Teaching Yourself in the Construction World

Teaching yourself to be a better construction business owner.

Teaching yourself

Teaching yourself how to be a better construction business owner is part of your job description. Besides, if you don’t do it, who will?

You know if you stand in a garage it doesn’t make you into a car. Did you also know if you sit in a classroom it doesn’t make you into a learner?

While there’s a snowball’s chance in hell you’ll ever become a car, there is a very good chance you are already a learner – classroom or not. You wouldn’t have gotten this far if you weren’t.

Why bother teaching yourself?

In the most practical sense, learning offers options. You’re capable of generating better ideas. And, your ability to solve problems escalates.

There is more to it. Learning enriches your life’s experiences. It allows you to better understand yourself, those around you, and the world at large.

Your mind grows with each new piece of information.

Warren Buffett said reading 500 pages a day was the key to success. His reason? “That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest.”

Whether through reading or other means, cultivating a passion for learning has the power to move you from Average Joe Contractor to a highly regarded construction contractor.

There is one caveat to the learning process. It has to do with the Dunning-Kruger Effect.   And, if you don’t know about the Dunning-Kruger Effect, it is high time you learn. Check it out. You’ll be glad you did.

Assuming you’re not in the first phase of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, the more you know, the more you realize just how ignorant you are (in any given subject area) and the more you want to correct that.

What to learn

It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to improve yourself, your business acumen, or your ability to have fun, there are three basic areas to be improved through learning. They are:

  • Skills
  • Knowledge
  • Awareness or Attitude

Skills and Knowledge, you get. It’s where the most focus takes place in classroom settings and less formal learning spaces. They’re easy to measure. Can you do it? Are you able to understand it?

But your awareness? Your attitude? Who measures those? And how?

Here are three examples of things you might want to learn more about and improve in your awareness and attitude sphere.

  1. Show more appreciation for the contributions of others
  2. Place a higher value on client relations
  3. Be better motivated to work harder

How to learn it

There are three methods of learning. It is probable one suits you best, yet you’re capable of learning by using all three methods.

Formal

It could mean a college degree or could be more along the lines of taking classes which have information you want and need. You can find them everywhere. Colleges, vendors, construction associations, general contractors, and skill-specific teachers all come to mind.

Usually, formal training or classes are designed to get you to the next level.

Again, be careful. Studying only to get a grade can undermine the process of real learning. Don’t let grades get in the way of getting the most knowledge and enjoyment out of your courses.

Instead, look at formal learning occasions as ways to increase your ability to think and analyze, thereby giving you better ways to integrate new ideas and information.

Informal

In the informal learning arena, no classrooms are involved. Your goals are specific. You want to learn something well enough to understand or participate. Often (though not always) you learn at your own pace and in your own time.

Here are some of the ways you can informally learn:

  • Watching others perform
  • Asking questions
  • By taking something apart
  • Reading
  • Viewing videos

Casual  

Casual learning is the least structured of the three methods yet offers just as much as the other two if you take advantage of it. Here is where the power of curiosity shines.

From the simple “google it” question to the trip you take with the family to the history museum, there are things to learn. Casual learning isn’t geared to the success ladder nor the party trick format. But, you can find ideas, thoughts, and actions to pertain to either.

This article from DailyInfographic has some interesting information about learning something new every day as well as reasons for doing so.

Lastly, I’ll remind you to focus on the kinds of study that enhance the quality, not the quantity of your learning experiences.

 

We desire to familiarize you with business concepts which will make it easier for you to be a better commercial construction business owner through our blog posts. Some will be new ways of looking at things, and others will be refreshers.

Schulte and Schulte Provides Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs! Call us 866-629-7735

Meeting the Meeting Challenge

Overcoming the challenge of construction meetings

Not another meeting!

If you’ve heard or thought, “Not another meeting!” you know what a challenge having or attending meetings can be. Yet, having well thought out and appropriate meetings will enhance your construction company’s ability to perform. Meetings address two basic components of establishing a highly functioning business – information and relationship.

Keep in mind; some meetings can be replaced by an email or a shared document. When possible, do that! For the meetings you must have, keep these guidelines in mind.

