Being Profitable

Being profitable even during COVID - 19

Every Monday morning, The Profit Constructors’ social media posts are routinely filled with something akin to an Irish blessing. They vary slightly week to week, but typically they look like this, “May your coffee be strong, your influence be ever-growing, and your week be profitable.”

It is that last portion of the “blessing” we’re discussing today. That part about being profitable – because it never varies. Those are the same words week after week.

Even during the Coronavirus pandemic, we wish profitability on our clients and social media followers. And we mean it! We’re not just sticking with the old words. We haven’t lost our minds.

Profitability wears many hats

One way most look at profitability can be measured in dollars and cents. You know that making more than you spend is how profits come into existence. But there are other ways to measure profitability.

For example, a genuinely profitable week would include personal growth. A week spent in strategic planning could prove to be very beneficial. Adapting to changing conditions while maintaining core values gives you the opportunity to show your customers, your employees, and the community at large your grit – and that is very profitable.

And of course, helping others without thought of gain gives an immeasurable profit.

Following is a six-point list of ways you can work toward profitable endeavors during and after the mayhem surrounding COVID – 19.

Remove “woe is me” thinking

Look around – see the big picture. Yours is not the only construction contracting company affected by the circumstances in which you now find yourself. It isn’t as if you’ve been singled out.

Plus, you may find it useful to look at history. Here is a list of some well-known construction companies that are in existence today that made it through the ten years known as the Great Depression (1929 – 1939) as well as other ups and downs in the economy.

  • Sundt Construction, Inc. founded in 1890
  • Bechtel founded in 1898
  • Fluor Corporation founded in 1912
  • The Turner Corporation founded in 1902
  • Peter Kiewit Sons, Inc. founded in 1884

And, check out this list from Mental Floss about other Great Depression success stories.  

Use time wisely

Whether your pace has increased or slowed, maximizing the use of your time to accomplish much is imperative. (We know different states have taken different stands on whether or not construction workers are essential.) That means, for some, it may be making sure the crews have the correct PPE and are practicing proper safety measures. For others, it may be taking advantage of your time to create better-documented systems. For still others, it may be time to take an online class or to teach one.

You get the picture. Take the time to determine the best use of your time. Now do it!

Forget about safety – be daring!

Wait! Don’t think for a minute I’m talking about on-site safety. Keeping those guys and gals safe has never been more critical.

I’m talking about stepping out of the norm, being daring in ways you may not have thought of in the past. Things like:

  • Set up an appointment with a general contractor you may have formerly thought was out of your league.
  • Pivot – do something differently.
  • Create a new division that will take on the new opportunities afforded when the crisis is over.
  • Buy that piece of equipment you know will be necessary for your construction company’s growth in the future – especially when you find a good deal.

Note: I’m not saying that doing any of the daring things in the above list will make you more profitable. I am saying these are the types of things you should consider.

Write a book

Yes really. Do it. Hire a ghostwriter if you need to but write a book about how you not only survived COVID – 19 but how you flourished during and after the crisis. There is nothing wrong with a secondary income stream. And, even if you never see it in print, at least you will have thought of ways to accomplish it.

Advertise

Get serious about your mailing list. Call your past and present customers. Let them know what you’re doing and how you can help them. Use your social channels to help others. Let everyone (including the general public) know you’re here now and will be in the future.

Work together and help others

There is possibly no better way to create channels of profitability than to help others. Sharing the load, working through a dilemma, and resurging afterward are hallmarks of great business leaders who survive the test of time.

One last thing

May your week be profitable!

 

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. http://www.schulteandschulte.com/blog/

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

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

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.

A Dozen Reasons Construction Contractors Use Job Costing

You’ve already figured out that when you own a construction contracting or service business your world is colorful. Some of the myriad of “things” on your mind are job sites, retainage, percentage completed, purchase orders, prevailing-wage rates, payroll, change orders, subcontracts, AIA billings, and equipment usage.

But did you know about the contractor’s friend called Job Costing? Did you know job costing is really designed to make all the above “things” take their rightful place in maintaining the overall health of your construction firm?

Look at job costing as a way to Measure and Monitor, to Weigh and Watch, to Quantify and Qualify.

Getting it all out in the open

The information gathered through job costing is invaluable to you as you grow your construction contracting or service business. And here are a dozen reasons:

  1. Job costing will help you identify the most and least profitable areas of your construction company.

 

  1. Job costing is one of the best ways to develop an accurate budget for your construction firm.

 

  1. You can use the information concerning labor and materials costs to aid in determining overhead costs.

 

  1. You’re able to carefully analyze job costing reports for completed jobs as well as jobs-in-progress.

 

  1. Job costing allows you to put into action a billing system that is tied to actual and committed costs.

 

  1. With job costing you can learn which types of jobs are your bread-and-butter jobs.

 

  1. Using job costing will allow you to see the division of labor and labor burden.

 

  1. Job costing allows you to analyze where you’re spending so you’ll know more about what works and what doesn’t.

 

  1. Through job costing you’ll obtain information that will allow you to be more precise concerning billing.

 

  1. Job costing shows you what margins you’ve been sacrificing on past estimates.

 

  1. Through job costing you can factor in overhead expenses in order to get a better understanding of individual job profitability or loss.

 

  1. A mature job costing system gives you the ability to categorize every single expense your construction contracting business incurs.

