My name is Craig Jolly. I come from a military background and was in the army for 35 years. When my wife and I had decided that we’d had enough, my passion turned to sustainable building. Our business specialises in custom, sustainable homes.
I’d been overseas to many third-world countries, developed a lot of buildings and the like for the Aboriginal community under the Aboriginal Community Assistance program. I’ve been involved in clearing mines and those sorts of things in some third-world and war-affected countries.
So, I had a passion for sustainable building and that’s what led us to where we are today.
Although I came from a military construction background, things like marketing and management were done by others, and starting a small business with my two sons meant that we were doing everything.
I never had exposure to marketing, so that was a real eye-opener to me of how we would achieve it, and being in a small country town, initially word of mouth was enough to get by.
But as we have started to grow, and build more houses, clearly that market is going to be too small for us, so we needed to expand and we were looking at where we would get the information to grow. We came across APB and from there we’ve started to develop our practices.
We have a four-year plan to get from where we are, to me getting out of the business, and we saw the APB model as a way to get there.
I found APB by doing a wealth of web research.
We knew we needed something, but I didn’t know what it was that we needed to get to the next step, and as I was searching around, there were plenty of things on marketing and guides on how to grow a business and those sorts of things, but nothing specifically for builders. I came across APB a couple of times while doing my research, and they magically popped up on Facebook as well, and from there, I followed my research and looked into the company, found what I could on reviews to see that it was reputable, and I couldn’t find anything or anybody that said a bad word. Certainly, I’ve found since joining APB that the training is focused, it’s relevant and very easy for us and my two sons to take part in.
The big wins that we’ve got so far are really on the marketing, and understanding where we’re going and spending our marketing dollars.
It’s still early in the piece for us.
As I mentioned, we’ve got a four-year plan to get where we’re going, and we are in a small country town and trying to expand, so linking in the concepts and pulling together the things like CoConstruct and ACRIS Keep In Touch to try and get a model that actually works for us have been big wins so far, and certainly, our clients are finding that CoConstruct is working very well for them.
We’re starting to get leads coming in with Keep In Touch but we are just about to launch our web page, so we should see some gains in that as well. Even without the web page and our Facebook and LinkedIn and Instagram, they’re all ready to launch as of pretty much yesterday, so those things are going ahead and we should see even more improvements over the next month or so.
So, how has APB impacted the business as a whole? Really, it’s changed the outlook that I certainly had as the business owner, and our understanding of pricing and modelling, so the Pricing For Profit (e.g. How To Price Your Jobs Coaching Course) was a bit of an eye-opener.
We’d been intuitively doing something similar, but not from a model that was so easy to explain and work with, and then the processes that go with it, again, coming from a military background, I had standard operating procedures and those sorts of things, but they were very much based on a captive market.
If I needed money, I’d go to the government or if I needed resources, I’d ask for somebody to provide them, whereas going into the open market and working for myself I found that I needed some guidance in where to go and improve those things, so those things have really impacted the most on the business, and also being able to benchmark against what’s happening outside.
It means that I don’t feel like I’m out there alone anymore, battling in the world, because I can actually sit there and go, “Well, we’re not going too bad”. And these are areas where we can improve, so I think that it’s one of those things that if it’s something that you walk past, it’s something you’d accept, but if you know what you’re looking for, and you can measure it, then you can improve it.
Would I recommend the Association of Professional Builders to someone in a similar position to us or a building company that is in a similar market? Well, certainly I would.
Without a doubt, it gives you a template for success.
So, if you’re following that template, it will allow you to set your goals, put it alongside your business plan and use that as a model.
Certainly, APB is in itself not a substitute for a good and solid business plan or a marketing plan, but it gives you that framework to enable you to build and adjust and it gives you the metrics that you can measure your performance by to see if you’re actually achieving your goals.
If it was me starting out again five years ago, I wish I’d had that advice then, as opposed to where we are now.
"The key change that we’ve made, after joining APB, is to try and take clients out of the market earlier."
“I don’t think there’s another set of courses that is so directly applicable to custom home builders.
“APB, frankly, helped me break the elephant down to manageable pieces."