The Game is Afoot

Construction contractors must be ready as the game is afoot.

Things aren’t what they used to be

The reaction to the Coronavirus pandemic has caused shifts in buying habits, consumer expectations, and even workplace practices.

Therefore, the construction industry has experienced and will continue to experience impacts on operations.

These impacts may include:

  • equipment, and supply chain disruptions
  • financing restrictions or cash flow shortages
  • permit delays or restrictions on new permits
  • schedule setbacks
  • workforce interruptions

And likely, reduced productivity. For example, on-site health and safety procedures will cause a change in processes and systems. Enhanced sanitary measures, a continuation of social distancing, and staggering of employee or subcontractor work schedules will probably be a part of the scene.

“Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.” – Ernest Hemingway

I think I can, I think I can

Now, it is imperative to think about what you can do, not what you can’t do.

I’m not talking about modeling after The Little Engine That Could because Shel Silverstein pointed out quite successfully in his rebuttal poem, Little Blue Engine, that “THINKING you can just ain’t enough!”

But, having the right attitude and a good plan will make a difference in how you approach new situations and how you deliver your services.

“Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage.” – Victor Kiam

And, the game is afoot

The folks over at Writing Explained, tell us what “The game is afoot” means. Their definition, “Something has started,” is a good start. But it is the sentence following the definition I find most helpful. “People usually say this when something exciting is happening.”

And you must admit, leaving time-out and moving into what lies ahead is exciting. Yes, the game is afoot.

Three imperatives for upcoming days are:

  1. Adapt and Adjust
  2. Coordinate and Cooperate
  3. Document and Communicate

None of these ideas are new to the construction contracting scene, but each takes on more importance as we move into a post COVID – 19 economy.

“Things turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out.” – John Wooden  

Stepping out

The recommendation from the folks here at The Profit Constructors is to think lean, think fast, and think tech-savvy.

 

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

Technically it is About Organizing the Tech

Organizing technology

Tech is a wild and wooly beast that can be tamed. It really must be tamed if you’re to survive in the construction industry. And, taming tech means getting it organized in ways that serve you rather than overwhelm you.

When you think about the tools tech has altered, enhanced, or replaced, you’ll get a better idea of how important it is to use the organizing mantra, “A place for everything and everything in its place” even in the tech world.

For example, do you look for the phonebook when you need to find a new supplier, or do your fingers dance across the keys?

When you realize a change must be made quickly on a job site, do you jump in the truck and head that way, or do you make a phone call?

When tech is used properly, everything from how the progress photos are analyzed to how the numbers end up in the ledger columns has moved from slow and tedious to fast and insightful

The bottom line, getting your tech organized has the potential to make your construction business more productive and profitable.

Getting Productivity Tools Organized

Even for the “organizationally challenged,” there is a tendency among us humans to want to find patterns, sequences, and systems. You’ve probably heard it expressed like this, “There’s got to be a better way.” Or like this, “Someone ought to fix this mess.”

At first, I determined to organize the following list in order of importance. Then, I realized that the order of importance depends on two qualifying factors:

  1. The person using the technology
  2. The day of the week it is being used

Yeah, that challenging. So, I took the easy route and listed them alphabetically.

These are the types of technological productivity tools that should be in your construction business toolbox. Typically, these tools will be in the form of SaaS or apps. And, loosely speaking, they will form the tech stack used in your construction company.

  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Contact management
  • Email administration
  • Equipment and tool tracking
  • Meetings and communication
  • Project control
  • Social media oversight
  • Travel and expense tracking

These technological productivity tools can also provide the foundation of many of your construction business operating systems.

Clean out the technology productivity tools closet

Like cleaning out a physical closet, begin by dumping any apps or SaaS you no longer use.

Then, determine if you have duplicates or apps so similar; they become redundant. Toss the extras. If you’re uncertain or wary of deleting or doing away with SaaS or an app, you may need to revisit this article concerning Lost Cost Fallacy. 

Next, take the time to scan for viruses or performance issues.

After the process of clearing, it is time to review the current versions of SaaS or apps and decide if it’s time to upgrade.