  • Consider who needs the meeting before creating the attendee list
  • Start and end on time
  • Have an agenda
  • Recap agreements before the meeting ends
  • Be sure attendees have hardcopy or digital notes as follow up

Also, when preparing the agenda, remember the meeting’s purpose as well as what the appropriate outcome should be. Some examples:

  • Reach a decision
  • Develop a plan
  • Give instructions or teach a new skill
  • Introduce a new approach
  • Reward growth or success

5 typical construction company meetings

While different industries have a variety of meeting types, the following five business meeting types serve the construction industry well. In no particular order and with no comment concerning frequency these are the meeting types we’ve seen be useful for experienced and discerning commercial construction contractors.

  • Team Alignment
  • Decision making
  • Problem-solving
  • Team building
  • Safety

We discuss each one in the following sections.

Team Alignment

This meeting is sometimes known as a Status Update meeting. One of the main purposes of this type of meeting is to make sure everyone on the team is on the same page.

It is in this meeting where you’ll be able to address any problems that have bobbed up, make decisions, prioritize next steps, then assign appropriate tasks.

This meeting saves valuable work time by avoiding rework scenarios. And, it aids in reducing frustration among team members.

Typically, your team members will be silently (or vocally) asking this question, “How does this affect what I need to get done?”

Encourage them to add these two questions to their thought process at each team alignment meeting.

  1. “What do I need from others to move my work forward?”
  2. “What can I offer that can help other team members in this instance?”

 

Decision making

The purpose of this meeting is to:

  • Gather information
  • Suggest solutions
  • Evaluate options
  • Decide how best to move forward

It’s easy to understand that the use of collective intelligence leads to a more informed decision. And, while the purpose of this meeting is to find a solution or decide on a path forward, there is a by-product that’s invaluable.

The by-product has to do with team morale and, put simply, team buy-in. When individuals participate in group planning, they are much more likely to embrace the decisions and do their part to work toward the goals.

Decisions being what they are, and people being who they are, makes it imperative that this meeting ends with a recap of what decisions were made. Be certain to provide written notes (to all participants) of decisions and what responsibilities were assigned to whom.

Problem-solving

Often, problem-solving meetings take place when an emergency needs a quick resolution. With that understanding in mind, it is best to follow simple guidelines for achieving the best outcome.

  • Get the right people in the room
  • Know the priorities
  • Set the agenda
  • Defer to the person or persons with the greatest expertise for the matter at hand
  • Give high priority to the input of people who will be implementing the decision

When the problem to be solved is not an emergency, the above steps are still useful.

The outcome of a non-emergency problem may be:

  • Resolved
  • Delegated (either in-house or outsourced)
  • Deferred to a future agenda

When meeting notes are sent to attendees, they should include:

  • Decisions made
  • Assigned tasks
  • Any follow-up matters
  • Future agenda items

Team building

No matter which form it takes one of the best ways to begin team building is to celebrate team successes. And, always be on the lookout for ways to praise individual growth points and accomplishments.

This article from the Wrike blog offers 12 Awesome Team Building Games Your Team Won’t Hate.  You can pick and choose what would work well for your team. The activities listed run from just a few minutes to two hours. They look like fun, and you should check them out.

Further, if you want to work on team building you may want to plan events that don’t’ have “team-building” written all over them. They are subtle yet effective ways to get your team to learn more about one another and to engage better.

Here’s a list of five to get you started.

  1. Attend volunteer events as a group
  2. Eat together – better yet, add cooking to the event (Chili Cook-off or Short Cooking Class comes to mind)
  3. Have a try at an Escape Room
  4. Gather at an Axe Throwing room (I think this would be great, Tonya isn’t so sure.)
  5. Go Geocaching together

 

Now, watch and listen for feedback to see what types of events your team prefers.

Safety

We talked about better management in your construction business through daily safety meetings in this post.   Check it out, it has relevant information.

And, here’s a brief safety meeting reminder.

