Working Remotely

Tips for working remotely

Easing the remote transition

Working remotely isn’t a new idea, but it may be for you.

Now that you already have or are planning to send your office team home, here are a couple of tips that will help you and your construction contracting office staff.

Tonya Schulte, cofounder of The Profit Constructors, offers two tips that will enhance the effectiveness of your remote office workers.

As you’ve seen, from creating redundancies for your document information and collection, to communicating efficiently with your team, some tools will help you get the job done.

Resources mentioned in the video:

Hubdoc

Slack

QuickBooks

Google Hangouts 

Microsoft Teams

Learn more by contacting our office

Learn more about ways to help your remote office staff work more effectively and efficiently.

Get in touch with us at this address: hello@schulteandschulte.com

We will see to it that you get to talk directly with Tonya. Spend up to 15 minutes discussing your specific concerns or needs. No strings attached. We promise.

 

Trust and Risk Mitigation in Construction

Trust and Risk Mitigation in Construction

Editor’s note: Our social calendar (including blog posts) is scheduled weeks (sometimes months) in advance. The following post was written over a month ago and “calendared” at that time. In other words, we did not plan this post to coincide with the Coronavirus scare and reaction. But it has proven to be well-timed.

Trust is about taking risks

I learned of some folks who took in a young foster care child who had been abused by his parents. He was unwilling to trust. He couldn’t trust anyone or anything in the world he inhabited. His mistrust of life was so deep-seated it even included simple addition. No matter how many times his care family showed him that two apples plus two apples always equaled four apples, his response was, “What if it doesn’t equal four the next time I try it?”

This story broke my heart when I first heard it, and thinking of it now still saddens me.

Trust is a basic tenant on which we all make it through each day. From the floors we stand on, to the chairs we sit in, to the mugs we pour our hot drinks in, we trust they will continue to do their jobs. Yet, there are those times they don’t.

For example, you trust that when the traffic light is green one way, it is red the other. Further, you trust that when the light is red for the cross-traffic, the drivers in that lane will stop. And this sometimes leads to trusting that the ambulance drivers will take you to the nearest (or best) medical facility.

Every day, we get up, and without thinking about it, we trust. But sometimes we realize we must verify before we continue to trust.

Verification is about risk mitigation

From the products you purchase to the services you take advantage of, to the people you hire, there are ways to verify if you’re likely to receive that which you desire. A prudent verification process is essential.

It can be as simple as looking for the number of stars other users have given a retail item or as difficult as checking a doctor’s background and credentials.

In the end, verification allows you to eliminate, reduce, or control the impact of known risks.

Because our practice consists of management accounting, we advise commercial construction subcontractors to protect themselves from data fiascos through the process of risk mitigation.

Risk mitigation through contingency planning

There are multiple ways to lose data, such as fire, storms, cyber-attacks, employee theft, and beyond.

The key to developing a good plan is to focus on possible losses rather than events.

 

Think in terms of which data takes priority. What would cause the most pain if lost? With this understanding in mind, here are a few items for you to consider while developing your data contingency plan.

 

  • Rank which data are most important
  • Review data back-up and storage procedures
  • Find back-up service providers (you may find this article helpful)
  • Develop a back-up procedures manual
  • Secure outside support for payroll or other financial issues

 

Remember to include client and employee management strategies to be used during a crisis when developing your back-up procedures manual.

Risk mitigation through back-up

The goal is to establish data back-up systems to protect critical documents.

Remember when someone pointed out you were comparing apples to oranges rather than apples to apples? Yep, that sometimes happens. And the simple solution is to remove the oranges as you make your decision based only on apples. If only it were that easy when trying to determine which method or service to use for backing up your data.

It turns out that deciding between your back-up options is more along the line of comparing tacos to tacos. Do you prefer street tacos? How about deep-fried tacos or fast food tacos? Do you want to sit and enjoy handcrafted tacos?

The plethora of options can tend to get in the way until you determine the specific needs of your construction company’s data back-up and recovery needs. Which tastes better to you? How much time do you have available? Does location matter? Does the price make a difference?

Further, back-up is not the only piece of the equation. Fast recovery of all that backed up data is important. The point is to quickly put everyone back in touch with the information that’s needed.

