5 Mistakes Construction Contractors Make When Trying to Scale

Mistakes construction contractors make when trying to scale

Mistakes construction contractors make when trying to scale

Trying to do it all

Superman you’re not. KAPOW! Nor are you Wonder Woman. SNAP! So, as we say in our office, DWI (Deal With It.) We also say LIF (Life Isn’t Fair) but, that’s another story for another time. Now, we’ll concentrate on the fact that if your intention is to scale your business, you must have key employees and advisors in place in order to think strategically and focus on growth.

From the back office, to the front office, to the shop, and in the field, having people in place who can help you carry the load is the difference between wishful thinking and decisively moving forward.

And, if you wear all or most of the hats in your construction business, your goal is to replace yourself one position at a time. Finding every task you presently perform yourself and delegating them to your employees and freelance advisors is a sound business tactic that will move you forward more quickly.

In addition to your lawyer, your insurance provider, your bonding agent, your tax preparer, and your loan providers you do well to consider having excellent freelance advisors on board. Everything from virtual assistants, to human resource experts, to accounting advisors, (That’s Us!) will free you up to find ways to work on your business rather than in it.

When you’re able to delegate, (in-house or out) you have the precious commodity of time. Time to spend judiciously planning for the next steps that are about to take place.

Chasing squirrels

Dug, the dog in the movie “Up” is delightfully fun, because he is the ultimate squirrel chaser. And, because he is so easily distracted he is the perfect example of what it sometimes feels like to be the owner of a construction contracting company. You know, there are squirrels at every turn.

It is downright hard not to chase idea after idea and change after change. Squirrels make it difficult to settle with one (good enough) option. Perhaps it is business objectives, marketing strategies, client types, or even (hold your breath) other business ventures.

And, the squirrels can be as subtle as offers for business trainings which seem attractive but don’t really push you forward in meeting your immediate goals. Another insidious squirrel can be found in the purchase of tools or technology that aren’t needed.

One way to deal with squirrels crossing your path is to take note of them. If an idea, thought, or offer attracts your attention, write it down. In other words, keep a squirrel list. Then quickly decide (use your leadership powers to be decisive) if they are good, mediocre, bad, or future squirrels. Sometimes the simple tactic of “sleeping on it” will help you decide. Other times you may wish to visit the people from the above section, (your in-house and outside advisors) before making a decision.

One last thought on squirrel chasing – don’t become befuddled by the off chance you should have followed that one “great” squirrel. You’re in the construction industry, there are tons of squirrels in the construction forest. Another will be along soon enough.

Neglecting to think like their clients

Clients focus on the end product, not the process. Construction clients don’t like the changes you force on them. They do not want to be disrupted. They simply want what they want when they want it. Yet the very nature of the beast we call “construction contracting” means you’re disrupting the lives of your clients, be it for only a day or for many months.

Try putting yourself in their shoes. Suppose when you went to buy a car you were told that for the next six weeks you would have to figure out another way to get to work, to the grocery store, or to the movies because your car would be out of commission. Not only that, you would have to spend some time daily watching as piece by piece your new car was assembled . . . in your driveway. Not a pretty picture. Yet, depending on your trade you may be asking your clients to endure something very similar.

And your clients who (remember?) want what they want when they want it, are probably not all that prepared to have you disrupt their lives. You can help them get over that hurdle through constant and honest communication before, during, and after the project.

Oh yeah, don’t forget this part. Clients HATE surprises. Clients will be more understanding of a temporary defect or delay if communication comes first from you.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a service provider, a general contractor, or a sub; it doesn’t matter if you’re on a commercial site or a residential site, there is always a client and you must always consider ways to think like your client.

Failing to document their processes

You may have heard someone joking on one of your social channels that if there are no pictures – it didn’t happen. That is fun and funny. Yet the truth is if there are no documented systems there is no scalable business. If you want your business to grow, you must have systems in place with written instructions concerning how the processes work in order to maintain the system. If it is all in your head, then by golly, it is all in your head that you own a viable construction business.

Wendy Tadokoro from Process Street tells Why You Need to Document Business Processes. If you don’t know, check out the article, it’s eye opening.

Now that you know why, it is time to learn a lot about how (and more about why.) Sam Carpenter wrote a book titled Work the System. You can find the book and other helpful information on his website. It is worth the time it takes to check it out. He offers insight into how to build a successful business through the use of documented processes. His story of how the business he was about to lose was turned around from the brink of disaster is captured throughout the book. If he can’t convince you how important the process of process capture is, then probably no one can.

Forgetting that trimming fat is part of scaling

Much like starting up, scaling up requires some belt tightening or fat trimming in order to make it through. It isn’t simply a matter of hiring more hands, finding more work, and making more money. If your additional labor, travel, or equipment costs eat up the additional money you make on a variety of jobs you’ll find all you’ve gained is more headache.

What scaling really means is finding a way to increase your profits. Increasing your profits means finding ways to earn more money while not spending more money.

Inefficiencies exist in your present organization. Some systems are in need of repair or should be eliminated. Other systems need to be developed.

You may even have some people who will no longer fit into your company for any number of reasons. Perhaps they don’t want to grow, can’t see your vision, simply don’t gel with the rest of your staff.

Focus on operational efficiency.

Then focus on motivating your team towards a common goal of scaling up and being relentless in achieving it.

Is your bookkeeper stuck in the old way of just doing the books? Then we would love to show you what modern bookkeepers do. As accounting advisors, we help you drive profitability. Give us a call to set up a consulting session. 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.

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

Seeing the Value of the Destination

Becoming an entrepreneur, starting your own construction contracting or service business is the beginning of a journey. It is likely you saw one, a few, or all of the following actions as reasons for becoming your own boss.

  • Calling your own shots.
  • Taking care of your family.
  • Providing jobs for others.
  • Providing value to customers.
  • Making a profit.
  • Becoming professionally accomplished.
  • Leaving a legacy.

Enduring the process takes seeing the value of the destination

As a construction contractor or service business owner you’ve become familiar with learning, adapting, creating, and risk taking. Now, you’ve gotten to the point where you’re ready to grow your contracting business and it is time to hunker down, prepare for the next step in your journey and move toward the expanded destination. And, enduring the process takes seeing the value of the destination.

It is simple

Look back at the action list above. It is likely that you’ve already gotten good at the first four items on the list. Now it is time to focus on the last three.

And this is where it gets exciting. The value of the destination becomes clear. The value of the destination associated with the last three items on the list is their inherent ability to enhance your business’ as well as your own capabilities in all seven areas.

It is time

It will take time and energy as well as new ideas. It will mean you must give more in the determination department as well. For example, you’ll need to get more familiar with the latest technology. Yet, this is a perfect time and opportunity to scale your construction contracting or service business.

Because you can see the great value of the destination.

We at Schulte and Schulte are glad to be on this journey with you.

Owning then Scaling a Construction Contracting or Service Business

In the beginning you had to:

  • Figure out the legal, financial, and operational aspects of your business
  • Understand how to communicate and negotiate
  • Learn how to promote your business, yourself, and your products or services
  • Comprehend how to keep the accounts, stay organized, and run the office
  • Grasp the responsibilities of entrepreneurship

Now, you’re ready to scale

Not simply running with the big dogs – being a big dog. You’ve mastered so much already and the time has come to master even more. In fact, you’ll need to hone the above-mentioned aspects of starting a construction contracting or service business to a greater degree.

While it doesn’t hurt to know how to pick up the tools of your trade and apply them to good use what matters more is understanding the tools inherent to being a successful business owner.

Consider this

Which is more important?

  • Knowing how to cut a short board or knowing how to cut a meeting short
  • Knowing how to paint a room or knowing how to paint the picture which your potential customers need in order to purchase a painted room from you
  • Knowing how to twist the wrench or knowing how to twist out all the information necessary so you’ll be able to go above your clients’ expectations
  • Knowing how to celebrate your personal achievements or knowing how to celebrate the accomplishments of your crew
  • Knowing how to build then install a cabinet or knowing how to build then scale your construction contracting business

Mindset matters

It is perfectly acceptable to be proud of the skills you have and your ability to accomplish the various tasks associated with your particular trade. Those skills have likely played a great part in getting you where you are now.

And, if you’re going to scale your construction contracting business now is the time to build on the additional skills you’ve been learning all along. Not every carpenter, electrician, plumber, painter, or other tradesman has the where-with-all to become the owner of a business within their discipline. But, you do! Congratulations!

Because you’ve already accomplished much, it is only a small degree of difference to begin your journey of scaling your construction contracting or service business.

Let’s put it this way, we at Schulte and Schulte don’t believe in mumbo-jumbo about wishing or thinking your way to success. We do believe it takes hard work and the proper mindset. We further believe that, while “thinking you can” doesn’t always accomplish the task, “thinking you can’t” will always achieve its goal.

There is more to learn

In an earlier article, I talked about some things you should be doing when working ON rather than IN your business.

  • Planning
  • Hiring
  • Training
  • Leading the management team
  • Delegating
  • Presenting
  • Selling
  • Negotiating
  • Tracking results

If you’re not proficient at any of these skills, begin learning and practicing. Being the leader of an enterprise which is scaling is not an easy job, but it is certainly a rewarding one and one worth putting your best efforts into.

We at Schulte and Schulte are happy to stand beside you and work with you to aid you in scaling your construction contracting or service business.

Build A Bigger Business – Think big; act bold

This is part two in a five-part series concerning Steps to Scaling Your Construction Contracting Business. You can see the introduction to the series by clicking here.

Are you among those who’ve figured out the simple way to deal with a puzzle maze is to begin at the end? The misguided and errant paths become much less of a problem to be dealt with when working a maze backwards. Same thing holds true when trying to figure out the puzzle which is all the moving parts of your construction contracting business.

When you start preparing to grow your business begin with the end in mind. Decide what matters to you in the long-term and formulate a big vision. Another term for this step is deciding on an exit strategy. Here are four typical scenarios:

  1. You determine your business will only exist until you retire or die.
  2. You plan to sell your business assets including the name.
  3. You choose to create a legacy firm which your children and later generations will own and run.
  4. You decide to develop a construction contracting firm designed to scale into and beyond the long-term, and which others (not your family) will manage.

Get ready to take “next steps”

Acting Bold becomes easier when you know which outcome you’re working toward. It allows you to focus on today’s steps, the ones which are getting you and your team to the end.

Some suggested next steps:

  • Be proactive.
  • Step back and look at the bigger picture.
  • Develop plans with concrete actions concerning how growth will be achieved.
  • Create realistic growth targets.
  • Decide to think big now hiring out as much of the daily work as possible.
  • Work to surround yourself with the right team members, various mentors, and good connections.
  • Create a model that doesn’t solely depend on you.
  • Think about autonomy for those working for you in order to test weaknesses and holes concerning moving toward your big vision.
  • Learn how to separate your ego from the big vision – trust the vision to do the heavy lifting.

Get ready to step aside

In case you missed it – all four of the above options will have you stepping aside – not being “boss” anymore. In his article in The Harvard Business Review, Noam Wasserman discusses The Founder’s Dilemma in which he states you can choose to be rich or you can choose to be king. He goes on to say it is rare indeed for a business founder to be both.

Whichever route you choose to take (whichever ending you’re working toward) you’ll find it easier to know which “next step” you need to take depending on where you intend to end up.

Your call to action:

Determine your exit strategy. Now begin taking steps to achieve it.

CoConstruct: Custom Build and Remodel 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, and dig a little deeper into our favorites.

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

CoConstruct is geared specifically for custom home builders and remodelers. This software is designed to include everything that goes into home building from initial client leads, all the way through punchlist and warranty work. The video above gives a brief overview of the software in action, particularly the financial setup of a project start. CoConstruct has a lot more features baked into it than we have time to get into here, but we want to highlight a couple of the features that we believe set CoConstruct apart from other similar apps and software.

Keep Your Clients Informed – “If the clients ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”
Keeping your clients informed as the project progresses is an essential part of any custom build, and CoConstruct takes a lot of the time involved in doing this off of your hands. Included in the software is a client-only web portal that shows them the information they are looking for; 24-7 access to selections, costs, photos, conversations, job calendar, and more. This gives them the opportunity to know exactly where the project is at, and also allows them to share progress photos and your work with their friends through social media, which translates to referrals for your company!

Improved Client Communication – Kiss the “he said, she said” goodbye
CoConstruct has patent-pending communication technology that allows all communication between your team, client, and trade partners to be found in one place. This allows everyone involved in the project to be on the same page, and if changes happen then everyone involved will be in the communication loop without having to worry about forwarding emails, IMs, or text messages to all of the relevant parties.

Finish Strong – Leave a great last impression on your clients
CoConstruct makes it a priority to see your client’s projects through to completion, even while you are moving on to new jobs. You won’t get caught dropping the ball with your clients and subcontractors regarding warranty work with the reports and reminders that will come up, months and years down the line. It’s the “little things” like this that can make or break a great referral for your company, and CoConstruct has your back.

We love CoConstruct, 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!

Scale Your Construction Contracting Business

Escalating your business to the next level

So, you’re ready to scale your construction contracting business. It is time to move to a new level. You have plans, thoughts, and ideas about moving into the big league. Read on, because there is a brief primer ahead to help you begin to work through that process. But, before we go any further, I’m going to tell you the same thing my dad had to remind me of on more than one occasion.

If it was easy, everybody would do it

Scaling isn’t as easy as finding the right app, purchasing the correct software, or hiring the right superintendent. It is a process, with many components, and it requires commitment.

I’m not trying to take the wind out of your sails. As a matter of fact, I hasten to add, while you can’t change the direction of the wind, you can adjust your sails in order to reach your destination.

What the heck does it even mean?

A little more than a decade ago I came across the term and the idea of scaling your business. In context, I sort of had an idea of what it meant, but wasn’t completely sure. How about you? Do you know what it means? If not, this definition and explanation of scalability found on divestopedia is short, concise, and is worth your time to check out.

Identify ways to upgrade processes on the path to scaling your business

The most basic take-away from divestopedia’s article is a scalable business is one that focuses on the implementation of processes that lead to an efficient operation.

You’ll need to identify those processes which can be reproduced at a rapid rate, without generating increased costs. Think in terms of automating certain processes that currently require time and hands-on interaction.

One example of this type of automation can be found at your local supermarket, where you’ll find four or more self-check counters manned by only one person.

Another example is how we, at Schulte and Schulte, LLC work with you through accounting software or SaaS and various apps implementing an automated process.

Speaking of apps, this List of 17 construction apps for 2017 is a good place to begin your research into some ways to simplify, update, or structure some of the functions necessary for running your present and future job sites.

Of course, there are other technologies which are no longer the stuff of science fiction, but are already being embraced and are quite literally changing the landscape of the construction contracting field as well as the landscape around us.

  • Robotics
  • Drones
  • 3D printing

Look into what each of these technologies are already being used by your colleagues as well as your competitors. Think in terms of investing in what will bring the most ROI not only now but in the upcoming years.

10 important scale driving measures to take

Scaling your business goes beyond buying the latest technological item or system. There is more to the whole notion of scaling your business. Just as you put in time and effort to start your business, you’ll need to put in additional time and effort to scale your business. Following is a list of actions you’ll need to consider.

  1. Update and reshape your business plan
  2. Line up any necessary funding
  3. Pay attention to your consistent brand messaging across divisions, locations, and mediums
  4. Embrace standardization (scalable companies have effective tools for measurement)
  5. Hire people smarter and more talented than you
  6. Outsource what makes sense
  7. Focus on ROI
  8. Document everything
  9. Plan for the little things
  10. Keep trying until you find what works

In order to scale you must indeed be proactive rather than reactive. Begin building into your business those standardized functions which will continue working whether or not you’re at the helm.

OK, now where is the blueprint?

Not here. I won’t be able to offer you a “Your business blueprint,” yet I have given you enough information to begin putting your own blueprint together. And, good news, (caution — big self-serving plug here) we at Schulte and Schulte, LLC are ready, willing, and able to aid you through accounting advice as you take the scaling up steps.

In case you are wondering. Yes, we have built into our plans and strategy the scaling of Schulte and Schulte, LLC. One of our favorite parts of the plan is that as your construction contracting business scales we’ll be on the scaling escalator right beside you.

Construction Contractor, Got a Problem with Your Financial Reports?

Do your financial reports measure up?

Because your financial reports should tell you much more than what you’ve already done. Because your financial reports are more than numbers for the tax-man or the banker. Because your financial reports are all about guiding you to scale your business. We’re glad you stopped in.

Check Us Out!

Since Schulte and Schulte, LLC came into being we’ve been construction-accounting-centric.

We have knowledge and understanding concerning what construction contractors need when it comes to financial reports. With almost two decades of “being in the trenches” of construction bookkeeping and accounting, Tonya, the co-founder of our firm, has deep knowledge about what contractors need. She and her team all work diligently staying ahead of the curve concerning all the latest and helpful contractor accounting technology systems and support apps.

We know what you want and need

We have no desire to send our clients a mound of reports they don’t understand and won’t bother reading. Our intention is to instead work with each of our clients by providing reports which are meaningful, reports which answer the kinds of essential questions contractors have about managing their individual companies.

The well qualified “regular” bookkeeper has no experience with the specific requirements of contractors, they therefore aren’t able to make suggestions themselves. At the same time, many contractors are not familiar with the capabilities of the robust bookkeeping software or SaaS systems available and therefore aren’t aware of what to ask for.

This “two ships passing in the night” scenario leads to a communication gap that can be devastating to both parties.

Our services are designed to allow you to scale your business

Tonya, recently said, “I take great pride in my work. I love getting each piece of the accounting puzzle to fit in the right place. But, even more fun for me is seeing the lightbulb go off over a client’s head. I get excited when I can hear in their voice that moment of recognition when understanding dawns. I like it when they ‘get it’ about another important aspect of their financial documents. I love my job!”

If you’ve had it with the status quo, if you’re looking for the right bookkeeping and accounting firm to aid you in scaling your construction contracting or subcontracting business . . .well, let’s just say, now is the time. Call 480-442-4032 today. Or Toll Free: 866-629-7735

Physical Office Processes for Savvy Construction Contractors

Fitting together the pieces of organized office processes

When you think of office processes, what comes to mind?

  • Do you jump immediately to thoughts of your desk, your computer?
  • Are you concerned with “how things get done?”
  • Do you think of your vehicles?

Well, good physical office processes have to do with all of the above and a little bit more.

What is meant by “office processes”?

An easy way to understand office processes is to think of a simple mathematical equation.

Space Planning + Effective Utilization = Impressive Results

While you’re at it, think about this other mathematical equation.

Chaos Increasing + Inefficient Implementation = Profits Decreasing

The first equation works well because it has a place for everything, and everything in its place, plus a good system for all the functions encountered each day in your office.

Your office processes extend to all your office environments

Your construction contracting office is likely to spread across a few different environments. It could exist in a spare bedroom, at a local coffee house, at your work shop, or in a separate designated office space. And, there is a very good chance it exists in your vehicles as well. All the steps necessary to make your physical office processes work in one environment may be employed in all your environments. The good news is there are some basic tenants to hold on to while building or remodeling your processes.