Keep it:

  • Standing
  • Brief
  • Entertaining
  • Insightful

Meeting the challenge

Meeting the meeting challenge is easier when you determine which types of meetings are most beneficial for your construction company. Follow the basic rules, communicate well, and have some fun along the way.

 

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

Providing Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs. Call us! 866-629-7735

Safety and Your Construction Crew

Help your construction crew understand safety is for them

Safety counts

The most important tool in your “safety toolbox” is found in the minds of your workforce. Therefore, the first hurdle to overcome is the mindset which incorrectly identifies safety and productivity as enemies of one another.

Consequently, it is your job to make certain your subs and employees understand that safety and productivity walk hand in hand.

From the human point of view, no one wants to see someone be injured or killed. That simple.

In addition, from the stats point of view, when safety measures go unheeded (and someone is injured or killed) productivity takes a hike. Also, that simple.

Safety now

Let’s take it down a level. Remember having this conversation with your children? “Stop that! Someone is going to get hurt!” Then, you hear back, “Nobody has gotten hurt so far.”

Similarly, there are times even adults tend to play the nothing-bad-has-happened-so-far card. You know what I mean, you’ve seen it:

  • Not using PPE
  • Disregarding proper procedure when using or repairing tools and equipment
  • Improperly placing ladders or temporary access apparatus
  • Neglecting to disconnect electrical power
  • Entering unprotected trenches or other spaces

Mark Twain, in Innocents Abroad said, “He cuts a corner so closely now and then . . . that I feel myself ‘scooching.’”

For instance, it’s likely you’ve been on a job site where you felt the need to “scooch.” Removing the scooch isn’t easy, yet it is worth it.

The bravado factor

 

A LiveScience article titled, Why Do People Take Risks, mentions that some “. . . desire to venture past the limits of safety in pursuit of a rewarding experience.” Likewise, in the construction industry, the rewarding experience may be as basic as a paycheck. Or, it could be a misguided attempt to fit in with the crowd or please the boss.

The second hurdle of the safety quandary is the bravado factor inherent in many of the people drawn to the construction industry. Certainly, it isn’t that they have a death wish or a desire to be injured. They often see the risk as less than others might perceive.

Safety is No Accident

Instilling a safety-first mentality in your subs and crews is imperative.

Make certain they understand you want them to stick with safety procedures. Help them see it will help keep everyone (including their fellow workers) safe.

Yeah, I know, safety training can be expensive and time-consuming. That’s because safety is so blasted valuable, in every respect.

Safety story

A rich man needed to hire a chauffeur to transport his dear wife to their beautiful new home. A mountain top home. Therefore, the driving job required great skill as the road to the home clung to the side of the mountain. This single-lane road had an edge with a deep drop to the driver’s left.

The rich man took all three candidates to the site and gave this instruction, “Show me your skill for driving on this treacherous road.”

The first candidate drove slowly, slowly up the hill with his tires only inches from the precipitous edge, in an attempt to prove his skill. He was told he would not be needed.

Subsequently, the second driver took the same route with his tires only inches from the drop. And, eager to prove his skill, drove at a higher rate of speed. He too was dismissed as a candidate.

However, it was the third driver who got the job. He was the only one who drove as far away from the edge as the car would allow.

You get it. Most importantly, be sure your employees get it too.

It is our desire this article (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) helps commercial construction contractors build better building businesses. http://www.schulteandschulte.com/blog/

Providing Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs. Call us! 866-629-7735

 

Change Your Construction Business

Change happens in your construction business. Be in control.

“Change” is not a naughty word

While “change” is not a naughty word, it can be as difficult to deal with as the result of a two-year-old wiping the contents of his diaper on the wall and curtains. It stinks. It wasn’t in the plan. And, it can make you wonder why you got involved in the first place.

You and your grown son will have either forgotten the incident or find a reason to laugh about it all those years later. Poop happens. And, so does change.

Following are three categories of dealing with change – planning for change, adapting to change, or stagnating. Keep in mind; you can’t be actively involved in either of the first two if you’re inactively involved in the final category.

Plan change   

We see our clients and other construction contractors dealing with a regular set of business growth issues.

For example, they want to have a higher profit margin, develop a strong management team, retain good employees, be organized, and build or improve their operating systems.

