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

Indirect Costs in Construction Contracting

Indirect Costs are important to the health of your construction company

Indirect Costs can cause hair loss

You know what I mean; trying to figure out what amount goes into which column can be a hair pulling adventure. And, making matters worse, indirect costs can mount in a hurry.

At first glance, it would seem differentiating a direct cost from an indirect cost would be somewhat intuitive. And, in one respect it is. Because, you can name the labor cost and the materials cost per job and you’ve got the foundation for your direct cost column.

Therefore, the rest should be easy, right? Anything on which money is spent and which isn’t a direct cost is quite obviously an indirect cost. Well . . . not so fast.

Indirect Costs accounting methods

There is more than one school of thought concerning how to handle job costing for indirect costs. They vary from “don’t do it” to “create several accounts depending on X factor,” and a few between. Of course, if you’re a commercial subcontractor and your bonding agent wants to see indirect costs on your job reports, and you say, “Oh we don’t mess with indirect costs,” you’re in for a rude awakening.

[In case you’re wondering which method we at Schulte and Schulte use, the answer is, “Which ever is the most appropriate for each individual client.” Yeah, we don’t believe in the one-size-fits-all method of dealing with our clients’ accounting needs.]

How it comes together

Dealing with indirect costs means determining things like fringe, general and administrative, and overhead then putting the numbers to use. It means you use appropriate tools strategically. And, it frequently means making your best estimate.

Indirect Costs can be a guessing game

So, if it is a guessing game – why bother? Right?

It is tempting to think the two words “accurate and estimates” could be counted as an oxymoron. Yet this article, Why Guessing Is Undervalued, suggests guessing is a huge part of our daily lives. And thoughtful guessing (estimating) is a skill worth developing.

Plus, think about this; guesstimates are the golden thread running through much of the construction contracting tapestry. From the beginning of the process, construction contractors take a unique set of variables, consider scope and feasibility, develop an “accurate estimate,” and call it a bid.

Taking into account we understand that close, just about, a little more (or less) than, and between are important and valuable words, it is also important to be able to determine a number which will satisfy several entities with whom you interact.

I’ve already mentioned that bonding agents want to see the numbers. So does your income tax preparer, the lending agency, the insurance provider, and the general contractors in your sphere.

Even more importantly, proper accounting for indirect costs allows you to receive appropriate tax deductions as well as make better business decisions.

How we can help

I’m just going to have to say it – the Schulte and Schulte team goal of helping our clients Run With the Big Dogs has a subheading titled “help them have peace of mind.”

Are you a construction contractor who needs help getting your indirect costs dilemma straightened out? Give us a call!

 

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 

Drone Thinking in Construction Contracting

Drone thinking sets you above the crowd.

Drone Thinking as a tool

Before we begin, let’s get something cleared up. Capterra’s Rachel Burger wrote a blog post for The Balance Small Business titled, 6 Ways Drones Are Affecting the Construction Industry. She has some cool insight into how using drones is beneficial to construction contractors. It is worth the few minutes it takes to get her overview. Check it out, you may find a few bits you hadn’t already thought of.

It’s good stuff. Yet, it isn’t what this article is about. This article is about Drone Thinking, not Drone Using.

So, Drone Thinking is all about using your mind to soar above the happenings of the daily routine and getting a “drone’s eye view” of how your commercial construction business is doing. It is a step taking you to equanimity. Because, by definition, equanimity means having “mental or emotional stability or composure, especially under tension or strain; calmness; equilibrium.”

It is a matter of having the mindset which allows you to leave the minutia of chaos and confusion on the ground, while you soar overhead and look at the big picture.

Drone Thinking next steps

Instead of taking a step back, take a flight above. Look down on your business from a drone perspective. After completing step one below, you can use the time to deal with the other four components.

  1. Allocate time to think – put it on your calendar, at minimum one hour, once a week.
  2. Remove false assumptions – never mind boxes (or thinking out of them) simply work toward knowing your own false assumptions and how to deal with them.
  3. Know the data – of course, we’re here to help with that!
  4. Identify gaps – typically found in processes and procedures. (We can help with this too.)
  5. Pick specific goals – they might include increased profitability, efficiency, or sustainability.