Risk mitigation through insurance

You already insure your building, equipment, vehicles, life, and health. It only makes sense that you use insurance for the data you have stored in the cloud. In an article posted on The Balance Small Business, it is stated, “Cyber liability policies protect your business from claims and expenses resulting from a data breach.” The article, What Does a Cyber Liability Policy Cover? explains various components and aspects you need to look for and consider when purchasing this type of insurance.

You can check to see if your present provider offers cyber liability protection, or you can purchase this insurance as a stand-alone product.

Risk mitigation through checks and balances

Finally, as management accounting specialists, we advise contractors to mitigate risk with the simple process of checks and balances. Following is a list of checks and balances you may wish to consider for your construction company.

  • Use a system of double-signature requirements for checks, invoices, and payables.
  • Make use of the services of an accounting firm and the different services of a tax preparer.
  • Provide multi-department authorization for final figures.
  • Separate handling responsibilities from record-keeping functions and purchasing responsibilities from payables functions.
  • Before payroll preparation, require supervisors to approve employees’ timesheets. (Or automate time tracking for accurate timesheets using an app such as ClockShark)

A couple of other ways you can mitigate internal risks are:

  • Require accounting department employees to take vacations.
  • Make use of independent audits.

In conclusion

If you define risk as being the probability of an event attended by the possible consequences, then risk mitigation is the practice of using various tools to manage the risks.

Keep in mind; risk management is not a one-off exercise. Continued monitoring ensures that risks have been correctly identified and assessed and that appropriate controls are in place.

Editor’s note 2:  We are working hard to see to it that our clients weather the storm. Definition of “weather the storm” from Merriam Webster — to deal with a difficult situation without being harmed or damaged too much.

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

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

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

Budgeting and Estimating

Estimates and Budgets for construction contractors simplified through software

Proper budgets and estimates

If your commercial construction contracting business is to survive, then you must be equipped to provide proper budgets and estimates. More importantly, if your construction business is to be profitable, then having budgeting and estimating skills in place is essential.

Develop a total project budget

Developing a project budget includes:

  • Analyzing requirements and drawings to verify the scope
  • Determining cost and time parameters
  • Allocating enough for contingencies and cost escalation

Moreover, once the project is underway, the budget allows you to:

  • Remain vigilant concerning variances
  • Make decisions based on actual costs

Therefore, using a project budget establishes useful guidelines for completing profitable jobs.

Benefits of proper budgets and estimates

While there are some easily spotted benefits to using proper budgets and estimates such as:

  • Avoiding inaccurate bids
  • Curtailing the constant use of change orders
  • Collecting sound financial information on which to base decisions

There are other benefits which are less easy to measure, for example:

  • Realizing a greater ability to make continuous improvements and anticipate problems
  • Growing an improved sense of clarity and focus
  • Achieving more confidence in your decision-making

Estimating – the cornerstone of construction projects

Accurate cost estimation is critical for creating and maintaining a feasible budget for construction project costs.

Estimating is the process of evaluating or calculating the amounts of material, labor, and equipment necessary to complete a project. Therefore, it becomes the cornerstone upon which all else rests. Above all, getting project budgets right and controlling costs is essential to project success.

And, like any other phase of construction contracting, having the right tool for the job makes the difference. Thanks to technology, estimating has been dramatically simplified and streamlined.

Knowify makes it easy

The team here at Schulte and Schulte knows, uses, and recommends the use of the software developed by Knowify. They provide a step-by-step process which moves from bidding, to the proposal, to billing.

In no order, I’ve listed a few of the features or functions construction contractors note they can apply when using the system developed by Knowify.

  • Labor costs tracked precisely
  • Avoid missing items when invoicing
  • Change orders sent and approved quickly
  • Monitor the profitability of each current job
  • Better track materials
  • Better organization of invoice tracking and employee productivity
  • 2-way sync with QuickBooks
  • Ability to create AIA style billings

Moreover, one contractor said Knowify is a “one-stop-shop for estimating, time-tracking, invoicing, and scheduling.”

To sum it up, Knowify helps build a budgeting plan, measures results, and improves overall operations.