And, it is obvious, “change” is the only way those issues can be addressed.

Smart contractors understand they must invest, in order to make the changes they want to see. Some ways they may invest are:

  • New tech
  • Training for themselves or employees
  • Consultants
  • Quality new hires
  • Service providers

Savvy contractors understand the investments they make may involve cash, time, or both. Further, they understand the value of their investments.

Adapt to change

Another skill great construction contractors have is adjusting or adapting to changes they may have missed in the planning stages or somewhere along the way. For example; the weather, new competitors, the economy, and new or different expectations from clients.

While this article is titled, Startup Pivots That Changed the World, don’t let the word “Startup” get in your way. The list includes companies which started in 1889 (Nintendo) and 1939 (HP®) as well as others. It is a fun look at how others have dealt with the changes necessary to get them to their present status. Some have changed so much we are astonished at their roots.

Each of them can give you a jumping-off point for thinking about changes you may want to make or changes which might come knocking on your door when you least expect it.

Stagnate

Definition:

stag·nate /ˈstaɡˌnāt/ cease developing; become inactive or dull.

Synonyms:

become stagnant, do nothing, stand still, be sluggish, lie dormant, be inert, languish, decline, deteriorate, fall

The world will continue to change with or without us.

Um, I wish there was something more I could say about this category. I can’t. You understand.

Final word

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often” – Winston Churchill

 

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. 

Providing Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs. Call us! 866-629-7735

3 Steps to Building Your Core Team

Building a core team to improve your construction business

Building your core team with purpose

No matter how small or large your commercial construction business is, having a core group of people (a team) who “get it” will make your job easier. You want people who see your vision, agree with your vision, and will work to help you accomplish your vision.

Before you begin the process of building a core team, you must have a vision for your contracting business. Because, quite simply, your core team must have hooks on which they can hang their hats (and their understanding.)

Building your core team even when there are skeptics

Some folks are born skeptical, live skeptical, and will probably die the same way. And there isn’t much any of us can do about them. So, for the purpose of this article we’re not going to worry much about them.

Yet, there are those who may be skeptical of a process, an intended outcome, or even your vision before they’re brought into the fold. Telling chronic skeptics apart from occasional skeptics is fairly easy when you take the time to look.

This might help. Some names society has adopted to describe skeptics are:

  • Party pooper
  • Wet blanket
  • Killjoy
  • Spoilsport
  • Grinch
  • Naysayer
  • Grouch

And, the way you tell the difference is your level of surprise. Yep, if you’re totally taken off guard by Harry’s party poopiness, it is likely he is simply having a bad day. Likewise, if you’re surprised that Sheila agreed to the request without complaint it is likely she is most frequently a naysayer.

If you’re interested in more information about dealing with naysayers, check out this article from Entrepreneur.

Step 1 Building your core team through equipping them

You pass on your vision from the very beginning of the hiring process. Your vision must be included in the handbook each new hire receives. From that point onward, the vision must be spoken of, acted on, and entrenched in the daily processes you adopt. If your employees don’t know what you want or expect of them, they flounder. If your vision is made perfectly clear they have an easier time of knowing which path to follow next.

Step 2 Building your core team through training them

That means investing in them by sharing podcasts, books, and articles that you read. It means taking them or sending them to classes, workshops, and conferences. Give them responsibilities that stretch and motivate them. Most importantly, show them what you value through your own daily actions.

Step 3 Building your core team by mobilizing them

It does no good to network your team into the vision if you’re unprepared to mobilize them. Perhaps Albert Einstein said it best: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Put another way by Warren Buffet: “Hire smart people and get out of their way.”

Determine what skill sets, talents, and know-how each of your core team members has. Equip them and train them, then give them the freedom to make your construction contracting business better.

What core team building looks like

A core team is a gathering of like-minded people who are all about the vision. It takes clarity on what that team should look like. Further, it takes an investment to help them reach expectations.

 

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. 

