Choose Your Path

Choose your path for post COVID -19 profits and stability

Not choosing a path is the same as choosing a path

Let’s say you have a choice to cut your hair or to let it grow. If you say, “I don’t want to make a choice,” you’ve already made a choice. Your hair will continue to grow.

Here’s another example; each morning, you have a choice to get out of bed or to stay in bed. Yep, you guessed it. If you can’t make a choice, you’ve already chosen. You’re staying in bed.

Now, with the world’s reaction to Coronavirus, you’re faced with the choice of playing it safe or investing in growth. And, just as the hair and bed examples above, if you can’t make up your mind, you’ve already made up your mind. You’ve taken a wait-and-see attitude, which gives you no momentum for what lies ahead.

“A body in motion stays in motion, and a body at rest stays at rest, unless, acted upon by an outside force.” – Isaac Newton

This is no time for indecision

My mother, because of her fear of water, never learned how to swim. She decided it was imperative that my younger brother and I take swimming lessons at the Ouray, Colorado community pool near where we lived. After we had attended the classes for an entire summer, we moved to Tucson, Arizona – which meant there was a swimming pool just a walk away.

On day one of the new pool access, I ran and jumped in, swam around, and began figuring out who to splash first. My brother, on the other hand, ran and jumped in, then sank below the surface – for too long. Our mother leaped into the pool moments later.

She had not prepared for the crisis. She had never learned to swim, remember? But her quick decision saved my brother’s life and set her on the path to less fear of water.

“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” – Roy E. Disney.

Choose the balanced path

Construction company owners who master the balance of cutting costs today while investing for future growth will be those who not only survive but thrive.

On the one hand, it is a matter of reducing costs selectively rather than haphazardly. For instance, focusing on operational efficiency is no longer a back-burner item. If you haven’t taken time to build, document, and use operational systems, the time has now come when you must.

And in balance, investing wisely in marketing, R&D, and new assets puts you a few steps ahead in the game.

“You are free to make whatever choice you want, but you are not free from the consequences of the choice.” Anonymous

It’s about the numbers – and the people

Choosing a balanced path means you must know and understand both your numbers and your people. It is time to adapt and thrive. For instance, now may be the time to recruit and hire top talent.

Or it could mean you look for gaps in the market and adopt a new approach. Assessing your numbers and your assets (including the folks on your team) allows you to make more informed decisions.

It is time to get your attitude focused as well. Commit to action and to leading your construction business into a post-COVID – 19 stance of strength.

“You always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear.” Sammy Davis, Jr.

 

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

 

Job Cost Tracking

Job Cost Tracking for commercial construction contractors

Who needs Job Cost Tracking?

You do.

That is, you do if you’re a commercial construction subcontractor, and you are determined to manage a profitable, sustainable, and worthwhile enterprise.

Successful construction contracting business owners know the part they play. They do the analytical work, and they make the decisions. Consequently,  the financial reports they receive and review regularly enhance their ability to accomplish these tasks.  For example, one of those important reports is known as Job Cost Tracking or Job Costing.

 

Proper project costing produces preferred profitability.

 

Plus, it leads to better future project estimating, contributes to enhanced management decision making, and supports timely financial reporting.

Job Cost Tracking enhances project control

To clarify, resources are limited and must be utilized as efficiently as possible.

Therefore, a few of the ways you can leverage job cost tracking are:

  • avoid risky assumptions and stay in control of profitability
  • know where projects are going right and where they’re going wrong
  • make adjustments as you go
  • be alerted to find more cost-efficient ways to handle issues
  • gain the advantage in the estimating process going forward
  • see a true reflection of gross profit

3 Components of job cost tracking

Measure

Defining and measuring your resources is the basis for creating a job costing system. For example, a few of the steps involved in setting up, maintaining, and using a job costing system are:

  • Gather the information from past and present projects
  • Categorize and store the information
  • Assure the information is accessible to those who need it
  • Input information as projects progress
  • Analyze information regularly
  • Adjust actions and expenditures as necessary

Control

Managing the resources at hand means maintaining control of the project as it progresses. Consequently, through the proper use of the information garnered through job costing, you can:

  • Track any deviations from the original estimate
  • Find and analyze possible solutions
  • Support those who will need to make adjustments

Improve

Whether taking small steps as the job progresses or finding major process strategies that must be enhanced, job cost tracking gives you footing for company improvement. For instance, you can:

  • Determine to include those things which went right in future projects
  • Learn from mistakes which were made and change the necessary factors
  • Communicate the findings to employees and subs

Answering questions through job cost tracking

Likewise, proper job costing analysis aids you in answering critical questions such as:

 

  • Which jobs are running within budget?

