Being Profitable

Being profitable even during COVID - 19

Every Monday morning, The Profit Constructors’ social media posts are routinely filled with something akin to an Irish blessing. They vary slightly week to week, but typically they look like this, “May your coffee be strong, your influence be ever-growing, and your week be profitable.”

It is that last portion of the “blessing” we’re discussing today. That part about being profitable – because it never varies. Those are the same words week after week.

Even during the Coronavirus pandemic, we wish profitability on our clients and social media followers. And we mean it! We’re not just sticking with the old words. We haven’t lost our minds.

Profitability wears many hats

One way most look at profitability can be measured in dollars and cents. You know that making more than you spend is how profits come into existence. But there are other ways to measure profitability.

For example, a genuinely profitable week would include personal growth. A week spent in strategic planning could prove to be very beneficial. Adapting to changing conditions while maintaining core values gives you the opportunity to show your customers, your employees, and the community at large your grit – and that is very profitable.

And of course, helping others without thought of gain gives an immeasurable profit.

Following is a six-point list of ways you can work toward profitable endeavors during and after the mayhem surrounding COVID – 19.

Remove “woe is me” thinking

Look around – see the big picture. Yours is not the only construction contracting company affected by the circumstances in which you now find yourself. It isn’t as if you’ve been singled out.

Plus, you may find it useful to look at history. Here is a list of some well-known construction companies that are in existence today that made it through the ten years known as the Great Depression (1929 – 1939) as well as other ups and downs in the economy.

  • Sundt Construction, Inc. founded in 1890
  • Bechtel founded in 1898
  • Fluor Corporation founded in 1912
  • The Turner Corporation founded in 1902
  • Peter Kiewit Sons, Inc. founded in 1884

And, check out this list from Mental Floss about other Great Depression success stories.  

Use time wisely

Whether your pace has increased or slowed, maximizing the use of your time to accomplish much is imperative. (We know different states have taken different stands on whether or not construction workers are essential.) That means, for some, it may be making sure the crews have the correct PPE and are practicing proper safety measures. For others, it may be taking advantage of your time to create better-documented systems. For still others, it may be time to take an online class or to teach one.

You get the picture. Take the time to determine the best use of your time. Now do it!

Forget about safety – be daring!

Wait! Don’t think for a minute I’m talking about on-site safety. Keeping those guys and gals safe has never been more critical.

I’m talking about stepping out of the norm, being daring in ways you may not have thought of in the past. Things like:

  • Set up an appointment with a general contractor you may have formerly thought was out of your league.
  • Pivot – do something differently.
  • Create a new division that will take on the new opportunities afforded when the crisis is over.
  • Buy that piece of equipment you know will be necessary for your construction company’s growth in the future – especially when you find a good deal.

Note: I’m not saying that doing any of the daring things in the above list will make you more profitable. I am saying these are the types of things you should consider.

Write a book

Yes really. Do it. Hire a ghostwriter if you need to but write a book about how you not only survived COVID – 19 but how you flourished during and after the crisis. There is nothing wrong with a secondary income stream. And, even if you never see it in print, at least you will have thought of ways to accomplish it.

Advertise

Get serious about your mailing list. Call your past and present customers. Let them know what you’re doing and how you can help them. Use your social channels to help others. Let everyone (including the general public) know you’re here now and will be in the future.

Work together and help others

There is possibly no better way to create channels of profitability than to help others. Sharing the load, working through a dilemma, and resurging afterward are hallmarks of great business leaders who survive the test of time.

One last thing

May your week be profitable!

 

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. http://www.schulteandschulte.com/blog/

The Profit Constructors Provide Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

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

Solutions for Homebound Employees with Children

So, you’ve sent the office staff home. And, the schools have sent their children home. How do they (and your construction contracting business) cope?

As a professional business owner as well as a second-generation homeschooling family, we offer some ideas that have worked for us.

Perfect solutions

Remind yourself and your employees there are not likely to be any perfect solutions. Things will happen. Plans will go awry. Interruptions will . . . well, you know, interruptions will interrupt.

Now is the time to show mercy on your staff, other business professionals, your children, and yourself.

Find a workable solution

We know of a gal who works in the office of a casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her job typically has her going to work at an early morning hour. Therefore, she goes to bed early. She missed the decree concerning the closing of all Las Vegas casinos because she was asleep. The first thing the next morning, she got up, dressed for work, and hurried off to spend her day at her desk.

Surprise!

Yeah, that didn’t happen. This lady now knows she still has her job, but her duties will be carried out at home. She is trying to make the best of this unexpected happenstance. Her solution is to continue working the same hours she usually does (including the one-hour break for lunch) while using a different desk. She still dresses as if headed to the office, still takes her regular breaks, and is trying to figure out what to do during that scheduled lunch break.

If she had children, she would have other, more pressing issues to resolve than what to do during one mid-day hour.

Solutions through boundaries

Determining boundaries and ways to enforce them is crucial. Just as the children are flung into a situation for which they’re likely ill-prepared, so are the adults who depend on a certain schedule and familiar routines.

Communication is essential. Gathering the family and having a “this is where we are” discussion is an excellent way to start. How much information is shared depends on the age and maturity level of each child. Here are a few boundary setting tactics to consider.

Tell children they can interrupt you – if and only if the house is burning down! Of course, they probably won’t remember, so being diligent in enforcing the rule will take stamina.

Lock your “office” door during critical meetings or other important times.

Reassure the kiddos you will be available at specific times. A few times to consider are:

  • Lunch breaks
  • The last ten minutes of every hour
  • Thirty minutes at such and such time
  • Whatever timeslots work best for each household

Assign new chores and tasks. Some things to consider are:

  • Cleansing indoor and outdoor handles as well as the button for the doorbell
  • Doing their own or all the laundry
  • Watering indoor plants
  • Loading and unloading the dishwasher
  • Taking care of the floors
  • Dusting (including ceiling fan blades)
  • Helping or taking charge of preparing some meals

Use limited “screen time” or other desired pastime as a reward for adhering to the new rules and boundaries. A word of warning! Don’t allow the screens to become de facto babysitters.

Stop working when the workday is done! Turn it off. Walk away. Be present with your family.

The adventure solution

Many adults and most children welcome the chance for an adventure. Treating this change in “the norm” as an adventure will ease tension. Just as when you travel to a foreign land, things are different now. And that is exciting!

Get the entire family involved in the planning for this adventure. When people, including kids, get a say in the preparation stage, they’re more likely to own it and take part in it.

The point is to have an attitude of adventure. If the perspective of the adults in the home is fear or anger, that is the reflection that will be seen in the children. And, that is a pot that boils easily.

Depending on the age of the children involved, the types of adventures can range from a “Little House on the Prairie” snowed in-type of exploit to reading and discussing such books as “Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert.”

The point is to show your children there is an adventure in the new setting. If you behave with fear or some other negative attitude, so will your children.

Daily solutions

One adventure solution which works well with children of all ages is role play days. Here are some types to consider:

  • Spy
  • Hero
  • French (or any other foreign language and land)
  • Space
  • Cartoon character
  • Historical character
  • Fairytale character

Encourage children to dress up in costumes found in the drawers and closets of your home. Remember the props. Hats, magnifying glasses, capes, binoculars, backpacks, wands, and Mickey Mouse ears all come to mind.

Set the stage and send them on their way.

An example of how we’ve used the Spy Adventure is to assign the kiddos the task of “spying out” all the cruddy things the “evil crud monster” has left in all the common areas and their rooms. They take pictures of the “sneaky crud piles.” Then, with their master spying compatriots, they do away with the crud piles, take new photos, and report to “home base” how they’ve thwarted the evil crud monster. (Yes, we unabashedly get the kiddos to clean the house by making it a fun adventure.)

Other solutions

Set up a card table with a jigsaw puzzle for family members to work on at their leisure.

Have family contests. For example, who can read the most books in a week?

If the schools have assigned schoolwork, make it part of the daily routine.

Consider assigning schoolwork yourself. Let each child choose a topic he or she is interested in and let them explore. Older siblings can help. Some tools they can use are books you have on hand, specific TV programs, or a computer with proper childproofed connections.

Use Zoom or some other face-to-face program to allow your children to meet with their family or friends at set dates and times.

Encourage the kids to learn to play an instrument. One of our kiddos got her ukulele basics with this online instructor, The Ukulele Teacher.

Bonus tip: One tactic we learned early on is to stop play or other activities before the children are ready to stop. It sounds weird, but it works. If the kiddos are allowed to play until they’re bored with an activity, it will be hard to get them to return at another time. But, if they remember an activity was fun, they’ll be eager to get back to it when they get another chance.

Keep working on it

We hope these ideas will be of help to you and your construction business employees. While we haven’t covered every option for parents trying to make the best of the situation, we believe this will be a good start. The two main points we wish to convey are, 1) maintain an upbeat attitude and 2) take time to plan with and for the kiddos.

And remember, your children may scribble on your walls, but they paint masterpieces on your heart.

 

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. 

The Profit Constructors Provide 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 – 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

What Running With the Big Dogs Means

Running With the Big Dogs demonstrates success

The story about how we REALLY feel about our clients.

Our clients Run With the Big Dogs!

While some might see us as contractor fans, screaming at the back door after the concert, we’re more than that. Yep, we ask for autographs, and we know details about our clients that others are not privy to. But, we’re more than fangirls getting our excitement on.

Demonstrating success

We try not to get to “uppity” about it, but we believe we are part of something big. You see, we firmly believe commercial construction subcontractors change the world with their skills and expertise. And, we get to be a part of that mind-blowing experience.

Where last year there was a weed-covered piece of dry land, this year there is a new doctor’s office. Where six months ago there was only a shell of a building, now there is a happy restaurant staff serving smiling customers delicious meals. And, where last month there was a pre-build inspection, today the crew is emerging from their trucks to set to work on the new grocery store for the growing neighborhood.

These are a few of the types of jobs one of our clients has recently been (or still is) a part of:

  • Shipping Facility
  • Car Dealership
  • Coffee House
  • Restaurant
  • Assisted Living Complex
  • School
  • Dental Office
  • Bank
  • Credit Union
  • Office Building
  • Hotel

Now you see why we feel so good about striving daily to see to it our clients can demonstrate success. And, demonstrating success is all about Running With the Big Dogs.

Showing business acumen

Demonstrating their business acumen is crucial to our clients’ success.

Here are a few of the ways our clients see Running With the Big Dogs happen – they’re able to:

  • Keep the payroll induced sleepless nights at bay
  • Speak with confidence in their Mastermind groups
  • Understand accountingese in English
  • Build and maintain business systems
  • Generate better expenditure decisions
  • Make a profit
  • Build America, one project at a time

We love Big Dogs!

OK, so we love little dogs too. But it is our clients, the Big Dogs in their chosen subcontracting fields who make us excited to get up every day. Working with our clients is exciting because we like putting together the pieces of the puzzle. More importantly, we like the part we play in helping the folks in the commercial construction industry bring it!

Now you know how we REALLY feel about our clients.

 

If you’re interested in becoming one of the Big Dogs we delight in serving, get in touch. Let’s find out together if we’re a fit. Call today 866-629-7735

 

Being Patient in an Impatient Construction World

being patient pays off

Being Patient for the long-haul

Learning to be patient takes . . . well, it takes a modicum of patience. And, I’m among those who’ve had to learn the hard way how impatience is a sure-fire way to run smackdab into trouble – quickly.

As a matter of fact, you and I both know it is often the case that we should take time to wait prudently to make the best logical move. Yet, we live in a fast-paced world where opportunities, bids, safety mishaps, product shortages, and lack of skilled labor can make us feel as if the proverbial walls are closing in. Then you must make decisions. Which will it be?

  • Time to act!
  • Time to be patient.

Patience plays a part in our short and long-term business results.

Limited knowledge or skill sets may be challenges you face when you rush your construction business along hoping for fast results. Patience to learn more about the business of being in business is worth the time it takes.

Yet, be careful. Failing to act when necessary is one way of using the “patience card” when what you’re doing is procrastinating.

Being Patient through relationships

Patience gives you an added ability to treat other people with kindness, a sense of decency, and respectful regard. That in turn, increases the possibility they will respond back to you in the same way.

Cultivate patience to increase good relationships with:

  • Partners
  • GCs or owners
  • Employees or subs
  • Suppliers and service providers
  • Family and friends

 

Being Patient pays off

What you gain are:

  • Personal Grit
  • Fortitude to make decisions
  • Ability to wait for the RIGHT opportunities
  • Positive recognition among your peers
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Stronger profits

What others say about being patient

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” Saint Augustine

 

“Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent.” Billy Graham

 

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” John Quincy Adams

 

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” ― Aristotle

 

“Only those who have patience to do simple things perfectly ever acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.” James J. Corbett

 

“Patience is a virtue, and I’m learning patience. It’s a tough lesson.” Elon Musk

 

“How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” William Shakespeare

 

“All men commend patience, although few are willing to practice it.” Thomas a Kempis

 

In the end, being patient IS a big deal!

Savvy construction contractors understand delay doesn’t equal denial. And they see that success begins with patience. It is then strengthened with commitment. And continues with the due diligence necessary for excellence.

Patience takes time and conscious effort to master and is often the factor which sets successful construction contractors apart from Joe Blow Contractor.

 

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

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

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

Employee Handbooks and All That

Employee Handbook information and guidelines

Employee Handbooks for reading pleasure? 😵

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

Employee handbook = boredom induced coma.

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

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

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

Who could ask for anything more? 😜

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

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

Employee Handbooks for starters

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

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

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

What to include in your handbook

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

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

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

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

Employee Handbooks aren’t rocket science

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Employee Handbooks with pizzazz

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

 

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

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

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

Building Castles and High Rises

Building company culture into your team.

Building streams

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

Building high rise office structures 

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

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

Kapow!

Both Tonya and I were elated with his answer.

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

Building an ancient castle in the twenty-first century

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

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

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

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

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

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

The streams converge

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

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

And, the key is to inspire.

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

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

Building great names to encourage your team

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

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

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

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

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

3 ways to find memorable names

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

Another way to use the nicknaming strategy

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

Shop organizing day becomes Operation Thunder.

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

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

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

Building Castles and High Rises and Everything Else

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

 

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

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

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

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 

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