Providing Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs. Call us! 866-629-7735

 

Weathering Financial Storms in Your Construction Business

Preparing for financial storms in your construction business

Financial storms in varying sizes

Financial storms can be minor or they can be devastating. Think of  the way dust devils and tornados create different levels of damage. However, even a dust devil can grab and keep your attention when you’re in the heart of it.

Financial storms are real

Joe, Tonya, and I were having a chat. Consequently, this post was born. I mentioned  I had come across another wayward piece of information. In short, the owner of an accounting service declared he could make his clients audit proof. 

It would have been laughable, except . . .we weren’t laughing. We wondered how many people might think becoming audit proof is a possibility. To clarify, it is not.

In other words, it ain’t gonna happen, Baby.

When a tornado hits your town or business, there is likely to be damage.  That is why the wise folks who live in Tornado Alley have built storm shelters.

Consequently, they are tornado prepared.

Likewise, when the IRS comes your way, the best safeguard is to be audit prepared.

Financial storms to prepare for

However, the IRS isn’t the only possible storm on the horizon. Commercial construction subcontractors need to be prepared for other inevitable financial storms. Because, there is every likelihood one or more storms are just around the corner from your construction business it is wise to be prepared. Be on the lookout for these possible financial storms.

  • A downturn in the economy
  • Job shutdown due to weather (yeah, the real weather)
  • Natural disasters
  • Owner or general contractor bankruptcy
  • Pre-bid reviews by general contractors
  • Loaning institution reviews
  • Bonding and insurance requirements
  • Equipment failure

Some of the above items are more akin to dust devils which cause you to duck and protect your eyes.  However, others are more like tornados, and being in a safe place is called for.

3 financial storm preparedness measures

Controlled operational systems

You can set yourself apart as a savvy contractor by getting all your operational systems documented and in place.  You become a savvy contractor ready to make the best of the good times. Furthermore, you’re known as the wise contractor ready to hunker down in the stormy times.

Remember all those little signs posted on the wall which direct you to the nearest exit or safe place where you can take shelter? That is to say, documented systems tell you which path to take.

Construction contractors with a well-designed organizational structure are better prepared and more likely to complete work on schedule. Don’t think the GCs in your area won’t notice.

Financial documentation

My cliché bell is ringing. Yet, having “all your ducks in a row” concerning financial documents is imperative in both good weather and bad. They’re in place to serve you. Having your financial reports and documents ready and up to date means you can be better prepared for the future.

For instance, it is likely the general contractor considering your bid will want to assess:

  • income statement
  • balance sheet
  • statement of cash flow
  • backlog levels in relation to working capital
  • available bank funds or financing options
  • lien history
  • past credit problems

Having all your financial documentation ready and accessible gives you peace of mind for day to day operations. More importantly, those documents act as a buffer when a financial storm hits.

Dedicated save/spend accounts

A good start is to have a savings account for your commercial construction contracting business. However, there is more to it than having a savings slush fund.

Dedicated save/spend accounts put you ahead of the game. This method is similar to Dave Ramsey’s personal financial recommendations concerning envelopes. Using this system helps keep you from making spending mistakes. You know how much is available in each account.

More importantly, you know what it is for. As a result, you don’t buy equipment or perform tenant improvements with your personal tax liability funds.

Some categories which you should consider are:

  • Profit*
  • Owner’s Personal Tax Liability
  • Equipment (and/or Vehicle) Repair, Maintenance, Replacement
  • Customer Satisfaction Program
  • Real Estate or Tenant Improvements

For example, take a look at the equipment account.  You know that big shiny piece of equipment will need to be repaired, replaced, or removed at some point in the future. Setting aside a percentage of real income (real income = revenue – cost of doing business) puts the equipment-storm at bay.

* Your Profit account should be built up and not touched until it contains at least 6 months of operating expenses just in case. A fund of 12 months of those expenses is even better.

Closing thoughts

In conclusion, being audit prepared makes sense. What makes no sense at all is thinking you’re audit proof.

Being prepared to weather financial storms allows you to walk in confidence as well as gain peace of mind.

 

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. 