 

  • Which are not?

 

  • Are we within our target margins?

 

  • Who are the most profitable and least profitable general contractors we work with?

 

  • Do we have operational inefficiencies?

 

  • Who are our most productive employees, subs, teams, or departments?

 

  • When is the right time to hire? Or fire?

 

  • Where should I invest my marketing dollars?

 

To sum up, producing an accurate and useful job costing report is not just an accounting exercise. A job cost tracking report is an excellent tool used by savvy construction contractors to enhance their ability to lead and manage well.

The Job Cost Tracking Tool!

The Job Costing tool our office knows, uses, and highly recommends is Knowify. Knowify is a (cloud-based) easy to use software that (among other functions) provides a system for Job Costing from start to finish.

 

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

What Running With the Big Dogs Means

Running With the Big Dogs demonstrates success

The story about how we REALLY feel about our clients.

Our clients Run With the Big Dogs!

While some might see us as contractor fans, screaming at the back door after the concert, we’re more than that. Yep, we ask for autographs, and we know details about our clients that others are not privy to. But, we’re more than fangirls getting our excitement on.

Demonstrating success

We try not to get to “uppity” about it, but we believe we are part of something big. You see, we firmly believe commercial construction subcontractors change the world with their skills and expertise. And, we get to be a part of that mind-blowing experience.

Where last year there was a weed-covered piece of dry land, this year there is a new doctor’s office. Where six months ago there was only a shell of a building, now there is a happy restaurant staff serving smiling customers delicious meals. And, where last month there was a pre-build inspection, today the crew is emerging from their trucks to set to work on the new grocery store for the growing neighborhood.

These are a few of the types of jobs one of our clients has recently been (or still is) a part of:

  • Shipping Facility
  • Car Dealership
  • Coffee House
  • Restaurant
  • Assisted Living Complex
  • School
  • Dental Office
  • Bank
  • Credit Union
  • Office Building
  • Hotel

Now you see why we feel so good about striving daily to see to it our clients can demonstrate success. And, demonstrating success is all about Running With the Big Dogs.

Showing business acumen

Demonstrating their business acumen is crucial to our clients’ success.

Here are a few of the ways our clients see Running With the Big Dogs happen – they’re able to:

  • Keep the payroll induced sleepless nights at bay
  • Speak with confidence in their Mastermind groups
  • Understand accountingese in English
  • Build and maintain business systems
  • Generate better expenditure decisions
  • Make a profit
  • Build America, one project at a time

We love Big Dogs!

OK, so we love little dogs too. But it is our clients, the Big Dogs in their chosen subcontracting fields who make us excited to get up every day. Working with our clients is exciting because we like putting together the pieces of the puzzle. More importantly, we like the part we play in helping the folks in the commercial construction industry bring it!

Now you know how we REALLY feel about our clients.

 

If you’re interested in becoming one of the Big Dogs we delight in serving, get in touch. Let’s find out together if we’re a fit. Call today 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

Construction Accounting – Zooming In

Construction Accounting takes zooming in on the important areas.

One of the questions we’re often asked by commercial subcontractors is, “How do you do it?” The following is a dive into what it looks like working with an outsourced accounting and advisory firm. (Well, we don’t know if it is true for other firms – but this is what it looks like working with us. 😎)

Construction Accounting zoom in on understanding

While it is always our goal to provide each of our clients with a clear and up to date financial picture of his or her business, we remember to do so in English not Accountanteeze.

Some have shared there was a time, before they came to us, when they looked at all those reports and thought of them as a foreign language. We’ve become their “complexity filter.”

A few other things we implement in understandable language are:

  • Guidance for meeting long and short-term goals
  • Information concerning strategic thought and vision
  • Processes which make profit a verifiable reality

At its core, our services provide clients with confident, well-informed, professional advice.

Construction Accounting zoom in on client needs

Each client comes with his or her own set of needs. Things like:

  • Please clean up our old issues.
  • Can you just get us back on track?
  • We need help achieving high levels of profitability.
  • I need to know my books are taken care of and I can rest easy at the end of the year.
  • We’re trying to get bonded and we need to get this mess straightened out.
  • I hate dealing with contract management, can you take care of it?
  • My business coach said I need to build systems; can you help with that?
  • We took in a lot of money last year but can’t see where it went. Can you help?

