Change Your Construction Business

Change happens in your construction business. Be in control.

“Change” is not a naughty word

While “change” is not a naughty word, it can be as difficult to deal with as the result of a two-year-old wiping the contents of his diaper on the wall and curtains. It stinks. It wasn’t in the plan. And, it can make you wonder why you got involved in the first place.

You and your grown son will have either forgotten the incident or find a reason to laugh about it all those years later. Poop happens. And, so does change.

Following are three categories of dealing with change – planning for change, adapting to change, or stagnating. Keep in mind; you can’t be actively involved in either of the first two if you’re inactively involved in the final category.

Plan change   

We see our clients and other construction contractors dealing with a regular set of business growth issues.

For example, they want to have a higher profit margin, develop a strong management team, retain good employees, be organized, and build or improve their operating systems.

And, it is obvious, “change” is the only way those issues can be addressed.

Smart contractors understand they must invest, in order to make the changes they want to see. Some ways they may invest are:

  • New tech
  • Training for themselves or employees
  • Consultants
  • Quality new hires
  • Service providers

Savvy contractors understand the investments they make may involve cash, time, or both. Further, they understand the value of their investments.

Adapt to change

Another skill great construction contractors have is adjusting or adapting to changes they may have missed in the planning stages or somewhere along the way. For example; the weather, new competitors, the economy, and new or different expectations from clients.

While this article is titled, Startup Pivots That Changed the World, don’t let the word “Startup” get in your way. The list includes companies which started in 1889 (Nintendo) and 1939 (HP®) as well as others. It is a fun look at how others have dealt with the changes necessary to get them to their present status. Some have changed so much we are astonished at their roots.

Each of them can give you a jumping-off point for thinking about changes you may want to make or changes which might come knocking on your door when you least expect it.

Stagnate

Definition:

stag·nate /ˈstaɡˌnāt/ cease developing; become inactive or dull.

Synonyms:

become stagnant, do nothing, stand still, be sluggish, lie dormant, be inert, languish, decline, deteriorate, fall

The world will continue to change with or without us.

Um, I wish there was something more I could say about this category. I can’t. You understand.

Final word

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often” – Winston Churchill

 

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

 

Advisory Board for Construction Contractors

Advisory Boards help with key decisions

Advisory Board for Construction Contractors

Advisory Board explained

Before we go further, there is a distinction to be made. Don’t confuse an advisory board with a Board of Directors.

A board of directors is made up of people who manage the CEO and formally approve all key decisions of the company.

An advisory board, on the other hand, is an informal group of mentors, guides, or service providers who each have useful knowledge or expertise to bring to the table. So informal, they may never be in the same room at the same time. Generally speaking, these are the folks you meet with individually.

Advisory Board early stages

It isn’t as if you can put out an add which reads, “Board Level Advisors Needed.”

The development of your advisory board is a process – and it takes time. Perhaps in the early stages of your business you were developing an advisory board without knowing it. You looked close to home. A spouse, a parent, a friend, even a friend of a friend may have been where you turned.

Then your commercial construction business grew, and you realized there was even more you didn’t know you didn’t know. You had to widen your circle of trusted advisors.

And, when you get down to it, that is the best way to understand the concept of advisory board. These are the folks who you can count on to help you and your business grow and succeed. They are your trusted advisors – they become your informal advisory board.

Advisory Board brick-wall method    

Often, the way your board is developed is through the brick-wall method. You’re humming along just fine – then you come up against a brick-wall and are unsure of the next method or the next action to take. You go looking for someone who can give you the answer, solve the problem, or simply provide you a next-step alternative. The following is in no particular order, nor necessarily complete, yet provides you with a “possibilities” list of the types of individuals you may wish to add to your advisory board.

  • Attorney
  • Tax Preparer
  • Coach or Business Development Advisor
  • Outsource providers such as:
    • Human Resource Expert
    • Accountant (that’s us!)
    • Virtual Assistant
  • Operating Systems Advisor
  • Marketing Professional

Set your expectations

Your advisors help you in a number of different ways. They can guide you in a strategic direction and help with key decisions. Not only are they a sounding board, they can also be an excellent source of ideas. And, one hidden quality many overlook is your advisory board members’ ability to provide network connections.

