Crossing the Waters

The story of a water crossing and rising above

The tale of a water crossing

About thirty years ago, I drove an 18-wheeled truck from Farmington, New Mexico, to Page, Arizona. It was my job to deliver a load of gasoline to one of the convenience stores owned by the company I worked for. After I made the delivery and was headed back to home base, a rainstorm marched heavily across the high desert.

And, as is often the case during Arizona’s desert rainstorms, the arroyos crossing the road I was traveling began trickling with water. Some of the arroyos began to resemble small creeks. All we drivers went through them. We slowed and were cautious, yet we drove through.

The surging waters

Then, I arrived at one arroyo, which didn’t resemble a creek at all. Instead, it looked more like a raging river.

There were five vehicles ahead of mine, a police car straddling the two-lane road, and barricades set up. Two police officers serving the Navajo Nation were standing by their car waiting and watching.

Even though the rain had been reduced to a mist or at best a few sprinkles here and there, the arroyo river raged on. Many of the drivers gathered in small groups talking about – what else? – the chances we would be across that piece of the road any time soon.

Examining the water

Several of us strolled up to the police officers and visited with them for a while. Of course, we wanted to know what their police radios had told them concerning when we might be able to cross safely. They didn’t have any answers.

More vehicles piled up behind our little parade of stranded drivers. Lots of pickups, some cars, a van or two, and many 18-wheelers formed an orderly line awaiting the surrender of the hurling water.

Not yet

In less than an hour, the waters did begin to subside. Through my youthful bravado and my yeah-I’m-a-girl-driving-a-truck bluster, I suggested to the cops that my vehicle was larger than the others close to the front of the line. I felt I could drive across. They said, “No!”

After another ten minutes or so and after the waters calmed down even more, I once again told the nice policemen I thought I could cross the arroyo. Their second answer resembled the first. I think the only thing they left off was the exclamation mark. They said, “No.”

Do you want to cross the water?

Not much later, perhaps another five minutes, one of the officers came to me and said, “Do you want to try to drive across?”

You bet! I want to go home. My hubby will be worried about me. Let’s get this show on the road.

Let’s cross the water

After the policemen had the drivers ahead of me maneuver their vehicles to the other lane of the road, I climbed up into my truck with gusto. I pushed down the clutch, turned the key, pulled the stick into gear, let up on the clutch, pressed the accelerator, and began driving toward the arroyo – with my heart beating ninety miles a minute.

After all, I had spent many of my growing up years in the deserts of Arizona. I knew how many crazy drivers had faced disaster after driving into flooded city underpasses and flooded desert arroyos. Why hadn’t those silly cops done the sensible thing and waited until we could see the road before allowing anyone (much less me) to try that crazy passage? What were they thinking?

Had I mentioned to them that my truck was empty of its cargo now? Did they know that the tanks I was dragging behind were filled with only gas fumes? Had they considered how easy it would be for those waters to push my vehicle aside?

Pushing through the water

Because I’m here to tell this tale, you have to know that one way or another, I survived the crossing.

As it was, my trusty 10-speed big truck rolled through the undulating water without a pause. (Good thing too, perhaps a pause would have been my undoing.)

A look in my rearview mirror revealed that truck after truck was pulling from the stranded lane to work their way to the front of the line. They were coming through. I was ecstatic!

The moral of the story

If you’ve gotten this far, you may be wondering what the moral of this story is. Why is this blog post (written for commercial construction subcontractors) filled with a story about a lady truck driver crossing a water-filled arroyo?

Because, dear reader, I liken those creek-like crossings to the crossing of the COVID – 19 streams that we’re all taking slowed down and with caution.

That raging river-like crossing is the one we will face after the reaction to the pandemic comes to hit us full-face. That is the one which will stop us in our tracks. It is the one that will have us gathering and discussing the what’s next questions, and the is it safe questions.

That raging water-filled arroyo is the one that will have our hearts pounding and our thoughts racing. Some will be able to drive through. Others will wait. Those construction company owners who have the equipment, the skill, and the know-how will cross that arroyo and get back to the astounding task of building America one project at a time.

Are you ready?

 

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 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

Choose Your Path

Choose your path for post COVID -19 profits and stability

Not choosing a path is the same as choosing a path

Let’s say you have a choice to cut your hair or to let it grow. If you say, “I don’t want to make a choice,” you’ve already made a choice. Your hair will continue to grow.

Here’s another example; each morning, you have a choice to get out of bed or to stay in bed. Yep, you guessed it. If you can’t make a choice, you’ve already chosen. You’re staying in bed.

