Thanksgiving and Virtual Accounting and More

Thanksgiving is incomplete without pumpkin pie and giving of thanks.

Thanksgiving and Virtual Accounting and More

Thanksgiving and the presidents

Speaking of Thanksgiving, what kind of content creator misses the opportunity to wax poetic about a seasonal holiday? I mean, it is on the calendar and all, right? Pretty hard to miss a day that has been set aside by two very popular American presidents.

Two? you ask. Yep, two!

Thanksgiving and tradition

Then, of course there is all the jazz about food and family, food and football, food and festivities. Who would pass up the opportunity to grab some attention concerning one’s business and how it relates to turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, dinner rolls, veggies, pumpkin pie and . . . uh, you know Pilgrims? Or, was that Puritans? 

Thanksgiving and content

Not to mention, there is all this talk about “evergreen content.” And, if you don’t happen to see this article until sometime in . . . say . . . I don’t know, maybe August of 2019 there is a very real possibility you won’t be all that enthralled about turning on the oven to cook up some fancy (and secret) accounting specialist’s audacious turkey recipe. Uh-huh! You know I’m right!

“So,” ye asks yourself, “how is she going to pull this one off? What is she going to do about the fact that the weekly blog post is scheduled to fall the day before Thanksgiving in the year 2018?” Read on, dear one, read on.

Thanksgiving and virtual accounting

We’ve already covered the “Thanksgiving and More” part of what this post is about. So, now we’re getting to the part about “Virtual Accounting.”

That is what we do.

We do the accounting for our clients in that all so important way – virtually.

And, if you’ve been around for a while, you may have seen or heard us mention that we have virtual morning meetings weekdays with our Schulte and Schulte team.

What you may not have known (until now) is that we open our meetings with prayer.

Yep, each morning one of us offers up a brief prayer. And, almost without exception the prayer begins with Thanksgiving. We thank God that we are part of a great accounting firm called Schulte and Schulte. Our thanks giving varies, yet it can include the means we have for meeting, our families and homes and so on. And, we often offer thanks for our vendors, or our clients, and the clients of our clients. Is that considered trickle-down praying? 🙏

Thanksgiving and our accounting clients

The gratefulness we have concerning our clients is part and parcel of who we are. If you are one of our clients, of if you’ve come across our radar as a potential client we give thanks for you, plus we ask for a blessing on you.

It is actually rather heady. We pray in gratitude for our chance to be a small part of the construction contracting industry. We watch how contractors shape the buildings, roads, bridges and more where we reside, work, shop, travel, heal, worship, and play and we are astonished by their accomplishments.

And, we are always thankful for our clients!

Schulte and Schulte is a virtual accounting firm which specializes in meeting the back office needs of  commercial construction subcontractors. From bookkeeping to company-wide systems building and a few things in between, we give our clients services that improve their businesses.

Plus, we are grateful for them and we pray for them. Want to learn more? Get in touch here.

The Top 5 Critical Problems Schulte and Schulte Solves for Owners of Construction Contracting Companies

 

When you first became a construction contractor or construction service business owner it was pretty simple – get a job, do the job, get paid, see how much money you made. Now, things are different. You have people working for you, people who rely on you in order to make a living.

Knowing the whats, hows, and whys of construction accounting has become much more difficult.

Following are 5 critical problems Schulte and Schulte solves for clients on a regular basis.

Not knowing how to maintain cash flow

“Projecting future cash flow is something I’ve never understood how to do.”

Solution: Once the system is implemented you’re “in the know” daily concerning all the angles of cash flow.

Not having proper records for the IRS and for other potential needs – like proving credit worthiness

“I’m not even sure what I should keep, much less how to keep it.”

Solution: Your records are brought up-to-date and kept current so you’re always ready for both the IRS as well as for investors or loaning institutions.

Constantly having to chase work to build revenue

“It seems if I’m going to make money I always have to find new work (some I don’t even want to do) and it drains my time, energy, and capital. There’s got to be a better way.”