 

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

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

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

Job Cost Tracking

Job Cost Tracking for commercial construction contractors

Who needs Job Cost Tracking?

You do.

That is, you do if you’re a commercial construction subcontractor, and you are determined to manage a profitable, sustainable, and worthwhile enterprise.

Successful construction contracting business owners know the part they play. They do the analytical work, and they make the decisions. Consequently,  the financial reports they receive and review regularly enhance their ability to accomplish these tasks.  For example, one of those important reports is known as Job Cost Tracking or Job Costing.

 

Proper project costing produces preferred profitability.

 

Plus, it leads to better future project estimating, contributes to enhanced management decision making, and supports timely financial reporting.

Job Cost Tracking enhances project control

To clarify, resources are limited and must be utilized as efficiently as possible.

Therefore, a few of the ways you can leverage job cost tracking are:

  • avoid risky assumptions and stay in control of profitability
  • know where projects are going right and where they’re going wrong
  • make adjustments as you go
  • be alerted to find more cost-efficient ways to handle issues
  • gain the advantage in the estimating process going forward
  • see a true reflection of gross profit

3 Components of job cost tracking

Measure

Defining and measuring your resources is the basis for creating a job costing system. For example, a few of the steps involved in setting up, maintaining, and using a job costing system are:

  • Gather the information from past and present projects
  • Categorize and store the information
  • Assure the information is accessible to those who need it
  • Input information as projects progress
  • Analyze information regularly
  • Adjust actions and expenditures as necessary

Control

Managing the resources at hand means maintaining control of the project as it progresses. Consequently, through the proper use of the information garnered through job costing, you can:

  • Track any deviations from the original estimate
  • Find and analyze possible solutions
  • Support those who will need to make adjustments

Improve

Whether taking small steps as the job progresses or finding major process strategies that must be enhanced, job cost tracking gives you footing for company improvement. For instance, you can:

  • Determine to include those things which went right in future projects
  • Learn from mistakes which were made and change the necessary factors
  • Communicate the findings to employees and subs

Answering questions through job cost tracking

Likewise, proper job costing analysis aids you in answering critical questions such as:

 

  • Which jobs are running within budget?

 

  • Which are not?

 

  • Are we within our target margins?

 

  • Who are the most profitable and least profitable general contractors we work with?

 

  • Do we have operational inefficiencies?

 

  • Who are our most productive employees, subs, teams, or departments?

 

  • When is the right time to hire? Or fire?

 

  • Where should I invest my marketing dollars?

 

To sum up, producing an accurate and useful job costing report is not just an accounting exercise. A job cost tracking report is an excellent tool used by savvy construction contractors to enhance their ability to lead and manage well.

The Job Cost Tracking Tool!

The Job Costing tool our office knows, uses, and highly recommends is Knowify. Knowify is a (cloud-based) easy to use software that (among other functions) provides a system for Job Costing from start to finish.

 

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

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

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

Leadership — Inspire others

Inspire through leadership.

Inspire through leadership

Your leadership capabilities as the owner of a construction contracting business may very well hinge on one simple concept – inspiration. No matter how you became the owner of your business, there comes a time when you must inspire others. You’re not Chuck in a Truck. You’re the owner of a construction company. A construction company that employs staff, teams, workers, hands, people who look to you to guide the way.

One bare fact is employees thrive in jobs where they’re inspired.

That fact leads to the second bare fact that when you are inspiring and employees are thriving, opportunities increase while complications decrease.

Need some inspiration yourself? This list of the Top Ten Ways to Inspire Others to Be Their Best from Michael Angier of SuccessNet is a quick read and good food-for-thought.

“Rally people and they will come together. Lead people and they will come together to achieve something great.” Simon Sinek

When to be inspiring

The quick answer is always. Of course, there is more to it than that.

Here, I’ll give you an example.

Years ago, our family joined other pioneers in the homeschooling movement. At that time, those who wanted to educate their children at home (in the state of New Mexico) had to submit a request for a waiver of the law requiring a teaching certificate.

The entire process was a little scary for me, but one question on the application gave me the shivers.

It was simple enough. “During which hours of the day will you be teaching?”