Some qualities to look for

  • They’re available to you for continuing guidance or one-off questions.
  • They bring specific skills or knowledge you are missing.
  • They have know-how which increases your odds of success.

 

Wondering if you should include a construction-centric accounting firm as part of your advisory board? Check out this article to see if the time is right.

We provide Accounting and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors. So you can Run With the Big Dogs. 866-629-7735

Social and Accounting Socially Speaking

Social and accounting in the real world of accounting

Social and Accounting Socially Speaking

Social and accounting — really

Can you believe social and accounting does go together? If you think of the “accounting person” as the one who sits in the dark, back room pushing numbers around with frantic fingers and furrowed brow you probably missed the announcement.

Attention: Today’s leading scientists announce bean-counters have been found with beating hearts and funny bones. Scientists pointed out they knew the bean-counter they found would have a head for numbers, they were only surprised when they came upon the beating heart and funny bone. More info to follow.

OK, so there were no scientists involved in the taking of the accompanying photo or the story which follows. Yet, we’re pretty sure if they were around, they would be intrigued.

Further proof? Recently, we came across this older article from Money which is titled, “Our 15 Favorite Accountants from TV & the Movies” In their opening sentence they use the hyphenated word “numbers-cruncher” with nary a qualm. They go on to say, “. . .the accountants on screen aren’t the boring automatons they’re stereotyped as in real life:” Some of the movies and TV shows mentioned made us laugh, while others made us cringe.

Therefore, let’s face it, stereotypes often do have some basis in real life. And, we’ve seen a few who fit the stereotype to a T. Yet, there are others who are so far removed from the stereotype, outsiders looking in might think they’re in a different line of business altogether.

Social and accounting in real life

Let’s start with social in the traditional sense. We’ll get to social media in the next section.

Here are some of the ways the members of our team are social. Each of us has different ways we make it to the list below. While all of us do some of these things, none of us does all these things. 😉 We:

  • Host and attend parties
  • Join organizations which mean something to our personal lives
  • Become members of associations or groups which have to do with our business
  • Attend accounting conferences
  • Speak at conventions having to do with accounting
  • Show up for family reunions as well as friend reunions
  • Sell Pampered Chef on the side
  • Take our grandchildren on outings
  • Go to concerts, the theater, amusement parks, and other fun events
  • Frequent food truck events
  • Visit “networking” events
  • Bob up at weddings, showers, baptisms, funerals, quinceañeras, and bat mitzvahs (Well, I checked, and none of us has ever been invited to a bat mitzvah but would attend if invited. Just sayen’)
  • Show up at sporting events
  • Have lengthy visits on the front porch with the neighbors
  • Take the kiddos to their extra-ciricular classes and practices (and chat with the other parents)
  • Do “girl’s night out”
  • Play poker at “guy’s night out” (but, we don’t call it “guy’s night out” because that would just be silly)
  • Invite friends over just to play board and card games
  • Attend church regularly
  • Go to homeschool group park days and field trips
  • Lead a monthly meet-up group of accounting and bookkeeping business owners

There’s probably more, but you get the picture.

Social and accounting online

Everything from our website to our social media channels and our business interactions are part of our social picture. And yes, if you’re wondering, that includes email, Zoom meetings, text messages, and phone calls.

Just like real life socializing, every encounter comes with varying expectations and a range of outcomes. For example, in our personal lives, we understand that if we attend a live theater production, we can’t expect to have meaningful conversation during the performance. And, if we’re at a family reunion we’re not likely to find a plethora of potential clients. (Of course, if Uncle George mentions his neighbor, the owner of a painting business, is looking for someone who offers advisory board level counsel and accounting expertise, we’re not going to ignore him. 😉)

The social media channels we use for Schulte and Schulte are noted at the bottom of this page. Some are put to better use than others, yet all figure in to some facet of what we’re presently doing or where we expect to improve in the near future.

Using Social for our Accounting business

It has taken us a while to get some basics sorted out concerning how and why we use the various aspects of “being social” online. Having said that, I hasten to add, we use some channels better than others and know we have room for improvement.