Functions encountered in a construction contractor’s office

Perhaps you deal with only some of the following office functions, and it could well be you deal with other functions not listed. Yet, this is a starter list (in no particular order) to aid you in thinking about the variety of duties and activities accomplished on a regular basis within one or more of your office environments.

  • take care of customer service
  • deal with employee training
  • engage in data entry
  • complete payroll
  • complete and follow up on tax forms
  • process invoices
  • communicate with customers as well as subcontractors.
  • answer phones
  • set appointments
  • handle social media duties
  • prepare marketing materials (or work with your marketing guru)
  • work on office projects
  • work with subcontractors to ensure paperwork is in order including:
    • contracts
    • status with Registrar of Contractors
    • insurance certificates
    • lien releases
    • evaluate subcontractor bids
  • track and process invoices for subcontractors
  • track and process invoices for material providers
  • deal with change order requests
  • handle tracking logs (such as client materials selections)
  • coordinate with outsourced service providers
  • deal with insurance claims
  • track warranty and product information
    • for customers
    • for in-house equipment
  • research, select, bid, and/or order construction materials
  • deal with RFPs
  • assemble applications for subsidies (such as solar credits)
  • run subcontractor orientation sessions
  • maintain contact lists for subcontractors and material suppliers
  • copy, scan, fax and file documents
  • maintain office supplies
  • post and/or prepare required items for the jobsite
  • run errands
  • perform periodic website updates

Scale the processes

Step into, sit down in, or simply think about the space that makes up each of your offices.

While your first thought may be to organize the physical spaces, it is better to think in terms of situating your spaces to accommodate the processes. Identify the purpose of each space by thinking categorically. What gets done here? What work zone is this? Perhaps it will be better to move some office furniture or supplies to a different location in order to allow “next step” actions to take place from left to right, or vice versa, or from a central location to each spoke of what process happens next. Your space will be more accommodating to one set-up or another. Look it over and see what will work best.

The 9 steps to organize by process

  1. Think
  2. Plan
  3. Group like things with like things
  4. Place items most used in most accessible places
  5. Be consistently consistent
  6. Label everything
  7. Simplify every chance you get
  8. Avoid the words “for now…”
  9. Leave yourself some breathing space

Take your time with the plan before going out to buy new office supplies, equipment, or storage solutions.

7 things to consider concerning office organization and set-up

  1. Furniture
  2. Fixtures
  3. Equipment
  4. Lighting
  5. Cable management
  6. Shared spaces (employees and customers)
  7. Storage

When you begin to use the work zones you’ve set up you may find the actual flow needs tweaking. That’s fine. Be open to the idea of moving containers or changing your zones to best fit your needs, while keeping in mind the principles of organization. Think in terms of giving yourself permission to change the system, while being organized about the change itself. If a process is not working, try to determine if it is being handled in the wrong processing zone. Perhaps a change of location is all that is needed.

Using whatever horizontal space is available (for instance, a kitchen table or a rickety old desk) is fine to get started. But making your office space as ergonomically satisfying, as conducive to work, and as handsome as possible as soon as possible is a big step to scaling both your office processes as well as your overall operation.

Lastly, a few things for the cab

To give you a little icing for the cake of your organized office spaces I thought I would mention these handy organizing tools for use in your vehicles. Duluth Trading has a couple of office-cab organizers found here and here. Plus you may want to stop by Mobilegear to see this nice organizing solution.

Today: Jot down some ideas concerning how you can begin making your physical office processes work more systematically.

Tomorrow: Start putting the pieces of your office processes puzzle together. Keep adding pieces daily until you have a stunning, new picture to look at.  

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This is the last in a series of articles discussing ways of organizing your construction contracting office, shop, vehicle, and day. You can look through the list of all these articles right here.