Don’t work in the dark

Without job costing information you’re working in the dark.

Using job costing reports is an important way to improve your business as well as a way to improve the way you do business.

The Schulte and Schulte team is excellent at helping construction contractors make heads or tails of job costing set-up and use. Want to know more? Give us a call 480-442-4032 or Toll Free: 866-629-7735

7 Things Impossibly Savvy Contractors Wear

Ever wondered which common traits shape successful owners of construction companies and construction service businesses? Here are seven foundational traits which are found in the “closets” of savvy construction contractors.

Garment #1 They are Servant Leaders

The following quotes will give you food for thought concerning how savvy contractors lead.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams

“You don’t lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

“What you do has far greater impact than what you say.” Stephen Covey

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18

“I define servant leadership as a person’s dedication to helping others be their best selves at home, work, and in their community.” S. Chris Edmonds

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” Ken Blanchard

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” Jack Welch

This article from Inc. encapsulates the concept quite well.

Garment #2 They are Resilient in the face of adversity

Ever wonder what it would be like to buy a construction company where the financials were “sinking like a rock,” turn it around, then make it extremely profitable within a few years? You might want to check out Isaac Lidsky’s story, because that is what he did. Oh, and did I tell you — he is blind.

He has written a book, Eyes Wide Open, you might want to check out. And, be sure to watch this video all the way to the end (after he completes his talk) because he reveals one important aspect of how he, as a blind person, is able to run his construction company. And, just in case you want a bit more information, here is a link to the company, ODC, where Lidsky is the CEO.

Savvy contractors understand the risks as well as the opportunities they’re facing. They can “get back up” after a shockwave hits. They understand how to manage complex ideas and situations. There is a sort of nimbleness to them. And, they’re really good at long-term thinking.

Garment #3 They are Self-Disciplined

Yeah, you know what this means and what it takes!

Garment #4 They have exemplary Core Values

They have personal core values which they bring to their businesses. This is all about what they believe, therefore how they act.

Here are some examples:

  • They take pride in their work. They enjoy seeing the finished project.
  • Their safety meetings aren’t solely based on outside influences (like OSHA,) but rather on the fact that they care about their employees.
  • They have integrity.
  • They understand the power as well as the responsibility that comes with being a leader.
  • They aren’t required to “lose the ‘tude,” because, in fact, they tend to have a good attitude most of the time.

They believe in striving for excellence, being honest, truly serving the customer, having fun, being fair, teamwork – you know, good stuff like that.

This article shows a pretty neat way to come up with and USE a common set of core values within your construction contracting or service business.

Garment #5 They are Flexible

They are flexible and knowledgeable concerning how to meet the needs of both employees as well as customers

Being flexible allows them to make it through the bad weather of changing desires, the bad weather of sudden new competition, the bad weather of employee shortage, the bad weather of equipment damage or loss, the bad weather of – well you know . . . bad weather.

Yet, they also know when to draw the line.

Thomas Jefferson said it like this, “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

Garment #6 They have Problem-Solving Skills

The simple explanation – Problem solving involves methods and skills to find the best solutions to problems. We all have problems. And, we all have problem solving skills. All good parents, doctors, waiters, truck drivers, accountants and everyone must solve problems day-by-day and hour-by-hour.

What sets savvy construction business owners apart from “regular” construction business owners is the continued practice and constant honing of problem solving skills.

Typically, there is a ladder of thought and action involved in reaching a solution.

One ladder of problem solving skills could look like this, with the bottom rung being Listening and the top rung, Implementing Solutions.

Implementing Solutions

Collaborating

Evaluating

Data Interpretation

Data Gathering

Anticipating

Listening

Savvy construction contractors simplify things, use “what if” thinking, and focus on the solution rather than the problem.

Garment #7 They Pay Attention to the Company’s Financials

Savvy construction contractors know that knowing what is happening with the bottom dollar is bottom line good business sense.

We’re happy to talk with you about what you need and what we can provide. Give us a call 480-442-4032 Toll Free: 866-629-7735

What Your Potential Clients See When They Look at Your Construction Contracting or Service Business

A construction contracting company or construction service business is a reflection of its owner; it is also a signifier for where the owner is going.

The ideal construction contracting company reflects the owner’s skills and competence built on a foundation of hard work and integrity.

With thanks to Jeff Foxworthy, I submit the following:

You might own an ideal construction business;

If you’re Competent in your trade and in running your business.

If you’re known in your social and work circles as being Credible.

If you’re Experienced in both your trade as well as business ownership.

If you make it a point to stay informed and monitor changes within your industry. If you’re a Life-Long Learner.

If you’re Reliable over and over and over.

If you’re Detail-Oriented, Observant, Meticulous, let’s face it – a Persnickety person.

If you’re just plain easy to be around. If you are (in other words) Personable.

Working with you to keep you at the top of your game

If you’re a part of the Schulte and Schulte Client Family you already know we do much more than “the typical bookkeeper;” we work with you to help you reach your goals, scale your business, and be as profitable as possible.

If you’re not yet part of the circle and you want to find out what the Schulte and Schulte Client Family already knows, give us a call. We’ll get you on the schedule to learn more about what we do, how we do it, and how you can get in on it.  480-442-4032 or Toll Free: 866-629-7735