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

Employee Handbooks and All That

Employee Handbook information and guidelines

Employee Handbooks for reading pleasure? 😵

I was asked to help write an employee handbook for Schulte and Schulte recently. And I yawned. Like, you know.

Employee handbook = boredom induced coma.

In that regard, it was in some ways an easy task.  A lot of “copy and paste” was involved. It was a very difficult task  in other ways.   What must be included and what is optional?

Therefore, there need be only three rules it seemed to me. My (tongue in cheek) suggestion:

  1. Don’t be an asshole
  2. Dress appropriately for the occasion
  3. Give back any digital or electronic devises provided to you for company business when you leave.

Who could ask for anything more? 😜

Tonya was correct when she laughed, I suppose. She then pointed out my first rule may need to be better defined. For example, I needed to include information about confidentiality and data protection.

Also, I wasn’t allowed to inject my “voice” in the document.  That would have meant (at the very least) I would have made fun of some of the legal sounding terms which were included. See what I mean? This was a difficult task.

Employee Handbooks for starters

As a result,  writing an employee handbook means you need an understanding of the company and its culture. Because . . . wait for it . . .  employees tend to do what they think is best. They do what they think is best according to what they THINK leaders want of them.

In other words, your initial chance to tell your employees what you want of them comes in the form of an employee handbook for your construction contracting business.  Of course, it isn’t your only chance. Yet, it is a good start.

So, if you’ve gotten this far, and you’re thinking it is time to build or update your Employee Handbook, read on.

What to include in your handbook

Some of the important ideas and concepts which should be included are:

  • purpose and values
  • policies
  • business model
  • employee benefits
  • company culture

And,  you may wish to consider using some or all of these sections:

  • Employment contract types
  • Personal and Professional Development
  • Immigration Compliance
  • Equal Opportunity Employment
  • Confidentiality and Data Protection
  • Dress Code
  • Mentor Program
  • Workplace Harassment
  • Safety Requirements and Expectations
  • Cyber Security and Digital Devices
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Compensation Status
  • Timekeeping Reporting Procedures
  • Paid Time Off (PTO) Policy
  • Holiday Schedule
  • Witness / Jury Duty
  • Voting Time
  • Employment Separation
  • Employee Acknowledgement and Agreement

Employee Handbooks aren’t rocket science

This article, from Workable is a good place to start if you want insight for revamping or building your own Employee Handbook. They even offer, “tips to flesh out your own employee manual matching your company’s requirements.”

However, before you begin building your employee handbook, understand this. Unless the text clearly indicates otherwise, an employee handbook can be considered a legally binding document between an employer and employees. And, in most cases, courts consider an employee handbook to be an extension of the employee contract.

So, I guess on further thought, making fun of the legalese within the employee handbook would probably not be a good idea. Unless, of course, you happen to find a judge with an overly ripe sense of humor.

Above all, I agree with Workable concerning the putting together of your Employee Handbook.

In addition, they say, “Keep in mind that our employee handbook examples and relevant advice are not legal documents and may not take into account all relevant local or national laws.”

They go on to say, “Please ask your attorney to review your finalized policy documents or Handbook.”

Similarly, I agree. Write it. Or have someone in your employ write it. Then, ask your attorney to approve or correct it. Pretty simple.

Employee Handbooks with pizzazz

In conclusion, if you would like some inspiration, you’re going to enjoy this. It is worth the time to look over a group of Employee Handbooks listed at i-Sight.  They list a dozen examples which are fun, different, or have interesting takes on Employee Handbooks.

 

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

Building Castles and High Rises

Building company culture into your team.

Building streams

This report is going to follow two diverse streams which converge to make one river of thought. The first stream has to do with an encounter on a modern city sidewalk and the second with a look at the building of a medieval castle.

Building high rise office structures 

On Tonya’s and my recent trip to Salt Lake City, we had occasion to walk from the convention center to a nearby grocery store. Therefore, we passed through a covered sidewalk which was designed to allow foot traffic to pass safely by a project under construction. As we walked, we noticed three construction workers scurrying past us in the opposite direction. I, being that kind of tourist, asked, “What are you building?”

The quick response from the fellow in the lead was, “America, one building at a time!”

Kapow!

Both Tonya and I were elated with his answer.