The blank space was small. Much too small to write, “That will vary. I have a day job and I am part owner of a retail business in a mall that is open seven days a week. My child will accompany me . . .

You get the picture. The state wanted a nine to five answer, and I wanted to be honest.

My friend saved the day when she suggested an answer that would satisfy my need for honesty and, at the same time not allow the state to quibble.

This is what I wrote, “During all waking hours.”

Sadly, there were times when I taught some things, and I wish I hadn’t. (How to be nagging, how to lose your temper, how to . . . the list is lengthy.) At any rate, it is likely there will be times you are less than inspiring for your employees. But the goal remains to inspire “during all waking hours.” Always.

“Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” —Publilius Syrus

Inspire wherever you are

Because you own a construction contracting company, you’re a “person of interest” to many. It goes beyond the doors of your office or the job sites you visit.

The organizations to which you belong, the suppliers you depend on, the general contractors, your fellow subcontractors, your advisors, friends, family, even your neighbors have the opportunity to see you as a savvy and inspiring business owner.

Be aware of the influence you have, of the people you can touch, and the ways you can make things better for those around you. Be inspiring wherever you are. You never know who will be listing you as someone who inspired them to great achievements.

“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” – John Maxwell

Why be inspiring?

Because if you don’t, who will? Oh yeah, also because those in your employ are counting on it.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” – Dr. Seuss

How to be inspiring

Through communication.

Period.

Okay, there is more to it. But it boils down to communicating well and often.

This article from Mental Floss, suggests Eleven Ways to Become a Better Communicator. The first item on their list, “learn to listen,” is likely the hardest and certainly the most important part of being a better communicator.

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” – General Colin Powell

“If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” – General George Patton

More inspiration

This article is the last in a four-part series concerning leadership in the construction world. Visit the others through these links, Leadership – Keep learning, Leadership – Practice Composure, and Leadership — Develop an eye for the big picture.

We hope that you’ve found inspiration through these four articles as you build your leadership skills.

 

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

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

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

Leadership — Develop an eye for the big picture

Leadership through developing an eye for the big picture

How neglecting some things in your business pays off

Here’s the deal; big picture thinking is a core leadership competency. Yes, as a leader, you must see the forest and let others be concerned about the trees.

Savvy construction leaders focus more on steering long-range objectives, providing inspiration, and motivating others. They are likely to:

  • Anticipate opportunities, contingencies, and potential problems
  • See idea, theory, and concept connections
  • Understand people networks and relationships
  • Discern and make use of data
  • Avoid or (at least) reduce discord
  • Recognize associates, collaborators, and competitors
  • Develop the skill of situational awareness

Therefore, all the minor things, the “details,” are left to others. Experienced leaders know how to delegate, designate, automate, or eliminate.

By giving your team the opportunity to take care of the details you gain more time for effectively leading.

A few examples of big picture thinkers

According to Rowan Bayne, author of “Psychological Types At Work,” about twenty-five percent of the population are big picture thinkers.

Wow, not a huge group. Here are a few examples you’ll recognize.

  • George Washington
  • Winston Churchill
  • Steve Jobs
  • Sandra Day O’Connor
  • Aristotle
  • Jeff Bezos
  • Warren Buffett
  • Mark Cuban
  • Elon Musk

Big pictures and details

While some have a natural tendency to see the big picture others are more likely to focus on the details.

For years I believed you had to be one or the other. You had to be someone who could see the big picture or someone who thrived on dealing with the details. Then, I discovered the concept isn’t that simple. Or that hard.

Rather, there seems to be a continuum or scale on which we all fall. At one end are the folks who find it difficult to notice details because they’re so focused on the big picture. And vice versa, at the other end, people who are so close to the details they don’t seem to notice there is a big picture.

And then, there are those who fall in between.

Big picture and detail in the Schulte and Schulte office

We were interested where the folks in our office were located on that scale. So, we took a little test.

Tonya came in at 60

This is what she learned, “You scored as more of a ‘big picture’ thinker. This means that you often zoom out and try to understand a situation from a broader perspective, but you sometimes miss out on the finer details. You likely consider yourself more of an ‘artistic’ or ‘creative’ person rather than a ‘scientific’ or ‘rational’ person. You aren’t as interested in the small nuts and bolts of how things work, but how things fit together in a larger context. The closer your score is to “100” the more of a ‘big picture’ thinker you are.”

