3 Construction Business Lessons from a 3-year-old

Business lessons from unexpected sources

The business lessons a 3-year-old passes on are pretty cool, partly because they’re so memorable.

I recently teased my cousin’s son about an incident which happened when he was only 3 years old. (He is now the daddy of a 6-year-old.) You see, his mom and I had agreed to meet at a restaurant for a couple hours of let’s-get-caught-up-time on a day I was passing through their town on a business trip.

While his mom and I slowly sipped our soft drinks, he (it seemed to us) took his straw in mouth and sucked down his entire drink in one fell swoop. Then . . .

The 3-year-old:

  • knew we were in a restaurant
  • made it abundantly clear he was likely to die of starvation if food was not ordered soon
  • wiggled and waggled his way to food-ordering-compliance from his mom

Because we hadn’t planned to have a meal, yet the 3-year-old was near death from starvation, his mom placed a French fry order for him.

We were all a bit surprised when his order came. A dinner plate piled high with French fries was placed in front of said wiggle-wort.

Business lesson #1 – Let it cool down

Our busy boy reached immediately for the fries in front of him, stuck one in his mouth and began crying.

Sometimes you must let things cool to the appropriate temperature before you can touch them. Fresh from their hot oil bath those fries were much too hot for tiny, tender fingers and mouth.

Make sure the temperature is correct – be certain you have a signed contract before beginning.

Those with whom you need to have a written contract include:

  • General Contractors
  • Your own subcontractors
  • Business partners
  • Service providers

Starting work on a verbal agreement or letter of intent means the appropriate temperature has not yet been reached. Fries which are too hot will bring tears.

Business lesson #2 – Don’t fixate on one French fry

During the course of our chat, my cousin reached over to the large plate of fries, scooped up one, and stuck it in her mouth.

Then, all hell broke loose from the 3-year-old.

His mom tried to sooth him and reminded him he had a large plate of fries still available for his meal. “Besides,” she said, “I only ate one.”

His immediate retort, “That is THE one I wanted!”

While it is easy to laugh at the exploits of a disgruntled 3-year-old, it is often the case, we as full-grown functioning adults, are much too worried about someone taking one of our fries, or one of many jobs available.

Save yourself the headache of worrying about the loss of one fry or one job. Taking the time to throw a fit about THE job you wanted (and someone else took) only means that the large plate of fries in front of you is cooling to the point it may soon not be palatable at all.

Business Lesson #3 – Don’t forget the ketchup

My cousin knew her little wiggle-wort was going to be crying out for the topper, the real reason for eating fries, the ketchup. So, she dutifully applied the condiment in order to forgo the impending upset.

BTW, just for fun – did you know you can learn what kind of person you are according to how you put ketchup on fries. Check it out. You’ll have fun.

A French fry is just a French fry – until you add the ketchup. Then it becomes real food worth conveying to your mouth. (Or at least that’s the way I see it. 😉)

So, what is the ketchup you can bring to the table? Let’s consider it is likely there are other specialty trades providers in your area who offer the same expertise you do. So, if they’re all bringing the same fries you are . . . time to add the ketchup.

Most of your competitors will likely be able to provide about the same skill set, manpower, equipment, and so on. You can set yourself apart by the simple act of being proactive before, during, and after the job is complete.

Be on top of your contracts

Take responsibility for knowing all aspects of upcoming projects by:

  • visiting job sites early
  • staying in touch with project superintendents
  • being certain your materials are approved and available
  • asking the GC what it will take to make the job run perfectly for them

 

During the contract time, stay on top of the job by doing the expected work and:

  • keeping the site clean and organized
  • providing for your crews’ needs including temporary facilities if called for
  • repairing damage or mistakes without “being caught”
  • being sure safety is a true priority

 

After the job is complete enhance further opportunities by:

  • staying in touch with the GC
  • sharing leads
  • asking how you can improve

Recap

Let fresh fries cool down, don’t fixate on one French fry, and by all means don’t forget the ketchup.

 

It is our desire this article (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) is helpful in assisting commercial construction contractors build better building businesses. 

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