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

Construction Accounting – Zooming In

Construction Accounting takes zooming in on the important areas.

One of the questions we’re often asked by commercial subcontractors is, “How do you do it?” The following is a dive into what it looks like working with an outsourced accounting and advisory firm. (Well, we don’t know if it is true for other firms – but this is what it looks like working with us. 😎)

Construction Accounting zoom in on understanding

While it is always our goal to provide each of our clients with a clear and up to date financial picture of his or her business, we remember to do so in English not Accountanteeze.

Some have shared there was a time, before they came to us, when they looked at all those reports and thought of them as a foreign language. We’ve become their “complexity filter.”

A few other things we implement in understandable language are:

  • Guidance for meeting long and short-term goals
  • Information concerning strategic thought and vision
  • Processes which make profit a verifiable reality

At its core, our services provide clients with confident, well-informed, professional advice.

Construction Accounting zoom in on client needs

Each client comes with his or her own set of needs. Things like:

  • Please clean up our old issues.
  • Can you just get us back on track?
  • We need help achieving high levels of profitability.
  • I need to know my books are taken care of and I can rest easy at the end of the year.
  • We’re trying to get bonded and we need to get this mess straightened out.
  • I hate dealing with contract management, can you take care of it?
  • My business coach said I need to build systems; can you help with that?
  • We took in a lot of money last year but can’t see where it went. Can you help?

Regardless of the complication, our goal is to meet individual needs, always striving to make it easier for each client to run with the big dogs.

Construction Accounting zoom in on systems

One of the things we strive to make clear is we are NOT simply financial historians.  While it is necessary that we give timely and accurate financial information, we also aid our clients in other areas. One of those areas is help in building systems.

We help clients:

  • Improve processes and procedures
  • Increase organizational structure
  • Better understand next steps

We help commercial subcontractors figure out which systems are working, and which are not. More importantly, we don’t try to “fix” their unbroken systems.

Zooming in through Zoom

Part of our job is helping our clients devise a tech-stack which helps them have better systems for dealing with their business and financial needs. So yeah, we do spend time with our heads in the cloud. Yet, we’re also down-to-earth when it comes to dealing with our clients.

And the corner where cloud and earth meets is when we have regular Zoom meetings with individual clients. It is during those times we meet with them “face-to-face” whether they’re in New Jersey or New Mexico, North Dakota or South Carolina, in a Phoenix suburb or Phoenix proper.

The types of things we discuss with them are:

  • Month end reports and what they mean
  • Unusual items we noticed in their reports
  • Our questions concerning their data
  • Their questions
  • Ways to improve (both from their end and ours)

While we believe our experience and well-thought-out tech solutions are important to how we help our clients, we believe nothing would be possible if we didn’t have good systems for communication in place. And one of those systems is a video conferencing SaaS called Zoom.

There you have it. We’ve zoomed in on a few things you can count on us to do to help you grow your commercial subcontracting business. And, we’ve told you how it is possible to meet with our clients no matter where they are located. Now you have a better idea of “how we do it.”

 

Want to learn more? Our office hours are 9 to 5 Arizona time where our main office is located. And our Toll-Free number is 866-629-7735. Give us a call!

Be the Best Bidder

Best Bidder practices for construction subcontractors

Best Bidder not lowest bidder

You know there are those who only choose the lowest bidder. No matter how detrimental that practice often is. It happens. This story from ENR tells the tale well.

And, here is another low bid fire station disaster.

If you wish to remove “lowest” from the criteria general contractors might use when considering your bid here are a few things for you to consider.  Because price shouldn’t be the only determining factor in a winning bid.

The Best Bidder will bring

 

  • Outstanding trade expertise.

 

  • Proof of required licenses and insurance.

 

  • Confirmation of past performance with comparable projects.

 

  • Excellent safety records.

 

  • Good equipment.

 

  • Demonstration of well-tended financials (including cash flow capabilities and good qualifications for meeting your vendors’ payment terms.)

 

Soft qualities of Best Bidders

While the following qualities are harder to quantify, they often fit in the make-it or break-it category for GCs. General contractors looking for the best bidder rather than the lowest bidder will watch for:

  • Responsiveness – responding to all forms of communication in a timely manner.