Our elemental foundation can be found in our “be” attitude. We’re determined to Be:

  • gracious and kind
  • knowledgeable
  • ourselves

Next, we put a lot of thought into what our audience (commercial construction contractors) might want to hear from us. It falls into three categories which many marketing gurus say are the only things clients and potential clients want to see and hear. They are the three “Es” of social.

Enlighten ‘em. This is where we provide tips, tricks, or historical info; include inspirational thoughts or quotes; give shout outs to other service providers; celebrate our firm’s milestones; tell about workshops, classes, webinars, podcasts our readers may wish to attend or listen to.

Educate ‘em. Here, we teach how to do a particular process; teach the “whys” of what we do; provide information about important individuals from our niche’s circle; teach about tools of the trade; answer FAQs; tell about conventions or workshops we attend; give bits of our firm’s story; correct common misconceptions about virtual accounting and back-office services.

Entertain ‘em. Then, we showcase the personality of our business; share info about a book, product, or service others offer; be funny; show pics of our workspaces; use customer spotlights or interviews; include seasonal pics or topics; provide quick facts or stats.

Oh yeah, none of our three “Es” must remain exclusive. In other words, they can stand alone, have only two show up, or include elements from all three.

Social and accounting – knowing where you are

In some channels we hang out more with our peers, in others we are more directly involved with our potential clients. For example, on Twitter, the “audience” is mostly made up of fellow accounting professionals. On Instagram the folks we follow and are followed by are more likely to be construction business owners. 

When you know “where you are” you can adjust your behavior accordingly. Just as you wouldn’t spend your time at a wedding trying to find potential clients you shouldn’t spend loads of marketing time in your “peer” channel. While it’s never wrong to allow your peers to know what it is you do, it is always wrong to expect your peers to buy (what they don’t need) from you.

9 tips for getting the most from your best social marketing channel:

  1. Know your target market
  2. Address their needs
  3. Demonstrate your knowledge
  4. Keep ranting to a minimum (better yet, rant elsewhere)
  5. Engage (that means respond to your commenters and like and comment on other people’s posts)
  6. Share information about people, services, and products which is useful to your audience (be sure you know your audience – it isn’t your peers, remember this is your marketing channel)
  7. Give credit where credit is due (who helped, who was part of the team?)
  8. Show up (regularly)
  9. Toss in tidbits of random information now and then just for the fun of it

Yes, we’re number-crunchers and bean-counters. And, socially we’re more adept than our stereotype might predict. 😎

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 lighten your back-office and accounting burden. 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.

Instagram and the Construction Contractor

Instagram is a great platform for construction contractors to use for marketing

Instagram? Why?

Before we get into the whats, hows, and wherefores of using Instagram to market your construction contracting business, let’s talk about the why. It isn’t likely in today’s economy that you’re too worried about finding new clients. I recently heard it described this way; “The way you get new clients today is to answer the phone.” Yep, the construction industry is swinging along nicely, thank you!

Why spend time and energy getting the word out when you’re so doggone busy?

It’s hard to market when you’re busy.

I know. I get it.

Yet, it becomes a great deal harder to market when you’re desperate and low on funds.

There is a very real chance that soon, and I mean very soon, things can change. And you don’t want to be “that guy.” You know, the guy who was so busy he didn’t take time to let his future potential clients know he even exists.

It’s busy now, but . . .

This article from Forbes has a scary headline, The Next Recession Might Be Worse Than The Great Depression, yet actually hedges a bit toward the end, mentioning there are differences of opinion.

What the author seems to understand is, crystal balls (even those backed by historical evidence and personal experience) sometimes crack or fog up.

What doesn’t have a question mark attached to it are the opening words of the article, “The Next Recession.” The economy is cyclical. It goes up. It comes down.

Another article from Money has much the same to say about the possibility that things won’t be looking so good in just a year or two. And this article uses the construction industry as an indicator of the slow down ahead.

Time to sit up and pay attention.

Back to Instagram

You have a multitude of platforms to use when it comes to marketing. And, our recommendation is you take advantage of as many of them as you can. Yet, today I’m focusing on one in particular, and I have a reason for doing so. Instagram is both simple and sophisticated at the same time.