Here are some questions you may wish to cover:

  • What funding, equipment, personnel, and technology will it take to reach my business goals?
  • What are three to five important initiatives that will have the greatest positive impact on my construction business? (Remember, having too many priorities means you don’t really have any.)
  • How can I improve my leadership skills?
  • What can I do to be better at holding others accountable?
  • Am I missing the boat (and if so how) in communicating the vision for my company?
  • What are the best strategies to use in these areas:
    • Marketing
    • Monetization
    • Sales
    • Social media
    • Operations
  • Who should I put in charge of developing tactics concerning each item in the above list of strategic areas?

It takes courage and focus to truly ignore what is going on IN your business, so you can soar above and work ON your business.

Further thoughts to use while you soar:

  • Financials – Are there ways to reduce times in accounts receivable? What can we do to reduce outstanding debt? Are our budgets current and active?
  • Operations – What can we use to improve productivity? How can we eliminate more waste? What can we change to make us more efficient?
  • Marketing – What methods should we use to increase brand awareness? How can we let General Contractors in our area know what we bring to the table? Is there something we can do to niche-down better?

Drone Thinking in the day to day

Taking advantage of your allocated Drone Thinking time is imperative. And, out of that time will come your ability to increase your Drone Thinking daily mindfulness.

Determine what will have the greatest impact on your business. From there, you can communicate better and assign responsibilities (and accountabilities) which push you and your staff toward the goals which improve your business.

The time you take to work on your business is time well spent. Take advantage of all this Drone Thinking strategy has to offer.

Also, pay attention to this bit of advice from one of the Masters.

“Every now and then go away. . . Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.” – Leonardo Da Vinci

 

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 

Uber Report for Construction Contractors

Uber – what it means

From Dictionary dot com, we learn that “uber” can be used as either an adverb or an adjective. When used as an adverb it means, “having the specified property to an extreme or excessive degree,” and as an adjective, “designating a person or thing that exceeds the norms or limits of its kind or class.”

There is no mention at all of how the word is now being used as (I think) a verb. Here’s an example of how it is used in a sentence, “We thought about walking, but decided to Uber over instead.”

Uber on my mind

Typically, we use this space to provide information which will be useful for our clients or others who own commercial construction businesses. Occasionally, we throw in a piece which allows a peek behind the curtain concerning what goes on around here at Schulte and Schulte. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what we did last week when we shared what we were experiencing at the Scaling New Heights convention.

This week . . . well, let’s just say it is a bit different.

Yet, I believe I can give you a further peek into Schulte and Schulte culture as well as information which can certainly prove to be useful to you as a construction contracting business owner.

Next time you head out to a convention in a city “far, far away” you’ll be better prepared for your Uber experience. (Go ahead and groan if you like. It isn’t my fault Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick named their company Uber.)

An uber number nerd

This story starts with Tonya making the (number-right and peace of mind-right) business decision to choose Uber as a transportation solution while attending the Scaling New Heights convention. The options were:

  • Driving to the destination – way too costly when “time” is thrown into the equation (and a consideration if parking may be difficult or if you’re unfamiliar with the city where you’ll be located)
  • Renting a car at the destination (parking and familiarity still possible problems)
  • Using Uber or Lyft

Notice “taxi” is not even a part of this number journey for both financial and ease-of-use considerations.

5 Uber tips

Number 1 – Know how you intend to make use of the Uber service. We knew we needed to be transported for three different reasons:

  1. To and from the airport
  2. Back and forth daily to the convention site from our Airbnb rental
  3. Excursions to other places we wanted to see while in our host city

Place your Uber “call for service” with time considerations in mind. Some of these destinations were time sensitive while others were not. (While we had only one time in which we were waiting longer than expected for the pick-up, it is worth noting it can happen.)

 

Number 2 – Greet your driver by name with a smile on your face. There are two reasons for doing this:

  • You’ll know the driver pulling near you is actually your driver (not one of the many who are also picking up riders near your location.)
  • It is always good to smile with the person who is providing you a service. Right?

Pay special attention to tip 3 – fun!

Number 3 – Have a good question in mind as a conversation starter. This takes away some of the awkwardness when you first enter the driver’s space. And, it is a fun way to pass the time on the way to your destination.

The question we asked each of our drivers was, “What is the longest distance you’ve taken an Uber passenger?”

