Build A Life Without Constant Admin Stress

by | Mar 19, 2024 | Doing Work, Planning & Scheduling, Workflow & Getting Paid

“A lot of tradespeople are incredible on the tools. But when it comes to the admin stuff, it doesn’t interest them. Unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil”.

These are the words of Michele Ibbs from Im Your P.A., one of the UK’s leading business support companies. 

We were fortunate enough to be able to sit down with her in a recent episode of the FieldRocket Podcast (which you can watch here) to talk all about admin work, how to stop it from being a burden on your business, and be more successful for it. 

As a tradesperson, you’ll know just how much admin work goes on behind the scenes. It’s all too easy to have it take away from your free time and the work that actually pays.

Fortunately, there are a few options on the table with great (tried-and-tested) results. We’re talking more time, more money, and way less stress. 

A chain around your neck

Building a business should be fun. It’s supposed to give you freedom, control over your work, and the ability to do the work you want to do—not stress

But in comes all the paperwork. “It becomes a chain around their neck. They’re stressed out, because they’re having to juggle so many things”, says Michele. 

It’s not uncommon for tradespeople to spend their entire 9-5 working day out in the field, only to come back home to a mountain of paperwork. “We see them trying to fit it all in at the end of the day”, she adds. 

But it’s not just the time and stress of it all – it’s causing family issues too: “What is the point if you build this business but in the process you’ve lost your family because you gave it your heart and soul? Surely building a business is about creating a better life for your family, not creating a monster.”

Why admin work is important

“We see them losing business because they don’t have time to follow up on the quotes they’ve gone out and sat for hours putting together”, says Michele. The same goes for issuing and chasing invoices, tax, insurance, record-keeping – and all the rest. 

Truthfully, admin work is at the core of your business. You won’t earn money from it directly, but it helps you find and organise all the work that does. 

The problem is that so many put it off and procrastinate admin work – and then have it constantly at the back of their mind.

“If done correctly, it doesn’t wind the clients up; it makes them feel loved.”

– Michele Ibbs on chasing customers

Your two options:

The short answer is to find someone to do it quicker, better, and cheaper. 

It’s never going to be easy to let go and hand off part of your business to someone else, but there are some real benefits on the table.

Option 1: Hire dedicated admin staff

Many larger trades businesses find themselves overwhelmed with admin work and hire a full time office staff to cope. 

These staff definitely help and, in the long run, can provide immense value to your business. If you want to work on the tools, you’ll have that freedom. Likewise, if you want to step back and focus on marketing or growing the business, you’ll have the time to do that too. 

Just remember that you’ll need to have a decent number of jobs to make the investment of hiring them worthwhile. Even on minimum wage, you can expect to be paying close to £30k a year for 40 hours of work per week (minus 28 days paid holiday, sick leave, etc). 

Well, what about part time staff?

This is certainly an option for smaller businesses who don’t need quite as much help. The problem here? “If your customers happen to work mornings, and your member of staff works mornings, they’re not going to be able to contact each other”, points out Michele.

Option 2: Virtual/remote help

A virtual P.A. generally is a much more cost efficient and effective way to handle admin work. Businesses like Michele’s only charge for the time they spend working on a client, but are also available all week. 

Essentially you end up getting the help of experienced admin assistants (often more than just one) at a cost that won’t break the bank. 

For smaller businesses (and even sole traders), this is huge. Hiring dedicated admin staff is often simply not feasible for these businesses, whereas help from a specialised business is.

What your life could look like without the constant burden of admin work

At this point, Michele has worked with thousands of businesses helping people do the work they enjoy. Every now and again, she’ll hear glowing stories about tradespeople who’ve handed off their admin work to her team. 

Michele told us what one business owner said to her after they took over his calls: “I’ve just had my first holiday in 15 years. I have never had a holiday, because people will phone me when I’m on holiday”.

Then there’s also the whole aspect of having to deal with difficult customers. While they might be few and far between, they’re always the loudest. “They do take a lot of time away from the engineers. One bad customer can take so much time and upset them because, on the whole, every engineer I’ve come across is proud of the work they do… When somebody is complaining – often falsely complaining – it weighs on them”. 

“We can take that pain and let them carry on”

Where does software sit in all of this?

Michele’s business revolves around business support. She’s seen first-hand the differences between trades companies that use software and those still stuck on paper-based systems.

“I’ve met people that have still got people written down on cards, to try and follow them up. I’m sorry – we’ve gone past that. We’re in a different century”, she says. 

Software helps cut down massively on the time spent organising customer details, sending quotes, invoices, certificates, and lots more. For some businesses, going paperless is the only change they need. For others that will still benefit from extra admin support, software means you’ll need fewer staff or will spend less on help from virtual support.

If you run a heating and plumbing company, learn more about what Gas Engineer Software offers or start a free trial

A bonus: tips for hiring admin staff

If you’re looking to hire a full-time or even part-time admin staff to work from your office, there’s a few things Michele recommends you look out for. 

“I don’t read CV’s because I haven’t met anyone yet to tell me on their cv something they’re not good at.” Instead, she has a different method: “We get them to present something they’re passionate about. If they can’t talk about something they’re passionate about for 60 seconds, they’re not going to be able to talk to clients”. 

It all boils down to the fact that you can always teach people systems and how your business works. “What you can’t teach is honesty, kindness, humour – you can’t do any of that”.

Watch the full podcast with Michele

Next steps:

If you’ve been thinking about implementing software into your workflow to save time, here’s what you can do next: