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 

Brand Personality in Construction

Brand Personality including logos and such

Brand Personality is made up of many different (and some moving) parts.

How many times have you heard a product or service being noted as the “Rolls Royce” of their industry? Good thing the folks at Rolls have worked so hard to provide both an excellent product and an exemplary Brand Personality. Otherwise, those claims wouldn’t mean as much.

Yet, there is much more to a Brand Personality than hood ornaments or company logos.  Let’s face it, it isn’t as if you can choose a logo and decide you’ve done all you can to brand your construction company. Throw in some company labeled shirts and hardhats and you’re making inroads in the brand personality game. Yet, there is so much more to it.

Here is a short list of some brand personality building tactics:

  • Putting great wraps on your vehicles
  • Setting up your audacious website
  • Delving into the latest (and greatest) social media channels
  • Being a guest on some well-chosen podcasts
  • Volunteering within your trade association’s network
  • Donating to support children’s sports or other activities
  • Attending general contractors’ meet and greet or appreciation events
  • Participating in needs-based construction events such as Habitat for Humanity

Some more subtle brand personality building tactics:

As you can see, developing a brand personality in your commercial construction subcontracting business takes time, is ongoing, and is likely to evolve as you grow. There are no magic formulas, no silver bullets, and no easy ways out when it comes to building brand personality.

Yet, looking at the whole picture gives you more ideas to try and inspiration to keep working on.

Time out for transparency

While doing research concerning how to be better at delivering the Schulte and Schulte message, I came across this fun little article at Career Addict. It is titled, 12 Examples of Brand Personality to Inspire You.  It really is inspiring.

And, while reading, I kept thinking of various companies I know of which fit specific personalities.

Further transparency – What follows are 3 examples of Brand Personality as seen on Instagram. None of these examples are clients of ours. As a matter of fact, none of them fits the bull’s eye of our target clients. Because after all, we specialize in helping small to medium commercial construction subcontractors Run With the Big Dogs.

And, one of the firms highlighted (we believe) is primarily a service company rather than a construction contractor – 3 Mountains Plumbing. The other two – AFT Construction and Spain Commercial Inc. – are general contractors who do business with the folks we DO consider our target market (you know – those subcontractors I mentioned.)

Brand Personality on Instagram

First example

3 Mountains Plumbing found on Instagram at 3mountains.plumbing

From the Career Addict article, we see them as an Entertainer Brand:

“Entertainer brands champion values such as spontaneity, charm and humour. These brands seem to enjoy helping their customers discover the fun side of life. Examples of entertainer brands include Dr Pepper and M&M’s.”

The folks at 3 Mountain Plumbing take a difficult subject (who wants to think about all that goes on in those pipes and fixtures?) and turn it into something to laugh about. Also, their rhythm and consistency make remembering them easy. I must add, they make excellent use of color in branding.

Second example

AFT construction  found on Instagram at aft_construction

From the Career Addict article, we see them as an Emperor Brand:

“Leadership, determination, respect, dominance, influence and wealth are values that are associated with emperor brands. Good examples of emperor brands are American Express, Porsche and Rolex.”

Brad Levitt and his team hire professional photographers to take glamorous photos of their high end, custom projects. And, they leave no doubt concerning who their target market is and what they can offer the folks within that target. There is no room in their marketing calendar for rants or “tool bribery” posts. They aren’t trying to teach fellow contractors how to accomplish building tasks, nor are they passing along building “tips.” I hasten to add; Brad is quite generous with helping other contractors learn the ropes concerning being in the construction business in other online formats.

Third example

Spain Commercial Inc.  found on Instagram at spaincommercialinc 

From the Career Addict article, we see them as a Wizard Brand:

“Wizard brands specialise in taking the ordinary and transforming it into the extraordinary. Wizard brands champion values such as imagination, surprise and curiosity. Good examples of wizard brands are Apple and Pixar.”

Kayleigh is the “marketing department” for Spain Commercial. Unlike AFT where their emphasis is on the finished product, Kayleigh’s emphasis is on the people and the process. She is exemplary at getting folks to see that “ordinary” acts at each stage of the construction process ends in the “extraordinary” at completion. Plus, Kayleigh’s passion for telling the story of Spain Commercial simply rolls off the screen and into your mind. The story unfolds one image at a time making it possible to imagine how this company will service their clients well.

How does your company stack up?

Take another look at the Career Addict article and see if you can find which brand personality type your construction contracting firm fits.

Our perusal of the article made us think Schulte and Schulte fits as a Source Brand.

From the Career Addict article:

“Source brands embrace knowledge and enlightenment. They champion values such as truth, objectivity, education, discipline, clarity and commitment. They are the brands that we look to for information, advice and insights. Examples of source brands include Bloomberg, eMarketer, Forrester and Mckinsey.”