In addition,  may I suggest if the people on your crew answer the same way, you’re likely doing something right.

Building an ancient castle in the twenty-first century

Castles aren’t easy to come by these days. Come to think of it, they never were.

For instance, there is this interesting project going on now in France. The folks involved are building a medieval castle with the tools and techniques of the 13th century. The building is expected to be completed in 2023.

An interesting finish date, considering the project first broke ground in 1997. Not bad for a project which, from its inception, was expected to take a quarter of a century to complete.

This castle isn’t to live in. This castle is a classroom in progress.

Guédelon is the world’s biggest experimental archaeological site – and some would say the most ambitious too.”

In other words, stonemasons, blacksmiths, carpenters, woodcutters, tilers, rope-makers, dyers, the builders of the castle seem to look at their part of the project in two ways. For the first way they discuss what they’ve learned. Then, in the second, how proud they are to have been able to contribute.

The streams converge

Above all, what strikes me concerning these two stories is the pride these builders take in their work. Whether the answer is, “I’m building a castle,” or “America, one building at a time,” the question is always out there – what do you do? Where do you work?

Building the answer into your company culture, helping employees see how their contribution matters isn’t always easy. Yet it is worth it.

And, the key is to inspire.

As a result, this is where the river begins to flow.

It is a crazy idea which the folks naming military operations have used successfully for a few years now. Don’t get me wrong, it was they who got it wrong many times along the way until they began to understand how useful the nicknames they used for their operations could be. This article, Naming Military Operations is a War of Words, from the USO website is lengthy, yet quite informative concerning the power of a name.

Building great names to encourage your team

The simply corollary for you as a commercial construction business owner is to use the art of naming projects in such a way as to shape perceptions, boost morale, and reinforce policy objectives. It is a subtle yet effective way to encourage your employees to “own” the importance of each project.

Here are some examples, so you can see what I mean.

You could call your job building the new emergency hospital by the hospital’s name (and bore your staff) or you could use the name “Mission Life Saver.”

If your crew is providing work on the new Mercedes Benz dealership, consider naming the job “Project Hot Wheels.” Or, you might try “Mission Luxurious Rides.”

Did you get the grocery store contract? Think about calling it “Project Nourishment.”

3 ways to find memorable names

  1. If you’re into word play and developing great project names – do it yourself.
  2. Perhaps there is someone in your office or on your crews who would enjoy providing the names – give them the privilege. Do you have word-wise teens at home? Give them the task.
  3. Ask your team members for suggestions – then choose the best one. Or combine a few of the suggestions to come up with the top name.

Another way to use the nicknaming strategy

You can use the same strategy of nicknaming for your in-house projects.

Shop organizing day becomes Operation Thunder.

Documenting office systems can be given the nickname, Project LifeBlood.

And, choosing a new office or shop location might become Mission Possibilities.

You get the idea. The nicknames add an importance level to your various jobs as well as in-house projects.

Building Castles and High Rises and Everything Else

The work you take on in your construction contracting business is important! Be sure your team knows that.

 

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. 866-629-7735

Indirect Costs in Construction Contracting

Indirect Costs are important to the health of your construction company

Indirect Costs can cause hair loss

You know what I mean; trying to figure out what amount goes into which column can be a hair pulling adventure. And, making matters worse, indirect costs can mount in a hurry.

At first glance, it would seem differentiating a direct cost from an indirect cost would be somewhat intuitive. And, in one respect it is. Because, you can name the labor cost and the materials cost per job and you’ve got the foundation for your direct cost column.

Therefore, the rest should be easy, right? Anything on which money is spent and which isn’t a direct cost is quite obviously an indirect cost. Well . . . not so fast.

Indirect Costs accounting methods

There is more than one school of thought concerning how to handle job costing for indirect costs. They vary from “don’t do it” to “create several accounts depending on X factor,” and a few between. Of course, if you’re a commercial subcontractor and your bonding agent wants to see indirect costs on your job reports, and you say, “Oh we don’t mess with indirect costs,” you’re in for a rude awakening.

[In case you’re wondering which method we at Schulte and Schulte use, the answer is, “Which ever is the most appropriate for each individual client.” Yeah, we don’t believe in the one-size-fits-all method of dealing with our clients’ accounting needs.]