Regardless of the complication, our goal is to meet individual needs, always striving to make it easier for each client to run with the big dogs.

Construction Accounting zoom in on systems

One of the things we strive to make clear is we are NOT simply financial historians.  While it is necessary that we give timely and accurate financial information, we also aid our clients in other areas. One of those areas is help in building systems.

We help clients:

  • Improve processes and procedures
  • Increase organizational structure
  • Better understand next steps

We help commercial subcontractors figure out which systems are working, and which are not. More importantly, we don’t try to “fix” their unbroken systems.

Zooming in through Zoom

Part of our job is helping our clients devise a tech-stack which helps them have better systems for dealing with their business and financial needs. So yeah, we do spend time with our heads in the cloud. Yet, we’re also down-to-earth when it comes to dealing with our clients.

And the corner where cloud and earth meets is when we have regular Zoom meetings with individual clients. It is during those times we meet with them “face-to-face” whether they’re in New Jersey or New Mexico, North Dakota or South Carolina, in a Phoenix suburb or Phoenix proper.

The types of things we discuss with them are:

  • Month end reports and what they mean
  • Unusual items we noticed in their reports
  • Our questions concerning their data
  • Their questions
  • Ways to improve (both from their end and ours)

While we believe our experience and well-thought-out tech solutions are important to how we help our clients, we believe nothing would be possible if we didn’t have good systems for communication in place. And one of those systems is a video conferencing SaaS called Zoom.

There you have it. We’ve zoomed in on a few things you can count on us to do to help you grow your commercial subcontracting business. And, we’ve told you how it is possible to meet with our clients no matter where they are located. Now you have a better idea of “how we do it.”

 

Want to learn more? Our office hours are 9 to 5 Arizona time where our main office is located. And our Toll-Free number is 866-629-7735. Give us a call!

Being Intentional in Your Construction Business

Being Intentional for the sake of your construction business

Being Intentional in Your Construction Business

Being Intentional – the question

Martin Holsinger, owner of Protractor Podcast and an Internet Marketing Agency recently asked on a social media platform, “What is the one thing you want to be more intentional about this year as we move into spring?”

There were a number of good responses. I contributed an answer. Thought about it some more and added an additional reply. Then, I thought about it even more.

Holsinger’s original question included these words, “the one thing.” So, why was it that I responded twice? Perhaps I had missed the importance of the word “one.” Sorry, Martin. 😔

Being Intentional – the explanation

So, I went on with the thinking, what does “intentional” really mean? I thought I knew. But, as these things go, I wanted to make sure I really knew. And, being the good little researcher I am, I went looking for the answer. You might suppose I would simply pick up the dictionary and put an end to the mindful debate.

Nope.

I went straight to the people’s choice, my friend (?) google. There were a number of people speaking on the subject. And, if those tallies at the top of the google search page were real, more people had something to say on the subject than I had time to read.

Still, being intentional about my quest, I gleaned a few things which clarified the subject for me. When you set out to be intentional these are the three things which make a difference:

  1. Have a clear understanding of your purpose
  2. Focus on what matters
  3. Take action

The example

With that in mind, I recalled a real-life example I encountered last week.

I was invited to meet for dinner at a happy little pizza joint that is a central location for me and a few friends. We’ve met there before. The promise and the expectation was good food, good laughs, and a good time had by all. While all those expectations were met (eventually) the problem arose in the journey.

And, isn’t that where all problems in our lives as well as in our businesses arise – on the journey?

Only a few miles from home, on the path I usually take to the pizza joint, I discovered the once 4-lane road had been reduced to a 2-lane road.

There were signs. Road Work Ahead. Single Lane Ahead. Merge Right.

The signs are there for us to read as we travel with intention.

No problem. I had given myself a padded time-frame for getting to my destination because . . . well, you never know when there may be a problem (like road construction) to slow you down.

Then, at the corner where I normally turn left the sign was simple. No Left Turn.

No matter how well we plan there will be obstacles and signs which thwart us on our journey.

Remaining Intentional

Again, no problem. I knew of another street ahead where I could turn left and still get to where I wanted to go.