Alicia scored 34

She was told, “You scored as more of a ‘detail oriented’ thinker. This means that you often zoom in and breakdown a situation based on its individual parts, but you sometimes miss out on the bigger picture. You likely consider yourself more of an ‘scientific’ or ‘rational’ person rather than an ‘artistic’ or ‘creative’ person. You are often interested in the small nuts and bolts of how things work but find it difficult to see things fit together in a larger context. The closer your score is to ‘0’ the more of a ‘detail oriented’ thinker you are.”

Joe showed up at 49

His results were, “You scored as equal parts ‘big picture’ thinker and ‘detail oriented’ thinker. This means that you are capable of zooming out and trying to understand a situation from a broader perspective, but you’re also good at zooming in and seeing the finer details of how things work. You likely consider yourself both an ‘artistic’ and ‘creative’ person, as well as a ‘scientific’ and ‘rational’ person, depending on the situation.”

Take the quiz

You may already have an idea where you fall on the continuum. Or you may be surprised. So, go ahead and take the quiz. It is free and you don’t have to give your email to get the results. It is twenty-five questions long and takes only minutes to complete.

Not only will you have a better idea of which traits you already possess, but you’ll also be able to note in which areas you may need to improve. And yes, it is interesting to get others in the office to take the quiz also. It may be eye-opening for you and your staff or coworkers.

In case you were wondering, I received the same response as Joe although my score was 54.

Unexpected ways to improve your big picture eye

Stay informed. Think about what is happening beyond your business or community. Think about trends in demographic, economic, social, and technological ways.

Be sociable – in person. Connect with a variety of people. Spend time talking with people from different areas of life. More important than talking to them is listening to them. Consider other’s opinions and views.

Read or listen to books. Not just construction or business-related books. Read about the “things of interest” in your mind. Science, music, history, people, or ideas you wish to explore. Whatever. Have fun. And learn some stuff along the way.

Volunteer. Of course, there is always value in the act of helping others. But you may not have thought of the value you can receive from seeing the world from a different perspective. Plus, typically when you volunteer you can interact with like-minded people who show up where you show up.

Chase rabbits. OK, there is a different term for this activity. Some call it “surfing the web.” Go with no purpose in mind. Travel to places you’ve never gone before. See something that interests you? Chase it down. Share what you learned with others. (In the past, this category would have been called, Go to the library.)

Play games. From getting involved with an amateur sports team to playing board or card games there are many ways to play games. And oh, what you can learn! Leadership skills, teamwork, staying on track, focus, determination, and sportsmanship are just a few of the lessons learned from playing games. Perhaps the most important lesson to be learned is to not take yourself too seriously – have fun along the way.

Check this out also

This article is the third in a four-part series concerning leadership in the construction world. The first was, Leadership – Keep learning. The Next was Leadership — Practice Composure.  And the fourth is Leadership — Inspire others

 

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

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

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

Leadership – Practice Composure

Leadership of your construction contracting business requires composure

Leading with Composure

Keep in mind these three important facts concerning composure:

  1. Everyone wants it
  2. Most have messed it up
  3. It can be regained

It is easy to remain composed when all is going well. Anyone can do it.

It’s when faced with uncomfortable and difficult experiences in your construction contracting business that you have the opportunity to demonstrate your composure as a leader.

In other words, Composure

One aspect of composure is it is difficult to describe. But the following list gives you a glimpse of the traits involved.

  • Is Determined
  • Has good Judgement
  • Practices Vigilance
  • Possesses Wisdom
  • Shows Kindness
  • Proceeds with Deliberation
  • Is Confident
  • Remains Responsible
  • Is Patient
  • Practices Judiciousness
  • Stands Stable
  • Continues Steadfastly
  • Shows Resolve
  • Possesses Grit

And that list doesn’t even consider these three important “selfs” – self-governance, self-control, and self-discipline.

Composure leads to success

Sherry Campbell, in her article for Entrepreneur, suggests 7 Ways Practicing Composure Leads to Success. 

