The Best Supporting Tech Nominee Is . . .

tech as supporting app for accounting software

Hubdoc! 

Whether or not you faithfully watch the annual Hollywood extravaganza known as the Academy Awards, you know there is a competitive division known as “Best Supporting Actor.” Much like the movie world, the real-life accounting world has tech. Tech which supports the big-name players. Those in the supporting rolls make the movie (or the accounting) so much better.

Let’s break this down

The best tools you own don’t perform well if they’re used with the wrong attachments. For example, your top-of-the line drill is no good if the wrong bit is inserted. Put the wrong blade in your table saw and there will be trouble. If using the correct accessories is important in the shop or on the jobsite, using the correct accessories in your office tech stack is just as important. By choosing the correct accessories for your subcontractor office and accounting needs, you begin to develop your tech stack.

What is a tech stack?

Consider the Apple or Google app stores that provide add-on apps for smart phones. The basic tool is your phone. The tech stack you create through adding the apps gives you a well-rounded and useful tool. A tool for getting many things done outside of simply making phone calls. In the same manner, you can drop in at the QuickBooks app store and find a plethora of “accessories” to add to your accounting software.

Which brings us back to Hubdoc

If you took time to peek at the offerings for apps on the QuickBooks page you likely noticed Hubdoc among the mix. And, the simple explanation of what Hubdoc does is listed on that page as, “Your key financial docs in one place automatically.” What they say is true, yet it is best not to skim over that brief sentence and move on. If I could give you a drum-roll right here I would. This is really rather astounding when you think about it.

How much time do you, your office staff, and your project managers waste scrambling to find minor as well as major pieces of your accounting information? How many people or desks do you disturb, how many places do you search in your digital or physical spaces to gather up all the info you need for your bookkeeper?

Wouldn’t you welcome a better way to collect, store, and organize your documents? Put simply, Hubdoc can save you valuable time and help you increase efficiency.

Next week I’ll dive deeper into Hubdoc. It is a fantastic accessory which aids your ability to organize and systemize your construction office. Oh yeah, by the way, here are some of the things our clients have said to us about Hubdoc:

“Oh man, this is going to make my job so much easier.”

“That’s it? Wow, this way is so much better than what we’ve been doing.”

“I didn’t know how much better this would be until you showed me.”

Your call to action

Give Schulte and Schulte a call today so you can take your spot on our waiting list.  480-442-4032 or connect with us here.

Achievement-Based Bonus Programs That Don’t Stink – Part 3

Achievement based programs help you make things happen.

Achievement based programs help you make things happen.

Build the bonus program

Building an achievement-based bonus program will take some effort on your part, yet it need not be overly complicated. As a matter of fact, simplicity can be key to success. While there is room to base an incentive program on a quarterly or annual basis, it is likely shorter-term situations will be easier to design, build, and carry out.

Even if you do intend to incorporate long-term bonus programs it is a good idea to start small. Here are 3 reasons why:

  1. It is easier to design and carry out
  2. Your employees want their rewards sooner rather than later
  3. Successful bonus programs build interest amongst your employees making them eager for the next challenge

The size of your construction company, the typical length of your projects, and the number of employees you have will all factor into the length and frequency of each bonus program.

Just like building your construction business takes time, building your achievement-based bonus program will take time to establish and function properly. Eventually, your company may become known as the great place to work because of (such-and-such) annual bonus program. In the meantime, start developing bonus bits which will fit into the overall concept which is part of your company culture.

The 6 Ds  

Remember this from the last post?

At the highest level of implementation are two considerations:

  1. Motivating your employees to excel beyond their base job descriptions and regular duties.
  2. Exceeding your client’s expectations in both small and big ways.

Thinking of the above two considerations, use the 6 Ds to design your program.

  • Determine the objectives

 

  • Decide who will be eligible to participate (consider team or individual based)

 

  • Develop the achievement criteria

 

  • Devise the reward levels

 

  • Derive the funding formula (Where’s the money coming from to pay for this?)