Lastly, verify the integrity of your data backup.

Organizing electronic files

“The goal of electronic file management is to ensure that you can find what you’re looking for, even if you’re looking for it years after its creation.”

Susan Ward, writing for The Balance Small Business, lays out 10 File Management Tips to Keep Your Electronic Files Organized. 

Link over. Read it. I mean it! Ward presents good stuff.

For example, one of her tips, #6 Be Specific, is one I wish I had known (and practiced) years ago. She is talking about giving files logical, specific names, including dates. When I think about the time I’ve wasted looking for information within my files I cringe.

There are only two things I would add to Ward’s tips:

  1. Use a structure that suits the way you think and work.
  2. When writing systems and while training, emphasis should be placed on how you want things done, while still allowing for personal preference when the efficiency and outcome won’t be changed.

Parting words

This article is the third in a 4-part series concerning organizing your construction contracting business. You can find the first, Organizing Your Mind and the second, Organizing Time by linking over. The next part will be about organizing your physical space.

 

We desire to familiarize you with business concepts, which will make it easier for you to be a better commercial construction business owner through our blog posts. Some 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

When Solutions Become Problems

Solutions can go awry

Things that seem like a good idea at the time can turn out to be anything but.

For example, you and your gang just want to have fun. So, you go to Amazon dot com and purchase a “Beach Behemoth Giant Inflatable 12-Foot” beach ball. And, off to the beach you go!

Then, you post this on Amazon:

Review: “We took this ball to the beach and after close to 2 hours to pump it up, we pushed it around for about 10 fun filled minutes. That was when the wind picked it up and sent it huddling down the beach at about 40 knots. It destroyed everything in its path. Children screamed in terror at the giant inflatable monster that crushed their sand castles. Grown men were knocked down trying to save their families. The faster we chased it, the faster it rolled. It was like it was mocking us. Eventually, we had to stop running after it because its path of injury and destruction was going to cost us a fortune in legal fees. Rumor has it that it can still be seen stalking innocent families on the Florida panhandle. We lost it in South Carolina, so there is something to be said about its durability.”

(This is a real review I spotted on Amazon. I didn’t make this up. LOL)

Example from the offices of Schulte and Schulte

Problem = Develop a system to maintain payroll promptness for both in-house and clients

Solution = QuickBooks Full Service Payroll sends email reminders

Secondary Problem = QuickBooks Full Service Payroll sends a multitude of email reminders, which then must be forwarded to the internal firm payroll specialist.

Solution = Virtual assistant sets up auto-forward of these emails.

Newest problem = Tonya no longer receives notification concerning paying her employees. As a matter of fact, the internal firm payroll specialist receives notice to pay herself. And That’s Not Allowed. Big Problem!

And, this is what happens when you add a layer of efficiency, and it breaks your working solution.

It seems H. L. Mencken may have had it right when he wrote, “For every complex problem there is a solution which is clear, simple, and wrong.”

Here’s another problem scenario

You sit at your desk, head in hands wondering what in the world possessed you to get into the construction industry in the first place? The system you have in place dealing with (choose one or more) is not working!

  • People
  • Processes
  • Equipment
  • Materials

So, what do you do when you find a perfectly good solution which turns out to be a problem of its own?

First, let’s talk “lost cost fallacy” about which I dealt in length here.

The bottom line, if it is not working, dump it if the only reason to keep it is you have already put so much time and money into it.

Other solutions

Let’s go back to the problem discovered by Schulte and Schulte concerning payroll reminders. A few solutions came to mind:

  • Change instructions to the virtual assistant
  • Place in-house payroll reminders on the calendar
  • Set up in-house automation

As you can see, spotting the problem is the first step to solving it. Some problems, like this one, are glaring. Others may be less visible.

Your fires, the things constantly popping up to interrupt your day, often have their basis in solutions you’ve chosen, which no longer work optimally.

Be it apps, deployment strategies, operational systems, job assignments, broken equipment, or dysfunctional tools. Things can change. Whether you have growing pains or maintenance issues think in terms of creating systems you and your staff can change as necessary.