Now, with the world’s reaction to Coronavirus, you’re faced with the choice of playing it safe or investing in growth. And, just as the hair and bed examples above, if you can’t make up your mind, you’ve already made up your mind. You’ve taken a wait-and-see attitude, which gives you no momentum for what lies ahead.

“A body in motion stays in motion, and a body at rest stays at rest, unless, acted upon by an outside force.” – Isaac Newton

This is no time for indecision

My mother, because of her fear of water, never learned how to swim. She decided it was imperative that my younger brother and I take swimming lessons at the Ouray, Colorado community pool near where we lived. After we had attended the classes for an entire summer, we moved to Tucson, Arizona – which meant there was a swimming pool just a walk away.

On day one of the new pool access, I ran and jumped in, swam around, and began figuring out who to splash first. My brother, on the other hand, ran and jumped in, then sank below the surface – for too long. Our mother leaped into the pool moments later.

She had not prepared for the crisis. She had never learned to swim, remember? But her quick decision saved my brother’s life and set her on the path to less fear of water.

“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” – Roy E. Disney.

Choose the balanced path

Construction company owners who master the balance of cutting costs today while investing for future growth will be those who not only survive but thrive.

On the one hand, it is a matter of reducing costs selectively rather than haphazardly. For instance, focusing on operational efficiency is no longer a back-burner item. If you haven’t taken time to build, document, and use operational systems, the time has now come when you must.

And in balance, investing wisely in marketing, R&D, and new assets puts you a few steps ahead in the game.

“You are free to make whatever choice you want, but you are not free from the consequences of the choice.” Anonymous

It’s about the numbers – and the people

Choosing a balanced path means you must know and understand both your numbers and your people. It is time to adapt and thrive. For instance, now may be the time to recruit and hire top talent.

Or it could mean you look for gaps in the market and adopt a new approach. Assessing your numbers and your assets (including the folks on your team) allows you to make more informed decisions.

It is time to get your attitude focused as well. Commit to action and to leading your construction business into a post-COVID – 19 stance of strength.

“You always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear.” Sammy Davis, Jr.

 

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 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

 

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

Ask the Right Questions

Ask questions to grow your team, your leadership skills, and your construction business.

Want to know what your employees want, so they feel satisfied with their job? Ask them! It isn’t as daunting as you may think.

There are reasons you should be asking the right questions of your team members, both your employees and subs.

  1. It makes them know you care.
  2. You’re better able to lead.
  3. It improves your construction business.

It makes them know your care

The questions you ask go beyond “How’s it going?” to showing you do have an interest in their well-being.

The following list can give you ideas about what types of questions you should be asking.

  • What do you like most about your job?
  • Which task do you find most difficult, tedious, bothersome?
  • Where do you want to be in one year, five years?
  • Are you stuck somewhere? What challenges are you facing?
  • What is [your construction company name] doing, or could be doing, to make you more successful?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 how happy are you working here?
  • Either at work or outside work, what’s the best thing that happened to you this week?
  • If you owned [your company name,] what’s one thing you would do differently?
  • Who else on the team made a great contribution to the efforts this week? Did he or she overcome an obstacle? Fix a bad situation? Solve a lingering problem?
  • Are you clear about your role? Do you know what you should be doing?
  • Do you feel connected to the rest of the team?
  • What kind of training would you like to receive to help you accomplish your career goals?
  • What’s your most recent accomplishment at work?
  • Do you feel respected by your direct supervisor?
  • Is it fun working here?

You’re better able to lead

Assuming you know what is going on in the lives of your team is a dangerous path to take. Asking the right questions gives you the insight you need to step up your own game.

  • Who can give the older hands help with digital devices?
  • Who’s best at helping new team members learn the ropes?
  • Which process can be fixed or improved?
  • What do you like most about working here?
  • Tell me the number one reason you took a job here?
  • What did you like best about your previous employer?
  • How effective are our team-building activities?
  • Do you feel like coworkers respect each other here?
  • What would make me a better leader?
  • What motivates you to go above and beyond at work?
  • Do you believe [your company name] gives authentic recognition to the people here?
  • What drives you crazy here?

Many of these questions can be off-the-cuff as you talk with your crew and staff throughout the day. Others, you might reserve for one on one meetings.

This blog post about leadership, found on the website of Lighthouse gives a great deal of information concerning having one on one meetings with your staff.