Except the same sign appeared on that street corner too. No Left Turn.

Often on the path to overcoming an obstacle, more obstacles appear.

And, as far as I could see ahead of me were those nasty little orange and white traffic safety cones. Far be it from me to fuss about construction. Yet, I may as well admit, sometimes far is pretty close.

Zinging around in my law-abiding-mind is the recollection of the traffic ticket someone close to me recently received for (yep, of all things) turning left at an under-construction intersection which had an all too visible sign – No Left Turn. Adding to that zinging is my consternation concerning the many happy (or unhappy) travelers who would be trapped behind me if I determined to break the law and wait for oncoming traffic to clear so I could safely make the illegal left turn. Safety first, you know. 😉

While we’re on the go we must make quick decisions which affect others around us.

Turning right on a leftward journey

So? So, rather than wait to see if one more street corner had a nasty little stop-her-from-getting-where-she-wants-to-go No Left Turn sign, I flipped the turn signal to the right. After making a few jogs in the neighborhood, I was now driving straight down the street denied me by the No Left Turn boondoggle of stupid signs.

Occasionally we must make moves which will right the path even when they seem counter-intuitive. I mean, who turns right when their destination is toward the left?

Like I said, I eventually got to my destination, met my friends, talked, listened, laughed, ate pizza, and set off to return home. As I began the journey home, I made the decision to follow a different route in order to avoid the construction zone which had slowed me earlier in the evening.

Learning from the problems and obstacles which pop up on our journey is wise.

Having determined the route I would take home, I put the car in gear and headed out. All went well. That is, all went well until I noticed the amber light set to the side of the road. The intersection at which I would turn left on my journey home was narrowed to one lane and no left turns would be allowed.

Having a sense of humor is paramount to owning a business. Sometimes, no matter how well intentioned you are, road construction is going to mess with your mind and your journey.

Being Intentional in your construction business

To be intentional is to knowingly choose your direction. Where do you want to arrive next year at this time? What about next month? The following list will give you ideas concerning areas where you might need to increase your focus and intention.

  • Do you need to improve your construction company’s safety rating?

 

  • Is it time to be certain you are making a profit?

 

  • Is presenting yourself professionally an area where you need to improve?

 

  • Do you need to be better with your people management and delegating skills?

 

  • Is now the time to get a firm grip on which construction related technology will serve your business best?

 

  • Will you need to learn how to better evaluate the risks associated with each potential project?

You get the idea. Determine where you need to be more intentional. Then you’ll be able to focus on what matters. Now, take action.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard

 

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 and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs. 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.  

Developing Accounting Systems That Work

Through the gate to running a profitable construction company

Through the gate to running a profitable construction company

You need an accounting system for your construction contracting or service business because you need data. There are three basic reasons you need data.

  • Because the federal as well as state and local governmental entities require it. And, let’s face it, running your construction contracting business from a prison cell would be much harder than any issues you’re currently facing.

 

  • Because banks or lending institutions, as well as bonding businesses require it. Loan officers have a certain protocol for approving a loan and without accurate, current records getting a loan could be like trying to find a warm, sunny beach at the north pole.

 

  • Because growing or scaling your business depends on how accurate your financial information is. Knowing the financial position of your construction business, what some call understanding “the language of business,” sets you apart from the large number of construction business owners who fail.

 

Having accurate information, things like cost and earnings, liabilities and assets, profit and loss gives you the business guidance you need to either stay the course or take corrective measures. Well, sort of.

When records and reports aren’t enough

We’ve found that many construction contractors know well the systems required in their select industry, yet when they begin dealing with the systems necessary to manage their financial data, they feel as if they’ve run into a brick wall.

Even those who’ve managed to chip away at the brick wall creating windows of financial understanding have usually only gotten to “records” and occasionally “reports,” thus they’re lacking the “analysis” portion of the financially healthy equation.

Crunching the numbers

That’s when including a professional from the accounting world becomes necessary for the welfare of your business.

These pros make sure you understand the meaning of the financial information. They’re interpreters of a sort. They help you learn “the language of business.” They’re great at helping you develop the systems which are necessary to put you in the driver’s seat.