 

  • Decree the method of payment

 

We’re going to break it down step by step.

Determine the objectives

What do you want your team to accomplish? Raise productivity or efficiency? Drive teamwork? Improve customer service? Increase safety habits?

Consider: It is easy to see that a team which works together will without fail be more productive than one that doesn’t. If your team is filled with a majority of workers speaking a foreign language, steps to improve their English skills will inevitably improve customer service. Improving safety awareness and habits is bottom line good for all involved.

Decide who will be eligible to participate

Will this be a company wide initiative, or will only persons performing particular job types be in the running? Will all your field crews be involved or one specific team? Will the office staff be the only ones eligible?

Consider: Devising a scheme which is available to every employee can be tough. Yet, in order for all in your employees to get in on the fun you may decide to have one plan running for field hands and a different one for office staff, or some derivative thereof.

Develop the achievement criteria

What must be accomplished in order to receive the bonus? What are the parameters involved? Will there be levels of reward based on levels of accomplishment?

Consider: Developing the criteria concerning reaching the goals may be the easy part, yet if parameters are left to chance there is room for great error. For instance, if speed is the only criteria, both craftsmanship and safety may be neglected.

Devise the reward levels

Setting attainable benchmarks along the way to the final goal eases the tension which might arise from seeing a big hairy objective. Even if the final goal isn’t met, at least some amount of achievement will have taken place and be worthy of reward.

Consider: Use hard deadlines, percentages, frequencies, or volume as units of measurement when determining the levels which can be achieved.

Derive the funding formula

Just how are you going to pay for all this stuff? Sure, the entire, overall, sweeping objective of having achievement goals in the first place is to improve your operation thereby improving the profitability of your construction company. But you have to start somewhere, right?

Consider: 1) Dig into your own pocket if you must. 2) Give low or no cost rewards with integrity, letting your crew know their part in the effort will pay off as you grow. 3) Contact Schulte and Schulte. We’ll show you how to begin now preparing for fantastic future achievement bonuses your crew will rave about.

Decree the method of payment

Tell your crew exactly what they can expect for each benchmark they reach. Then when they reach it – give it to them.

Consider: Have a party – onsite or elsewhere. Make a razzle-dazzle of the presentations, keep it humorous and fun while at the same time making sure your people know you really do care about them and you appreciate their effort.

A simple example

Before I get into the example I’ll give you a bit of background concerning where this story came from. I’ve recently become a bit of a construction-centric podcast junkie. (A topic which I’ll likely share with you in the future.) The following story came from one of the podcasts I heard early in my podcast adventure.

On the podcast I was listening to, a fellow who is a construction business owner was being interviewed. This guy believes wholeheartedly in incentive bonuses and he shared the story of the first time he tried it. He said that he looked at the jobsite, looked at the scheduled completion date, looked at his crew and came up with his plan.

He told his crew that if they could complete the job three weeks ahead of schedule he would take them all to a local steak house where they would all be treated to a first-class meal. If they could complete the job two weeks ahead of schedule he would have a big pizza party for the entire crew. If they completed the job one week ahead of schedule he would take them all to the fast-food joint and buy them each a hamburger, fries, and a soft-drink. As it turned out, the pizza party is what took place. He said it cost him a couple hundred bucks and came out of his own pocket.

How it worked

So, here is how his story breaks down in accordance with the 6 Ds.

He determined the objective of finishing early (I don’t know if he had the added parameters of safety and workmanship in his objective, but it would have behooved him to do so.)

He decided the entire crew would be eligible and it would be a team effort.

He developed the achievement criteria based on the measurement of time. One week, two weeks, or three weeks.

He devised the reward levels by establishing just what the crew could expect determined by when they reached the goal of early completion.

He derived the funding formula by looking at his checkbook and deciding it was worth it to him to see if his experiment would work.

He decreed the method of payment by letting his crew know exactly what they could expect based on what they achieved.

Further information

The Project Management Institute produced a rather lengthy study and article concerning Incentive Programs in Construction Projects.

Here are a few of my take-aways from their article.

