The Hidden Strategy for Construction Subcontractors

It is phenomenal what being organized can do for commercial construction subcontractors

It’s not magic, but it is phenomenal what being organized can do for commercial construction subcontractors. From attracting the best employees to getting better bid opportunities, the foremost contractors are the ones who “have their act together.” That means, quite simply, everything from their minds to their offices are organized.

Being Organized – It’s the Name of the Game!

During the years I’ve spent with leaders in a variety of industries (including construction contractors,) I’ve come to realize that one important quality great leaders achieve is the ability to be well organized.

Put another way, a solid system of organization is crucial to great leadership.

Getting down to brass tacks – productivity is minimalized when disorganization is maximized.

And, productivity is crucial to developing the construction subcontracting company excellent general contractors are seeking.

Organizing with a purpose

Being organized allows you to:

  • Find what you need when you need it
  • Remain on track with your goals and objectives
  • Prioritize with increased knowledge and understanding
  • Focus on important relationships
  • Increase employee satisfaction

And frankly, being organized gives you a competitive advantage when submitting bids or otherwise seeking jobs.

A month of organizing strategies and tactics

For this entire month, the Schulte and Schulte blog and social media posts will focus on giving construction contractors information and guidance concerning organizing strategies and tactics.

The areas we will talk about organizing are:

  • Mind
  • Time
  • Tech
  • Space

You do want to be a highly effective leader. Right? Then come along. We’ll get started today by introducing the information concerning organizing your mind.

Get this in your head

Back in the 90s, there was this saying going around and around and around to the point of ad nauseum. It was “garbage in, garbage out.” You know the reference was to computers and was a way of saying you can’t expect good solutions if you’re inserting bad information.  One online dictionary asserts the saying is, “used to express the idea that in computing and other spheres, incorrect or poor quality input will always produce faulty output.”

While you don’t hear the saying being used much today, the sentiment remains. And, that part about “other spheres” is important because the best computing machine is your brain.

The latest saying in this brain/computer regard is, “I have too many tabs open in my brain.” Some fun wisecrackers add, “and I have no idea where the music is coming from.”  🔊

You get it, don’t you? You’ve experienced those moments when it seems your coffee cup is overflowing, yet someone is holding the coffeepot above your cup and pouring, pouring, pouring. Heck, there might be three or four coffeepots with their spouts aimed at your cup.

Act like a detective

I recently heard former detective Joe Kenda of the television show Homicide Hunter say that when he reached the scene of a crime, his first action was to stop the chaos. As he explained it, he cleared non-essential people from the scene, cleared his head, and clarified for those remaining what their next steps should be.

Clear non-essential thoughts

Royale Scuderi, posting on Lifehack, wrote an article that suggests three steps to clear non-essential thoughts. Go ahead and look, what she suggests is simple, doable, and important.

Clear your head

From there, it is time to clear your head. That might mean taking control of your emotions, or it could be sustaining your focus.

Although you have little control of how you “feel,” you have complete control of how you will react to the emotion. Travis Bradberry, President of TalentSmart, says, “The key is to identify and label your emotions as you experience them. Associating words with what you are feeling makes the emotion tangible and less mysterious. This helps you to relax, figure out what’s behind your emotion, and move forward.”

Sustaining your focus is aided by turning off the distractions. Close the door. Turn off the distraction culprits such as the phone, email, and social media. Hang a sign on your door if needed. Go somewhere else if that is what it takes. And, if you still find your mind wandering, consciously bring your focus back to the task at hand.

Clarify the next steps

It is time to reflect and determine which thoughts you’re going to let back into your mind. You may find yourself in a bit of a Catch 22 situation. How do you know what to act upon next when you’ve essentially emptied your mind of all its griminess?

Try using these boundaries for determining what to allow space in your mind.

  • The old “great idea” is no longer useful because circumstances have changed – toss it.
  • Worry over something about which you have no control is of no use – dump it.
  • Some ideas are okay, but you won’t act on them – give them to someone else to handle.
  • Some ideas might need consolidation because they are alike or similar.
  • Realize some ideas are good, but not for you.
  • Assess which ideas are worth pursuing, but at a later date.

Don’t worry if you haven’t been (totally) successful in stopping the chaos. You’ve likely made some inroads and with practice will get better at organizing your mind.

This has been the first in a four-part series concerned with organizing your construction business. Next time the emphasis will be on organizing your time. Make time for it. 😎

Update: Here is the link, Organizing Time in the Construction World.