 

  • An excellent attitude – includes understanding how to respond to problems with creativity and a can-do attitude.

 

  • A dedication to teamwork – within your own company, with other trades, and with the GCs representatives, demonstrating your desire to create a mutually beneficial partnership.

 

  • Cleanliness – keeping the site as clean as possible at all times.

 

  • A reputation for integrity – honesty and sincerity, including owning up to your own or your team’s mistakes.

 

And, it is in these soft qualities where you have the most opportunity to promote your value as opposed to focusing on price.

Think about it — when your bid is close to other bids, often your reputation is all it takes to assure you get more than a passing glance.

Who you gonna call?

It is just as important to choose a general contractor worth submitting a bid to as it is to be a subcontractor worthy of consideration.

Here are questions vital to your pre-bid decision.

  • How long has the general contractor been in business?

 

  • How many subcontractors have they worked with? (Contacting past subs may give you an idea of how easy or difficult it is to work with this GC.)

 

  • Do they have procedures for handling conflicts?

 

  • How many levels of management do they have in place?

 

  • Who will be your point of contact?

 

  • What paperwork will be required? And how frequently?

 

  • When will the job begin?

 

  • What is the estimated time of completion?

 

  • What is the scope of the work required?

 

Best Bidder practices

Putting your best foot forward before the bid is called is only the first step. Take every opportunity to let GCs know why your services are better.

And finally, be sure to manage your bid processes well. Determine to focus on bidding projects that will result in profitable returns and repeat business.

 

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 and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

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

Focus for Construction Contractors

Focus on Focus. It's good for you.

Focus for Construction Contractors

Focus is a core factor of business success

Yet focus, simply for the sake of focus makes no sense. Because, let’s face it, focusing on a screen (be it large or small) is rather an easy accomplishment. Think TV viewing, social media, or electronic games.

Or you could find yourself focusing on the daily minutia in the office or on the site and never on the growth of your construction contracting business.

So yes, focus is core. Yet, when building and using your focus “muscles” it matters what you focus on.

The choice

Here’s the deal. You get to choose. Choose between being busy or being effective. The matter is made simpler (not easier) when you realize there are only three areas on which you as a construction contractor need to focus.

Before we get to the three, I’ll mention there are those who believe there are only two areas on which you need to focus. They say the two areas are client satisfaction and making a profit. And, I agree they are important. The only other area I and a few others are suggesting is important to build your construction business is the third area, that of employee well-being. So, there you have it. The three places which call out for your focus are:

  • Client satisfaction (What do your clients need?)
  • Profit (How can you make money?)
  • Employee well-being (Why will your best employees stay with you?)

How you spend your time, which tasks you take up, where you aspire to learn more, what you choose to delegate, even what you decide to dump, should all be based on these three focus areas.

Focus – a story of how that looks

The other day I was chatting with a friend on the phone. I mentioned to her that a certain “office helper” around here had recently gotten into reading Harry Potter. Because my friend is a retired school teacher, she laughed and said yes, she had read the first Harry Potter book. She read it because she knew her students would be reading it and she wanted to have a working knowledge.

I asked if it was a good book. Should I take the time to read it so I could be better at discussing it with the “office helper?” Her response reminded me of a focus folly. She said, “Oh it’s alright. But it isn’t, like some of my books, one I could curl up with in my soft easy chair and be still reading when the firemen carried me out of my burning house.” Now, that is focus!

With that in mind, here are three focus follies in which you don’t want to find yourself.

Wrong Focus

Have you ever known someone who was super excited about the wedding, yet had given little to no thought to the marriage which would follow? The wrong focus can seem so “right.” Yet, having focus is of no use when you’re focusing on the wrong thing.

Over Focus

One of our “office helpers” is quite excited about an adventure the entire crew will be taking later this year. While the rest of us are happy that we’ll be going to Universal Studios Hollywood, this “office helper” believes our destination is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™. (Yep, the same office helper mentioned above.) No matter how many times we let her know there is more to be experienced she returns to her point of focus.