In case you’re wondering, two of our drivers had taken passengers from Salt Lake City, Utah to Las Vegas, Nevada. Two more had driven from SLC to unnamed towns in Wyoming, and the one who won our unofficial contest had gone all the way to North Dakota and received a hefty tip in the bargain.

All the drivers, (even those with less than spectacular “long distance” travels) told us about their adventures.

Number 4 – Remember to tip your driver well. It is the nice thing to do. And,  Mom always said, “Be Nice!”

Number 5 – Talk to your accounting specialist about automating the recording process of the costs of your Uber rides.

Experience is valuable

It helps if you can think of your Uber ride as part of your experience. It also helps if you are willing to let the experience be less than pristine and spectacular, yet (perhaps) worthy of laughter and tale-telling when you arrive home. Our rides included:

One car with the rear passenger door caved in from an obvious auto accident. 😵

A new, shiny, and beautiful Mercedes Benz. 😎

An older and modest sedan which hadn’t been washed in quite some time. 😏

One ride in which we were pretty sure the diet of the driver emanated from his every pore in great wafts of (I’ve gotta say it) an unpleasant odor. 😣

A pickup truck. 😐

One minivan which we watched go to great lengths making U-turns and traffic maneuvers to get to the spot where we stood waiting. 😮

Mostly non-descript, yet clean and comfortable get-er-done vehicles. 😃

One more Uber experience

What follows is not our experience. This is the experience of one of our colleagues who shared this story with us one night as we dined with a group of (not so boring) accounting advisors.

As he told us:

“Last night, some of us went to dinner together, then I followed the others to an after-hours bar where I drank way too much. Knowing I was in no shape to try to get back to my hotel, I used my Uber app for a ride. When I got in the car, the driver asked me if I had put the correct address in when I ordered. I checked my phone and told him that was the correct address. He asked if I was ready to go. I let him know I was. He put the car in gear and pulled up about 10 feet, then said, ‘This is it, sir, you are at your hotel.’”

Our colleague told us after he and the driver had a good laugh, he gave the driver a substantial tip then exited to his hotel.

Perhaps, when we once again find ourselves using the services of an Uber driver, our question will be, “What is the Shortest distance you’ve taken an Uber passenger?” 😂

Wrapping up the Uber report – 5 tips

  1. Have a system in place to record your Uber expenses.
  2. Give yourself a time buffer when you need to be at your destination at a set time.
  3. Use a “question” which will break the ice with your drivers.
  4. Bring your good sense of humor to your ride experience.
  5. Remember it will be much more cost effective to fly rather than Uber to a destination a few states away. 😜

I hope you’ve enjoyed this light-hearted look at our Ubering experience. If my recollection is correct, we were in and out of a total of 16 different vehicles. Because #SNH19 was located at The Salt Palace we were able to walk to several different restaurants and even a delightful, two-story grocery store. Yet, it is our Uber experiences which tended to be uber fun and worthy of retelling.

 

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

 

5 Construction Takeaways from Archery

Construction Business lessons from Archery

5 Takeaways from Archery for your construction business

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

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

Construction Business Lesson One

As a sport, archery requires skills of:

  • precision
  • control
  • focus
  • repetition
  • determination

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

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

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

Construction Business Lesson Two

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

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

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

Construction Business Lesson Three

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

Maintain the proper equipment.

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

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

Construction Business Lesson Four

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

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

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

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

Construction Business Lesson Five

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Counting the Cost in Construction Accounting

Counting the cost in construction accounting.

Counting the Cost in Construction Accounting

Counting the Cost in Flood Waters

There is an interesting law here in Arizona which is known by the name, “Stupid Motorist Law.” It says something to the effect of “any motorist who becomes stranded after driving around barricades to enter a flooded stretch of roadway may be charged for the cost of their rescue.” Apparently, the law can be found in Arizona Revised Statutes section 28-910. Also, just as apparently, the law isn’t regularly enforced.

So, for those of us who don’t drive around barricades when the summer rains create raging rivers where before there were only dry creek beds (or simply dips in the road) it doesn’t mean much one way or the other. For those who do, it only means they won’t be charged by the state for their stupidity. Yet, they will still likely be “taxed” because of their poor decision.

