Saturday, July 20, 2024
Business File

Managing time

By John Corban

When there is not enough time in the day to do everything, time management is crucial for a healthy work-life balance.

When I met Steve, a landscape contractor and horticulturist, he said he felt that there was never enough time in the day to do everything. Working on site, instructing the team, buying materials, seeing new potential clients, working out estimates, doing the invoicing and basic bookwork, he never had enough time to spend with his family at night or on the weekends. He needed a better way of managing his time.

So, we made a list of the things he could change to free up his time – prioritise the urgent and important things, delegate some things, and let go of the less important things that were just stressing him.


I suggested that he stop doing the bookkeeping and engage a bookkeeper every fortnight. His reply was, “I like doing the books and it saves me money”. I said “Steve, I know you enjoy doing the books, but don’t you want to work less hours, especially when it’s a task that someone else can do, while you are doing the crucial activities?” He agreed and said he will start asking around to find a bookkeeper.


I asked, “which jobs are you quoting that you shouldn’t quote, in other words, which jobs are too small, have terrible access or are too complicated to approach? Also which jobs won’t have enough profit and are not worth doing or don’t fit your target market and skill set? Do you quote a few projects that fall into those categories?” Steve said “Yes, there are always some that I shouldn’t quote, but I don’t like missing out on any potential jobs, so I find it hard to not quote jobs. I go out and see all the potential maintenance jobs and accept most of them as they help grow the maintenance side of the business and help cash-flow.”

I said, “Steve, when I show you how you need a minimum gross profit per job to cover running costs and leave you with a good net profit, you will understand that some jobs will not meet the necessary profit criteria. Plus, the jobs that you choose to do, that end up causing you havoc were probably jobs that you shouldn’t have quoted for both construction and maintenance.” He agreed and we started setting up a qualifying procedure and defining which jobs fell into his target market for both construction and maintenance. Steve agreed to start letting go of quoting the others.


We discussed rather than picking up materials himself, having them delivered or delegating this task to his leading hand to pick them up at the end of a day. Better job planning and ordering of materials, minimised trips to suppliers. So, we started planning his jobs in detail. Doing this will save him time in many ways.


We also discussed giving his leading hand more responsibility (who was ready to start running smaller construction jobs) and to explain every aspect of a job to him, and to utilise a simple project management system I had created. Steve could then prepare to remove himself from being on-site and on building projects over the next twelve to eighteen months.

Regardless of the size of a business, there are always tasks that we can delegate, or let go of and trust others to do. Then, we can free our time of the things we don’t need to be doing and focus on the important tasks and responsibilities.

John Corban
Business Coach for Landscapers,

Horticulturists and Nursery owners
Mob: 0433 27 1980

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