No Focus

There is someone I know who runs to the store for a new toilet paper supply when she notices the last roll is almost empty. After bringing the toilet paper home, she then runs back to the store for the eggs she wants to use to prepare breakfast. On her way to work, she stops in at the convenience store to pick up a snack pack to be used for that day’s lunch. On the way home from work she picks up a few steaks for the grill. Then as the meat is being placed, she remembers there are no sides for the evening meal.

At this point, she enlists one of her children to run to the store to purchase some deli sides because there is no time to bake potatoes or cook a vegetable. Later in the evening, she runs to the store to purchase shampoo (after she steps out of the shower and puts back on her clothes.) Lest you think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. She will tell you herself this is how her day goes – because she doesn’t have time to get everything done. Do you see the irony there?

Putting the puzzle together

Obviously, avoiding the focus follies is important. Learning how to be better at focusing on the right things is the next step. This article, 5 Steps To Finding Your Focus, from Fast Company says, “. . . determine what gets done by using filters, such as your deadlines, values, available time, or resources, and arrange your day around the things that are important–big or small.”  Be sure to check out the article to see how to put the 5 steps to use in your commercial construction business.

 

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 and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

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

Subcontractors – What’s Your Story?

Subcontractors tell your story to grow your business

Subcontractors – What’s Your Story?

Subcontractors create

The culture you create within the confines of your construction subcontracting business radiates. That culture becomes the story your construction company is known for. What story is your subcontracting business telling?

Are your crews known for showing up on time prepared to give it their all? Or do they have the reputation for being late and leaving the site frequently to retrieve forgotten tools?

Are your people the ones who will go the extra mile to help out the GC? Or are they the ones who fail to clean their own mess because they “don’t want to be taken advantage of?”

Can you be sure your phones answered by people who either know the answers or know how to get them?

Is all the paperwork your general contractor asks for submitted in a timely manner? Or is it only taken care of when someone in the office or the field gets nagged enough to get it done?

Creating a culture which stresses “customer service” allows you to tell a better story.

The first two questions you need to ask are:

  1. How do the GCs in my area perceive my company?
  2. What do I want it to be known for?

Subcontractors develop

The culture you develop in your construction business has the power to attract the right employees. I’ve heard Tonya express it this way many times – your vibe attracts your tribe.

When your employees and subs know you care about them as human beings, not just a tool you use to get a task done they’re more attuned to supporting your efforts. Giving bonuses and raises whenever possible is only part of the picture. Giving praise and supporting their efforts for personal as well as professional growth helps your team see you as someone who cares.

With that being said, let’s move to ways to help your team understand your stance.

Want your team to lie to you? Teach them that lying to the GC is acceptable. Or would you prefer your employees tell the truth about errors and omissions? Be sure to model that behavior.

Do you want your team to steal from you? Show them that cutting corners is the only way to get ahead. Or, does it make more sense to teach them that your expectation is for excellence and “good enough” is never good enough.

Do you prefer your team members show up on time? Then of course, you must be their example. When you call for a meeting, you must show up before the meeting starts, not a few minutes later.

Subcontractors lead

If you don’t already have the skills of a leader you need to develop them. Here is a great graphic which depicts the difference between a boss and a leader. You can check the graphic to see which skills you need to improve or strengthen.

Want your folks to feel all they do is work hard for a paycheck? Neglect to let them know what it is they really do. Want them to get the vision? Show them the vision.

And the way to frame that is often with the end game in mind. Are they laying brick or helping build a medical facility which will save lives? Do your hands think they’re painting walls or do they believe they’re putting the finishing touches on a space which will provide jobs for the community? Are they laying wire or pipe or rebar which will not be seen when the building is complete, yet will bring integrity and ultimately usability to the shopping district?

The next questions you should ask yourself are:

  1. How do my employees feel about their jobs?
  2. What do I want our team members to feel about their jobs?

Subcontractors improve

When it comes to company culture and telling your story there are likely areas in which you can improve. Because, as you know, if you’re not getting better . . .

The purpose of your business (why your company exists) is where your story begins. How do you fit into the big picture in the construction industry? How well do you pass on your vision?

