Brand Personality in Construction

Brand Personality including logos and such

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

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

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

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

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

Some more subtle brand personality building tactics:

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

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

Time out for transparency

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

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

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

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

Brand Personality on Instagram

First example

3 Mountains Plumbing found on Instagram at 3mountains.plumbing

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

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

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

Second example

AFT construction  found on Instagram at aft_construction

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

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

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

Third example

Spain Commercial Inc.  found on Instagram at spaincommercialinc 

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

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

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

How does your company stack up?

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

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

From the Career Addict article:

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

What is your brand personality?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Investing in Convention Attendance

Investing in Convention Attendance can bring you a great ROI

Investing is different than paying to attend

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

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

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

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

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

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

Important Investment returns

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

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

Investing in convention attendance when you get home

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

Speaking of conventions

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Financial Acumen for Construction Contractors

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

How Financial Acumen puts you ahead

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

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

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

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

It affects your employees  

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

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

General Contractors must see your Financial Acumen

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

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

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

You benefit by growing your Financial Acumen

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

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

Final notes  

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

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

 

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

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

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

Contingency Budget to Performance Budget

Contingency Budget to Performance Budget

Turn your contingency budget into your performance budget

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

Contingency budgets are real

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reprioritize your contingency budget 

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

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

Consider what you want from your team: 

  • Fewer safety problems
  • Reduced rework issues
  • Increased productivity

Ways you can work with them to reach those goals: 

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

Risk management tool

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

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

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

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

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

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

Building Codes in History

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

Building Codes in Stone

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

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

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

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

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

Building Code preamble

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

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

Hell—low! Ego much?

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

The down and dirty of the Building Code

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

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

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

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

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

And there is more

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

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

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

Building Codes in a newly formed country

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

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

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

The Building Code of New Salem

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

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

And, I love the preamble:

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

Beware of peeping neighbors

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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