Under the simple column you can include these words. It is:

  • Visual
  • Quick
  • Mobile
  • And it’s easy to use

Looking at the sophisticated side. It:

  • Provides value to your present and potential clients
  • Helps your clients stay engaged
  • Provides a means for your company to stay relevant
  • Allows you to interact with like-minded business owners

A funny thing happened on my way to Instagram

Because I get to wear the content creation and curation hat around here, part of my job includes doing lots of research. And, during the course of that research I kept hearing construction contractors mention that their business was boosted by their use of Instagram. What? Are you kidding me?

I thought Instagram:

Couldn’t possibly work for service-based businesses (like construction or bookkeeping)

Would likely have a hidden cost associated with obtaining professional photographs

Must make it difficult if not impossible to measure the marketing results

Had (at best) a slim chance of reaching our target market

Would take up too much of my time

What I found

I was wrong on all counts!

Now, let’s pause for a minute so I can throw in this little disclaimer. I don’t know very much about using Instagram. I’m learning. There are lots of things I’m probably doing wrong. There are tons of things I plan to get better at doing.

Yet, with all that said, we’ve already (in only a few weeks of using Instagram) had numerous contacts from folks in the construction subcontracting industry who are interested in getting in on what we have to offer. We presently have a waiting list of contractors who desire our services and contacted us here.

The opportunity you have

When you give a bit of your time to posting on Instagram, there are numerous things Instagram gives back to you. Just a few of them include:

  • Get your logo and brand seen
  • Allow your target market to see your service in action (pictures or videos of “Ned” painting, hammering, moving supplies into place, and so on)
  • Let your present and potential clients get to know your team (events, parties, promotions, awards)
  • Show folks the before and after of your jobs
  • Promote the differentiator which sets you apart from the competition

Further thoughts about the use of the Instagram platform

Think of using Instagram as a part of your long-term marketing strategy.

Start using it while it is still a viable free platform.

Take a class, read about it, or learn by doing – Just Get Started.

Do you use Instagram?

Are you a user of Instagram? If you are, let us know. We would like to see what you’re up to. Oh yeah, if you want to see what we have kicken’ over on the IG page check us out here.

Change Orders

how to deal with construction change orders

how to deal with construction change orders

In a perfect world war, divorce, and change orders wouldn’t exist. Sorry, we live in an imperfect world. As for war and divorce – I got nutten. Yet, I can provide some information concerning how to deal with the inevitable change orders that are going to arise during many construction projects.

Change order basics

Construction change orders are used for altering a construction contract. They are contract documents both parties agree to, signifying they understand there is a change to the original agreement. Further, a change order defines the costs and time factors which will affect and alter the original construction contract. That being said, it is well to develop a proactive change order management strategy.

The first way to diminish the use of change orders is to create the best initial contract. And, because unforeseen conditions, designer error or omission, or a change of heart can all be starting points for change orders it will serve you well to have a formal change order request process addressed in your original contract.

Building your change order process

These 5 steps are a good foundation for building your change order process.

  1. Develop the timeframe requirements concerning initiating a change order request

 

  1. Determine what specific information and documentation will be required

 

  1. Note who the authorized agents will be concerning the approval of the change order

 

  1. Lay out how communication between all parties involved will be handled

 

  1. Negotiate terms concerning scope, costs, and timeframe

It is also a good idea to let your clients know that submitting a change order request does not immediately cause work to change. There can very well be time involved in your research concerning the costs of labor and materials as well as other factors.

Other change order considerations

If one phase of the construction must be torn out in order to accommodate the requested changes the costs and time constraints are likely to be considerable. That is probably the easy part for your client to understand.

What they may not know is the other costs you’ll be considering concerning what must be changed. I asked our team here at Schulte and Schulte to give me some ideas concerning what monetary factors you, the construction contractor need to consider when negotiating a change to your original contract.

Depending on which trade you’re a part of, all or only some of these items may be factors.

  • Labor
  • Materials
  • Equipment usage
  • Restocking fees
  • Shipping costs
  • Taxes

Be sure to include each item in your calculations concerning the costs associated with the change.

Change order forms

You can get a general idea about a change order form here.  Of course, this site offers this disclaimer should you choose to use their form. “The forms on this site are provided ‘As-Is.’ By using these forms you agree that you are using them at your own risk. Most of the free forms are not prepared by an attorney and may need substantial modification.”