Look at your mission statement, values, and long and short-term goals to get a handle on your culture. The next step is to observe how your employees reflect the statement, values, and goals. Be sure your mission statement isn’t just a bunch of words, rather that it captures the essence of how your team operates. Know what values are important to you. Devise a way to pass on those values to those in your employ. Be sure everyone is on the same page concerning long and short-term goals.

See to it your team has a clarity of purpose. Work to be sure your employees are engaged, not just getting by. Trust your team and do all in your power to let them know they can trust you. Always be learning. See to it you’re providing opportunities for your team to learn and improve. Finally, make sure your company policies align with your company culture.

The final set of questions to ask and act upon are:

  1. What is right about our company culture?
  2. How can it be improved?

Develop an excellent company culture and tell your story so you’re able to:

 

  • Capture General Contractors’ Attention

 

  • Enhance Recruiting and Retention Efforts

 

  • Improve Your Business

 

Control your story both internally and externally.

 

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 and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

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

Delegating in the Construction Arena

Delegating helps you grow your construction business

Delegating in the Construction Arena

Delegating: a leadership tool

Every day you send people into the field or to their desks to accomplish a variety of tasks. You’ve delegated a certain portion of the work to each of them. How well they perform is based on their skill level and on how well you’ve delegated.

Therefore, your job isn’t to accomplish the things your employees or subs are tasked with. Furthermore your job is to see to it they have the proper understanding and the correct tools to get the job done.

Delegating requires trust

Before you can trust someone to accomplish something, he or she must climb your “trust ladder.” Some of the steps they must climb are:

  • Show up on time
  • Be competent at their work
  • Be dependable

Once these rungs are accomplished there are a few other steps which must be taken. You want your people to:

  • Tell the truth
  • Admit when they don’t know something
  • Admit when they’re wrong
  • Do the right thing even when they think no one is watching
  • Listen – truly listen

When these trust levels are met then you:

  • Trust them with your resources
  • Trust them with information
  • Develop relationships

I can’t go on without mentioning that sometimes trust is broken. When it is, this article from Frank Sonnenberg discusses how best to deal with the situation.

Delegating takes guts

Just like you can’t seat every pipe, pound every nail, or swish every brush, you already understand you can’t perform every task.

Hence, there is a very good chance you’re holding on to some tasks you think only you can perform.

So, what should you do? Stop it.

From the jobsite to the office there are probably tasks you do which would be better left to others. And, it takes guts to pass them on. Most likely, the reason you haven’t already passed them on falls into one of two categories. You don’t think someone else can do them as well as you do, or you never even thought of passing it off – because you’ve always done it.

Delegating – divide the tasks to multiply the success

Delegating isn’t something you’re new at. By the very nature of the beast, construction depends on a myriad of delegation levels. Likewise, it is part and parcel of what you do. Yet, there are likely ways you can improve your delegating powers.

As an aside, if you would like to see a stunning example of delegating to the nth degree, drop in at your local fast-food joint. Not all, but many fast-food restaurants have delegated the duties of the host, wait-staff, and bussing personnel. Not only have they nearly erased the rolls usually performed by people in those positions, they’ve delegated much of their associated tasks to . . . uh, you – their paying customer. Just sayen’.

What to delegate

There is a myriad of tasks which you can pass off to others. You’ve already stepped into that realm when you hired your first employee or contracted with your first sub. Yet, there are more tasks and efficient ways you can delegate. It is quite likely there are some duties you feel you are the only one capable of handling correctly. Many of those tasks you can trust to others. Really.

In this list there is only one item included that you will likely be better off doing yourself. Can you figure out which one it is?

  • Bidding
  • Estimating
  • Sales
  • Approving change orders
  • Paying bills and payroll
  • Cultivate a strong company culture
  • Invoicing
  • Managing individual crews
  • Software or SaaS acquisition
  • Selecting new tools or equipment
  • Approving purchase orders

If you determined the one item which doesn’t fit in the above list is “Cultivate a strong company culture,” you’re right. One of your most important tasks as the leader of your construction company is to set the course. And, if you’re too busy taking care of the other tasks, you have no time for course-setting.