  • Towing
  • Repair
  • Beyond repair
  • Missed time at work
  • Lost opportunities

And, don’t forget all that schplainen’ they’ll have to do with rescue workers. Not to mention spouses, parents, children, friends, insurance companies, and so on.

Counting the Cost in Words

Yet, being wise to the way of words, I would replace “stupid” with the word, “ignorant.” Here’s why – being stupid means you don’t have the brain cells to get the job done. Being ignorant means you haven’t as yet learned.

See the difference?

This article will help you understand it better if you’re ignorant of how the two are different.

Counting the Cost of Ignorance

And, just like the wayward, water plunging drivers there are some who are guilty of breaking the “Accounting Ignorance Law.”

And, what that looks like is, they don’t yet understand how they can be aided in growing their construction contracting business through correct use of their financials – and it is going to cost them.

Here is the deal. Average Joe Contractor isn’t the competition they need to be concerned about. It is the up and moving commercial construction contractor who has gotten savvier and more sophisticated. It also means the General Contractors (who are also more savvy) expect their subs to bring a better level of efficiency and expertise not only in the field, but also in the office.

This has led to higher expectations which makes the cost of not knowing what you’re doing with the financials much higher these days.

And its not just the competition or the GCs.

Counting the Cost in Construction Accounting

It’s the complexity of software, SaaS, apps, construction bookkeeping nuances, and so on.

One of the huge benefits of QuickBooks and integrated apps is how much information you can obtain from having all the correct input in all the correct places. Its job costing, bidding, accounts receivable management (with or without AIA style billings,) estimating, invoicing, timesheet data, reconciliation of balance sheets, WIP reports and supporting documentation, making appropriate bill payments, certificate of insurance management, project close-out documents management, and on and on.

What that leaves us with is that understanding (and using) all the great benefits you can get from QuickBooks and the supporting apps is more complex these days, and even more so now that you’re ready to Run With the Big Dogs.

So, my advice?

Don’t drive around the barricades!

And don’t leave your construction business accounting needs to wishful thinking or chance. It will cost you.

You can get in touch with us here or give us a call Toll Free: 866-629-7735.

Employee or Right-Hand Man

Employee or right-hand man. Growing a construction contracting business.

Employee or Right-Hand Man

Employee with more to offer

Last time we looked at the problems involved with finding Loyal Employees.  This time we’re going one step further and suggesting that finding a Right-Hand Man or Right-Hand Woman is paramount to developing a construction business with hutzpah.

And right up front, I will let you know, this isn’t a position for which you can advertise. “Right-Hand Man Needed” won’t fly.

Employee Right-Hand Man samples

Bill Gates – Steve Ballmer

Warren Buffett – Charlie Munger

Beethoven – Ferdinand Ries 

While you’re likely to easily recognize the first names in this list, the second names are less well known. There’s a reason for that. The person who fits the role of Right-Handedness has different (yet all important) qualities than the person who runs the show.

Yet, jump over to fiction and it is unthinkable to refer to one without referencing the other.

  • Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson
  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto
  • Han Solo and Chewbacca
  • Woody and Buzz Lightyear
  • Smokey and the Bandit
  • Batman and Robin

What the writers of fiction seem to understand is the dynamic and balance of “the main guy” and the “sidekick” as a unit.

Employee or much more

Remember, I said you won’t be able to advertise your need for a Right-Hand person. Yet, there are ways you can begin to explore concerning finding the “just-right” person to fill the position. It’s tricky and there are no magic bullets, yet it can (obviously) be done.

Look close to home – family members, long-term friends, and employees are all candidates. Or, it could be a serendipitous meeting in coffee shop or at a party. Just remember the word “serendipitous” is limiting.

This is where “spreading your vision” comes into play. Who do you know who already believes in you and what you’re doing? Is there someone who has already taken initiative to assist you whether or not they work for you? Know someone who could answer the questions about your construction business with almost as much ease as you do? In short – who cares?

As a side note — we’ve found that trying to force this role on someone who doesn’t care (even if they’re family or friend) is a bad move. Fair warning.