Perhaps the most valuable piece of advice from the post is this:

“Action is what leads to change and improvement. It’s what starts the flywheel going to make these the mega-valuable meeting they are.

This is why the 2 questions to ask in every one on one meeting are:

1) What can you do to take action or make progress on what we talked about today?

2) What can I do to take action or make progress on what we talked about today?

By asking these questions, you’re working *together* to make things better. It creates a psychological contract between the two of you to both keep your promises.”

It improves your construction business

Eleanor Estes, CEO of TPI, Inc., one of the top IT and engineering recruiting firms in the country says, “As a leader in your organization, you set the culture – you establish the norms, and your example should trickle down throughout the company. Your company is a place that is made up of many different people. And if you are doing it right, the people you hire will enhance your company so that the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.”

That leads to asking further questions which can help you find ways to build your team as well as improve your commercial construction business.

  • Do you think [your company name] supports you in your professional development?
  • Can you use one word to describe our company culture?
  • What are some ways that we can improve communication at [your company name]?
  • What’s one thing you’d like to see us continue doing here?
  • How well does your supervisor support your developmental goals?
  • Do you feel comfortable providing feedback to your supervisor?
  • Would you refer someone to work here?
  • Do you believe the management team is all on the same page?
  • What do you think is our company’s biggest strength that we should be focusing on?

Ask the right questions. And, listen to the answers. Use the information to help your team members grow, improve your leadership ability, and enhance your commercial construction business.

 

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

 

Respect in Your Construction Company

Showing respect and dignity in your construction business is worth the effort

Respect

While researching the topic of respect and dignity at work, I came across many statements like this, “A Dignity and Respect at Work Policy encourages a working environment that is free from Bullying and Harassment.” And, this exact wording of that idea was the very first sentence in one (rather boring) article I read.

Other articles harp on how much a company loses when there is a large turnover of workers. Their premise that people will hang around longer when treated well makes sense.

But it seems the need to respond with dignity and respect in dealing with your employees loses its power when shrouded in the negativity of losing money “if you ain’t nice.”

Respectful for the right reasons

So, I’ll state (for the record) I know there is a huge financial drag on businesses which can’t retain their employees. Further, I’ll note that when others are treated with dignity and respect across the board, lawsuits (and their costs) derived from bullying and harassment don’t see the light of day.

So, if you “don’t harass” someone, does that mean you respect them and allow their dignity to show through? Not at all!

I’ll give you an example. You can force kids to “play together.” But you can’t force kids to “have fun together.”

Being respectful must come from the heart. And in your construction business, showing respect starts with your attitude. From there, it seeps into the culture you build within your construction company.

The real value of showing respect

I dug further. One article I read on the topic makes a great deal of sense. Glenn Llopis, writing for Forbes says, “Employees want leaders that are likable, understand their needs, can authentically motivate people and know how to energize a workplace culture to generate the best results for the organization.”

Seeking employee input, hearing their concerns, giving recognition when an employee does a good job, are all good ways to show respect for them. And it allows them to see you respect them as individuals.

It’s no mystery; the value of your team increases when they know you respect and value them.

The lowest common denominator is – be nice.

Respect isn’t always easy

With that being said, I must note, being nice isn’t always easy. Bad hair days and grumpy spouses aside, sometimes it takes extra effort to show respect to the noodle-head who has made sixteen mistakes already, and it isn’t even noon.

Keep in mind, showing respect doesn’t mean you don’t call it like it is. It means (when called for) you respect said noodle-head by giving a heads up or a word of caution. You’re not in the land of an elementary school where everyone is recognized as a contributor when the only contribution some kids make is trouble.

Finally, showing respect to others (the rest of your employees) may come in the form of firing the one guy who doesn’t pull his weight – respectfully, of course. 

Avoid screaming hissy fits

It is imperative to avoid screaming hissy fits or tawdry put-downs. And, more important than what you leave out of the day is what you put into it. Here are some thoughts and ideas concerning how to develop a company-wide culture of respect and dignity.

  • Tell someone what a great job he or she is doing
  • Show appreciation publicly
  • (Just as importantly) Show appreciation when no one else is around
  • Compliment an employee to their supervisor, not just to them personally
  • Be sure your employees know they can respectfully disagree (and they will be heard)
  • Offer them opportunities for career growth
  • Let an employee know you used his or her idea
  • (Or) Encourage the employee to implement his or her idea
  • Support employees during times of stress
  • Treat employees fairly and equally

And remember – smiles can set the tone for the day. Plus, they are quite contagious.