Delegating gives you space for true leadership

It is your job to lead the business. There are areas where you need to direct your focus once you’ve passed on tasks, responsibilities, and duties to others. Here are some areas where you can spend time once you’ve delegated well.

  • Set up and develop the brand name
  • Create and implement vision and direction
  • Form company culture
  • Understand the budget and the financials
  • Establish financial performance metrics
  • Develop long and short-term strategic plans
  • Plan recruiting and retention strategies
  • Lead, guide, and evaluate employees and subs
  • Establish criteria for success and provide leadership for achievement of goals
  • Hold employees and subs accountable
  • Delve into innovation
  • Seek opportunities for expansion
  • Stay on top of new industry developments and standards
  • Solicit advice from mentors, associates, and experts
  • Represent your company in civic and professional associations
  • Participate in industry related events
  • Assess operational situations for crisis management, safety, and escalation protocol
  • Determine solutions to project issues
  • Develop cost effective resources

Avenues to delegation

There are basically four avenues you can use to step up your delegation game.

  1. Use in-house personnel – Whether in the office or in the field, the judicious use of delegation to the people in your employ makes your company healthier.

 

  1. Engage trade subcontractors – Handing over part of the work to trusted subs is a long-standing method of increasing the capabilities of your construction business.

 

  1. Deploy outside sources – This delegation option (once only available to the wealthy) is becoming more and more necessary, accessible, and expedient. A few available options you should consider are an attorney, accounting services, a virtual assistant, marketing, website development, janitorial services, outsourced human resources, and tax preparation.

 

  1. Adopt technical systems – There are several critical processes you can automate (think delegate) through the use of software or SaaS and apps. A few which come to mind are project management, takeoffs, estimating, and job costing.

Delegating is an investment

Remember that an expense is different from an investment. Mike Harden, of The Clarity Group says, “What’s the difference between an investment and an expense? The difference is simple: one will start paying you back, and the other is a drain on your resources.”

  • Taking time to delegate is an investment.
  • Paying fees to delegate is an investment.
  • Choosing correct technical applications is an investment.

Investing in your business through delegating well is a sound business principle. A business principle which has the power to exponentially increase the value of your company.

 

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 and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

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

Advisory Board for Construction Contractors

Advisory Boards help with key decisions

Advisory Board for Construction Contractors

Advisory Board explained

Before we go further, there is a distinction to be made. Don’t confuse an advisory board with a Board of Directors.

A board of directors is made up of people who manage the CEO and formally approve all key decisions of the company.

An advisory board, on the other hand, is an informal group of mentors, guides, or service providers who each have useful knowledge or expertise to bring to the table. So informal, they may never be in the same room at the same time. Generally speaking, these are the folks you meet with individually.

Advisory Board early stages

It isn’t as if you can put out an add which reads, “Board Level Advisors Needed.”

The development of your advisory board is a process – and it takes time. Perhaps in the early stages of your business you were developing an advisory board without knowing it. You looked close to home. A spouse, a parent, a friend, even a friend of a friend may have been where you turned.

Then your commercial construction business grew, and you realized there was even more you didn’t know you didn’t know. You had to widen your circle of trusted advisors.

And, when you get down to it, that is the best way to understand the concept of advisory board. These are the folks who you can count on to help you and your business grow and succeed. They are your trusted advisors – they become your informal advisory board.

Advisory Board brick-wall method    

Often, the way your board is developed is through the brick-wall method. You’re humming along just fine – then you come up against a brick-wall and are unsure of the next method or the next action to take. You go looking for someone who can give you the answer, solve the problem, or simply provide you a next-step alternative. The following is in no particular order, nor necessarily complete, yet provides you with a “possibilities” list of the types of individuals you may wish to add to your advisory board.

  • Attorney
  • Tax Preparer
  • Coach or Business Development Advisor
  • Outsource providers such as:
    • Human Resource Expert
    • Accountant (that’s us!)
    • Virtual Assistant
  • Operating Systems Advisor
  • Marketing Professional

Set your expectations

Your advisors help you in a number of different ways. They can guide you in a strategic direction and help with key decisions. Not only are they a sounding board, they can also be an excellent source of ideas. And, one hidden quality many overlook is your advisory board members’ ability to provide network connections.