You can see another example of what your change order form could contain here.

Better yet, (and, this is what we recommend) if you’re using Knowify, there is a simple way to deal with the change order form. Check out the video here.

We’re able to provide information concerning the use of Knowify in your construction accounting process as well as your change order process. Get in touch here or give us a call 480-442-4032 or 866-629-7735.

Oops, I Made a Mistake

Customer or client? How to know the difference.

Customer or client? How to know the difference.

Client or Customer, what is the difference?

You’re a construction contractor or service provider and you do business with other folks. What do you call them?

Recently, it was brought to my attention that I have frequently, in the past, referred to those folks for whom you provide services as customers when I should have been using the word clients. My first thought was, “What’s the diff?” When I dug deeper I learned there is a difference, and it is worth paying attention.

First, I picked up quick definitions from Dictionary.com. This is what they say about each word:

Customer – a person who purchases goods or services from another; buyer; patron.

Client – a person or group that uses the professional advice or services of a lawyer, accountant, advertising agency, architect, etc. 

Merriam-Webster offers up even more information concerning the definition of client. They say:

1 : one that is under the protection of another : dependent

2 : a person who engages the professional advice or services of another

Not so subtle

Before I began digging into the definitions I thought that any difference would be rather subtle and not worth concern. Turns out, I was wrong. Aside from the fact that the Dictionary.com definition for client requires more words than the definition for customer, there is the blaring difference found in the word professional. Tack on to that difference the word advice and you can see where this is leading.

Professional advice

In almost every instance of the dealings between you and your clients there is a factor known as professional advice. Then consider — your clients are under your protection.

The biggest difference lies between companies who sell to customers and those who serve clients. Clients buy your advice and solutions personalized to their specific needs. 

Building building relationships

Building relationships in the building business means those whom you serve are clients. If, in the past, you’ve made the same mistake I’ve been making concerning the use of the word customer as opposed to client, you may want to join me in using the proper word in its proper place. There’s a good chance you and your employees will be more likely to think in terms of providing better service when you understand the relationship angle. Besides that – your clients will appreciate it.

Want to know more about being a client of Schulte and Schulte? You can call us toll free at 866-629-7735 or get in touch here.

You Know You Want Excellent Employees

Great employees for your construction contracting business.

Great employees for your construction contracting business.

Chances are, you as a construction contractor, look for people who show up on time, whose appearance cleans up well, who protect their work environment, and who manage themselves in a professional manner. You want people who can see your company vision, who understand where the bread and butter come from (your customers,) and who take pride in their work.

Do you know what excellent employees want?

Knowing what your people want will take you far in building that team of excellent employees.

In short, your team will be built because they are able to see . . .

What is in it for them in the short term.

What is in it for them in the long haul.

Yes, an excellent employee will want you to be successful in as much as that success is also pouring into their own success container. Most people want to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves. Being able to say, “I work for such-n-such construction company!” with enthusiasm and pride is a value-added part of the picture.

What is in it for them in the short term

A paycheck. From the newest laborer to your right-hand-man, everyone who is in your employ wants and needs to be paid.

Yet, that doesn’t necessarily translate into they want to get paid the highest amount available for their sector of the industry. There are lots of factors at play. For instance, your benefit package may trump contractor Joe Schmoe’s higher hourly wage. Or, it could be your fleet of well cared for and well stocked service trucks will give your service staff a feeling of wellbeing and company pride.

Beyond the paycheck, there are other minimum requirements your team will see as necessary to keep coming back day after day. As a matter of fact, even if you do have the highest pay package in your industry, if you have supervisors who are ill equipped for managing people you’re likely to lose good hands.

Good employees want to know they have a “good fit” with a growing company.

Everyone wants genuine pats-on-the-back in whatever form that takes place, from actual physical pats to other ways of being recognized for their contribution.

In the short term, employees want to know it is a fun place to work, with fellow employees as well as management in good relationships with one another.