Be certain your employees understand that one part of their jobs is alertness for ways to improve systems, operations, client satisfaction, handling, and so on. Being on the hunt for ways to improve, means you’re better prepared to take on the broken solutions as they come your way. And don’t think they won’t.

Solutions coming up

Next time we’ll dive deeper into one proven method for finding and resolving problems in your construction contracting business.

 

We desire to familiarize you with business concepts which will make it easier for you to be a better commercial construction business owner through our blog posts. Some 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

Building Construction Jobs

Construction building takes finding great employees who want to stick around.

Building Construction Jobs

Building construction trades need workers

Over and over, we hear from our clients and other construction contractors one of the biggest problems they face is getting field workers. The reasons for the reduced workforce have been gone over so many times, my guess is I’m not the only one who is sick of hearing them. Yet, if you’re just aching to know, this article lists a few.  I’m sort of over the “why” of the equation and would rather see a “how” come into play.

Of course, if I could give you a definitive “how” to get people back in the construction world, it would be game over. I could pick up my paycheck and move on to other endeavors. If I could sweep thousands of skilled and trained people on to construction sites, we would all be winners in a very short time frame. I can’t.

I’ve written a few articles about how to look for and how to try to keep good hands on board. They range from How to Hire a Knight in Shining Armor to a 3-part series concerning creating achievement-based bonus programs that don’t stink. You can find them here, here and here. And, they’re worth trying.  

But, could there be more?

Do you want to see people enter the trades again?

Building construction in my dad’s day

Watching my dad lovingly rub his hand across the piece of wood he had just sawed, sanded, or nailed in place was a part of my everyday world from childhood to adulthood. Dad saw the materials of his trade as more than simple objects. He loved to touch the wood, hold the tool, “see” that which would be. He leaned into his craft with soul.

Yeah, the finished project was good. The joy in saying, “I built that,” is not measurable. Yet it was all the bits and pieces which came before which gave him daily pleasure.

It was the:

  • coffee-marked blueprints
  • smoke-filled air in the morning meetings (yep, cigarettes were part and parcel)
  • silly or suitable nicknames of coworkers
  • crazy jokes and stunts they played on one another
  • help they gave one another in times of need

It was also:

  • sighting down a 2X4 checking for flaws
  • knowing what to do about the crazy knotholes
  • “seeing” what was to come and knowing what would and would not work
  • understanding how to hold tools properly
  • getting the best outcome from the tools in his hands

Later it became:

  • getting the most out of the crews in his charge
  • knowing who he could count on to get the job done
  • mediating disputes among workers or trades
  • planning and scheduling
  • hiring, laying off, and firing

Still later it became his dream of:

  • puttering in his workshop
  • refinishing and refurbishing furniture and other items
  • building the long-delayed wall of shelves Mom wanted
  • helping my hubby and me restore and remodel our first home
  • serving as a volunteer on non-profit building projects

Yes, even after retirement it was the love of craft which kept his heart singing.

Building construction needs a new workforce

Helping people see, hear, and feel the day-to-day that makes up the ethos of being in the construction trades is (or should be) a part of your regular planning and action.

Set aside at least one hour a week to plan and strategize how you will reach the unreached groups of people who will fit in your industry. Once you’ve gotten a plan together start acting on it. Put it on your calendar.

Here are a few tactics:

Make sure all the high schools and colleges in your area know you (or someone in your employee) will be available to present on career day.

Talk to the directors or counselors at community colleges or trade schools concerning how you can work together to help the students.

Work with your trade association’s efforts to train and educate your present and future employees.

Let your friends, neighbors, and colleagues know you’re hiring and training. (Tell the person waiting on your dinner table, the clerk at the grocery store, your hair dresser, and the person who is balancing the tires on your truck. Tell everyone.)

Speak with the folks at the National Guard concerning how you can work with them. 

Sign up with recruiting firms.

Visit halfway or transitional houses in your area and speak with the director about people who are ready to move on. Remember there are facilities like this for women too.

Get involved with any construction training centers in your area. If your trade isn’t represented, consider working with them to develop training.