Beyond Employee

The bond which takes place between the construction contracting business owner and the Right-Hand person is invaluable when coming to obstacles or hurdles in the path. Here are a few traits you can look for when trying to choose a person to fill the roll of number two. Someone who:

  • Looks for the greater good and the best outcome.
  • Proves to have the synergy you need.
  • May look as if he or she plays an insignificant roll but who is actually a change-agent.
  • Can generate possibilities and alternatives.
  • Has distinct leadership qualities.
  • Is capable of maintaining the conscience of the business.
  • Helps facilitate the values and the vision of the company.
  • Has a powerful work ethic.
  • Can aid you in maintaining focus.
  • Shows ambition for your business to succeed.
  • Is trainable and is a trainer.
  • Can be disagreed with and is capable of disagreeing with you. (No Yes-Men need apply.)
  • Holds his challenges of your thoughts or actions for private moments.
  • Is a is a cooperator and collaborator.

It would be nice if the person you’ve thought of as a possible contender had all the above qualities or traits.

It would also be nice if ice didn’t melt in my Coca-Cola.

So, yeah, you aren’t likely to find Mr. or Ms. Perfect, yet that shouldn’t stop you from looking for someone who is likely to help you become a better construction contractor.

When it comes down to it

Be on the lookout for someone who can aid you in multiple capacities as he or she takes over the position of Right-Hand Person.

What other traits do you think would be important for your Right-Hand Man or Woman to have in connection with the way you run your commercial construction business? Add them to the list.

 

The goal at Schulte and Schulte has always been to provide the best service and most up-to-date information as possible to our clients. We know we’ve hung our hats on an industry which is cyclical. Therefore, we’re determined to do everything in our power to see to it that our clients stay the course.

We hope this article (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) is helpful in assisting our clients to build better building businesses. Want to know more about us? Get in touch here.

Are Loyal Employees a Thing of the Past?

Are Loyal Employees a Thing of the Past?

Loyal to what?

In the construction industry, in 2018, the idea of loyal employees has taken a beating. Loyalty has gotten into the workforce ring and taken a severe beating – then been kicked in the ribs just for good measure.

Lest you be tempted to lay this no-loyalty scenario at the doorstep of any particular generation — stop. Look back at the late 1950s when the seeds were already being planted. The seeds of distrust which began unraveling the employer and employee social contract. The fear of being given nothing more than a gold watch and a fare-thee-well from an employer was real. Years of service may not even be considered in the final goodbye.

Move up a couple of decades into the 1970s and notice the employees who are being “let go” before retirement age in some kind of down-sizing maneuver. A maneuver which may have been made to cut the cost of labor by bringing in a younger (and cheaper) butt to fill the seat. Or, a maneuver which answered more to profit than to relationships.

Loyal to the trade?

Now, let’s jump ahead to 2007. Yep. You know what happened here. The following economic downward spiral caused a lot of construction workers to jump ship. It wasn’t at all about whether or not one would remain loyal to an employer. Many construction industry employers became former employers and were themselves out looking for a job – in other industries.

Therefore, only a decade later the construction workforce (in the vernacular) “just ain’t what it used to be.”

Which is only one of the many reasons why finding people willing to put on the boots and pick up the tools of the construction trades is a daunting task. Asking these people to also be loyal to a specific employer is . . . well, difficult at best.

Loyal to the employer?

Still, there is the hope for employee loyalty. There is the desire to find a great crew, train them to be even better, and grow a dynamic construction contracting business which will serve your clients well.

Expecting loyalty from your crew comes at a high price – your loyalty to them. And we’re seeing a resurgence of this very tactic at work in construction companies across the nation. From large, long-lived firms to small, start-up construction businesses there are bosses in-the-know. Bosses who are rising to the occasion and learning more about their employees as well as more about how to be loyal to them. We’ve touched on the idea ourselves in this post and in a three-part series found here, here, and here.

The folks over at Forbes have more to say on the subject of Where Have All The Loyal Employees Gone?

This article from Entrepreneur, Change Is Good. Now, How to Get Employees to Buy In, is another good source for learning more about how to achieve a level of loyalty from employees.

Loyalty in the end

In conclusion, it seems there is truly an opportunity for those who are willing to put in the time and effort to create a working team of loyal employees. It won’t happen over night. It can happen with well planned small steps leading to loyalty that is mutual.

Help your people see your vision on a daily basis.

Give your team reason to believe in you as well as in your company.

Allow as much autonomy as possible as soon as possible. (Trust is a two-way street.)