Second Update: The third post in the series, found here, is about organizing tech.

Third Update: The fourth and final post in this series is about Organizing your Office Space. 

 

We desire to familiarize you with business concepts, which will make it easier for you to be a better commercial construction business owner 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

Spark the Vision – Part 2

creating and passing on a vision for your commercial construction company.

What follows is the second in a two-part series concerning creating and passing on a vision for your commercial construction company. The first part is here. 

“If you wish to build a ship, do not divide the men into teams and send them to the forest to cut wood. Instead, teach them to long for the vast and endless sea.”

Although there is some controversy concerning the author of this statement the intent is worth noting.

Vision transfer, an important leadership tool

Among your leadership tools, you must include vision transfer. That is, you must be able to get your team to see a vision worth hard work, sacrifice, and endurance.

I know. That seems like a pretty lofty goal in this day and age. It is hard enough to get some people to put on the boots and show up five days in a row. I get it. Taking time to build and pass on a vision will take (yeah) hard work, sacrifice, and endurance on your part. And it will be worth it.

Making your vision real for your team takes:

  • Planning and effort
  • Nailing the vision in your head
  • Passing it on

Plus, it takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Passing on the vision

Last time, [link] the discussion centered on ways to build a vision for your construction contracting business. This time, the goal is to find ways to pass on your vision to your team. Also, last time, there was a sampling of power words you might find useful in developing your vision.

I saved one power word for this post. It is “Imagine.”

And it is indeed powerful. When you can say to your team, “Imagine . . .” and the members of your team can begin to take part in the imagining process, you’re well on your way to winning the game.

Getting your team on board for seeing your vision is tantamount to and foremost in importance for getting your ship out on the seas of the building world. The first two components, the ones on which all the other components stand, or fall are, walk the walk and talk the talk.

Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk

Behave the way you want your team to behave.

Tell your team how you want them to behave. And share what actions you’ve taken to live up to the vision.

Sit on it

Before your vision can stand up, you and your team must sit down. One of the best ways yet found to get buy-in from any person, team, or organization is to let them “own” it.

You may have seen it at work in your own home. Have you noticed that when a child is allowed to help with the preparation of a meal, he or she is much more likely to enjoy eating that meal?

When you bring the team together to “cook” the vision for your company, you have upped the odds for buy-in.

Who sits at the table?

The short answer is everybody.

If you have only a handful of employees, they can gather around the same table. But, if you have more than ten, you need to find several tables for gathering.

You’ve probably seen this principle in action. You meet for a holiday meal with a large family or attend a banquet with rows of tables, and typically conversations take place within clusters of small groups.

Part of your vision building strategy is to create the clusters with purpose. While circumstances can vary, usually, the optimum size of the small group should be between five and ten. Too few and the conversation can stutter. Too many and some will feel their contribution is less worthy.

Small group tactics

The strategy you’re using to get buy-in from your employees is gathering them in small groups to create conversations that will inform and shape your company’s vision.

The tactic you use when you have less than ten employees is to gather all and hash it out.

If you have more than ten employees, the tactics can vary. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Meet in small groups each week until all employees have gotten the message
  • Gather in one large group then break into smaller groups
  • Have the first meeting with your core leaders one week, telling them what you want to achieve and showing them how you want it done. The next week each of them meets with a small group. When necessary, repeat the weekly small group meetings until everyone has gotten the message.

Base your meetings on these key aspects:

  • Teamwork
  • Passion
  • Respect
  • Communication
  • Delivery
  • Fun

Finally, this article, 5 Rules For Making Your Vision Stick, has powerful information concerning how to get employees deeply involved in the vision for their company.

Bottom line

Employee engagement provides team motivation. The motivation that goes above and beyond written tasks and responsibilities.

Imagine . . . when your team sees a vision worth hard work, sacrifice, and endurance.

 

We desire to familiarize you with business concepts, which will make it easier for you to be a better commercial construction business owner 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

Building Castles and High Rises

Building company culture into your team.

Building streams

This report is going to follow two diverse streams which converge to make one river of thought. The first stream has to do with an encounter on a modern city sidewalk and the second with a look at the building of a medieval castle.