Look for organizations like the ACCD (Association for Construction Career Development) found here in Arizona and get involved. 

Use all your social media channels to get the word out about your openings.

Put banners on your office and shop.

Building construction is head, heart, and hands

If ever a segment of the work-a-day world depended on the trifecta of head, heart, and hands, it is the construction industry.

From the build-dream to the build-completion all three units remain involved.

Before Dad became a carpenter, he drove truck for a lumberyard. It was his job to take “stuff” to the jobsites. So, he touched the materials. Then, he heard the job sounds. And, he smelled the wood. He saw the camaraderie among the workers. Yep, he was hooked.  

Helping people find their way into the trades is going to take time and it is going to take a paradigm shift in the thinking of many educators and parents.

Plus, it will take making a few changes in the thought processes of those already in the trades. For example, what if you thought of yourself (your construction company) as a talent development unit? Young people today understand the concepts behind mentoring even if they don’t use the word. They want someone who “gets it” to stand by their side.

It may take being willing to take a chance with someone who needs a second chance. It could be that the you have to learn new things in the areas of leadership, business acumen, or even the basics of entrepreneurship

Building construction is honorable and respectable

Sure, you need people who have skills. You also need people who have the ability to learn. And, you need people who understand they aren’t simply pulling wire, or laying shingles, or joining pipe. You need people who know they’re doing their part to give someone a place to work, a place to worship, a place to heal, a place to sell their wares, a place to lounge before boarding, a place to eat and celebrate, a place to relax while traveling, or simply a place to look at and admire on those travels. Look for people who can see how important their part is in building America.

By the way, we do a little happy dance when we can help our clients find someone for their commercial construction business. We’ve done that. And, we do another happy dance when we add names to the payrolls of companies we know have been looking for workers.

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 small to medium commercial construction businesses, and because it is our goal to help those businesses Run With the Big Dogs we can assist you no matter in which of the 50 United States your business is located.

Call to see how we can be of assistance to you. Toll Free: 866-629-7735

Are Loyal Employees a Thing of the Past?

Are Loyal Employees a Thing of the Past?

Loyal to what?

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

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

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

Loyal to the trade?

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

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

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

Loyal to the employer?

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

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

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

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

Loyalty in the end

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

Help your people see your vision on a daily basis.

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

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

 

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

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

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.

Employer Options Information

Employer plus Air National Guard equals great employee options.

Employer Breakfast With the Boss — on base

There was an invitation to attend a breakfast meeting. There was a response in the affirmative. Then, this happened.

One of our clients contacted Tonya and asked if she would like to attend a meeting sponsored by ESGR (Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve) and Arizona@Work. The stated goal of the meeting was to help employers learn how the partnership between the two above mentioned organizations benefits Arizona Businesses.

So, in the wee hours of the morning, Tonya met with Aubrey of Deer Valley Plumbing Contractors and the two of them traveled to the designated breakfast location where . . . well, I’ll let Tonya pick it up from here.

What I thought was going to happen

Because of the fact that the connection to our client was through Arizona@Work and their recruiting program, both Aubrey and I  thought this breakfast meeting was going to be about recruitment. We also thought it was about how to work with several government agencies to enhance recruiting techniques for employers.

What actually happened

The breakfast we were served was well prepared and everyone there was welcoming and friendly. We discovered soon after the meeting began that our preconceived notions were incorrect.

What we did in fact learn was far more fascinating in many respects. To begin with, we learned a lot about the purpose and mission of the Phoenix Arizona Air National Guard base. This is  a base that I didn’t even know existed prior to this day. Their primary mission  is providing “In-flight Refueling to all US Armed Forces and allied nations’ aircraft extending their flying range with the capabliity of transporting cargo, personnel and medevac operations.”

We heard from the base colonel all about the mission. He explained ways in which the mission could be threatened. And he discussed how the mission is carried out by Air National Guardsmen. 500 or so of them are only part timers who rely on their civilian employers to pay their actual bills.

