Better Choices, Better Outcomes

Being fully booked does not make us immune to hard times.

Many of us are pleased to be working in the building industry, at least there is plenty of work, and the outlook for 2022 remains strong.

However, for many people, these last couple of years has taken a toll on our mental health, and there are many people suffering as a result. It’s easy to think that this is just happening to us but remember the Master Joiners slogan; “don’t go it alone”. You are not alone. Reach out for help if you need it.

I have had more contact this year with joiners and cabinetmakers than almost any other year, and whilst firms are “flat out busy”, I see a lot more anxiety, uncertainty, frustration and generally less happiness.

There has also been a productivity drop due to the stop and re-start because of lockdowns.  Every time we come back from a long break, it simply takes time to get “back into the groove”. To add to this, our industry has suffered interruptions and re-work from global and local supply chain delays.

Anyone providing joinery to new builds or major renovations will be having a significant % of their installation dates moved out due to delays in building materials, shortage of subcontractors, or further restrictions on site. This creates a never-ending juggling of the plan, and many companies are adjusting schedules daily as a result.

It’s an excellent time to remind ourselves that we can only influence or do something about the things within our control. For many situations, all we can do is communicate appropriately to the affected parties as soon as we know something has changed.

“You can only control what you can control”

Heather O’Reilly

Many things increase costs, impact customer and team satisfaction, and reduce profit.

So, what can we do to minimise the impact and risks of these “happiness and profit hazards”?

  • Be realistic; know your capabilities and capacity and plan to this level, allowing a % for job schedule slippage.
  • Learn to say no, decide who your “A” customers are, and plan to look after them.
  • Reduce complexity and supply risk by specifying reliable products from reputable sources. Simplify designs so that site a measure is either not required or there are less critical measurements required before you can start. Provide full-size templates if necessary, or mark the floor for builders, hold each other to account for accuracy.
  • Review your trading terms to allow for larger deposits to cover more materials, reserve the right to change the specification of some items, with consent, when supply impacts your start date or results in additional site visits and extended snag lists.
  • Utilise the clause in your t&c’s to increase prices if the quote is past its expiry date, if you don’t have such a clause, get advice, and add it in.
  • Consider adding a clause to allow you to use a variation process when extra labour costs will be incurred due to site schedule changes or return to site trips to fit hardware or other items not available at the initial installation time (often items specified by other parties). Talk to your clients about this.
  • Review your prices and hourly charge-out rates, make sure you charge for professional services such as design, technical advice or drawings for building consent or client sign off. Don’t just think they are an overhead cost, they are not.
  • List Health and Safety compliance in your pricing and if appropriate, disclose this amount to client. These costs have been imposed on you and will ultimately be passed to the consumer.
  • When you face a situation where a client requests to delay for a few weeks, and you have no more space for 3-6 months, let them know your situation and that you may not be able to make a firm commitment to a new date if they give up their booking.  They may miss out and must wait. Just like what is happening to NZ citizens trying to get a MIQ booking. Let clients know in advance of this potential situation during the sales process.

I wish you all well for the remainder of 2021, a good restful holiday, and a renewed flexible mindset for 2022 and beyond.

If you would like to talk in confidence about any of the above or feel the need to reach out, please call me (number on website link below)

Ian Featherstone is a business advisor, mentor and leadership coach, and the owner of Glass Half Full. He specialises in the construction industry, particularly the joinery & cabinetry sector. For more information or to find out how you can move your team forward, please visit