Building high rise office structures 

On Tonya’s and my recent trip to Salt Lake City, we had occasion to walk from the convention center to a nearby grocery store. Therefore, we passed through a covered sidewalk which was designed to allow foot traffic to pass safely by a project under construction. As we walked, we noticed three construction workers scurrying past us in the opposite direction. I, being that kind of tourist, asked, “What are you building?”

The quick response from the fellow in the lead was, “America, one building at a time!”

Kapow!

Both Tonya and I were elated with his answer.

In addition,  may I suggest if the people on your crew answer the same way, you’re likely doing something right.

Building an ancient castle in the twenty-first century

Castles aren’t easy to come by these days. Come to think of it, they never were.

For instance, there is this interesting project going on now in France. The folks involved are building a medieval castle with the tools and techniques of the 13th century. The building is expected to be completed in 2023.

An interesting finish date, considering the project first broke ground in 1997. Not bad for a project which, from its inception, was expected to take a quarter of a century to complete.

This castle isn’t to live in. This castle is a classroom in progress.

Guédelon is the world’s biggest experimental archaeological site – and some would say the most ambitious too.”

In other words, stonemasons, blacksmiths, carpenters, woodcutters, tilers, rope-makers, dyers, the builders of the castle seem to look at their part of the project in two ways. For the first way they discuss what they’ve learned. Then, in the second, how proud they are to have been able to contribute.

The streams converge

Above all, what strikes me concerning these two stories is the pride these builders take in their work. Whether the answer is, “I’m building a castle,” or “America, one building at a time,” the question is always out there – what do you do? Where do you work?

Building the answer into your company culture, helping employees see how their contribution matters isn’t always easy. Yet it is worth it.

And, the key is to inspire.

As a result, this is where the river begins to flow.

It is a crazy idea which the folks naming military operations have used successfully for a few years now. Don’t get me wrong, it was they who got it wrong many times along the way until they began to understand how useful the nicknames they used for their operations could be. This article, Naming Military Operations is a War of Words, from the USO website is lengthy, yet quite informative concerning the power of a name.

Building great names to encourage your team

The simply corollary for you as a commercial construction business owner is to use the art of naming projects in such a way as to shape perceptions, boost morale, and reinforce policy objectives. It is a subtle yet effective way to encourage your employees to “own” the importance of each project.

Here are some examples, so you can see what I mean.

You could call your job building the new emergency hospital by the hospital’s name (and bore your staff) or you could use the name “Mission Life Saver.”

If your crew is providing work on the new Mercedes Benz dealership, consider naming the job “Project Hot Wheels.” Or, you might try “Mission Luxurious Rides.”

Did you get the grocery store contract? Think about calling it “Project Nourishment.”

3 ways to find memorable names

  1. If you’re into word play and developing great project names – do it yourself.
  2. Perhaps there is someone in your office or on your crews who would enjoy providing the names – give them the privilege. Do you have word-wise teens at home? Give them the task.
  3. Ask your team members for suggestions – then choose the best one. Or combine a few of the suggestions to come up with the top name.

Another way to use the nicknaming strategy

You can use the same strategy of nicknaming for your in-house projects.

Shop organizing day becomes Operation Thunder.

Documenting office systems can be given the nickname, Project LifeBlood.

And, choosing a new office or shop location might become Mission Possibilities.

You get the idea. The nicknames add an importance level to your various jobs as well as in-house projects.

Building Castles and High Rises and Everything Else

The work you take on in your construction contracting business is important! Be sure your team knows that.

 

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. 866-629-7735

Strategy Planning in Your Construction Business

Strategy Planning in Your Construction Business

Strategy for Goals Planning

In the first two parts of this series we dealt with Task Priority planning and Goals Priority planning.  This time we’ll look at the Strategy infused in Goals Planning.

“There are simply no shortcuts in the long run.” Frank Sonnenberg

Mr. Sonnenberg has a good way of cutting through the hype. While there are easier ways to get certain tasks done, in the long run it is hard work that leads to the win. It is hard work to own, maintain, and run a commercial construction contracting business. Yet, understanding how to prioritize daily tasks as well as long and short-term goals is one way to lighten the load.

Now, let’s delve into what goes on between dealing with today’s daily tasks and reaching long or short-term goals. How do you prioritize the strategic steps to take in order to reach those goals?

Strategy pencil or chisel?

Before we go further, it is well to look at whether your goals and strategy should be written in pencil or chiseled in stone. There are different circumstances which apply, both from the standpoint of what you hope to achieve and your own temperament.