How it comes together

Dealing with indirect costs means determining things like fringe, general and administrative, and overhead then putting the numbers to use. It means you use appropriate tools strategically. And, it frequently means making your best estimate.

Indirect Costs can be a guessing game

So, if it is a guessing game – why bother? Right?

It is tempting to think the two words “accurate and estimates” could be counted as an oxymoron. Yet this article, Why Guessing Is Undervalued, suggests guessing is a huge part of our daily lives. And thoughtful guessing (estimating) is a skill worth developing.

Plus, think about this; guesstimates are the golden thread running through much of the construction contracting tapestry. From the beginning of the process, construction contractors take a unique set of variables, consider scope and feasibility, develop an “accurate estimate,” and call it a bid.

Taking into account we understand that close, just about, a little more (or less) than, and between are important and valuable words, it is also important to be able to determine a number which will satisfy several entities with whom you interact.

I’ve already mentioned that bonding agents want to see the numbers. So does your income tax preparer, the lending agency, the insurance provider, and the general contractors in your sphere.

Even more importantly, proper accounting for indirect costs allows you to receive appropriate tax deductions as well as make better business decisions.

How we can help

I’m just going to have to say it – the Schulte and Schulte team goal of helping our clients Run With the Big Dogs has a subheading titled “help them have peace of mind.”

Are you a construction contractor who needs help getting your indirect costs dilemma straightened out? Give us a call!

 

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 

Drone Thinking in Construction Contracting

Drone thinking sets you above the crowd.

Drone Thinking as a tool

Before we begin, let’s get something cleared up. Capterra’s Rachel Burger wrote a blog post for The Balance Small Business titled, 6 Ways Drones Are Affecting the Construction Industry. She has some cool insight into how using drones is beneficial to construction contractors. It is worth the few minutes it takes to get her overview. Check it out, you may find a few bits you hadn’t already thought of.

It’s good stuff. Yet, it isn’t what this article is about. This article is about Drone Thinking, not Drone Using.

So, Drone Thinking is all about using your mind to soar above the happenings of the daily routine and getting a “drone’s eye view” of how your commercial construction business is doing. It is a step taking you to equanimity. Because, by definition, equanimity means having “mental or emotional stability or composure, especially under tension or strain; calmness; equilibrium.”

It is a matter of having the mindset which allows you to leave the minutia of chaos and confusion on the ground, while you soar overhead and look at the big picture.

Drone Thinking next steps

Instead of taking a step back, take a flight above. Look down on your business from a drone perspective. After completing step one below, you can use the time to deal with the other four components.

  1. Allocate time to think – put it on your calendar, at minimum one hour, once a week.
  2. Remove false assumptions – never mind boxes (or thinking out of them) simply work toward knowing your own false assumptions and how to deal with them.
  3. Know the data – of course, we’re here to help with that!
  4. Identify gaps – typically found in processes and procedures. (We can help with this too.)
  5. Pick specific goals – they might include increased profitability, efficiency, or sustainability.

Here are some questions you may wish to cover:

  • What funding, equipment, personnel, and technology will it take to reach my business goals?
  • What are three to five important initiatives that will have the greatest positive impact on my construction business? (Remember, having too many priorities means you don’t really have any.)
  • How can I improve my leadership skills?
  • What can I do to be better at holding others accountable?
  • Am I missing the boat (and if so how) in communicating the vision for my company?
  • What are the best strategies to use in these areas:
    • Marketing
    • Monetization
    • Sales
    • Social media
    • Operations
  • Who should I put in charge of developing tactics concerning each item in the above list of strategic areas?

It takes courage and focus to truly ignore what is going on IN your business, so you can soar above and work ON your business.

Further thoughts to use while you soar:

  • Financials – Are there ways to reduce times in accounts receivable? What can we do to reduce outstanding debt? Are our budgets current and active?
  • Operations – What can we use to improve productivity? How can we eliminate more waste? What can we change to make us more efficient?
  • Marketing – What methods should we use to increase brand awareness? How can we let General Contractors in our area know what we bring to the table? Is there something we can do to niche-down better?

Drone Thinking in the day to day

Taking advantage of your allocated Drone Thinking time is imperative. And, out of that time will come your ability to increase your Drone Thinking daily mindfulness.

Determine what will have the greatest impact on your business. From there, you can communicate better and assign responsibilities (and accountabilities) which push you and your staff toward the goals which improve your business.