Campbell says, “Think about the word ‘composure’ for a minute. What does it inspire within you? How do you see yourself operating in life and business when you envision yourself being composed? Composure is the most powerful character trait to possess when looking to advance your career.”

Composure meter

Here are three simple questions you can use to see if your composure is leveling up or needs a bit of work. Can you:

Deal with rejection without becoming crestfallen or dismayed?

Hold your temper when things don’t go just as you planned or expected?

Join in the laughter with others even when the joke is on you?

Ways to develop composure

You’ve made it to adulthood, you’ve stepped into ownership or management of a construction contracting business, and you’ve learned much along the way. And sometimes you’ve dropped your composure.

There are certain actions you can practice, thereby enhancing your composure.

  • Manage your ego – base your actions on your inner values
  • Think before you act – so you can save time in the long run
  • See the bigger picture – not the minor distractions
  • Reflect and learn – from both your successes and your failures
  • Look for solutions – not reasons to be pissed off

Listen to ancient wisdom

“The first and best victory is to conquer self.” – Plato

“Always keep your composure. You can’t score from the penalty box; and to win, you have to score.” – Horace

“The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper.” – Aristotle

There’s more

This article is the second in a four-part series concerning leadership in the construction world. The first, Leadership – Keep learning, is worth checking out.  Next up is Leadership — Develop an eye for the big picture, to be followed by Leadership — Inspire others.

 

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

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

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

Leadership – Keep learning

Leadership in construction means continual learning

Leadership means continual learning

You’re a construction contractor.

By default, that means you’re a leader.

Through reason, that means you want to be the best leader you can be.

Because of experience, you know there are things you can do to improve your leadership ability.

In the first part of this four-part series of articles concerning leadership in the construction world, the subject is improving your leadership skills through continuous learning.

Therefore, making time for the hard work that continual learning requires is perhaps the most important step in becoming a great leader.

Resolve to have a learning attitude

So, once you’ve resolved to have a learning attitude, there are actions you can take to make it happen. Among them are:

  • Determine to improve your leadership ability constantly.
  • Take charge of your learning.
  • Spend time with others who are eager to learn.
  • Remain aware of the multiple learning opportunities surrounding you.
  • Be willing to make mistakes and learn from them.
  • Remind yourself how learning will help you achieve your leadership goals.
  • Set new learning goals regularly.

Walter D. Wintle, in 1900, published a poem titled “Thinking” and it sums up the attitude question quite well.

If you think you are beaten, you are;

If you think you dare not, you don’t;

If you want to win but think you can’t;

It’s almost a cinch you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost;

For out of the world we find

Success begins with a person’s will;

It’s all in a state of mind.

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger and faster human,

But sooner or later the people who win

Are the ones who think they can.

Set aside time for learning

Becoming a better leader means continually growing your leadership skills.

For instance, it could mean you enroll in a class and show up regularly. However, it could take setting aside time on your calendar marked “learning time.” Be prepared to learn by allowing for learning time. There are lots of ways to increase your leadership knowledge. Here are some of them:

  • Follow leadership blogs
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Take a class concerning leadership (online or in-person)
  • Read magazines or journals
  • Study leaders that you admire
  • Volunteer at your industry association, a club, your place of worship, or elsewhere
  • Teach others what you know (thereby improving your skills and insight)
  • Attend seminars, workshops, or courses

Learn as you go

Even though it is a good idea to set aside time for learning leadership skills, there is also merit in being aware of spontaneous learning opportunities.

It begins with being a good listener. Therefore, you’ll do well to read this article from The Positivity Blog that offers ten simple steps for being a better listener.

Of course, learn from your mentors and role models. But don’t leave it there. Here are a few others who may have something to teach you about leadership.

  • Your employees and subs
  • The partners in your business
  • General contractors or their representatives
  • Your spouse or companion
  • The children in your life
  • Friends
  • Your next-door neighbors
  • The guy or gal who cuts your hair

See what I mean? Listen to those who have something to teach you about leadership, no matter where you encounter them. For example, in your front yard or at the grocery store.

What’s next?