This article When to Set Rigid Goals, and When to Be Flexible, from Harvard Business Review explains how to approach the issue.  The authors lay out the circumstances and principles quite well.

Strategy in context

The goal is the main “big thing” you want to accomplish. A strategy is the path you take to achieve a goal. Built into your strategy will be objectives. The tactics you use to reach each objective are the tools which make it happen.

Think of it this way. Say your goal is to lose weight.

Goal: Lose 20 pounds in 4 months

Strategy: A mix of diet and exercise.

Objectives:

  • research (which food, which gym)
  • purchase a gym membership
  • buy smaller dinner plates
  • empty cupboards of high-calorie snack foods
  • replace previous foods with diet approved items

Tactics:

  • stick to the new diet
  • exercise at the gym

Gym memberships and smaller plates are objectives framed in your strategy. Gym memberships and owning smaller plates won’t help you lose weight. It is the actual tactic of eating less and exercising that moves you to the goal.

Strategy in action

Once you spot a problem in your construction company systems you can set a goal which addresses it.

Let’s say you have a crew which arrive at the jobsite only to discover they’ve left the yard with some of the necessary tools and a few pieces of important materials left behind.

And, this isn’t the first time.

You’ve spotted the problem – inefficiency.

Goal: Reach X% more employee efficiency on all projects by X month of X year.

Strategy: Discover and implement ways to ensure each vehicle leaving the yard is stocked and well equipped for each job.

Objective: Develop systems and checklists for assuring each vehicle leaves the yard prepared for each job daily.

Tactics:

  • Transparency with employees concerning costs and lost opportunity costs due to inefficiency
  • Incentives for superior performance
  • Easily accessed checklists

Often as you take the steps toward your goal you discover unforeseen problems. You can meet the challenges, even change path more easily if you’ve already outlined the goal, strategy, objectives and tactics.

For example, suppose the excellent digital checklist you’ve devised for your crews frustrates them. You may push the, “it takes time to learn, give it a chance” button with your crews or you may decide paper checklists will work just as well.

Strategy you’re familiar with

You likely already use some of the thinking processes involved in this manner of reaching goals even if you haven’t formalized it. Yet, if you practice using this method in writing you’ll be better able to notice missing pieces. You’ll also be better at follow-through and corrective action.

It is our desire this 3-part series of articles (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) is helpful in assisting commercial construction contractors build better building businesses.

Because we are a virtual “corporate accounting office” for commercial construction businesses we can assist you no matter in which of the 50 United States your business is located. Call to see how we can lighten your back-office and accounting burden. Toll Free: 866-629-7735

Instagram and the Construction Contractor

Instagram is a great platform for construction contractors to use for marketing

Instagram? Why?

Before we get into the whats, hows, and wherefores of using Instagram to market your construction contracting business, let’s talk about the why. It isn’t likely in today’s economy that you’re too worried about finding new clients. I recently heard it described this way; “The way you get new clients today is to answer the phone.” Yep, the construction industry is swinging along nicely, thank you!

Why spend time and energy getting the word out when you’re so doggone busy?

It’s hard to market when you’re busy.

I know. I get it.

Yet, it becomes a great deal harder to market when you’re desperate and low on funds.

There is a very real chance that soon, and I mean very soon, things can change. And you don’t want to be “that guy.” You know, the guy who was so busy he didn’t take time to let his future potential clients know he even exists.

It’s busy now, but . . .

This article from Forbes has a scary headline, The Next Recession Might Be Worse Than The Great Depression, yet actually hedges a bit toward the end, mentioning there are differences of opinion.

What the author seems to understand is, crystal balls (even those backed by historical evidence and personal experience) sometimes crack or fog up.

What doesn’t have a question mark attached to it are the opening words of the article, “The Next Recession.” The economy is cyclical. It goes up. It comes down.

Another article from Money has much the same to say about the possibility that things won’t be looking so good in just a year or two. And this article uses the construction industry as an indicator of the slow down ahead.

Time to sit up and pay attention.

Back to Instagram

You have a multitude of platforms to use when it comes to marketing. And, our recommendation is you take advantage of as many of them as you can. Yet, today I’m focusing on one in particular, and I have a reason for doing so. Instagram is both simple and sophisticated at the same time.