A few other things to consider

  • Focus on what went well on the project at a closeout meeting. Be sure to point out individuals as well as teams who “brought it” to the project.
  • Provide lunch and updates of progress (no down talk) at last-Friday monthly meetings.
  • Make a big deal of the annual company-wide family get-together events.

 

In conclusion

Show your dignity through being respectful of your staff. And teach them to do the same.

 

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

Meeting the Meeting Challenge

Overcoming the challenge of construction meetings

Not another meeting!

If you’ve heard or thought, “Not another meeting!” you know what a challenge having or attending meetings can be. Yet, having well thought out and appropriate meetings will enhance your construction company’s ability to perform. Meetings address two basic components of establishing a highly functioning business – information and relationship.

Keep in mind; some meetings can be replaced by an email or a shared document. When possible, do that! For the meetings you must have, keep these guidelines in mind.

  • Consider who needs the meeting before creating the attendee list
  • Start and end on time
  • Have an agenda
  • Recap agreements before the meeting ends
  • Be sure attendees have hardcopy or digital notes as follow up

Also, when preparing the agenda, remember the meeting’s purpose as well as what the appropriate outcome should be. Some examples:

  • Reach a decision
  • Develop a plan
  • Give instructions or teach a new skill
  • Introduce a new approach
  • Reward growth or success

5 typical construction company meetings

While different industries have a variety of meeting types, the following five business meeting types serve the construction industry well. In no particular order and with no comment concerning frequency these are the meeting types we’ve seen be useful for experienced and discerning commercial construction contractors.

  • Team Alignment
  • Decision making
  • Problem-solving
  • Team building
  • Safety

We discuss each one in the following sections.

Team Alignment

This meeting is sometimes known as a Status Update meeting. One of the main purposes of this type of meeting is to make sure everyone on the team is on the same page.

It is in this meeting where you’ll be able to address any problems that have bobbed up, make decisions, prioritize next steps, then assign appropriate tasks.

This meeting saves valuable work time by avoiding rework scenarios. And, it aids in reducing frustration among team members.

Typically, your team members will be silently (or vocally) asking this question, “How does this affect what I need to get done?”

Encourage them to add these two questions to their thought process at each team alignment meeting.

  1. “What do I need from others to move my work forward?”
  2. “What can I offer that can help other team members in this instance?”

 

Decision making

The purpose of this meeting is to:

  • Gather information
  • Suggest solutions
  • Evaluate options
  • Decide how best to move forward

It’s easy to understand that the use of collective intelligence leads to a more informed decision. And, while the purpose of this meeting is to find a solution or decide on a path forward, there is a by-product that’s invaluable.

The by-product has to do with team morale and, put simply, team buy-in. When individuals participate in group planning, they are much more likely to embrace the decisions and do their part to work toward the goals.

Decisions being what they are, and people being who they are, makes it imperative that this meeting ends with a recap of what decisions were made. Be certain to provide written notes (to all participants) of decisions and what responsibilities were assigned to whom.

Problem-solving

Often, problem-solving meetings take place when an emergency needs a quick resolution. With that understanding in mind, it is best to follow simple guidelines for achieving the best outcome.

  • Get the right people in the room
  • Know the priorities
  • Set the agenda
  • Defer to the person or persons with the greatest expertise for the matter at hand
  • Give high priority to the input of people who will be implementing the decision

When the problem to be solved is not an emergency, the above steps are still useful.

The outcome of a non-emergency problem may be:

  • Resolved
  • Delegated (either in-house or outsourced)
  • Deferred to a future agenda

When meeting notes are sent to attendees, they should include:

  • Decisions made
  • Assigned tasks
  • Any follow-up matters
  • Future agenda items

Team building

No matter which form it takes one of the best ways to begin team building is to celebrate team successes. And, always be on the lookout for ways to praise individual growth points and accomplishments.

This article from the Wrike blog offers 12 Awesome Team Building Games Your Team Won’t Hate.  You can pick and choose what would work well for your team. The activities listed run from just a few minutes to two hours. They look like fun, and you should check them out.

Further, if you want to work on team building you may want to plan events that don’t’ have “team-building” written all over them. They are subtle yet effective ways to get your team to learn more about one another and to engage better.

Here’s a list of five to get you started.

  1. Attend volunteer events as a group
  2. Eat together – better yet, add cooking to the event (Chili Cook-off or Short Cooking Class comes to mind)
  3. Have a try at an Escape Room
  4. Gather at an Axe Throwing room (I think this would be great, Tonya isn’t so sure.)
  5. Go Geocaching together

 

Now, watch and listen for feedback to see what types of events your team prefers.