Putting a gate in the wall

Guiding you to create a system for measuring and summarizing business activities, interpreting financial information, and communicating the results is how your professional accounting team puts a gate in that brick wall. A few of the things you can expect to gain from a capable accounting pro are:

  • Guiding you through the SaaS options
  • Developing a tech stack best suited to your needs
  • Determining where you may be losing money
  • Showing you which types of clients are offering the biggest returns on your efforts
  • Enhancing your decision-making capabilities through better understanding of the numbers

Going beyond the brick wall

Because Schulte and Schulte, LLC is a professional accounting service specializing in working with construction contractors, we help our clients develop and use accounting systems which serve both their legal and their managerial needs in the wild and wooly world of construction contracting. And, because we’re a Profit First certified firm we take them beyond having a nice set of records and put them on the path to having a vibrant and profitable business.

You can reach us Toll Free: 866-629-7735 or get in touch the easy way right here.

Penny Pinching is Good for Your Construction Business

Becoming profitable through saving money

Becoming profitable through saving money

You’ve moved up from “Have hammer, or wrench, or paintbrush – will travel,” to running a construction contracting business. Now, you have much more to be concerned with than simply finding a project, doing it, and getting paid for your effort. You have a business to run, one which should be profitable.

And in the construction business, just as in other businesses, cash in king. That is simply how it is. To run a profitable construction contracting business you must learn how to master the cash, how to make decisions concerning the cash, and how to prudently use the cash.

Are you making a profit?

While there are a number of things which you can change concerning how your numbers are adding up (or not adding up,) in this article the subject will center on ways you, a construction contractor can tighten the belt, can be more frugal, can pinch a few more pennies on your way to making a profit.

And while we’re on the subject of decisions, let’s back up a minute and understand that those expenses in your accounting records represents a decision you’ve already made. It takes fortitude to look at a particular expense, challenge yourself, and think about the decision you made, then perhaps taking steps to change or improve it.

First things first

When you first started out you had ways to “get by,” to make ends meet, to keep going while you looked for that next job. Now, you have people working for you, running crews, driving your vehicles, using your tools, performing the back-office duties. You have jobs back to back or over-lapping and you have lots of expenses.

It is time to revisit your ability to “get by.” It is time to be innovative and to grow your ability to solve problems rather than throwing money at them.

Get out of the rut!

In some ways, this is a call to reduce inefficiencies in your own as well as your employee’s work habits. In other ways it’s a challenge to see if there are better, less expensive ways to get things done. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Yet, once you know you’re in a rut, you can take specific measures to get out of it.

Top 5 ruts to jump  

Vehicle or fleet

Whether you have only one business truck or an entire fleet of vehicles there are likely ways to reduce your expenses. One major way to save money here is to be cautious and certain before signing on the dotted line for that beautiful new pickup you’ve had your eye on for a few weeks. Do you really need it right now? We can help you determine whether or not your business can really afford that shiny new toy. Also, when it comes to vehicles, there are other ways to save, for example, in this article from Construction Executive, there is a list of 5 simple changes you can make to help control fuel costs.

Office tools and supplies

Whether you need to complete an RFP (Request for Proposal) with a few of the top suppliers, or you simply need to keep an eye on the cost comparisons of a few local office supply stores along with membership stores, get out of the rut of always buying supplies from the same place. One simple method you may choose is to maintain relationships with two providers that are competitive on price. And, because the ordering process is easy online you can switch providers quickly and easily. Check out these tips and tricks from Grainger concerning managing your office supply inventory.

Construction supplies and materials

Your particular trade will often dictate your choice of suppliers. Yet, just as in the office supply providers in the above section, you will do well to maintain relationships with more than one supplier. And, you already know who the heavy hitters are in the overall construction supply industry. Are you taking advantage of all they have to offer? While it may take some of your upfront time delving into all the benefits they offer to the pros, it will pay off in both time and finances to become familiar with and take advantage of their programs. You can start by getting to know your Pro Account Representative at Home Depot and checking out Lowe’s ProServices.

Tools and equipment

Determining whether you need to purchase or lease particular tools and equipment and the cost saving factors of either choice will have an impact on your ability to save pennies now and dollars down the road. This article from Construction Marketing Association will give you information you can use in the decision-making process.

Also, when you make the determination that you will purchase tools, be cautious about quality. Invest in the best quality tools you need and can afford rather than trying to get by with cheap substitutes. Just be sure you remember the need factor.