Employer, this is where it gets good

We also heard how they train those part timers and how much that training can be of benefit to their employers. Then we found out what ESGR  is and how it fits into the picture as a wholly volunteer team of liaisons and mediators between employers, Guardsmen and Women, as well as Reservists. We also learned that Arizona@Work works in concert with ESGR. And we learned more about how their employment centers benefit both job-seekers and employers.

It was all fascinating information that neither I nor Aubrey had known before. Plus, at the end of the breakfast we were warmly welcomed to tour the base and talk with several of the full-time guardsmen on duty to learn more about them and their incredibly important mission.

Three things that I took away from the day

The Air National Guard base here in Phoenix, Arizona plays a vital part in the overall mission of the military. (And, I am grateful for their work and their part in that big picture!)

ESGR is dedicated to helping support the men and women who are willing to be on reserve, ready to answer the call of our nation when needed. As well, they support the employers who employ those men and women and have need of a stable and able workforce.

Arizona@Work has recognized the need for skilled and qualified tradespeople in the construction industry and are putting together some apprenticeship programs to fill that gap for employers.

There you have it

Pretty cool stuff, huh? Tonya came back to the office quite excited about how her morning had gone. When she began telling me all the fun new information she had gathered I asked her to share here.

Yet, there’s one more thing she didn’t tell you, and I’ma gonna. Tonya was so excited that she had been able to spend one hour in route to the breakfast location and one hour back simply visiting with and having fun with our delightful client, Aubrey.

You can get in touch with us here

5 Strategies to Retain Your Best Employees – Part 4

Retain construction employees through the use of traditions, rituals, and fun.

Retain construction employees through the use of traditions, rituals, and fun.

This is the fourth in a 5-part series about specific strategies you can use in order to retain your best construction employees. You can find the first installment here, the second here, and the third here.

Have fun!

Of all the things that make you a Construction Industry insider, one of the most overlooked is knowing how much fun it can be. Just one of the many reasons to be in the construction trades is the camaraderie which tends to be a part of the scene. The guys and gals who are “in the ranks” often participate in good humored horseplay, fun “competitions,” and silly banter. Turns out, according to this study, having fun is good for them and good for your business.

And, you can set apart your construction company as an exceptional place to work by strategically implementing fun activities for your employees. Part of that process becomes building traditions and rituals into what your crews will experience in their day to day activities. Repetition is the key.

Think about the fellows who stand on a stage with the express purpose of getting folks to laugh. Comedians are taught and understand that repetition of certain key words or specific ideas will often send their audience into fits of laughter before the words are even out of their mouths. (If you doubt me, check with Tonya, one of our founders, who used to be one of the actors in this comedy crew at Marriage can be Murder, in Las Vegas, Nevada.)

Traditions and rituals

From your own experience both as a family member and as a part of a professional team, you know traditions help create a sense of shared history and close-knit teams. Not only that, traditions and rituals can give employees something to look forward to on a day-by-day basis.

While it is possible for you to create certain traditions, they’re often best when they come about organically or spontaneously. For example, when “George” describes himself as “a high walker and a smooth talker” add those words to his name each time you speak with him, or give him a reward, or mention him in meetings. Help the happy accident circumstances which give the crew a laugh on the job become part of the rituals your crew can tell the newbies about.

Creating workplace rituals and traditions is a good way to give your employees something to look forward to. Want some ideas? This article from Michael Kerr presents a variety of options to consider.

The icing on the cake

Lastly, the icing on the cake of employee retention is that happy crews attract happy clients.

There is a Cold Stone Creamery store in the Phoenix valley which has a young crew of people who our family watched chant and sing their way to a generous offering of tips one busy ice cream evening. I’m not suggesting your construction crews learn a few songs together (but, if you find they have the talent . . .) What I am saying is that when your people can demonstrate to your clients that your company is a happy place to work, they also demonstrate it is a good place from which to purchase goods and services.

Here is another example of how Southwest Airlines (a company known for having fun) encourages their employees to bring some humor into the lives of their customers.

Like I said, of all the things that make you a Construction Industry insider, one of the most overlooked is knowing how much fun it can be. Making sure your crews are experiencing the pride that comes with building is great. Making sure they are having fun while they do it is even better.