Solution: You’re taught smarter ways of maximizing revenue rather than the eternal work chase.

Not understanding their job costs

“I know it is more than just what I pay my people and how much I paid for supplies, but I’m not sure what all goes into job costing.”

Solution: You know what the job costs are for each job and for each type of job, giving you valuable insight concerning future jobs.

Not having enough time in the day to do it all as a small business owner

“I don’t hardly have time to breathe, much less time for figuring out all the ins and outs of construction business accounting.”

Solution: You’re relieved of trying to “figure it out.” The Schulte and Schulte pros take away much of the “drudge” of bookkeeping while informing you regularly about the financial health of your construction contracting or service business.

Solution: Maximizing Your Profits.

Now that you know we offer solutions for your critical problems, it is time to stop messing around and trying to figure it out yourself. Reach us through this number 480-442-4032 or get in touch here.

Football + Accounting + Construction Contractor

So . . . your kid is on his high school football team. And your team is in The Game! They’re playing well! And so is the other team. It is exciting! They’re in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter. Your team has been given the ball. If they make this touch down your team wins! The entire crowd (all those parents, siblings, and friends  wearing the school colors) is standing, waving, shouting. You’re becoming hoarse with the yelling, you’re tense in every fiber of your being, right along with everyone around you.

Your team’s coach is ready for this. He has been working with and preparing the team just for this fabulous victory – so he looks around, thinks quickly, points at just the “right” players . . . and sends in the defensive squad.

What???

What is going on here? Everyone knows it is time to get the offense out there on the field. It is time for them to strut their stuff. It is time to make that touchdown and take home the win!

For way too long, too many Construction Contractors and Service Business Owners have been playing with only half a team, their defensive team, when it comes to their accounting. The game is on, it is getting tense, it is time to make that game winning touchdown – and it is time to put your offense on the field.

Enter team offense!

We at Schulte and Schulte work to take our clients to an accounting stance which is proactive rather than the reactive. We work hard to make sure our clients take home the win.

You get our team to work with you to help you reach your goals, scale your construction contracting business, and be as profitable as possible. The front-line tech that allows us to automate across the board and to help you get better, more up to date, more accurate data, more quickly means you have an offensive team ready for the challenge.

Are you ready to win?

We’re ready to work with you to see it happen! 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

From Accounting to Bidding – Nailing It!

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

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

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

Taking a holistic look at the numbers

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

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

 

  • What your equipment costs you to own annually

 

  • Your overhead percentages per job

 

  • Your cost of sales

 

  • Your gross profit

 

  • Your net profits

 

  • Your gross margin percentage

 

  • What your liabilities and debt are

Some further information your reports will divulge

  • How your fixed costs are affecting your bottom line

 

  • How well each department or division is doing

 

  • How your sales are affected seasonally

 

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

 

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

What’s the point?

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

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

There’s an app for that

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

Additional Knowify features

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

 

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

 

  • Accurately track POs, expenses and revenue per job

 

  • Manage multiple jobs simultaneously

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Strategies for Finding and Keeping Good Construction Employees

A successful construction contracting or service business means having great people on your team. Finding and keeping those great people is a vital part of maintaining the success. So, how do you go about not only finding them, but also keeping them around?

Long term thinking

Of course, people who are looking for a job are concerned with both salary and benefits, yet those two items are only part of the equation.

Just as on the sales side of your company it is important to build a reputation for going above the expected with customer care and satisfaction, it is important to build a reputation for providing what potential employees are seeking and giving even more.

You have a number of possibilities concerning the reputation just right for your construction company to attract great employees. And, you can figure out rather quickly which your reputation is more likely to be, because it will be tied to your core values. There is more information about core values here.

Here are some examples of the reputation you may build, of the junction where your company and your potential employees may meet up:

  • strives to be organized and efficient
  • seeks projects that are unique and challenging
  • provides opportunity for advancement
  • uses the same systems and products
  • makes safety a big issue

Look through the list of your construction company’s core values and you’re likely to find a number of points which will provide value to your employees as well as potential employees.