 

The goal at Schulte and Schulte has always been to provide the best service and most up-to-date information as possible to our clients. We know we’ve hung our hats on an industry which is cyclical. Therefore, we’re determined to do everything in our power to see to it that our clients stay the course.

We hope this article (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) is helpful in assisting our clients to build better building businesses. Want to know more about us? Get in touch here.  

Mistakes are Costly, Coverups are Costlier

Mistakes happen. Own up to them to grow your construction business.

Mistakes are learning tools

Learn. Study. Improve. Grasp. Catch On.

There are numerous ways for us to learn. Making mistakes is one of them. At the bottom rung of the construction contracting mistake ladder we hope to learn to never again do the thing which turned out to be a mistake. Yet, there are more rungs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making us think it through.

Training us to not do similar things.

Teaching others to avoid the action.

Enlightening us concerning our skills level.

Revealing something we didn’t understand.

Letting us know some things are a lost cause.

Bringing us to be more compassionate toward others.

Giving us a heads-up concerning other possible actions

Spurring us to want to try new things in this or other areas.

Mistakes – the advantages

Asset. Blessing. Boon. Edge. Distinction.

Making a mistake is not advantageous. Yet, admitting you made a mistake is!

Plus, there are several ways you can use (admitted) mistakes to your advantage.

With your employees, subs, and even your clients you build trust when they see you are human, honest, and gutsy enough to step to the plate.

Certainly, a side effect of the “plate stepping” is you provide the example for risk-taking and open communication in your construction business. Plus, it simply makes you more approachable.

Therefore, admitting mistakes helps offset the negative feelings from those who’ve been affected. Some have had high hopes. Others feel their time has been wasted. Still others may think you’ve purposefully tried to “pull one over” on them. Getting things set straight puts relationships back in order and puts your construction contracting business in a better light.

One of the foremost aspects is it allows for quick correction, which (hello!) saves time and resources. Plus, it allows you the peace to stop defending a difficult or incorrect position.

So, your credibility as a leader is increased. Plus you provide concrete examples which reinforce critical aspects of your company culture: decisiveness, openness, honesty, integrity, and quick correction.

Mistake quotes

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Albert Einstein

“The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.” Theodore Roosevelt 

“The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct and learn from it.” Stephen Covey 

“A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying… that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” Alexander Pope

One more mistake quote

“In politics… never retreat, never retract… never admit a mistake.” Napoleon Bonaparte

Oh my! We think Mr. Bonaparte may have given some terrible advice. Furthermore, seems two former American presidents listened to him. Both made mistakes. Similarly, both were impeached for their parts in trying to cover up, not for the original mistake.

Made a Mistake? Say so

Acknowledge. Admit. Confess. Disclose. Make Known. Own up.

A few years back we lived in a house which had a house-long porch which cantilevered over the side of the small hill on which the house was built. If you looked straight down over the edge of the porch you could see the pathway which led to other portions of the property. Sounds pretty good, huh? Well the problem was, getting to that walkway was no easy task. The round about way of accessing the steep stairs which led to the path meant we typically only walked on that path when there was a direct purpose for doing so. Now, you have the setup and I’ll get on with the rest of the story.

Most note worthy, the porch was sound, the railings up to code, the danger-level low. Children (or adults for that matter) weren’t likely to go tumbling off. Yet, items – toys, cups, flatware, you-name-it – were easily tossed through the rails and over the side. Yeah, I know, you can already see where this is going. After many discussions with the small man-child who frequently “accidentally” let drop this and that I decided it was time to take more affirmative action.

Sure enough . . . I looked up from my book to see small man-child with his hand stuck through the rails ready to release the next item to the wilds below.

A mistake was about to be made

Therefore, I said his name then said, “If you drop that, I’m going to swat your butt.”

The little fingers let go. The cup plopped to the ground below. The man-child purposely stepped to a space directly in front of me, turned away from me, bent over and in the same motion pulled up his shirt making his tiny behind available for the swat.

Laughter was stifled, and minor swat was given.

So, owning up to your mistakes (and misdeeds) allows you to step forward, often leaving both the mistake and the subsequent consequence behind you.

 

In case you were wondering – yes, we’ve had to make a few mea culpa pleas. And yes, we’ve gotten better at serving our clients because of it. You can get in touch with us here.