Your turn

Think of some simple ways you can encourage your team to have fun while still doing a great job for your clients.

Part 1 – Let Middle Managers Manage

This is part 1 of a 2-part discussion concerning growing your construction contracting or service business through growing your middle managers. In this section the discussion will center on what you as an owner should be doing in your business while allowing your middle managers to manage other aspects.  

You’re the boss – own it

You have better things to do than being on job sites all day long. Put your time and effort towards critical, big-picture decisions concerning your construction contracting business. The areas you should consider are:

Operations

reducing cycle times

eliminating waste

increasing on-time delivery

Financial

preparing budgets

reducing outstanding debt

growing profit techniques

Analysis

improving customer satisfaction

discerning inventory turns

identifying repeated bottle necks

Leading

communicating the vision

holding others accountable

gaining new industry insights

instructing or providing instruction for employees

It is your job to clearly visualize the end result of each job and how that job affects your overall goal of company growth and profit building. Therefore, you do well to assign responsibilities and accountabilities to the correct people — the middle managers, thus assuring you get there.

In part 2 we’ll look at what it takes to have an excellent team of middle managers doing their jobs well, making it possible for you to do your job well. You can see part 2 by going here

From Accounting to Bidding – Nailing It!

When you’re in the construction contracting business a lot rests on your ability to present an accurate bid.

Before you bid your next job consider how your financial records and reports can and should strengthen your bidding accuracy.

It isn’t about the luck of the draw, nor is it about hoping you get close. It is about knowing and understanding the basic numbers (i.e. how much the materials cost, how many people it will take, how many hours will be involved) as well as a slew of other numbers which must be considered.

Taking a holistic look at the numbers

Of course, numbers in and of themselves are useless; it is when you apply your understanding of the construction industry, add your knowledge of your team’s competency levels, and take into account the likelihood of Murphey’s Law plopping itself down in the middle of your job site that you begin to have a clear understanding of how to shape your bid. Still, your financial reports are your friends, you’ll do well to listen to them. Here are some of the things they can tell you:

  • The labor and labor burden rate for each of your field employees

 

  • What your equipment costs you to own annually

 

  • Your overhead percentages per job

 

  • Your cost of sales

 

  • Your gross profit

 

  • Your net profits

 

  • Your gross margin percentage

 

  • What your liabilities and debt are

Some further information your reports will divulge

  • How your fixed costs are affecting your bottom line

 

  • How well each department or division is doing

 

  • How your sales are affected seasonally

 

  • Your past history concerning number of hours needed to complete tasks or portions of projects

 

  • Which subcontractors have proven most beneficial to you on previous jobs

What’s the point?

When you use your financial records in your bid preparation you have an historical guide as well as an up to the minute guide to assist you through the process. Plus, knowing your numbers puts you well ahead of the “average” construction contractor.

Know your contract numbers. Listen to your financial reports. Top construction business owners know their contract numbers because they listen to their financial reports.

There’s an app for that

And as for bidding, of course, there’s an app for that! Well, there are quite a few apps for that. Yet, there is one which we highly recommend and use with our clients, because of its many features as well as its ease of use. “Use Knowify’s powerful budgeting tools to create detailed materials/labor/subs breakdowns for each phase of the job, then translate your budgets into a bid in no time. Fully customizable bid templates. Syncs with QuickBooks Online.”

Additional Knowify features

  • Quickly create cost estimates or bids, and use progress or AIA billing to invoice your clients

 

  • Never re-enter the same information again. Create service templates, build a catalog, and waste no time in getting your bid to the client

 

  • Accurately track POs, expenses and revenue per job

 

  • Manage multiple jobs simultaneously

 

  • Put an end to re-entering data with Knowify’s QuickBooks 2-way synching

 

  • Quickly email bids and invoices to your clients, or POs to your vendors

Do you need help making heads or tails of how your financial reports can make a difference to your construction contracting business? Want to know more about Knowify?

Schulte and Schulte can help! 480-442-4032 or Toll Free: 866-629-7735