Under the simple column you can include these words. It is:

  • Visual
  • Quick
  • Mobile
  • And it’s easy to use

Looking at the sophisticated side. It:

  • Provides value to your present and potential clients
  • Helps your clients stay engaged
  • Provides a means for your company to stay relevant
  • Allows you to interact with like-minded business owners

A funny thing happened on my way to Instagram

Because I get to wear the content creation and curation hat around here, part of my job includes doing lots of research. And, during the course of that research I kept hearing construction contractors mention that their business was boosted by their use of Instagram. What? Are you kidding me?

I thought Instagram:

Couldn’t possibly work for service-based businesses (like construction or bookkeeping)

Would likely have a hidden cost associated with obtaining professional photographs

Must make it difficult if not impossible to measure the marketing results

Had (at best) a slim chance of reaching our target market

Would take up too much of my time

What I found

I was wrong on all counts!

Now, let’s pause for a minute so I can throw in this little disclaimer. I don’t know very much about using Instagram. I’m learning. There are lots of things I’m probably doing wrong. There are tons of things I plan to get better at doing.

Yet, with all that said, we’ve already (in only a few weeks of using Instagram) had numerous contacts from folks in the construction subcontracting industry who are interested in getting in on what we have to offer. We presently have a waiting list of contractors who desire our services and contacted us here.

The opportunity you have

When you give a bit of your time to posting on Instagram, there are numerous things Instagram gives back to you. Just a few of them include:

  • Get your logo and brand seen
  • Allow your target market to see your service in action (pictures or videos of “Ned” painting, hammering, moving supplies into place, and so on)
  • Let your present and potential clients get to know your team (events, parties, promotions, awards)
  • Show folks the before and after of your jobs
  • Promote the differentiator which sets you apart from the competition

Further thoughts about the use of the Instagram platform

Think of using Instagram as a part of your long-term marketing strategy.

Start using it while it is still a viable free platform.

Take a class, read about it, or learn by doing – Just Get Started.

Do you use Instagram?

Are you a user of Instagram? If you are, let us know. We would like to see what you’re up to. Oh yeah, if you want to see what we have kicken’ over on the IG page check us out here.

Do You Really Need a Change Order?

Hang the moon and stars for your clients as often as you can.

Hang the moon and stars for your clients as often as you can.

Client requests

Strategy is involved when you determine what to do and what not to do when dealing with client requests. Be sure all your employees and subcontractors know what the strategy is and how to deal with the various circumstances.

In my last post I presented information concerning how to deal with the inevitable change orders which pop up during construction.

This time let’s look at when a client’s request for additional service or a change in production, materials, or labor should be carried out as soon as possible with no need for the process involved in change orders. You can’t always hang the moon and the stars for your clients, but you can give them the little extras that will help them remember you and your team.

Make it all about the client

Have you been burned by a client who is “ever needy,” who constantly asks for things outside the scope of work as presented in the contract, who seems hell-bent to make sure they get more than they’re paying for? Yeah, we’ve all experienced that sort of bad behavior. (Meaning that is another reason to be sure you prequalify your clients.)

Chances are, those people are few and far between. Yet, the natural tendency to protect ourselves and our businesses against that sort of terrible behavior may get in the way of “being there” for the clients who are simply relying on us to provide what they need at a reasonable price and within a reasonable timeframe.

Teach your employees and subcontractors that whenever possible, meaning when the request is financially and logistically feasible, to simply comply.

3 ways to handle “above and beyond” requests

We’ll use an entry door installation as our jumping off point for all the examples below.

Do it

Your employee has just finished hanging a new entrance door and the client asks if she will also attach the door knocker the client picked up on his way home from work. No, it isn’t in the contract. Yet, it is a simple matter to use the tools already at hand to quickly install the new door knocker.

Offer resources for what you can’t provide

Your subcontractor has just finished hanging a new entrance door and the client asks if he will also install a hard-wired door bell the client ordered and has on hand. Your subcontractor doesn’t have a clue about electrical wiring. Your subcontractor, as well as your employees, should have a list of preferred contractors and service providers on hand to provide to the client.

Explain why a change order will be necessary

Your employee has just finished hanging a new entrance door and your client asks if he will change the door out for one seen online which incorporates better security measures than the one which was just installed. Your team should be trained concerning how to politely inform your client a change order will be necessary.