Credit card processing fees

Shop around. One of the first places you may want to check is with your trade organization many of which have an agreement with credit card processors to provide lower rates. Be cautious, some companies will try to lock you in for a long period of time in order to receive a better rate. Also, look for rates concerning leasing the equipment. When you use QuickBooks Online you are able to take advantage of their bank transfer processing through ACH (Automated Clearing House) payments. You may choose to accept only ACH payments at no charge, or to also accept Credit Card payments (with percentage fees) based on your needs.

More ruts to consider

Insurance

Be sure you’re getting the best rates for each of your insurance needs. Check around, look for providers that know and understand the construction industry. For example take the time to shop around for the best workers’ compensation prices you can find, especially if your company has a low accident rate that you can use to negotiate with carriers and agencies.

Marketing

When you’re low on money, marketing is one of the last things you should cut totally out of your thoughts or your budget. Yet, by being creative and using many of the options for marketing which are no or low cost you can remain in the game getting the word out. This article from Forbes gives you four creative and useful ways to save money on marketing.

Rent or mortgage on office and shop locations

Again, creativity is your best friend. Would you benefit by moving your operation to a different (less expensive) location? If your construction business doesn’t depend on walk-in-traffic why pay more for a location which touts traffic as a rental perk?

Temporary office structures and/or sanitary utilities

Should you own or rent your on-location structures? Is there a better rate for the portable toilet from a different vendor than you normally choose?

More money saving tactics to scrutinize

  • Determine if selling or leasing underutilized equipment will be of benefit.
  • Reexam your need for company owned vehicles.
  • Review your entertainment costs. (This is no longer an expense which can be deducted on your tax reports.)
  • Look for free or low-cost training for yourself and your employees. If you belong to a trade association take advantage of what they offer.
  • Adopt a just-in-time philosophy of material staging in order to deter waste as well as keep the money flow in check.
  • Save money by outsourcing your accounting and some other office tasks.

 Get in touch here, or give us a call 866-629-7735.

Another Construction Contracting Success Story

 

Frequently, what we do to aid our clients as they grow their construction contracting businesses is a steady process wherein the gains are best noticed in hindsight. After a few months of working with us we hear things like, “Yes, that is exactly how I always wanted it to be, but didn’t know how to get there,” or “I had no idea it would be that easy, thank you,” or “This makes so much sense now, we had been doing it wrong for so long I didn’t think we could ever get it straightened out.”

All those words of praise and thanks are wonderful for us to hear, and we are so glad to be able to make the lives of our clients easier while also helping them to gain a profit-making status they had not before been able to achieve. We tend to be like the proverbial cowboy who doffs his hat and says, “Just doing my job, mam, just doing my job.”

Yet, there are those times when we see such a noticeable change in such a short period of time that both we and our client are in a high-five mode.

Let’s backup

Before I go further with this success story, I think I need to backup and give you a little behind the scenes information. You see, we, like many others, have developed an “ideal client” profile. Obviously, our ideal client is a construction contractor. Here are the other things our ideal client is:

Tech savvy or willing to learn

Determined to scale their business

Accountable and responsive

Inclined to offer referrals

Willing to listen to and act upon our advice

Now back to the success story

A while back a contractor who had a dismal set of books contacted us. The books were so dismal, in fact, it was easy to see he was on the brink of bankruptcy. Yet. Yet, he did seem to fit into our ideal client profile.

After a few weeks of working with this contractor and realizing what was sorely needed was an infusion of the all mighty dollar, and knowing that getting a loan was not the best course of action, (heck, borrowing “affordable dollars” wasn’t even a feasibility,) our Construction Accounting Specialist, Tonya, stepped to the plate, gave the contractor some guidance, then stepped back to see if indeed he was “willing to listen to and act upon our advice.”

Sure enough, what was once a construction company owner only a few weeks away from needing to close the doors and walk away is now a force to be reckoned with in his field of expertise.

The guidance offered by Tonya was sound business advice, yet it wasn’t an easy task to accomplish. It took trust in the advice as well as a willingness to do things just a bit differently than had been done before. Well, when you get down to it, it took guts.

Perhaps we need to add to our ideal client profile, “has guts.” On second thought, that isn’t necessary. “Has guts” comes with the territory of “owns a construction contracting business.”

There you have it

Well, there it is, another success story that has us jumping around and high-fiving all over the place.

Do you fit our “ideal client” profile? Would you like to be among those savvy contractors who are taking advantage of the services we provide?

Give us a call 480-442-4032 or get in touch here.