Safety

We talked about better management in your construction business through daily safety meetings in this post.   Check it out, it has relevant information.

And, here’s a brief safety meeting reminder.

Keep it:

  • Standing
  • Brief
  • Entertaining
  • Insightful

Meeting the challenge

Meeting the meeting challenge is easier when you determine which types of meetings are most beneficial for your construction company. Follow the basic rules, communicate well, and have some fun along the way.

 

It is our desire this article (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) helps assist 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  

Preventing Loss of Tools, Equipment, and Supplies

Preventing loss through the use of systems and strategies in the construction contracting world.

Preventing Loss of Tools, Equipment, and Supplies

Preventing loss of your stuff

I remember the overall depletion of my dad’s spirit the morning he walked out the door to go to work and discovered his tools had all been stolen. Tools which had taken years to accumulate. Tools which had somehow been magically transformed to fit the curves of his hands, his fingers, his being.

Yes, there was insurance.

No, it didn’t cover the entire loss.

It stinks! It stinks when you have to deal with insurance, downtime, and the feeling of violation. Yet, loss happens.

Preventing loss – where to start

The first steps toward loss prevention are strong locks, proper lighting, and adequate insurance. Beyond these and in reinforcement of them, there are numerous other steps you can take.

Preventing loss – it takes a system

Taking a proper inventory of your tools and equipment is elemental. While you’re at it, take photographs of individual items. And, remember to record the serial numbers.

Creating a checklist of items to be placed in vehicles or a proper storage facility at the close of the workday has at least two benefits. It goes a long way to help your crew understand the importance you place on and the care you take of your items. Plus, it it makes it easier for your crew to better support your goal of no tool or equipment loss.

Preventing loss through marking

Another loss prevention tactic you can use is marking your tools and equipment. Some possibilities include:

  1. Painting “your” color on your items. Two colors will aid in making your tools and equipment more distinctive as most companies apply only one. While many construction companies use red, blue, or orange, few add a stripe of a contrasting color. For example, you can choose turquoise with a wide line of yellow running across it.  
  2. Engraving or etching your items with your logo and other identifying marks is better than paint, (for obvious reasons) and gives you more options. You can add inventory numbers, your address, or a phone number to your items if you choose.
  3. Purchasing GPS Tracking or Bluetooth tool tracking is likely to be a bigger spend than the other options yet perhaps more useful. This story from October of 2018 will give you an idea of how this technology is useful to you as well as to the police. Consider too, some insurance companies offer a discount on the comprehensive portion of their policies when they know you’re using some type of tracking system. 

If you’re considering the benefits of GPS tracking, check out this article which discusses five high tech ways to control construction site theft.

A few other tactics to consider

  • Use a sign-out sheet for company tools
  • Schedule supply deliveries on an as-needed basis
  • Prevent on-site parking
  • Train your team to put their tools up when not in use
  • Offer rewards to those who turn in thieves or provide valuable information on crimes
  • Install alarm systems and/or CCTV on your office, shop, or tool storage areas
  • Train Fido to do his best work at night (yeah, even a nice dog can be a great deterrent to would-be thieves)
  • Put Geo-fencing to use through the aid of apps or other systems
  • Invest in thorough background checks of potential employees
  • Encourage the neighbors of your property or jobsite to report suspicious activity
  • Think about the use of security guards depending on location
  • Establish a system for verifying deliveries   

Preventing loss isn’t always possible

No matter what steps you take or how diligent you are, there are going to be some items which suddenly develop legs and walk away. Yet, there are measures you can take to slow it down and keep it to a minimum.

Having a plan in place if your shop, trailer, vehicle, or jobsite is burgled will make the next steps a little easier. The plan should designate who is in charge of each step which needs to be taken. Developing a checklist of steps will make this process easier. Include appropriate phone numbers or other contact information; local police, your insurance company, GPS tracking company, your landlord (where your business is located,) the GC or owner (of the jobsite) are all possibilities for your list.

By putting loss prevention practices in place, you can do your best to keep the “bad guys” out and the “good guys” honest. Developing a system for your commercial construction firm which addresses the issue of theft is probably not your idea of how to have a good time at the office. But then neither is all the nonsense you have to go through when you lose your tools, equipment, or supplies.

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

Because we are a virtual “corporate accounting office” for commercial construction businesses we can assist you no matter in which of the 50 United States your business is located. We invite you to get in touch here.

