paperwork by hand. By showing them how cloud-accounting and other tools can improve their business and give them more free time with their hobbies or families, you’ll become an indispensable and trusted ally.

Conversations in the office

When we spoke to tradies about what they look for in an accountant, the kinds of responses we got were:

“The pricing has to be easy to understand. No surprise bills!”

“My accountant has a monthly fee. I like it because I pay a small amount each month instead of one big bill.”

“I just want it to be easy.”

“I don’t want to have to learn a bunch of stuff or mess about sending them stuff. I just want them to do it all for me.”

Tradespeople like stability, simplicity, low prices, and knowing what to expect. One way to show you provide this is by packaging your services.

What your package should include

It’s up to you how you choose to price your services, but lots of accounting firms have had success with a regular monthly package price. You can create different packages with higher pricing for more complex needs.

Trade businesses with 1-2 employees generally have different needs from those with 4-5 employees, and even more differences compared to those with 10+ employees. Many of those smaller businesses aren’t interested in growth as much as they are in saving time on their admin (which they usually do late at night or on weekends) so they can spend time with friends and family.

Tradespeople will probably need an accountant/bookkeeper to provide:

  • Annual financial statements
  • Accounts payable/payroll
  • Reconciling bank accounts
  • Getting started with cloud accounting
  • Recommendation of other cloud services to save time and money.
  • Compliance with GST/BAS/VAT
  • Phone support for answering questions

As their business grows, they may also need:

  • Advanced compliance and tax advice
  • Face-to-face strategy and review meetings
  • Structuring a business or starting a franchise
  • Budgeting, forecasting, job costing
  • Quarterly reviews and growth advice
  • Exit strategy or sale advice

How to structure your packages

When choosing how to bundle your services into monthly packages, keep things simple. When you’re targeting tradespeople, they don’t need too many options. Monthly packages work well for you too – they enable you to manage your own cash flow and spread revenue evenly throughout the year.

Our accounting partners divide their trade clients into three key groups.

One-man bands (1)

What we think of when we use the word “tradie” – you might have a sole trader and maybe an apprentice on the team. This person does everything, from the actual work out in the field, to trying to run the business and keep the books in order. Their main goal is to make decent money, have good quick-cash income, be their own boss and be respected for the quality of their work. They are very time poor, and have a general dislike of admin work. They don’t necessarily want to grow bigger – they just want a better life for their family and more time to enjoy it.

What could a package look like:

  • Accounting software subscription, setup and support.
  • Initial 1 to 1 training session on the software
  • Regular accounts warrant of fitness
  • End of Year Financial Statements & Income Tax Return
  • Personal tax returns
  • Tax Management and forecast (GST/BAS/VAT)
  • Ongoing questions & queries

The little guys (2-5)

These are companies that have 2-5 people with a few vans on the road working on multiple jobs. The owner/operator is very busy but actively works on making his team productive using better systems/tech. His partner/wife is helping him with admin and the books. He’s not interested in growing his business much beyond a small team, because this will change his lifestyle for the worse. He wants to build a solid business with stable, reliable income and be a good manager. Communicating & managing a team, planning and scheduling work in advance are the key challenges. May have the desire to get off tools in the future.

What could a package look like:

  • Accounting software subscription, training and support.
  • Regular accounts warrant of fitness
  • End of Year Financial Statements & Income Tax Return
  • Personal tax returns
  • Tax Management and forecast (GST/BAS/VAT)
  • Ongoing questions & queries
  • Advanced compliance and tax advice
  • Face-to-face strategy and review meetings

The bigger guys (6-20)

These are companies that have between 10 – 20 people with lots of vans across the whole city. The owner is all about growth, thinks big and spends most of his time winning new business and managing the team. Spends less and less time on the tools. He works hard and plays hard, is looking for ways to build his business, making it more efficient, professional and productive. The goal is to build a big business and be respected for his financial success. Doesn’t like inefficiency, slow and manual process, and not having right financial data to make the right decisions.

A separate package to suit each of these three groups should do you right.

The getting started package

You might also consider another one-off package – a start-up package for new tradespeople branching out on their own. Many of these tradespeople will have amazing practical skills but won’t know the first thing about tax and business.

This package would include company and GST/BAS/VAT registration, as well as a one-on-one with you to discuss their needs and show them what they need to do as part of their business admin.

With a worldwide growth in the trades, you’ll find lots of opportunities to grow your advisory firm. Remember, tradespeople want things to be simple, predictable, and cheap – if you can deliver that to them, they’ll be with you for life.

Written by Emma Crawford-Falekaono, Chief Revenue Officer at Tradify. Tradify is easy job management software tailored to the needs of tradies – try Tradify for free today.

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