Some qualities to look for

  • They’re available to you for continuing guidance or one-off questions.
  • They bring specific skills or knowledge you are missing.
  • They have know-how which increases your odds of success.

 

Wondering if you should include a construction-centric accounting firm as part of your advisory board? Check out this article to see if the time is right.

We provide Accounting and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors. So you can Run With the Big Dogs. 866-629-7735

Being Intentional in Your Construction Business

Being Intentional for the sake of your construction business

Being Intentional in Your Construction Business

Being Intentional – the question

Martin Holsinger, owner of Protractor Podcast and an Internet Marketing Agency recently asked on a social media platform, “What is the one thing you want to be more intentional about this year as we move into spring?”

There were a number of good responses. I contributed an answer. Thought about it some more and added an additional reply. Then, I thought about it even more.

Holsinger’s original question included these words, “the one thing.” So, why was it that I responded twice? Perhaps I had missed the importance of the word “one.” Sorry, Martin. 😔

Being Intentional – the explanation

So, I went on with the thinking, what does “intentional” really mean? I thought I knew. But, as these things go, I wanted to make sure I really knew. And, being the good little researcher I am, I went looking for the answer. You might suppose I would simply pick up the dictionary and put an end to the mindful debate.

Nope.

I went straight to the people’s choice, my friend (?) google. There were a number of people speaking on the subject. And, if those tallies at the top of the google search page were real, more people had something to say on the subject than I had time to read.

Still, being intentional about my quest, I gleaned a few things which clarified the subject for me. When you set out to be intentional these are the three things which make a difference:

  1. Have a clear understanding of your purpose
  2. Focus on what matters
  3. Take action

The example

With that in mind, I recalled a real-life example I encountered last week.

I was invited to meet for dinner at a happy little pizza joint that is a central location for me and a few friends. We’ve met there before. The promise and the expectation was good food, good laughs, and a good time had by all. While all those expectations were met (eventually) the problem arose in the journey.

And, isn’t that where all problems in our lives as well as in our businesses arise – on the journey?

Only a few miles from home, on the path I usually take to the pizza joint, I discovered the once 4-lane road had been reduced to a 2-lane road.

There were signs. Road Work Ahead. Single Lane Ahead. Merge Right.

The signs are there for us to read as we travel with intention.

No problem. I had given myself a padded time-frame for getting to my destination because . . . well, you never know when there may be a problem (like road construction) to slow you down.

Then, at the corner where I normally turn left the sign was simple. No Left Turn.

No matter how well we plan there will be obstacles and signs which thwart us on our journey.

Remaining Intentional

Again, no problem. I knew of another street ahead where I could turn left and still get to where I wanted to go.

Except the same sign appeared on that street corner too. No Left Turn.

Often on the path to overcoming an obstacle, more obstacles appear.

And, as far as I could see ahead of me were those nasty little orange and white traffic safety cones. Far be it from me to fuss about construction. Yet, I may as well admit, sometimes far is pretty close.

Zinging around in my law-abiding-mind is the recollection of the traffic ticket someone close to me recently received for (yep, of all things) turning left at an under-construction intersection which had an all too visible sign – No Left Turn. Adding to that zinging is my consternation concerning the many happy (or unhappy) travelers who would be trapped behind me if I determined to break the law and wait for oncoming traffic to clear so I could safely make the illegal left turn. Safety first, you know. 😉

While we’re on the go we must make quick decisions which affect others around us.

Turning right on a leftward journey

So? So, rather than wait to see if one more street corner had a nasty little stop-her-from-getting-where-she-wants-to-go No Left Turn sign, I flipped the turn signal to the right. After making a few jogs in the neighborhood, I was now driving straight down the street denied me by the No Left Turn boondoggle of stupid signs.

Occasionally we must make moves which will right the path even when they seem counter-intuitive. I mean, who turns right when their destination is toward the left?

Like I said, I eventually got to my destination, met my friends, talked, listened, laughed, ate pizza, and set off to return home. As I began the journey home, I made the decision to follow a different route in order to avoid the construction zone which had slowed me earlier in the evening.