Our Clients Are Savvy Contractors – Take a Peek

Our clients are construction subcontractors.

Who our clients are

Our clients are construction subcontractors. Yet there is more to the picture. They’re ambitious, smart, determined, enthusiastic, resourceful, industrious go-getters.

We understand the position many of our clients are in when they come to us. They’re splitting their time between:

  • returning phone calls
  • developing new products or services
  • going on sales calls
  • hiring or firing employees
  • managing social media
  • doing the bookkeeping
  • answering email
  • checking the jobsites
  • invoicing
  • dealing with payroll
  • marketing
  • keeping employees motivated and happy
  • networking
  • and . . . well, simply putting out fires which are often left still smoldering.

This list from OSHA describes Construction Special Trade Contractors. And, it does a fair job of identifying the types of businesses our clients own.

How our clients are served

At Schulte and Schulte, we are advisers and consultants, not just bookkeepers or accounting specialists.

Why do we consider the difference important?

Bookkeeping is a component of a construction company’s financial health. Yet that is not the only component. We provide counsel and advice on financial and business issues. Advice that goes beyond the scope of entering the right numbers in the right place. It is our intention that this approach provides value to our clients in both visionary and in-the-moment ways.

It is important to us to help our clients get meaningful metrics and systems in place so they’re no longer flying blind.

We work with established construction subcontractors who have invested time and money into finding ways to grow their businesses. Subcontractors who are ready to take the next step. Subcontractors who must get familiar with and in charge of their numbers in order to grow their business and be profitable.

We partner with our clients on a long-term basis to ensure they get results from the work we do together.

Peek at our ideal client

Our ideal client is a construction subcontractor – but not “any old” subcontractor.

Here are the other things our ideal client is:

  1. Accountable and responsive
  2. Willing to listen to and act upon our advice
  3. Tech savvy or willing to learn
  4. Determined to scale their business
  5. Inclined to offer referrals

Peek at us

We provide accountability (beyond simple accounting) and hold our clients’ feet to the fire. The fire of staying on task, putting the right systems in place, and of understanding the metrics.

Are you ready to take the next step in growing your construction business? You can take your place on our waiting list by calling 866-629-7735 or get in touch here.

Oh Crud! You Need to Fire Someone

Terminate someones employment with dignity.

Terminate someones employment with dignity.

It’s not easy

Firing someone is among the hardest tasks you face. Dismissing an employee is a horrible experience for everyone involved. Yet, the growth and well-being of your construction company depends on being able to tackle the task head-on.

In the last 5-part series of posts, I dealt with doing all you can to retain your best hands. Doing so is to your advantage. Still, there are those times when letting someone go is also advantageous.

“Hire slow and fire fast” is one of those sayings you hear repeated often. There is likely some merit in the concept. Yet, taken too glibly and all the merit vanishes. In many cases, it simply makes sense to give the employee a chance to improve first. Yet, if the improvement doesn’t come quickly enough or doesn’t come at all, it is time to discharge the employee and find a new hand.

It’s not pleasant

There is no joy in having to tell someone he or she will no longer be working for you. From your own difficult feelings, to those of the hand who is being let go, to your other employees there is heaviness.

And, you may be concerned that the other folks in your employ will be nervous or concerned about the fact you are letting someone go. Yet, often the co-workers of the person being fired are at least relieved they’ll no longer have to put up with the antics of the person who has become excess baggage. Excess baggage they themselves may feel they’ve been dragging about.

When it gets down to it, companies which put their employees first are companies in which the person not pulling his own weight is let go.

It’s not effortless

The folks at The Art of Manliness have an excellent article concerning many aspects of the firing process. They say, “Firing someone is an unpleasant experience. There’s no way around it. In spite of that, you can work to make the experience as smooth as possible, protect your company, and treat your ex-employee with courtesy on the way out. Remember, it’s not personal, it’s business.”

The basic formula

Once you’ve closed the door and are facing the employee to be fired here are some key words and strategy you can use in the process.

“I’ve got some bad news for you.”

“As you know, [the reason he or she is being fired.]”

Don’t say “will be terminated,” rather say, “have been terminated.”

Close by thanking the person for his contributions to the company.

There are legal expectations to be met when the decision is made to terminate the employment of an individual. Be sure to document well each step of the process.

You may also wish to seek legal counsel or the help of a Human Resource adviser. You don’t have to have an entire HR department. You can reach out to a freelance HR person. One we recommend is Lynda McKay owner of HRextension