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Tradie Magazine: Navigate Tradie Shortage with Collaborative Networking

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NZTG is a nationwide membership organisation with over 120 trade businesses on board. They provide their members with cloud-based quote and job management software to optimise their operations, collective buying power through its supplier network and a host of services including business training and education. But it's the power of its collaborative networking that's grabbing the spotlight at the moment.

NZTG is a nationwide membership organisation with over 120 trade businesses on board. They provide their members with cloud-based quote and job management software to optimise their operations, collective buying power through its supplier network and a host of services including business training and education. But it's the power of its collaborative networking that's grabbing the spotlight at the moment.

NZTG's General Manager Andrew Jameson explains how the collaborative network helps to manage workloads and retain staff.

"Despite the current boom, work isn't coming through uniformly. Some member businesses are struggling to resource the jobs that are flooding in while others are facing project delays which can result in experienced tradies coming off the tools for a while.

"'Take for example, an electrical contracting business facing a three-month delay on a job which keeps 10 tradies on the tools - the business owner is unable to redeploy all of these contractors internally and typically has to make the call to release them or absorb the cost, knowing that in three to four months he will need the staff again"

Andrew says other trade businesses should be getting together to replicate this approach which allows member businesses to gain from hiring and subcontracting tradies to and from other members of the network to cope with project delays or increased volumes of work.

"That way, if a contractor knows they're not going to be able to meet a deadline you can send out a message to other member contractors in the are.a to see if anyone has some spare labour" he says.

DEALING WITH EMPLOYEE LOSSES
New Zealand reportedly requires 50,000 more tradies by 2021, but it's not just finding new tradies that's the issue, retaining the staff you currently have is imperative in this climate, says Andrew.

"The abundance of work is encouraging some tradies to start their own businesses, we're also seeing more people moving into the regions as a result of rising house prices in major centres, so these factors are contributing to a high turnover of staff."

Putting steps in place to improve staff retention is critical to today's market place according to Andrew.

"When an employee leaves it causes a drop in productivity while trying to source new staff and getting them up to speed. To combat this, a lot of business owners are offering key personnel company share options or other incentives in an effort to retain those whom they cannot afford to lose."

TRADIES TO BUSINESS PEOPLE
Given the abundance of work and shortage of labour, Andrew says trade businesses need to be looking to improve their backroom effectiveness.

"The more efficient your administration and business operations are the more time you can spend on the tools which is here you make your money.

"There are only so many hours in the day, so in the current climate it's imperative you maximise available hours in order to ensure that jobs are completed properly while increasing the number of jobs invoiced, " Jameson says.

He adds that part of being a savvy operator is making the right decision when choosing between jobs.

"More than ever, it's important t o know when to walk away from a job because it's not going to be profitable - it's about trying to transition from a good tradesperson into a good business owner."

A component of this involves business owners ensuring each job is set up effectively from the beginning in order to achieve a smooth project delivery.

"It's worth taking the extra time at he beginning to get the planning stages right and strategically allocate assets and time. Rushing this stage can result in wasting materials and labour, not to mention putting your reputation at risk if your end product is affected."

Andrew adds that given the challenges today's market poses, it's important trade businesses take every advantage they can get, whether it be collaborative networking , job management software, collective purchasing or business training and education.