The time you take to work on your business is time well spent. Take advantage of all this Drone Thinking strategy has to offer.

Also, pay attention to this bit of advice from one of the Masters.

“Every now and then go away. . . Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.” – Leonardo Da Vinci

 

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 

Uber Report for Construction Contractors

Uber – what it means

From Dictionary dot com, we learn that “uber” can be used as either an adverb or an adjective. When used as an adverb it means, “having the specified property to an extreme or excessive degree,” and as an adjective, “designating a person or thing that exceeds the norms or limits of its kind or class.”

There is no mention at all of how the word is now being used as (I think) a verb. Here’s an example of how it is used in a sentence, “We thought about walking, but decided to Uber over instead.”

Uber on my mind

Typically, we use this space to provide information which will be useful for our clients or others who own commercial construction businesses. Occasionally, we throw in a piece which allows a peek behind the curtain concerning what goes on around here at Schulte and Schulte. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what we did last week when we shared what we were experiencing at the Scaling New Heights convention.

This week . . . well, let’s just say it is a bit different.

Yet, I believe I can give you a further peek into Schulte and Schulte culture as well as information which can certainly prove to be useful to you as a construction contracting business owner.

Next time you head out to a convention in a city “far, far away” you’ll be better prepared for your Uber experience. (Go ahead and groan if you like. It isn’t my fault Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick named their company Uber.)

An uber number nerd

This story starts with Tonya making the (number-right and peace of mind-right) business decision to choose Uber as a transportation solution while attending the Scaling New Heights convention. The options were:

  • Driving to the destination – way too costly when “time” is thrown into the equation (and a consideration if parking may be difficult or if you’re unfamiliar with the city where you’ll be located)
  • Renting a car at the destination (parking and familiarity still possible problems)
  • Using Uber or Lyft

Notice “taxi” is not even a part of this number journey for both financial and ease-of-use considerations.

5 Uber tips

Number 1 – Know how you intend to make use of the Uber service. We knew we needed to be transported for three different reasons:

  1. To and from the airport
  2. Back and forth daily to the convention site from our Airbnb rental
  3. Excursions to other places we wanted to see while in our host city

Place your Uber “call for service” with time considerations in mind. Some of these destinations were time sensitive while others were not. (While we had only one time in which we were waiting longer than expected for the pick-up, it is worth noting it can happen.)

 

Number 2 – Greet your driver by name with a smile on your face. There are two reasons for doing this:

  • You’ll know the driver pulling near you is actually your driver (not one of the many who are also picking up riders near your location.)
  • It is always good to smile with the person who is providing you a service. Right?

Pay special attention to tip 3 – fun!

Number 3 – Have a good question in mind as a conversation starter. This takes away some of the awkwardness when you first enter the driver’s space. And, it is a fun way to pass the time on the way to your destination.

The question we asked each of our drivers was, “What is the longest distance you’ve taken an Uber passenger?”

In case you’re wondering, two of our drivers had taken passengers from Salt Lake City, Utah to Las Vegas, Nevada. Two more had driven from SLC to unnamed towns in Wyoming, and the one who won our unofficial contest had gone all the way to North Dakota and received a hefty tip in the bargain.

All the drivers, (even those with less than spectacular “long distance” travels) told us about their adventures.

Number 4 – Remember to tip your driver well. It is the nice thing to do. And,  Mom always said, “Be Nice!”

Number 5 – Talk to your accounting specialist about automating the recording process of the costs of your Uber rides.

Experience is valuable

It helps if you can think of your Uber ride as part of your experience. It also helps if you are willing to let the experience be less than pristine and spectacular, yet (perhaps) worthy of laughter and tale-telling when you arrive home. Our rides included:

One car with the rear passenger door caved in from an obvious auto accident. 😵

A new, shiny, and beautiful Mercedes Benz. 😎

An older and modest sedan which hadn’t been washed in quite some time. 😏

One ride in which we were pretty sure the diet of the driver emanated from his every pore in great wafts of (I’ve gotta say it) an unpleasant odor. 😣

A pickup truck. 😐

One minivan which we watched go to great lengths making U-turns and traffic maneuvers to get to the spot where we stood waiting. 😮

Mostly non-descript, yet clean and comfortable get-er-done vehicles. 😃

One more Uber experience

What follows is not our experience. This is the experience of one of our colleagues who shared this story with us one night as we dined with a group of (not so boring) accounting advisors.