What is your brand personality?

How well are you doing at getting the message across to your present and potential clients? We hope this article has given you food for thought as well as a commitment to presenting an excellent brand personality.

 

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 

Investing in Convention Attendance

Investing in Convention Attendance can bring you a great ROI

Investing is different than paying to attend

No matter which industry you’re in, seems there’s a convention or trade show for it. Perhaps more than one. And, unless your money tree is sprouting new leaves there is likely to be a cash consideration concerning attendance.

So, you must make your attendance evaluation based on the ROI. Yep, Return on Investment. If you get more in value than what you pay, a conference can certainly be worth it.

Look for the 3 “Es.” The best conventions will Educate, Enlighten, and Entertain you. As a matter of fact, conferences can be information avalanches. That is why it is important to have a goal in mind when you attend. (Hint: You can have more than one goal. Just make sure you have at least one. And don’t count free food and drinks in your goals.) 😉

  • Expand your industry knowledge in general (bring value to your clients)
  • Find solutions to specific business or client related problems (bring added value to your clients)
  • Encounter new vendors and suppliers (who may have options you’ve never thought of)
  • Network with peers (for the sheer joy of it)
  • Position yourself as an expert* (you’ll see an example below as you continue reading)

And, if more than one person from your commercial construction subcontracting business will be attending, it is wise to divide and conquer. Choose different break-out groups, classes, or training sessions. You can meet up for lunch or at the end of the day to share what you’ve learned or found.

Make your way to the exhibit hall; you’ll have opportunity to check out the vendor and partner exhibits so you can view all the new products, equipment, and technology available.

Important Investment returns

Plus, there are two less-measurable (yet highly important) investment returns you’ll want to consider.

  1. Conferences are a bargain when you think about how much education costs.
  2. When you’re immersed for a few days with other go-getters you can’t help but want to get out there and hustle too. Yes! Conferences are a motivation boost for you and your team.

Investing in convention attendance when you get home

Besides the fact you’re likely to meet allies and make friends during your conference days, there is another way to make the most of your investment. Set aside time to pass on what you learned to those who held down the fort while you were gone. In your morning huddle or at a special meeting, allow all who attended time to talk about something they learned, share a way they were inspired, or teach a new skill.

Speaking of conventions

Both Tonya and I will be attending Scaling New Heights this year. This is a conference put on annually by Woodard.

“Scaling New Heights is an internationally-renowned, in-depth training conference for accountants, bookkeepers and other small business advisors.”

And yes, we’ve chosen a few goals. Surprise, surprise! Between us, these are our goals:

  • 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*

*Tonya has been asked by the Woodard team to be part of a break-out session. It will be comprised of a four-member panel which will discuss the junction of QuickBooks and Construction Contracting. So yeah, we’re tooting our own horn here!

So, look out Salt Lake City and Salt Palace Convention Center! Some (not so) boring accounting, bookkeeping, and small business advisors will be rocking out the place June 16 – 19, 2019!

 

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 

Financial Acumen for Construction Contractors

Getting all the signals right when it comes to financial acumen.

How Financial Acumen puts you ahead

When you gain financial acumen, you understand how to use financial reports along with all the accompanying metrics to monitor your commercial contracting company’s performance and make proper adjustments.

Think about it. When you make decisions based on both historical and predictive indicators you gain a better outlook for success.

Therefore, gaining financial acumen means you possess a solid understanding of what drives your company’s profits. You “get” how financial decisions form the backbone of your business.

Therefore, it is about following the signals – and knowing which signals to follow.

It affects your employees  

Your employees and subs want to know that your business is viable and capable. They want a secure company which provides stability for them and their families. Check out this article from businesscollective.

It isn’t enough that you’re a “nice guy” who has an “excellent vision.” If you don’t have the moxie to pull off the difficult financial decisions, finding good people who will stay the course goes up in a puff of smoke.

General Contractors must see your Financial Acumen

While there are different requirements made by different general contractors it is typical that they want to see financial data. They will collect and analyze it to determine the stability and adequacy of your construction company’s financial resources to perform the work.

They will look at your financials in order to gauge annual sales volume and present net worth. Often, they will go on to analyze financial ratios such as working capital, total assets, sales assets, and retained earnings.

This is a quick example of what general contractors are looking for.

You benefit by growing your Financial Acumen

Of course, the down-and-dirty is being able to support yourself and your family. Yet, there are other, more subtle ways you benefit through growing your financial acumen.

  • Able to hold your own in a conversation with fellow contractors or other business leaders
  • More ability to analyze data and interpret key performance indicators
  • Greater understanding when dealing with lenders
  • Better able to develop business plans or personal objectives in line with your goals and strategy
  • Growth of decision-making skills
  • Increases your financial understanding and confidence

Final notes  

It isn’t our job to wipe your plate clean of financial concerns. It is our job to help you put the right things on your plate. We’re here to help you follow the right signals.