  1. They strongly recommend the participation of employees in planning and implementing an incentive-based program. They say, “As for the ‘participation’ parameter, previous studies demonstrated that employee involvement contributes to the amount of information employees have about what is occurring, and to the feeling of control over and commitment to what is decided.”
  2. Their determination is that presenting a single objective is preferred over multiple objectives.
  3. Further, they advise a monetary program measuring group performance is somewhat preferred over a non-monetary one measuring individual performance.
  4. They say high quality of management contributes to a high likelihood of program success.
  5. My final takeaway — they say, “Under some conditions, participation may lead to higher-quality decisions.”

This has been the third in a 3-part series. You can catch the first here and the second here.

Now that you see the potential in developing an achievement-based bonus program it is time to get in touch. We can help you analyze and develop the financial end of the process. Click here or call 866-629-7735.

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.

17hats: All-in-One Business Management Software

In this monthly post, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to one of the many apps that we at Schulte and Schulte endorse and recommend to our customers.

As a firm of construction accounting specialists, we love to help companies in the construction industry with their books and finances, part of that help is finding different apps or software that can help our clients out.  During this monthly feature, we take a look at several apps that we love at Schulte and Schulte, LLC, and dig a little deeper into our favorites.

This month, we would like to introduce you to 17hats.

As a business owner, there are multiple “hats” that you will wear as you go about running your business.  By hats, we are talking about the different roles you will play on any given day, from accounting, marketing, client communication, lead development, etc.  17hats is a brilliant piece of software that is designed to integrate each of these different hats into an easy to use business management tool.  We could go into detail talking about each of the different tools that are built into 17hats, but for the sake of time we will highlight a couple of the features that we appreciate the most; specifically the Overview Page, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Workflow Management.

Overview Page
This dashboard is what you will see whenever you log into your 17hats account.  It has been designed to incorporate a 3-day calendar view of all events and to-do’s that you have set up.  Underneath the calendar is a list of all action items from every ongoing project that you have, as well as a list of client email correspondence that is needing your attention.  This dashboard is customizable to include this above information, as well as other options available for you.  It is a really handy tool to get a bird’s eye view of what needs your attention on any given day.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
A lot of effort has been put into developing this CRM tool to make it easy to use.  As the above video shows in its example of adding a new lead and the development of that lead into a client, 17hats utilizes its CRM to assist you in keeping your contact information and projects accessible. It also stores all email communication and documents sorted by client.  This means no more searching through your email account for that important message from a client’s project you are working on.

Workflow Management
The video above gives a snapshot of the process involved within 17hats’ Workflow Management.  You are able to create templates for almost everything you will end up passing onto a customer, from engagement/proposal questionnaires and feedback forms, quotes, invoices, and more.  It has e-signature technology built into the app to allow anything that needs a signature or feedback from a customer to be sent from the app, and also allows you to track what has been sent.  17hats has a one-way sync that will allow you to sync invoices into QuickBooks Online, which is music to our accounting ears.

We love 17hats, and would like the opportunity to share it with you.  If this sounds like an app that you would be interested in checking out, please let us know!

JOBBER: Business Management Solution for Field Service Companies

 

At Schulte and Schulte, our passion is in working with any company that fits under the construction umbrella.  This includes construction service businesses like plumbers, HVAC techs, roofers, landscape techs, etc.  Some of the apps that have been, and will be, featured in this blog series are feature filed and do have elements that would be beneficial to construction service businesses.  However, we feel strongly about finding an app or software solution for each of our clients, and this month’s featured app, Jobber, is a great solution for anyone in the construction service industry.

 

 

 

Jobber is geared toward any company that focuses on construction field service. It is a comprehensive business management solution that will aid any small to medium-sized construction service company. There are three main areas that we’d like to focus on as we dig into this app: Client Features, Team Features, and Business Features.

Client Features
Jobber has some features that will impress your clients and help keep your client information organized. It has an excellent customer relationship management (CRM) tool to keep your client’s information and communication organized. As you communicate with your different clients, whether by sending a quote, getting an e-signature, or reminders to follow up with clients, Jobber keeps track of all communication and saves it in each specific client’s file to help keep you as a construction service business owner more organized.