What is in it for them in the long haul

The best employees will be looking at what being employed with your construction firm offers them in the long haul. While you may not yet be able to offer all the following items, this is a good list of benefits to be building toward as you grow your company. As soon as you’re financially able, consider adding more attractive benefits for your employees. Here are a few items for you to consider:

  • Merit based awards or bonuses
  • Life insurance
  • Insurance covering medical, dental, and vision needs
  • Vacation time
  • Paternity leave
  • Bereavement time
  • Personal days off
  • Vehicle or vehicle allowance
  • Ongoing on-the-job and off-site training
  • Family and corporate retreats
  • Community stewardship

What good employees look like

Usually the guys and gals in the field like working with their hands, and being able to work outdoors. The folks in the office enjoy being indoors and often enjoy solving the latest “puzzle” of the day. All of them likely want to know where their boundaries are, they like working to a schedule (even when they sometimes fuss about it.)

Some will enjoy working with computer applications. Others will be glad when they’re allowed to take initiative, to be included in problem solving, are allowed to manage information, or are allowed to manage others. Most prefer to work in organized spaces (even those who must be taught how that comes about.) The best employees will take the time to keep up to date on industry trends and developments.

And, your very best employees will come with the character trait that always take pride in work well done.

Need more excellent employees?

Are you in need of good employees? Consider using what you’ve learned here when writing your next ad. Oh, and one more thing – forget about using the term “competitive salary” in your ads. Here’s why – from someone who (delightfully) calls herself The Evil HR Lady.

 

Not “If” – Rather “When” Something Goes Wrong on Your Construction Site

 

 

If you’re a construction contractor who hasn’t experienced anything go wrong on one of your projects, you’re either brand new to the biz or you’re not being honest with yourself. Things go wrong.

The wrong size gizmos were ordered. Your top hand falls and is injured. The weather is playing havoc with the job site. Your supplier is totally out of the widgets you must have today (and won’t be able to get them in anytime soon.) Change orders are raining down on you.

Turns out a mistake was made

For many mistakes made on a construction job what is often required is stepping to the plate and explaining any mistakes or delays to your customer. This gives you the added advantage of being able to tell what you plan to do to that will fix or make up for the problem area. Being upfront and honest concerning the problem adds to the ability your client has to put trust in you to complete the project for them.

Even when there has been a natural disaster you can stay ahead of the rebuild game through planning and preparation. Construction Executive offers these valuable tips concerning taking steps to minimize operational downtime after a natural disaster.

Still, there are ways you can help to avoid some of the common problems found on construction sites and in construction businesses.

Steps to mitigating risk

Be certain your contract covers all the details including who is responsible for what

Be sure to include information concerning how change orders will affect both the dollar amount as well as the time frame for the project.

Purchase the best insurance

Some things to consider are, general liability, workers’ compensation, commercial auto insurance, business owners insurance, project specific coverage, environmental legal liability, contractors errors and omissions insurance.

Hire and train your staff well

Build safety training into the routine of how your construction company operates. You can’t tack on the idea of safety training as an afterthought or a “once in a while” meeting that takes place following an accident. Putting safety at the top of your list of ways your construction company benefits both your employees as well as your clients is a sound way to keep the risk factor in control.

Establish formal policies and procedures concerning risk management

Identify the hazard, assess the extent of the risk, provide measures to control the risk and manage any residual risk. This article from Capterra offers much information concerning the identification and control of risks.

Develop relationships with more than one supplier

Having an excellent relationship with your suppliers is very advantageous as this article from Entrepreneur points out. And as the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. While you may get the best deals and the fastest service from one special supplier, having more than one source is an excellent step to avoiding the risk of supply failure.

Join industry related associations and build relationships with others in your trade

Knowing you have a trust-worthy fellow tradesman who can step into the gap when your job is at a breaking point is a balm worthy of taking time to achieve. Of course, you’ll be there for someone else when they need help also.

Establish an emergency fund

From natural disasters to broken down vehicles there is always something which hasn’t been anticipated and which will cause problems or delays on your jobs. Having funds reserved just for these types of emergencies can be the one thing that will save your construction contracting business from going under.

What now?

Considering all the above, it is understandable that construction risk management is a tough nut to crack. You need all the help you can get when you are dealing with risk in construction. We, at Schulte and Schulte are here to help you gain the traction you need and are prepared to help you take the necessary steps to establish and maintain the emergency fund you’ve always wished you had but didn’t think you had the dollars for. We’ll show you how.

Call today 866-629-7735 or get in touch here.