Providing Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

We are dedicated to serving you rather than merely performing obligatory functions.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs. Call us! 866-629-7735

6 Wacky Thoughts to Avoid in Your Construction Office

Avoid these wacky thoughts so your construction business runs better

Wacky thoughts and things come at us from every direction. Things which make us do a double take. And thoughts which have us putting on the brakes.

Some wacky things are just there, and you can’t do anything about them. For instance, unexpected weather changes and natural disasters.

On the other hand, some wacky things are rather enjoyable, like magic shows and flash mobs. (This is among my favorite flash mob videos – check it out.)

Wacky thoughts to avoid

In your construction office (more likely in your head) there are some wacky thoughts which you’re better off avoiding. Look at them as the “forest of doom,” and avoid them. Your day and your office will run more smoothly when you come to your senses and take the path away from that dreadful forest.

Wacky Thought number 1

I’ll remember this, I don’t need to write it down.

Ouch!

Everything from the gift you need to purchase on the way home, to the great idea to improve your construction contracting business needs to find its way to the written page.

This article from Dustin Wax on Lifehack explains why we remember what we write. It’s fun to see his explanation of the mental Catch-22 involved. “In fact, it seems that writing anything down makes us remember it better. On the other hand, not writing things down is just asking to forget. It’s a kind of mental Catch-22: the only way not to have to write things down is to write them down so you remember them well enough not to have written them down.” 🤔

 

Thus, here’s the kicker, writing it down means writing it down. Put down your phone, your iPad, your laptop, or other digital device and write it down! Read the article, you’ll see why pen and paper win out.

Wacky Thought number 2

Of course I’ll remember where I put this, it’s important.

When you find yourself at a loss concerning your ability to remember where you placed something – on purpose – it may be because you didn’t practice well enough what scientists call “effortful processing.” The thing is, if you don’t purposefully think about the placement in the first place, there’s no way you’re going to remember it later.

At first glance (and keeping Wacky Thought #1 in mind) you might think writing down the location would be the final solution. Turns out, you’re only partly right. Because there is every chance, over time, you’ll forget where you wrote it down. If you’re placing an object in a “safe place” because you’ll only need it every six to twelve months or sometime in the future, it’s possible you’ll need a better memory keeper.

Crazy as it sounds, that place is your brain. Yet, that depends on your ability to participate in effortful processing. And, writing it down can be helpful if it is a part of your purposeful processing.

It might look like this, “I’m putting Mom’s wedding ring in the treasures box at the back-right corner of my closet BECAUSE I want to give it to my niece in the future and it is a real treasure.” Write down where you put it and why you put it there. That will be a good memory boost.

And, if you do forget, here are some steps you can use to try to find your lost object.

  • Instead of panicking, sit down to think.
  • Let others know what you’re searching for, they may have seen it.
  • Use your own thought processes in your favor. If you were putting the object up today, where would you put it?
  • Yet, don’t assume it won’t be in a particular place because you would never put it there.
  • Conduct your search as if you’re a detective searching a crime scene – inch by inch.

If all else fails, buy another one. If you’re like me, you’ll find the original a day or two later. 😜

Wacky Thought number 3

This is a task I do pretty regularly, there is no need to put it on the calendar.

Even some daily tasks should be included as a part of your working calendar. “Pretty regularly” is too vague. Too vague in every sense of the word. Once a week tasks can be easily forgotten if you don’t have a calendar reminder.

Rashelle Isip, a professional organizer, productivity consultant, coach, and author, offers insight concerning why you should schedule tasks into your calendar.

She says:

  • Turn a task into a tangible item.
  • Focus on your work.
  • Have a record of your work.
  • Practice your time management skills.

You can see her complete article here. Check out the 3 tips she gives for scheduling tasks into your calendar.

Wacky Thought number 4

Why would I bother creating a checklist; I know the steps involved.

I am and have always been a fan of checklists. So, you would think I would have a lot to say on this subject. Truth is, I do.

Yet, I think Brett & Kate McKay, of The Art of Manliness, have said it all, better than I could. Check out their article here. They even include information concerning how to make an effective checklist.

Plus, I love that in the section of their article titled, The Power of Checklists in Action, they have a subsection titled, Construction.