Team Features
These Team Features integrate both the Jobber computer software as well as their mobile app, which is available for both tablet and phone on iOS and Android. Included are various tools like Scheduling that allows you as the construction service business owner to easily create new jobs for clients and assign them to your team with only a few clicks; Map View Routing that will automatically send notice to your team as they are out in the field giving them the information that they need to get to and work the next job; and GPS Tracking so that you get a clear picture of where your team is at throughout the day as well as tracking employee hours and labor costs.

Business Features
Jobber gives you the ability to send out customized invoices so that you are in control of what your clients see on their invoices. It also has the option included of accepting payment for service right at the jobsite. Also included are Reports that provide a bird’s eye view of how your construction service business is doing, Time Tracking that makes it easy to review and complete payroll, and Accounting Sync that seamlessly integrates with QuickBooks Online to assist with your monthly bookkeeping.

We love Jobber, and would love the opportunity to share it with you. If this sounds like an app that you would be interested in checking out, please let us know!

KNOWIFY: Manage Your Entire Contracting Business in One Place

In this monthly post, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to one of the many apps that we at Schulte and Schulte endorse and recommend to our customers.

As a firm of construction accounting specialists, we love to help companies in the construction industry with their books and finances, part of that help is finding different apps or software that can help our clients out. During this monthly feature, we take a look at several apps that we love at Schulte and Schulte, and dig a little bit deeper into our favorites.

This month, we would like to introduce you to Knowify.

Knowify is an app that is a huge help to any subcontractor, whether that be commercial or residential. Some of the features that won us over at Schulte and Schulte:

Job Costing & Estimating
With Knowify’s powerful estimating tool, you can plan your jobs, itemize your material budgets, and schedule your people to create comprehensive cost estimates. These estimates can be translated into bid line items with a single click.

Bids, Contracts, & Service Work
You can quickly create bids and contracts on your own letterhead and send them through Knowify for electronic signature. You can also easily create service tickets and schedule technicians on work orders.

Time Tracking & Scheduling
Replace the whiteboard, create and maintain your schedule in Knowify so that all your people can see what needs to be worked on while they are in the field. As your people work on work orders, they can punch in time and reimbursements via Knowify’s mobile app. As your people put in time, Knowify will track how you are performing on each job compared to your budgets and estimated costs.

Knowify is truly cloud-based. You can access your Knowify account on your desktop computer, laptop, or tablet; it’s time tracking is most easily handled through the mobile app that is available for either Android or iOS.
We’ve been impressed with Knowify’s truly unified, fully integrated platform. All of its different modules (contracts, time tracking, purchasing, and invoicing) integrate seamlessly to ensure that the products and billable time covered by our client’s contracts are billed correctly.

We love Knowify, and would love the opportunity to share it with you. If this sounds like an app that you would be interested in checking out, please let us know!

10 Personal Tools Every Construction Contractor Needs

I’ve discovered Construction Contractors and Subcontractors are among the most adept and proficient folks around. They wear such a profusion of hats (skilled tradesman, project manager, marketer, salesman, HR manager, supply-chain manager, customer-service representative, PR manager) it can be mind boggling.

Yet there are 10 Personal Tools they need to use no matter which hat they happen to be wearing at any given time.

The quality traits (tools) of excellent construction contractors

  1. Planning Ability

Simply determining to begin a business built on your skill set as well as your desire to learn more about what it takes to “be in business” is a great start. At every turn, your ability to plan and prepare for what is coming down the road will make a difference in how you manage, build, and maintain your business.

  1. Strong Work Ethic

You have to have a ton of ambition. It goes beyond just getting up every day and going to work. You actually enjoy fixing the problems that arise. And you’re actively looking for more jobs which mean you have more problems to solve.

  1. Strong People Skills

You not only have to manage the guys and gals in the field and office, you also have to work with the customer – who can range from general contractors to home owners and anywhere in between. You’re also good at letting other people’s strengths shine through.

