Since he was young, Johnno Green has had a penchant for construction. So one day when a guest speaker at his high school came looking for apprentice plasterers, he knew he’d found his break.
Johnno cut his teeth working on residential builds before the Global Financial Crisis hit the housing market (and his employers), forcing a pivot into the commercial sector. The silver lining for Johnno was taking on contract jobs and, eventually, rallying his own crews to straddle both industries once the economy picked up again. And this is how JCG Projects was born.
From the early days of building cubby houses and forts, Johnno has turned his childhood passion into a growing construction business with a team of carpenters, plasterers, painters and even his own apprentices.
Of course, being the boss comes with its challenges. But with the right digital stack and support from his trusted advisor, Johnno’s building a bright future for himself and his team.
Keeping on top of cash flow anywhere, anytime
Growing up in an entrepreneurial household, Johnno has always understood the value an accountant and bookkeeper can bring to a small business. So in the early days of JCG Projects, he prioritised investing in advisory.
It was through a business networking group that he found Olivia Story of Gecko Bookkeeping. Johnno says she helped him transform JCG from a one-man band into a proper company. “It’s not just about winning jobs; it’s what’s happening in the background that’s important too,” he says.
Right from the get-go, Olivia set Johnno up with Xero to tackle everything from quotes and invoices to schedules and client management. In particular, the platform helped JCG Projects keep on top of cash flow. Johnno explains, “We typically have a lot of outlaid material and labour costs, so even a couple of late invoices can hinder our whole payments cycle. But with Xero, I know what’s coming in and going out, both now and in the months coming, meaning we can plan for what’s ahead.”
What makes this easier? Johnno uses the Xero Mobile App, meaning he can stay on top of the books from anywhere – including job sites. “It’s become routine to check Xero in the morning and afternoon. We can see what invoices need to be chased up daily,” he says, adding, “It just makes life simple.”
Lightening the load with digital tools
Undoubtedly, running a construction company is complex. From managing relationships with clients and vendors to planning and executing major building projects, Johnno’s to-do list is seemingly never-ending. So it’s no surprise that – with Olivia’s guidance – he’s introduced an armoury of apps from the Xero App Store to help lighten the load.
A few of Johnno’s favourites include Tradify – a job management tool that helps those in construction cut down hours of admin by streamlining things like enquiries, quotes and invoices. And when it comes to payments, Stripe was Olivia’s recommendation to help JCG diversify its accepted payment types (e.g. credit cards, Apple Pay).
There’s also Dext, which Johnno uses for capturing data on the go. “This is a really good one for us because we can take photos of receipts, then quickly upload and reconcile them in Xero. Before, we would scan everything manually. I’ve lost heaps of receipts this way (quite important ones, too) that I would have to get reprinted. All in all, Dext has saved us a lot of time and money over the years,” he says.
What’s more, all of these apps (as well as those listed in the Xero App Store) integrate seamlessly with Xero. For Johnno, this means his account is always up-to-date – without any manual data entry.
Building a team (and culture) to be proud of
With the right financial foundations in place, Johnno has been able to focus on growing JCG – expanding his crew to capitalise on the construction boom. He says, “When everyone’s struggling to find workers, we have the opposite problem.”
When you hear about Johnno’s values – as an employer and entrepreneur – it’s easy to understand why people are lining up to join his team. Even in the early days when business was slow, he had the foresight to invest in quality talent. He brought on his first apprentice (at a time when he could’ve covered the work himself) to give a mate’s younger brother his first career break. He laughs, “I took a financial hit for a few months, but it paid dividends, as he’s now one of our leading carpenters.”
Today, Johnno says this is the most rewarding thing about being a business owner. “Creating jobs and knowing that my team and their families are looked after is an awesome feeling. It’s a massive part of why I do what I do,” he explains. In fact, his team and JCG’s culture are some of his proudest achievements. “We work hard, but we also have a lot of fun. I try to get the boys outdoors as much as possible – we’ll often go fishing or camping for some downtime after a big project,” he adds.
As for the future of his business? Johnno’s optimistic. “The next ten years will be twice – if not three times – better than the last,” he says. If JCG Projects’ first decade is anything to go by, we think he’s hit the nail on the head with this prediction.
Find out more about why Xero is a great choice for tradespeople at xero.com/trade.