Order Generosity Stability

Order Generosity and Stability during a crisis

Being a construction contractor has never been an easy job. Being a construction contractor in mid-April of the year 2020 – well, that’s another level of difficulty.

You’ve probably thought of a variety of outcomes concerning the end of the madness surrounding the current pandemic. You may even have a “best case” in mind as well as a “worst case.” The truth is this is not the time for false optimism, nor will fatalistic despair be of any use. As with many things in life, clear thinking must step to the fore.

The virtual noise surrounding Coronavirus can be deafening. It seems the “common people” are stepping up with opinions, suggestions, and diatribes; while politicians and scientists alike are shooting from the hip.

We presently find ourselves living in the “new normal” brought upon us by COVID – 19. And, even if you don’t have Coronavirus, my bet is you’re sick of it.

The principles of order, generosity, and stability are three things you can still maintain in your construction business. They are three means you can use to focus on clear thinking.

Order

It is up to you to bring a voice of reason to your employees and subs. You have the responsibility to provide reassurance as well as expectation. Finding new ways and new rhythms of accomplishing essential tasks helps keep order for you as well as your staff.

Although you may feel like Henry Kissinger, who, while Secretary of State, said, “Next week there can’t be any crisis. My schedule is already full,” you, like he, must carry on.

You may want to follow Warren Buffett’s advice when asked how to address one’s employees or other constituents during a crisis. “First,” he said, “state clearly that you do not know all the facts. Then promptly state the facts you do know. One’s objective should be to get it right, get it quick, get it out, and get it over.”

Your honesty and integrity will help those around you find order in the chaos.

Generosity

Now is not the time to become stingy. It isn’t only a matter of giving to others; it also a matter of not taking from others. For example, I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why some people felt it necessary to hoard toilet paper during a pandemic. Yet there are those who have done just that. To what end (pun probably intended), I don’t know.

Being generous has always been a way to remove negative thinking. Being generous allows you to get more out of life. This article, The 8 Biggest Benefits of Being Generous is worth the time to link over and read.

Being generous with those in your employ as well as others around you is a significant factor in maintaining and growing your construction business.

“You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” – Mother Teresa

Stability

Ask yourself, “What are my choices now?” By doing that, you refocus on the one thing you can control – your choices.

Think about knowledge sources.

One) Who do you know and trust who has the knowledge you can use? Call or text them. Learn what you can. Bring that information to those who can use it.

Here’s an example: I wondered if giving blood would be a good way to contribute. So, I sent a quick text to my cousin, who works in a management position for the American Red Cross.

My question: Is there a blood shortage?

His answer: There was a shortage about 3 weeks ago. However, through national appeal that gap was closed. Additionally, blood utilization as a whole is Significantly down. This is due to elective surgery being down. Also, since people are at home there are fewer car accidents and other major injuries. So at present there is not really a blood shortage.

Two) When seeking online information, be aware of spoken as well as unspoken agendas. You can breakdown the critical part and share it with your team.

Three) Bring the conversation (even the one that is only in your mind) to ways of providing value and serving others. Your attitude and enthusiasm are contagious. And, you know what that means!

“Genuine hope is not blind optimism. It is hope with open eyes, which sees the suffering and yet believes in the future.” – Jurgen Moltmann

 

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

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

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

Leadership – Keep learning

Leadership in construction means continual learning

Leadership means continual learning

You’re a construction contractor.

By default, that means you’re a leader.

Through reason, that means you want to be the best leader you can be.

Because of experience, you know there are things you can do to improve your leadership ability.

In the first part of this four-part series of articles concerning leadership in the construction world, the subject is improving your leadership skills through continuous learning.

Therefore, making time for the hard work that continual learning requires is perhaps the most important step in becoming a great leader.

Resolve to have a learning attitude

So, once you’ve resolved to have a learning attitude, there are actions you can take to make it happen. Among them are:

  • Determine to improve your leadership ability constantly.
  • Take charge of your learning.
  • Spend time with others who are eager to learn.
  • Remain aware of the multiple learning opportunities surrounding you.
  • Be willing to make mistakes and learn from them.
  • Remind yourself how learning will help you achieve your leadership goals.
  • Set new learning goals regularly.

Walter D. Wintle, in 1900, published a poem titled “Thinking” and it sums up the attitude question quite well.

If you think you are beaten, you are;

If you think you dare not, you don’t;

If you want to win but think you can’t;

It’s almost a cinch you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost;

For out of the world we find

Success begins with a person’s will;

It’s all in a state of mind.

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger and faster human,

But sooner or later the people who win

Are the ones who think they can.

Set aside time for learning

Becoming a better leader means continually growing your leadership skills.

For instance, it could mean you enroll in a class and show up regularly. However, it could take setting aside time on your calendar marked “learning time.” Be prepared to learn by allowing for learning time. There are lots of ways to increase your leadership knowledge. Here are some of them:

  • Follow leadership blogs
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Take a class concerning leadership (online or in-person)
  • Read magazines or journals
  • Study leaders that you admire
  • Volunteer at your industry association, a club, your place of worship, or elsewhere
  • Teach others what you know (thereby improving your skills and insight)
  • Attend seminars, workshops, or courses

Learn as you go

Even though it is a good idea to set aside time for learning leadership skills, there is also merit in being aware of spontaneous learning opportunities.