  1. Confident

You have to remain confident in your overall ability to complete the many tasks at hand. That doesn’t mean you think you can never make a mistake. It does mean you’re sure you’ll be able to learn from those mistakes and continue moving forward.

  1. Open Minded

Going hand-in-hand with your ability to remain confident is your ability to remain open minded when new ideas, new concepts, and new means to accomplish a task are presented to you. You’re willing to weigh the evidence before making a final decision.

  1. Money Management Skill

When capital is limited and needs to be utilized wisely, you know how to manage for right now while still planning for the future. You know how to keep a handle on cash flow and how to use financial reports for building your business.

  1. Networking Ability

You’re a relationship builder. You pay attention to what others tell you. You’re willing to help others even when it doesn’t seem there will be a quid pro quo. You make others feel at ease when they’re around you.

  1. Delegator

Even though you likely began your construction contracting business wearing a multitude of hats you know when to give one or more of those hats to others. You know how to give people a task to complete without micro-managing how they complete it.

  1. Risk Taker

You understand that taking a risk is the only way to move forward. You look at all the ways you can think of to mitigate the risk, you take those actions, and you still know that failure is possibility.

  1. Integrity

Honesty and trust are central to your integrity. You demonstrate your integrity by being trustworthy and dependable. You are principled and can be counted on to behave in honorable ways even when no one is watching.

Stocking your tool box

Having as many of these tools as possible in your personal tool box will make your job as a construction contractor flow better. You may not have every single tool in this list shined and ready to use. But, if your desire is to scale your construction contracting business then you’ll discover these are personal traits or qualities that will work well for you now and in the future. If you find you have personal weak points, be sure to surround yourself with folks who are strong in those areas. Some things you should consider are: hire a business coach, seek a mentor, outsource some areas, look for qualified advisors, build a good team.

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Why yes, Schulte and Schulte, LLC is a great option for your bookkeeping and accounting outsourced needs. And by golly, we’re team players. Give us a call 480-442-4032 or toll free 866-629-7735

That’s My Story, And I’m Sticking to It.

A carpenter, a stacker, and a few ducks

My dad was a master carpenter who moved up the ranks, retiring as a construction superintendent with many awesome builds under his belt. My mom was counted among the last of the American generations of women who stayed at home taking care of the home front. (The photo accompanying this article is my Mom and Dad’s wedding picture.)

The difference in how they saw the job of “being organized” was immense. Mom was a perpetual and ardent “stacker.” Her piles of magazines, bills, linens, and anything else which could be piled one on another were scattered throughout the house. Dad, on the other hand, used markers to outline around the tools which hung precisely on his shop walls. He labeled and knew where each type of screw was stored, where the touch-up paint was located and how long it had been there.

From that background came little ole’ me. What developed was a semi-stacker who knows that efficiency, therefore productivity, are increased when everything has a place and everything is in its place, yet still must work the process on occasion in order to be sure the ducks are indeed in a row.

Therefore, I’ve had to learn a few tricks of the trade

I was blessed to have studied under Barbara Hemphill of Taming the Paper Tiger fame. She is a well-versed business woman, a fantastic master of organizing solutions, and a mentor certainly worth heeding.

I’ve given you all this background in order to let you know the upcoming series of posts we have in store for you concerning pieces of the organizing puzzle for your construction contracting business come from a mixture of research, previous knowledge, acquired skills, and a desire to make it easier for our clients to build their building businesses.

Some of the goodies we have planned for you are:

In the office:

In the field:

I hope you’ll come along for the ride, find useful tips for improving your construction contracting business, and let me know if you have specific organizing headaches you would like to see addressed.

BTW if you are not already a client of ours, if you happened upon this page through a google search or some other means I need to let you know Schulte and Schulte is a bookkeeping and accounting firm specializing in working with Construction Contractors and Subcontractors who are ready to scale.

Want to know more? Give us a call 480-442-4032. We’ll be happy to discuss the possibilities with you.