As he told us:

“Last night, some of us went to dinner together, then I followed the others to an after-hours bar where I drank way too much. Knowing I was in no shape to try to get back to my hotel, I used my Uber app for a ride. When I got in the car, the driver asked me if I had put the correct address in when I ordered. I checked my phone and told him that was the correct address. He asked if I was ready to go. I let him know I was. He put the car in gear and pulled up about 10 feet, then said, ‘This is it, sir, you are at your hotel.’”

Our colleague told us after he and the driver had a good laugh, he gave the driver a substantial tip then exited to his hotel.

Perhaps, when we once again find ourselves using the services of an Uber driver, our question will be, “What is the Shortest distance you’ve taken an Uber passenger?” 😂

Wrapping up the Uber report – 5 tips

  1. Have a system in place to record your Uber expenses.
  2. Give yourself a time buffer when you need to be at your destination at a set time.
  3. Use a “question” which will break the ice with your drivers.
  4. Bring your good sense of humor to your ride experience.
  5. Remember it will be much more cost effective to fly rather than Uber to a destination a few states away. 😜

I hope you’ve enjoyed this light-hearted look at our Ubering experience. If my recollection is correct, we were in and out of a total of 16 different vehicles. Because #SNH19 was located at The Salt Palace we were able to walk to several different restaurants and even a delightful, two-story grocery store. Yet, it is our Uber experiences which tended to be uber fun and worthy of retelling.

 

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

 

Attending Scaling New Heights

Scaling New Heights in accounting to better serve clients in construction

We’re here in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Scaling New Heights convention produced by Woodard. We thought we would let you in on what we’ve been up to while we’re here. Keep in mind, everything we do (including convention attendance) hinges on our mission of helping our clients (small to medium commercial construction contractors) Run With the Big Dogs. And, we must tell you, we believe our experiences here have added to our ability to do so.

Scaling New Heights through attendance

From the Woodard website: “Each year, over one thousand of the world’s leading small business advisors and over 100 of the world’s leading software developers gather to gain knowledge, cross-refer services, develop practice skills…and more!”

From Tonya and Yvonne: Yes! Let’s roll!

We arrived eager to expand our knowledge and expertise, one keynote, one breakout, and one handshake at a time.

We were not disappointed!

In addition to that, we came with a set of objectives. Following our own advice  we had these goals in mind before we got here.

  • Expand our industry knowledge in general ✅
  • Find solutions for two client related problems
  • Look for new or updated app and SaaS vendors ✅
  • Network with peers ✅
  • Position Tonya as an expert* ✅

Learning from our peers, swapping big (and little) ideas, checking out the fun tech, and finding solutions for real life, real time problems our construction contractor clients encounter is exhilarating!

*Tonya was among the 4 people who served on a panel discussing best ways to serve construction contracting clients.

Scaling New Heights for the fun of it!

From joining the Knowify gang at Eva for tapas, to Jennifer Dymond showing us how the study of Improv  can make us better at serving our clients, we’ve been having fun! For Tonya, connecting with returning friends and for both of us making new friends has been the mortar to the building blocks we encounter in the breakout sessions.

Sharing tips, insights, and information one trowel blade at a time, is allowing us to share and compare with top notch accounting and business advisors from all across Canada and the US.

Scaling New Heights for the plums

It is possible we will still find more plums as this day and the next roll out. As of now, we’ve discovered 2 plums which have caught our attention and have already been acted upon in one way or another.

Plum 1. “We need to build out a very good website intake form to be available for potential clients to prior to initial consultation.”

Initial action step: Speak with website designer concerning placement. ✅

Secondary action step: Send info to calendar to begin design process. ✅

Plum 2. Need to take definitive action on the move towards AI in the accounting sector.

Initial action step: Begin brainstorm discussion with notes concerning possibilities. ✅

Secondary action step: Set up firm wide meeting to discuss iterations in business model. ✅

We’re excited to move on to the next sessions, meetings, and encounters as we finish up the week here at Scaling New Heights. And we’re excited about the upcoming possibilities.

 

Hope you’ve enjoyed this small peek into the happenings at the Schulte and Schulte firm.

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