The signals which will aid you in building a healthy construction contracting business through gaining financial acumen.

 

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  

Contingency Budget to Performance Budget

Contingency Budget to Performance Budget

Turn your contingency budget into your performance budget

You can get your commercial construction team on board for saving time,  reducing rework, diminishing safety issues, and integrating increased productivity on each project. One way to do it is by giving your team the opportunity to reap the reward through moving the money from the contingency fund to the performance fund.

Contingency budgets are real

Before you get too excited about the possibilities. Or, before you get mad at me for suggesting the prospect of fund shifting, let me explain. I know a contingency budget is called a contingency budget for a reason. A very good reason. Contingencies lurk around the corner.

Therefore, knowing there are contingencies over which neither you nor your crew have control, a contingency fund is still an excellent practice.  Some of the uncontrollable aspects include:

  • premature equipment failure
  • owner bankruptcies
  • regulatory changes
  • strikes
  • unanticipated price or interest rate increases
  • unusual or calamitous weather

Then understand, there are other things which come up which are more in your control, yet sometimes missed. They can include:

  • incomplete designs
  • scope errors
  • equipment breakdowns due to faulty maintenance schedule
  • estimating inaccuracies
  • technological upgrades you haven’t incorporated (yet)

Too many dastardly contingencies can, at times, eat up the  entire contingency budget. Yet, that isn’t always the case.

Reprioritize your contingency budget 

You have the opportunity to reprioritize the “insurance” of your contingency fund when you find it has not been needed in the usual way. Well of course, you could stick those funds in your pocket or in the bank. Yet, think of the opportunity you have. You can garner much more than the five to fifteen percent of a given project’s budget. (You know, the contingency fund.) When you get team buy-in as well as fewer problems, you’re on a golden path.

It begins with communication. Giving your team the “rules” before the game starts, gives them the opportunity to mitigate the risk associated with each portion of the contingency.

Consider what you want from your team: 

  • Fewer safety problems
  • Reduced rework issues
  • Increased productivity

Ways you can work with them to reach those goals: 

  • Improve safety training and provide more of it
  • Create better processes removing inefficiencies (These two articles, found here and here are gold when it comes to helping you and your team increase productivity.)
  • Provide specialized training for supervisors
  • And, (this is important) let them know how they will benefit by helping you turn the job contingency budget into their performance budget.

Risk management tool

Think of the time and effort you put into working with your team on moving your contingency fund to the performance fund as a risk management tool.

Here are a few more tips to help you in this effort.

  • Get the crew involved in doing regular inventories. That way, they and you know what you need and what you already have.
  • Set aside a certain amount of time at the end of each day to cleanup. As a result, your team understands it is part of their job. You aren’t asking them to do “extra stuff” after the day is complete.
  • Avoid inefficient layout of the shop, work vehicles, and work site. Let the team know they’re part of the effort to be organized. Here is an article you can check to get more information concerning organizing your vehicles.
  • Communicate often. Remember, communication is a two-way street.

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  

Building Codes in History

Building Codes from history form a basis for today's codes

Building Codes in Stone

So, you think it is hard to deal with city hall? Then, you gotta check this out.

The beginning of documented building codes came from Babylonian king Hammurabi, who reigned from 1792 to 1750 B.C. The black stone stele containing the Code of Hammurabi was carved from a single, four-ton slab of black diorite.

Most of us know that dealing with a slab of stone weighing in at four tons, measuring 7 feet 3 inches high, with a circumference at the base of 6 feet 2 inches and at the top of 5 feet 4 inches is no easy feat.

And those of you who deal directly with stone know diorite is difficult to sculpt because it is hard, its composition is variable, and it has a coarse grain size. Leaves you wondering why this type of stone was chosen.

So, let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Yes, this stele is a phallic symbol which Hammurabi used to declare more than the simple fact-of-the-matter laws.

Building Code preamble

I mean, check this out. This is what Hammurabi had the stone masons carve as the preamble to the laws:

“When the lofty Anu, King of the Annunaki and Bel, Lord of Heaven and Earth, he who determines the destiny of the land, committed the rule of all mankind to Marduk, when they pronounced the lofty name of Babylon, when they made it famous among the quarters of the world and in its midst established an everlasting kingdom whose foundations were firm as heaven and earth – at that time Anu and Bel called me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, the worshipper of the gods, to cause justice to prevail in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil, to prevent the strong from oppressing the weak, to enlighten the land and to further the welfare of the people. Hammurabi, the governor named by Bel, am I, who brought about plenty and abundance.”

Hell—low! Ego much?