Learning from the problems and obstacles which pop up on our journey is wise.

Having determined the route I would take home, I put the car in gear and headed out. All went well. That is, all went well until I noticed the amber light set to the side of the road. The intersection at which I would turn left on my journey home was narrowed to one lane and no left turns would be allowed.

Having a sense of humor is paramount to owning a business. Sometimes, no matter how well intentioned you are, road construction is going to mess with your mind and your journey.

Being Intentional in your construction business

To be intentional is to knowingly choose your direction. Where do you want to arrive next year at this time? What about next month? The following list will give you ideas concerning areas where you might need to increase your focus and intention.

  • Do you need to improve your construction company’s safety rating?

 

  • Is it time to be certain you are making a profit?

 

  • Is presenting yourself professionally an area where you need to improve?

 

  • Do you need to be better with your people management and delegating skills?

 

  • Is now the time to get a firm grip on which construction related technology will serve your business best?

 

  • Will you need to learn how to better evaluate the risks associated with each potential project?

You get the idea. Determine where you need to be more intentional. Then you’ll be able to focus on what matters. Now, take action.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard

 

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 and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

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

 

Important Construction Terms We Just Made Up

Construction Terms we just made up.

Important Construction Terms We Just Made Up

Important Construction Terms – the story

There was this email I received which mentioned The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows and provided a few of the entries. They were:

Adronitis: Frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone.

Rubatosis: The unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat.

Jouska: A hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.

I was intrigued . . . especially with that last one, because I practice “Jouska.” All. The. Time.

So, I went looking. And, I found the author, speaking on a Ted Talk.

Hum. What else could I find?

With thanks to John Koenig, author of The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows for giving me the idea of choosing (OK, like him, making up) words. Words which express succinctly today’s commercial construction subcontractor reality.

Really.

Yeah, they’re fake – but they should be real.

Have fun reading these “important construction terms.”

Important Construction Terms – adjectives

 

distalktuousadjective  causing untold long and short-term damage to company operations and employee morale because there is a Lack of Communication

 

cutturlyfuladjective  causing or apt to cause budgetary cuts and bid constraints when met with the Cost of Labor, Materials, and Supplies

 

blameuthargicadjective  of, relating to, or affected with blamergy; unreasonably rash or (conversely) apathetic to the reality of the part integrity plays in completing projects. Sometimes known as the Not-My-Fault Game

 

treventickyadjective  shocked and dismayed by the seemingly endless line of Unreliable Employees and Subcontractors

 

Important Construction Terms – Verbs

 

intenturafulverb  feeling which comes from having all plans and timelines disrupted by weather, or other sources causing multiple Scheduling Problems

 

exasperlatedverb  feeling you have when you turn down yet another opportunity to bid because you are experiencing a Lack of Skilled Workers

 

disbuckulatedverb  to cause feelings of dread and apprehension due to the inability to take advantage of deals or overcome setbacks because of the Lack of Available Cash

 

filetimizedverb  to make as demanding, laborious, and problematic as possible through the insistence of maintaining disorganized (usually hard-copy) paperwork creating Difficulty with Document Management

 

codeshiftrifiedverb  to overwhelm with a set of constantly emerging rules, laws, and restrictions within the construction industry. Also known as Dealing with Ever-Changing Regulations

 

Important Construction Terms – Nouns

 

irriloosesomenoun  the frustration of knowing the impact of frequent changes to the original contract when others seem oblivious to Change Order Overwhelm

 

Have you thought of some words which should be added to this small compilation? Tell us! We want to know.

 

When you stopped in here, you found an Accounting, and Contract Management Firm which provides Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors. Doing what it takes to help them Run With the Big Dogs.

You can find out more by getting in touch here or calling 866-629-7735.

Image by kaboompics on Pixabay

5 Construction Takeaways from Archery

Construction Business lessons from Archery

5 Takeaways from Archery for your construction business

My first venture into the world of archery took place while I was still in high school. As I recall, our PE teachers chose a variety of sports and activities to keep those of us who were in our senior year interested. I chose the archery segment thinking it would be a lark, never once thinking it would be something I would be interested in after the 6-week venture. Yet it was.