Wacky Thought number 5

It won’t take long to check out (name your favorite social channel) after I make a post there.

My guess is, if you’ve had this thought, you’ve already followed it up with these words, “this time.”

As my mom, who was ever the lady, (yet could on occasion be brought to the breaking point of frustration) would have said, “My, my, I do believe that is a bit of horse do-do.”

There are 3 ways to avoid wasting time on social channels:

  1. Avoid them.
  2. Use tech to block them.
  3. Schedule them.

Using social channels to market your construction business is a good thing. On the other hand, using social channels to waste time . . . well, you know – a bad thing.

Because, liking, commenting, and being “social” on social channels is a good thing, it can sometimes be a challenge to know where to draw the line. What I’ve found that works best is to schedule social time. When the time is up, you’re done. You can schedule social for once a day, or for several times a day. Or, get someone else to help you or do it for you. 😉

Wacky Thought number 6

I’m just going to plow through this project until I get it done, I don’t have time for breaks.

I know, I’ve felt it too. There is a deadline, or a challenge, or something tangible on the table meaning getting this project done soon is imperative. Yet, taking breaks can have the effect of helping you do better work without wasting time.

Meg Selig, writing at Psychology Today, provides a summary of recent research and thinking on the value of taking breaks. She lists and explains 5 important reasons.

  1. “Movement breaks” are essential for your physical and emotional health.
  2. And, breaks can prevent “decision fatigue.”
  3. Plus, breaks restore motivation, especially for long-term goals.
  4. Breaks increase productivity and creativity.
  5. “Waking rest” helps consolidate memories and improve learning.

She also mentions when not to take a break.

She goes on to provide information concerning how to plow through when you really can’t take a break.

Great Thought

If you’ve walked into the “forest of doom” (and who hasn’t at one time or another) you can still find a path out. Practice avoiding these 6 Wacky Thoughts and see how much better your day, week, and office runs.

 

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. http://www.schulteandschulte.com/blog/

Providing Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs. Call us! 866-629-7735

Why Your Construction Business Should Invest in Paper

Invest in paper, it is good for your construction business

A word to the wise. I don’t often say this, yet I am now. If you don’t have the time to read this article and follow the valuable links, bookmark this page and come back to it later.

Paper as investment

“Whaaaat?” you say. Here at Schulte and Schulte, our clients, our peers, and even our friends know us for being a paperless office. Heck, even our business cards rest peacefully on our phones, just waiting to be “handed out.”

Plus, we often strive hard to help our clients move into the paperless world.

Yet, here I am suggesting commercial construction subcontractors should invest in paper.

Yes paper.

Because its value is so immense.

Paper sets you apart

Brett and Kate McKay, owners of The Art of Manliness, wrote an article titled, The Myth of Scarcity: 12 Stupidly Easy Things That’ll Set You Apart from the Pack.

In the second of their “12 Stupidly Easy Things” they suggest using handwritten thank you notes. They say, “Thank you note writing has become such a lost art, and receiving snail mail is so delightful, that sending handwritten appreciation has become one of the most effective ways to set yourself apart from the pack.”

Likewise, Kyle Young, writing for Lifehack gives us, 10 Reasons You Should Write More Handwritten Letters.  

While all of his points are good, my favorite is the fifth. He says, “It helps you pause long enough to say things that matter. Texting and email are mostly reactionary. You need information, so you reach out. Writing letters is much more deliberate. You do it to give, not to receive. You write because there’s something you need to say, not something you need to know.”

Paper (plain paper) for the win

Len Markidan, writing at groove has the audacity to scoff at the craziness of “branded handwritten notes.” He says, “Too many businesses get hung up on the “branding” of handwritten notes . . . . . That’s crazy. Handwritten notes don’t have to be perfect. In fact, they’re not supposed to be! If you want something to look perfect, type it up, have a designer make it pretty, and spend a bunch of money getting it printed. But if you want something to be effective, then you don’t need to worry about any of that.”

Effective is the keyword in the last sentence. Powerful!

His article titled, 5 Free Scripts for Writing Handwritten Notes That Wow Your Customers is chock full of great information concerning the practice of handwritten notes. And of course, the 5 free scripts are right there available for your use.

