Get training, improve systems — and safe travels!

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I have spent a lot of time traveling around the country visiting the branches, and I must say that most of you are embracing the new ideas very well, although there are still a few branches needing to adjust to the new structure. I’m sure we will get there.

Merger update

Just to update you on the merger — we are just waiting for a couple of branches to sign the trust deed and then we can finally put that behind us.

I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has been involved with the process as, at the time, it felt like we were in a battle. But I know everyone had Master Builders’ best interests at heart.

Also, in my travels I have asked members about their workload, and it seems there is a real upturn in work, particularly in the bigger cities, which is great news.

This then brings another problem which is the backbone of our industry — a skilled labour force.

My view on this is that we need to focus on training, now. There are plenty of keen young men and women ready to start a new career, but it will take time for them to get qualified and gain real-time experience.

Time to start investing in training

If we don’t start investing in training the future workforce now, the problem will only be exacerbated, due to the volume of housing required in Auckland and, of course, the Christchurch rebuild.

Another item to consider with an increased workload is systems. I believe it is fundamental to any building business to understand the true cost of a job from the outset.

This means rigorous planning and careful scheduling, with up-to-date costing using a qualified quantity surveyor, and having contingency strategies in place.

I know I have said it before, but I cannot recommend enough using the “Best Practice Guide” on the Master Builders web site.

Comprehensive schedule

In it you will see that there is a very comprehensive and detailed schedule of how to calculate your labour rates, as well as your on-site and off-site costs.

Most of us are not aware that all these costs add up, and if they are not allowed for in your costings at tender time, then they will come out of your bottom-line profit — something most builders can ill-afford, working on such tight margins as most of us do.

Having said that, I hope everyone has a wonderful, peaceful and relaxing Christmas with their families and loved ones.

Please be patient and kind on the roads — we all have families we want to be with — and, oh, I hope the fish will bite, too!

With my warm wishes to all of you … Merry Christmas!