There is more to say concerning leadership in the construction industry. The upcoming articles on this topic are:

Practice composure

Develop an eye for the big picture

Inspire others

 

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

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

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

Organize Your Construction Office Space

Organizing your construction contracting office space has advantages.

Organizing fundamentals

Establishing three organizing fundamentals in your construction contracting office will aid you and your staff to be more efficient and therefore, more productive. Yes, having an organized space will give you an advantage.

Benefits of an organized office

Taking time to organize your office space well allows you and your employees these benefits:

  • Knowing what resources are available
  • Feeling less stressed and distracted
  • Finding what is needed quickly
  • Avoiding accidentally throwing away something important
  • Gaining a feeling of pride and accomplishment

Before getting into the how of creating your organized office space, let’s take time to look at basic organizing principles.

Organizing principles

Keep these basic principles in mind as you make plans for organizing the various spaces in your office. They will aid you in making the best decisions concerning what goes where and why.

  • Leave room for growth
  • Group elements by the task
  • Store like things together
  • Label spaces rather than things
  • Stash heavy gear in lower places
  • Put frequently used items in places that are most accessible
  • Never label anything “Miscellaneous”
  • Look for ways and space to do batch processing

No matter how big or small your office space, these principles allow you to make the most of what you already have. And speaking of what you already have . . .

Don’t organize everything

Keep only what is necessary. Don’t waste your time storing the “stuff” you don’t want or need. Get rid of the things which are no longer of use. Dried up pens, cracked coffee mugs, and broken office equipment are all candidates for chucking. You know what I mean. There are likely plenty of things in your office space that need to be dealt with in one of three ways:

  1. Toss
  2. Donate
  3. Sell

Look at your space with fresh eyes. What is taking up space and serves no useful purpose? That doesn’t mean you should take down your family photos or remove the lovely plants; if they give you joy, keep them. But, keep in mind, if you happen to be clutter-blind, you may need to ask for help from others you trust.

Barbara Hemphill says, “Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions.”

First Fundamental – Establish zones

The first step in establishing zones is to determine which spaces are communal and which are private. (Each of these will be handled in different ways when you get to the third fundamental.)

Then, determine which functions will take place in each zone. Some zones are easier than others. For instance, what takes place in the storage zone is the placement and retrieval of stored items.

Other zones to consider are based simply on what types of tasks occur in each zone. A list might include:

  • Data entry
  • Customer Service
  • Human resources
  • Reception
  • Financial issues
  • Presentation or proposal preparation
  • Regulatory compliance

By establishing zones, it is easier to determine what furniture placement, equipment designation, and room allocations are needed to accomplish the tasks at hand.

“Ah, if only it were that easy,” I hear you saying. That is where the second fundamental comes into play.

Second Fundamental – Establish ownership

Who does which task? Beyond the fact that individuals have different needs and skill levels, there is a real situation that often different members of your staff wear multiple hats. The receptionist may also be the data entry person. Or, the person in charge of regulatory compliance may also oversee human resources.

Of course, cross-training is recommended and may skew office placement somewhat but knowing who is in charge of which task helps determine where to put all the “stuff,” which allows your office to function at optimal levels.

Think in terms of who needs which item most often. Be sure that the item is in or near the space designated to that person.

But, don’t get stingy. Sometimes it is helpful to have more than one given item. Here’s an example from our home. We have multiple scissors scattered in various places. There are the kitchen shears stored in the kitchen, several paper cutting scissors tucked away in a drawer in a hall, crafting scissors stored in each child’s craft “stash,” and sewing scissors (mine) hidden in a safe space in my room because they are used only for cutting fabric.

Third Fundamental – Establish systems

Remember, I mentioned zones would be handled differently in this section. For the most part, the private spaces you and your team members inhabit will be organized to meet the needs of individuals. Duties, skills, and work habits will lend themselves to establishing order and routine for each private zone.

Leading well in the organizing habits and establishing base expectations allows you to give your team members some amount of autonomy when it comes to arranging and maintaining their private workspaces.

It is the communal spaces that can cause some organizing angst.

Conference rooms, kitchens, storage rooms, and collaborative spaces can be challenging to organize and maintain.