It begins with being a good listener. Therefore, you’ll do well to read this article from The Positivity Blog that offers ten simple steps for being a better listener.

Of course, learn from your mentors and role models. But don’t leave it there. Here are a few others who may have something to teach you about leadership.

  • Your employees and subs
  • The partners in your business
  • General contractors or their representatives
  • Your spouse or companion
  • The children in your life
  • Friends
  • Your next-door neighbors
  • The guy or gal who cuts your hair

See what I mean? Listen to those who have something to teach you about leadership, no matter where you encounter them. For example, in your front yard or at the grocery store.

What’s next?

There is more to say concerning leadership in the construction industry. The upcoming articles on this topic are:

Practice composure

Develop an eye for the big picture

Inspire others

 

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

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

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

Organizing Time in the Construction World

Organizing time is about organizing time well.

Organizing Time is about organizing time

When you find yourself running from one business fire to another all day long, there’s a good chance you didn’t take TIME to organize your time. From calendars to to-do lists and everything between, there are plenty of time organizing tools.

  • Calendars
  • Clocks
  • Watches
  • Apps
  • SaaS
  • Timers
  • Checklists
  • To-do lists

In this article by John Rampton on Forbes, you’ll find twenty time management tips. 

All of the tips are valid and can make organizing your time easier. Of course, there are tons of other lists concerning time management out there as you’ll easily see if you google something like “time management tips.”

Some are more enlightening than others.

None are a bit of good if all you do is read them and move on. You must act if you hope to manage your time better.

The rule for organizing time

One of the tips Rampton suggests is to follow the 80-20 rule. It is this suggestion that supersedes other time organizing strategies. Get this one right, and you’ll find it is easier to use the tactics described in the multitude of time organizing lists.

You probably know this rule as the Pareto Principle. And, at its base point, it is a principle, not a rule. There could be danger in assuming only 20% is enough to remedy all situations.

For example, knowing that 80% of a bridge is built in the first 20% of the allotted time doesn’t negate the fact that the entire bridge must be built to be useful.

In the final analysis, the idea is to use this principle to determine what activities generate the most results, then give those activities your appropriate attention.

Finding your 20

Take the time to think about the work you do on a day-to-day basis and ask yourself questions like this:

  • Who are the 20% of staff who manage to interrupt my day 80% of the time?
  • Which 20% of the general contractors I work with provide 80% of my revenue?
  • Which 20% of my routine tasks deliver 80% of my effectiveness?
  • Who are the 20% of employees who help me with 80% of the work I delegate?
  • Which 20% of tasks completed will solve 80% of the problems I have to face today?
  • What are the 20% of my construction company’s jobs that gave me 80% of my satisfaction last year?

You’ve probably noticed none of these questions are simple, nor are they easily answered. It isn’t as if you can write a “find my 20” on your to-do list one day and check it off at some point in the day.

Finding your 20 is a habit you build over time, and it takes practice to see the benefits.

Tip: Block out time on your calendar (yeah, that time organizing tool) to spend time on finding your 20. Some find it useful to choose a short time frame daily. Others prefer a longer time frame weekly.

Ask more questions

It pays to remember that 80-20 is a guide, not a rule, a principle, not a law. Plus, 80-20 may change proportions somewhat. It can be 90-10 or even 70-30, yet the concept remains the same.

Here are more questions for you to consider:

  • Which 20% of our systems are responsible for 80% of the errors we come up against?
  • What 20% of the mistakes we make on job sites are responsible for 80% of our call-backs?
  • Which 20% of our vehicle loading procedures are causing 80% of misloading problems?

Or, you can turn this around and ask this type of question:

Which 80% of tasks do I complete day-to-day that only give me 20% of my good results?

What are 80% of our employee benefits that only help 20% of our employees?

What are 80% of our overhead costs which contribute to 20% of our results?

As a construction contractor, you have a lot of information and a lot of tasks you need to stay on top of constantly. You can see that taking the time to master the habit of using the 80-20 principle will pay off.

If you’ve gotten this far, I guess that you know you need help in your time management strategy. There is no better time than right now to begin. Use these five tactics to become better at time management.

  1. Mark 80-20 thinking time on your calendar. Keep it sacred.
  2. Make sure others you trust know you’re on this journey.
  3. Get someone to hold you accountable to stick with it.
  4. Watch for small victories and note them.
  5. Teach someone else to use these principles.

If that last step seems odd, remember there is no better way to learn about a subject than to teach it to someone else.

Two last thoughts

Managing time well is a tool used by successful business people in all industries. And, managing your time with purpose is a skill set which you can master through practice.

 

This is the second article in a four-part series dealing with organizing your construction business.  To read the first part, The Hidden Strategy for Construction Subcontractors, link over. Upcoming in the series are Technically it is About Organizing the Tech and Organize Your Construction Office Space.

 

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

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

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

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.