Yet, you must remember it is truly the reputation that counts. In the long run, thinking long-term, it is incumbent upon you to strive constantly to build a reputation of being an excellent company to work for.

Now is the time to look at hiring the young and (perhaps) inexperienced, giving them opportunity to go through an apprenticeship, training, and step-by-step movement into supervisory roles. Certainly, these movements take time, yet when you are upfront with new employees about what they can expect and how long it will take, you give them more incentive to stick around.

Just as you must make sure the ads you post seeking new employees include the qualities you want in a new hire, you must include the benefits as well as the special qualities your company provides.

While you’re at it, remember engaging with today’s workforce means using today’s technology. Think in terms of mobile devices, social media, and the collaboration tools young people are used to and will learn easily.

I need boots on the ground now

You may have found you’ve been unable to bid on jobs you wanted because you simply don’t have the “boots on the ground” right now. Or, you may have had to tell your customer it is going to take a little longer than expected because you simply don’t have enough people to don the hard hats necessary to complete on time.

That being said, what can be done to find employees now who will be an asset to your business in years to come?

I’ve asked around with people I know “in the business,” checked with my good friend “google,” and searched my own personal memory banks to find answers to the question. Like most things in life, there is no magic wand when it comes to finding, hiring, and retaining the best employees, yet there are some strategies you can use to aid in the endeavor.

  • offer referral bonuses which encourage current employees to recommend competent people for open positions
  • encourage feedback from present employees and make improvements based on what you learn
  • become a supporter of the apprenticeship programs in your area
  • reach out to technical schools and high school career programs
  • create or join a program where you and other contractors bring in students annually for tours, hands on interaction, and a discussion of the job opportunities in the construction field*
  • employ construction focused interns for summer programs
  • create the right job posting
  • use social media to attract a younger demographic to the trades

*For those of you who are in Arizona, here is an example of a program you may be interested in being a part of. It is being presented by the Association of Construction Career Development, and this year it is being held on November 2nd. Check it out. Click through their pages. You may want to sponsor or volunteer.

Keeping ‘em around

This part starts with you and the supervisors in your construction company. You must show good character and have integrity. Leaders create the environment, and make or break the possibility of attracting and keeping employees who are honest, who show responsibility, and who can grow and thrive.

Once you’ve recognized and hired good workers they need to be utilized and trained in meaningful ways. You can include them in the process by letting them know, “this is where we’re going.” Encourage them to take ownership of their work.

Reward them. One fellow I heard from said, “We reward our employees randomly for their excellent work.”

Sometimes, a handwritten note or personal e-mail thanking or congratulating an employee will be reward enough. Other times, providing gift cards to a deserving team is appropriate. Taking the entire crew to a lunch or dinner meal will go a long way to show your appreciation of them.

Be sure to include professional development opportunities through training and classes.  Prove you’re invested in them long-term by encouraging them to learn new skills or further develop their strengths.

Strive to make it known yours is a workplace where employees are respected and trusted. Work hard to show your employees they have reason to have a sense of security that comes with stability – meaning hanging around has its advantage.

Be sensitive to and care about the needs of your employees as well as their families.

You should be able to pass on to your employees the concept that their wellbeing and the companies wellbeing walk hand-in-hand. Helping them to see they are a part of the big picture serves both your business and the employee’s sense of pride in job well done.

How Schulte and Schulte can assist you

As a part of the suite of accounting services we offer our construction contractor clients, they can choose to allow us to prepare their payroll and deal with all the details associated with that task.

Did you know Inc. Magazine extolls the benefits of outsourcing “payroll” for small businesses? That makes sense to us, because that gives you, the contractor or service provider the time to seek, hire, and engage your employees in the services you provide your customers.

And since we specialize in accounting for construction contractors and service providers you know we know all the ins and outs of the industry. Give us a call to see how we can be of assistance to you. 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

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.