Additionally, Markidan tells you why you can’t use “my handwriting stinks” as an excuse for not setting yourself apart.

Greeting cards too

None of the folks I’ve mentioned above talk about the power of adding store-bought greeting cards as another tool in your connection’s toolbox. Yet, I do see them as quite valuable.

Of course, there are the Thank You cards and the blank interior cards which should be among your tools.

And there are the spot-on greeting cards that can be added.

If you’re concerned about finding the right card in a sea of cards check out my “5 Doggone Good Card Picking Rules” below. Before you begin, think of the people you touch in your business. They are likely general contractors, employees, vendors, other contractors, service providers, referral partners, and subs.

And, you already know what types of cards to purchase for:

  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • Death or other type of loss
  • Congratulations
  • Holidays

5 Doggone Good Card Picking Rules

  1. Put your CRM (or your brain) to use. Look for connections. Think about hobbies, collections, or interests.
  2. Plan to shop when you have time to browse. At first, you may have to make time. With practice you’ll get better. (If you have someone you trust who is good at this, send them.)
  3. Typically, humor is a good bet. Making someone laugh out loud, or at least smile is a great way to grab their attention.
  4. Pick up several different cards for various people in one shopping spree. Save the extras for the appropriate time.
  5. Hand delivery of cards is perfectly acceptable. Yet, if you’re planning to mail, don’t forget the stamps.

Write this down

Paper – for hand writing notes, cards, and letters is a valuable tool in your connection’s toolbox! It is worth the investment.

 

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. http://www.schulteandschulte.com/blog/

Providing Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs. Call us! 866-629-7735

 

Being Patient in an Impatient Construction World

being patient pays off

Being Patient for the long-haul

Learning to be patient takes . . . well, it takes a modicum of patience. And, I’m among those who’ve had to learn the hard way how impatience is a sure-fire way to run smackdab into trouble – quickly.

As a matter of fact, you and I both know it is often the case that we should take time to wait prudently to make the best logical move. Yet, we live in a fast-paced world where opportunities, bids, safety mishaps, product shortages, and lack of skilled labor can make us feel as if the proverbial walls are closing in. Then you must make decisions. Which will it be?

  • Time to act!
  • Time to be patient.

Patience plays a part in our short and long-term business results.

Limited knowledge or skill sets may be challenges you face when you rush your construction business along hoping for fast results. Patience to learn more about the business of being in business is worth the time it takes.

Yet, be careful. Failing to act when necessary is one way of using the “patience card” when what you’re doing is procrastinating.

Being Patient through relationships

Patience gives you an added ability to treat other people with kindness, a sense of decency, and respectful regard. That in turn, increases the possibility they will respond back to you in the same way.

Cultivate patience to increase good relationships with:

  • Partners
  • GCs or owners
  • Employees or subs
  • Suppliers and service providers
  • Family and friends

 

Being Patient pays off

What you gain are:

  • Personal Grit
  • Fortitude to make decisions
  • Ability to wait for the RIGHT opportunities
  • Positive recognition among your peers
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Stronger profits

What others say about being patient

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” Saint Augustine

 

“Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent.” Billy Graham

 

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” John Quincy Adams

 

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” ― Aristotle

 

“Only those who have patience to do simple things perfectly ever acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.” James J. Corbett

 

“Patience is a virtue, and I’m learning patience. It’s a tough lesson.” Elon Musk

 

“How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” William Shakespeare

 

“All men commend patience, although few are willing to practice it.” Thomas a Kempis

 

In the end, being patient IS a big deal!

Savvy construction contractors understand delay doesn’t equal denial. And they see that success begins with patience. It is then strengthened with commitment. And continues with the due diligence necessary for excellence.

Patience takes time and conscious effort to master and is often the factor which sets successful construction contractors apart from Joe Blow Contractor.

 

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. 

Providing Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs. Call us! 866-629-7735

3 Construction Business Lessons from a 3-year-old

Business Lessons concerning 3-year-olds and french fries

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. 

Providing Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs. Call us! 866-629-7735