What follows is a light-hearted look at what joining an archery club can do to inform your management skills in your commercial construction contracting business.

Construction Business Lesson One

As a sport, archery requires skills of:

  • precision
  • control
  • focus
  • repetition
  • determination

As a business, construction contracting requires . . . well, you know, the same set of skills.

On one level, when you send a crew to a jobsite, they must understand the basics of measuring precisely, controlling their actions, focusing on the task at hand, repeating their set of skills over and over, and having the determination to get the job done.

On another level, you as the business owner also have to bring it. The precision you bring to your managerial and leadership role sets the pace. Controlling the long-term plans as well as the day to day activities of your team is important. You must maintain your focus concerning where you are and where you plan to be in the long run. Building good business habits and practices require repetition on your part. And, you bring determination to the table with each new project and each new day.

Construction Business Lesson Two

When a person joins an archery club the oft stated club goal is “to help participants reach their individual goals while fostering a supportive team environment with a focus on safety, personal growth, and positive attitude.”

In order to present a winning team within your commercial construction business you do well to follow the same principles. It is as if you can make a checklist of the items in the archery club goals.

  • Encourage employees to reach their individual goals
  • Foster a supportive team environment
  • Focus on safety
  • Aid your team in their personal growth
  • Maintain a positive attitude

Construction Business Lesson Three

My next step to the shooting line came while in college. Archery was offered. I was interested. I took the class. It was there I learned of a few ways to protect my ever-wayward left arm from maintaining a permanent inner elbow bruise. The first step had to do perfecting my stance thus keeping my elbow out of the way of the released string. The second (back-up) step was to purchase an armguard which was not only larger but also sturdier than the flimsy guards we’d been offered in high school.

Maintain the proper equipment.

A bow and some arrows – what more could any archer need? Right? If you are an archer or have at least dabbled you know there is much more to it. The right type of bow, (recurve or compound) the correct set of arrows, (determined by draw weight and length) and the sight are just the beginning. Then, it is time to consider the armguard, quiver, and some type of release aid like a finger tab or a mechanical release. Plus, all this stuff has to be stored properly and repaired as needed.

Storing, repairing, and replacing the equipment your team needs requires diligence. Creating systems for everything from vehicle loading to maintenance schedules makes it easier to protect your valuable equipment.

Construction Business Lesson Four

After leaving college I still had a hankering to pick up the bow and arrow, see the target and release. Joining an archery club seemed like just the place to be. Besides the opportunity to hone and improve my skills, there was the competition, as well as the camaraderie.

Archery is not gender, age, or size limited. People who may not consider themselves “athletes” have the opportunity to participate.  Some even have a chance to go to the Olympics.

Building a great team in the construction field takes time. Yet, when done well . . . the rewards (gold medals not withstanding) are worth it. Consider:

  • Encourage those who may not have thought of construction as a career choice.
  • Make friendly competition part of the “game.” For example, gamify getting legible timesheets or POs turned in on time.
  • Reward safe delivery of the on time, under budget projects. Something as simple as an after-project dinner may be all that is needed.
  • Encourage and praise individuals as well as the team – often.
  • Offer classes and training, emphasizing the potential for personal as well as professional growth.

Construction Business Lesson Five

In each of my “archery phases” I had teachers as well as mentors who applauded my successes and gave me instructions concerning the areas where I could improve.

Here is a list of my personal take-aways which also work in the commercial contracting field.

  • Set the parameters of what is allowed and what is not
  • Teach safety at every juncture
  • Build ways to improve technical skills
  • Express and reinforce proper strategies (in the field and in the office)
  • Look for patterns which can be improved
  • Be consistent
  • By example teach your employees to flex their patience muscle

There you have it. Next time you see a target, think of all the examples archery gives to inform your management skills in the construction contracting field.

 

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. 

Because we are a virtual “corporate accounting office” for commercial construction businesses we can assist you no matter in which of the 50 United States your business is located. Call to see how we can be a part of your advisory board as well as lighten your accounting burden. Get in touch here.