Think beyond the simplicity of the task

Let’s go back to the second of the three ways to handle the request. Remember, your client has just requested that a hard-wired door bell be installed. Now, let’s imagine your subcontractor or your employee does have the skill required for the task. A few other considerations now come into play. How long will it take? Is the new door bell replacing an old one or is the wiring going to have to be installed also? Has the client exhibited a tendency to request more and more without regard to the original contract?

Your client is your first consideration

Delivering more than your client expects has long term benefits for your construction business. Good-will is worth the tangible (read monetary) as well as the intangible gain garnered by providing it.

The basic gain is the feeling engendered in being able to help another person. Then there are a few other considerations concerning what is to be gained when you and your crew go out of the way to provide truly exceptional service – by doing what you don’t have to do. Gaining word-of-mouth recommendations is (or should be) your number one marketing tool. Want your present clients to tell your future clients how wonderful your construction business is? Give them every reason to do so.

This is huge! There is no better time to ask for a testimonial or referral than when you or your team has given more than was contracted for.

Want to know more about assuring that your team is on the same page you’re on when it comes to responses concerning above and beyond requests? Be sure to check back next time, I’ll discuss implementing a “give it away” policy.

In the meantime, you can reach our construction accounting specialized team here or by calling 866-629-7735.

 

5 Strategies to Retain Your Best Construction Employees – Part 1

First strategy is creating and passing on the vision.

First strategy is creating and passing on the vision.

Create a great place to work!

This is the first in a five-part series. Find the other posts by clicking on Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5

Everywhere you turn there is another call concerning the lack of qualified construction workers. It is a problem. Many people and organizations are taking steps to try to change the situation for the better. Some examples can be found here, here, here, and here. Yet, the effort isn’t going to be easy and it won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, holding on to the qualified hands you now have will give you a buffer and allow you to weather the storm while the newest guys and gals are attending classes, being trained, and getting up to speed.

It’s time to think about retention in a strategic way. The old “dime a dozen” rule doesn’t work in this day and age. It isn’t as if you have people knocking on your door throughout the day hoping to find a job. It is more likely you’re hard-pressed to keep good construction hands from one job to the next. There are 5 main areas which need to be addressed if you want to hang on to the good folks you already have in your employ.

  1. Passing on your vision
  2. Training your team
  3. Treating them well
  4. Having fun at work
  5. Paying them well

The first strategy is passing on the vision.

Pass on your vision

Don’t be short sighted! Helping your crew understand the vision for your company is worth the effort and it means much more than just a “that’s how it is done around here” speech. This article from Forbes gives much insight into how your company vision can create highly motivated and strongly committed employees. It is well worth the time it takes to read.

Writing and passing on your vision is the first step in creating a great place to work.

Some examples:

“Kitchell is committed to impacting our communities by delivering innovative services through dedicated people and loyal relationships. We provide design, development, construction, facility planning and maintenance services to fulfill the vision of our customers. Together, building value every day.” Kitchell

“Shook is committed to being a construction contractor that is known externally for quality, integrity and resourcefulness, and internally for profitability and employee satisfaction.”Shook Construction

“To be the world’s premier engineering, construction, and project management company. Customers and partners will see us as integral to their success. We will anticipate their needs and deliver on every commitment we make. People will be proud to work at Bechtel. We will create opportunities to achieve the extraordinary, and we will reward success. Communities will regard us as responsible—and responsive. We will integrate global and local perspectives, promote sound management of resources, and contribute to a better quality of life.”Bechtel

“Building Enduring Relationships and Strong Communities”Kraus-Anderson

“To build environments where our clients, employee-owners and communities prosper.”Sundt

Write your vision

The best visions tend to give both an outward (customer) focus as well as in inward (employee) focus. If you don’t have a written vision now is the time! If you do have a written vision, be certain you’re passing it on to those in your employ.

Share your vision

Your vision for your construction company should make it easy to explain business decisions to your employees. Employees tend to do what they think is best according to what they think the boss wants. By telling them what you really want, you give them a means to focus their behavior in ways that benefit themselves as well as the company. Here are a few examples of how other businesses are engaging their employees through their company vision.

An additional benefit is your employees see you as a better leader if you can communicate your vision effectively.

Your 3 step plan

  1. Take time now to write your vision or review and refresh it.
  2. Determine the means you’ll take to begin passing it on.
  3. Begin giving your employees the information they’ll need to follow your vision

P.S. Remember there is a big difference between laying a few bricks and building a cathedral. Be sure your employees know what they’re really doing.

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

 

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.