Here are three methods which have been tried:

  1. Taking turns
  2. Assigning people to oversee specific areas
  3. Enforcing the expectation that people deal with their own messes

From experience, I’ll tell you the first and third usually fail. Here’s why.

You likely know how this story goes. It is titled, “Whose job is it anyway?”

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody, when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

Putting space organization in its place

Use the three organizing fundamentals in conjunction with one another to determine the best use of each space in your construction contracting office.

Get rid of time and space wasters.

Start small (perhaps a desk drawer) and move to larger areas and spaces to complete the organizing tasks.

Develop a plan for organizing the spaces in your office. Let everyone on your team know what the plan is and how it will be achieved.

Expect your team to follow your example – for better or worse.

There is more

This article is the last in a 4-part series concerning organizing your construction contracting business. You can find the first concerning Organizing Your Mind and the second about Organizing Time,  as well as the third discussing Organizing Tech by linking through.

 

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

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

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

Technically it is About Organizing the Tech

Organizing technology

Tech is a wild and wooly beast that can be tamed. It really must be tamed if you’re to survive in the construction industry. And, taming tech means getting it organized in ways that serve you rather than overwhelm you.

When you think about the tools tech has altered, enhanced, or replaced, you’ll get a better idea of how important it is to use the organizing mantra, “A place for everything and everything in its place” even in the tech world.

For example, do you look for the phonebook when you need to find a new supplier, or do your fingers dance across the keys?

When you realize a change must be made quickly on a job site, do you jump in the truck and head that way, or do you make a phone call?

When tech is used properly, everything from how the progress photos are analyzed to how the numbers end up in the ledger columns has moved from slow and tedious to fast and insightful

The bottom line, getting your tech organized has the potential to make your construction business more productive and profitable.

Getting Productivity Tools Organized

Even for the “organizationally challenged,” there is a tendency among us humans to want to find patterns, sequences, and systems. You’ve probably heard it expressed like this, “There’s got to be a better way.” Or like this, “Someone ought to fix this mess.”

At first, I determined to organize the following list in order of importance. Then, I realized that the order of importance depends on two qualifying factors:

  1. The person using the technology
  2. The day of the week it is being used

Yeah, that challenging. So, I took the easy route and listed them alphabetically.

These are the types of technological productivity tools that should be in your construction business toolbox. Typically, these tools will be in the form of SaaS or apps. And, loosely speaking, they will form the tech stack used in your construction company.

  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Contact management
  • Email administration
  • Equipment and tool tracking
  • Meetings and communication
  • Project control
  • Social media oversight
  • Travel and expense tracking

These technological productivity tools can also provide the foundation of many of your construction business operating systems.

Clean out the technology productivity tools closet

Like cleaning out a physical closet, begin by dumping any apps or SaaS you no longer use.

Then, determine if you have duplicates or apps so similar; they become redundant. Toss the extras. If you’re uncertain or wary of deleting or doing away with SaaS or an app, you may need to revisit this article concerning Lost Cost Fallacy. 

Next, take the time to scan for viruses or performance issues.

After the process of clearing, it is time to review the current versions of SaaS or apps and decide if it’s time to upgrade.

Lastly, verify the integrity of your data backup.

Organizing electronic files

“The goal of electronic file management is to ensure that you can find what you’re looking for, even if you’re looking for it years after its creation.”

Susan Ward, writing for The Balance Small Business, lays out 10 File Management Tips to Keep Your Electronic Files Organized. 

Link over. Read it. I mean it! Ward presents good stuff.

For example, one of her tips, #6 Be Specific, is one I wish I had known (and practiced) years ago. She is talking about giving files logical, specific names, including dates. When I think about the time I’ve wasted looking for information within my files I cringe.

There are only two things I would add to Ward’s tips:

  1. Use a structure that suits the way you think and work.
  2. When writing systems and while training, emphasis should be placed on how you want things done, while still allowing for personal preference when the efficiency and outcome won’t be changed.

Parting words

This article is the third in a 4-part series concerning organizing your construction contracting business. You can find the first, Organizing Your Mind and the second, Organizing Time by linking over. The next part will be about organizing your physical space.

 

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

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

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