And, remember I noted above that this stone is hard to carve. It isn’t likely Hammurabi was trying to make life difficult for those carving the laws into stone. It is more likely Hammurabi was doing his best to make it difficult for anyone to pick up a “stone eraser” and change the law. So yeah, there is the difference between “let’s do it this way for now,” and “sorry buddy, this stuff is carved in stone.”

The down and dirty of the Building Code

While there are a lot of other laws on the stele, this is a short list of the laws we would construe as building code. (With my thoughts and notes following in parentheses.)

  1. If a builder builds a house for someone and completes it, he shall give him a fee of two shekels in money for each sar of surface. (Area measures are based on the sar, which is one square nindan or about 36 square meters. That’s about 387.50078 square feet if you’re wondering.)

229 If a builder build a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built fall in and kill its owner, then the builder shall be put to death. (Doesn’t seem to be any wiggle room here. Like, never mind trying to blame the subs!)

230 If it kill the son of the owner, the son of that builder shall be put to death. (So, I guess we’re just assuming the builder has a son. And, if he didn’t, I’m not sure where daughters might fit into the picture. Kind of makes me glad – again – I’m a girl.)

231 If it kill a slave of the owner, then he shall pay slave for slave to the owner of the house. (Rather than eye-for-eye it looks as if, when it came to slaves, it was good enough to provide value-for-value. Although you do have to wonder if it was the less-than-attentive slave who caused the “falling in” in the first place.)

And there is more

232 If it ruin goods, he shall make compensation for all that is ruined, and in as much as he did not construct properly this house which he build and it fell, he shall re-erect the house from his own means. (And, he darn well better hope he gets it right this time! Although, it could have been worse – see laws 229, 230, and 231)

233 If a builder build a house for someone, even though he has not yet completed it, if then the walls seem toppling, the builder must make the walls solid from his own means. (Kind of puts the kibosh on today’s nonsensical business “wisdom” of fail fast, fail often.)

Of course, Hammurabi’s isn’t the only ancient documented set of laws we know of. Yet, it is often touted as the first to have guidelines for contractors.

Building Codes in a newly formed country

In 1788, the Constitution of the United States of America was working its way through the ratification process one state at a time. Georgia became the fourth state to ratify on the second of January. By June 21st New Hampshire provided the needed ninth ratification and the Constitution went into effect. (It wasn’t until May 29, 1790, that Rhode Island voted to ratify the document. It was the last of the original 13 colonies to join the United States.)

In June of 1788, Old Salem (now Winston-Salem) North Carolina adopted the first known building code in the United States. Yet, confusing matters just a bit, North Carolina didn’t ratify the Constitution until November 21, 1789.

If you check the Constitution, you’ll find there is no official language mandated in the United States. Yet, it is intriguing that in a (mostly) English speaking nation, that the first building code was written in German.

The Building Code of New Salem

You can find an introduction to and a translated copy of the Code of New Salem here.

Go check it out. It is rather short – I mean, there are only 11 Building Regulations in the document. I know! Right?

And, I love the preamble:

“We are not going to discuss here the rules of the art of building as a whole, but only those rules which relate to the order and way of building in our community. It often happens, due to ill- considered planning, that neighbors are molested and sometimes even the whole community suffers. For such reasons, in well-ordered communities, rules have been set up. Therefore our brotherly equality and the faithfulness which we have expressed for each other necessitates that we agree to some rules and regulations which shall be basic for all construction in our community so that no one suffers damage or loss because of careless construction by his neighbor, and it is a special duty of the Town Council to enforce such rules and regulations.”

Beware of peeping neighbors

The tenth regulation in which there is mention of “peeping neighbors” as well as instruction concerning fences and window placement is perhaps my favorite. Here it is in its entirety.

“10. Since experience has taught us that so many complaints and quarrels and damage can arise from access between lots, so that often one cannot enjoy his own piece of land and work on it, it is mandatory that henceforth every lot must be completely fenced in. No gates or openings shall be left for communication except with the knowledge and permission of the community government. A house that is placed near the side line of a lot shall not have any windows that look into the neighbor’s yard and in general all gable windows shall be well considered as to whether they are necessary, so that the aforementioned molesting can be avoided.

For the lower floor there is not too much objection because of the fences, and in kitchens and service porches only high windows can be used anyway. However, a common rule cannot be fixed and decisions must be made from one case to the next. There are no objections at all to windows facing the street. The people will have to take care of peeping neighbors in the usual way.”

So yeah, today’s codes are much more complex. Yet, it is in these early codes where we find the concepts of standards, zoning, and enforcement that have reached down to our present-day building codes. Think about this the next time you’re dealing with permits, inspections, and all things code.

 

Schulte and Schulte provides Accounting and advisory board level Strategic Counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors. You can learn more about us here. http://www.schulteandschulte.com/

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