Have you ever looked around and wondered how you got to where you are? You may have inherited your construction contracting business. Or perhaps you’re among those who one day picked up your hammer and saw a better way of doing things. So you started your own business and now you’re on your way!
Whichever path you were on when you began “doing business as . . .” you’ve discovered a big road in front of you and it is time to move to the business side of being a successful construction contractor.
You Must be the Visionary
Your vision is where you want to see your company in terms of culture, market standing, reputation, and customer satisfaction. As a certain four-year-old amongst my associates puts it, “Ya gots ta own it!”
Only when you create and own the vision can you make it work. Stumbling along on the path of start-up contractors won’t get you where you need to go.
Your vision will be felt across the spectrum from employees, to subs, to clients, to pre-clients, not to mention the neighborhood at large.
Here is an example of how to move from path to highway:
You want your company to be known for the philanthropic endeavors it takes part in.
- You give of your time and resources to charities or individuals you feel need your help.
- You encourage your employees to do the same by giving them one paid day a year to take part in a charitable event.
- You recognize (perhaps in a formal setting) the employees and subs in your circle who are giving to others.
- You pay for your employees to complete a task on a philanthropic endeavor which takes multiple days to complete. You also ask them to contribute monetarily.
- You chair the committee at your local trade association which chooses a charitable endeavor and encourages others in your field to make donations of time and funds then sees the project through from beginning to end.
Making your vision exciting will also make it easier to pass on to those around you. Examples of exciting visions might include: to be the construction company everyone turns to when there is a difficult project, to be known as the company which completes their jobs faster than the competition, to be recognized as the area leader in customer service, to be the technical projects go-to company, or to become known for your philanthropic contributions.
While there may be other objectives concerning your vision these four are a good place to begin putting together your vision for your company – your company culture, your company’s market standing, your company’s reputation (among both customers and employees,) and your customer satisfaction ratings.
You Must Make Decisions that Impact Multiple Functions
Your job is to run the business, not the projects. You need to be concerned with strategic planning and being sure it does not become an operational fix-it list.
A few of the basics you’ll be concerned with:
- Making go/no-go decisions when deciding whether to take on a project.
- Building a dependable team.
- Deciding what your scope of services will be.
- Becoming knowledgeable in sales and marketing.
- Understanding changing technology trends both in the office and in the field.
- Implementing efficient operating systems and successful training programs.
- Determining what type of equipment is needed and when to purchase or lease it.
- Knowing your numbers.
Remember, this is a journey. You may not have all these components cleaned up and ready to be put to use at this very moment, yet with determination and time you’ll find these things become part of your routine, become easier to accomplish with practice.
You Must Provide the Resources Needed Across the Organization
This is much more than buying the right computers for the office or the correct tools for the sites. This is about being sure you’re taking care of business in a well thought out and productive manner. You’ll find you:
- Are constantly learning more about your trade as well as the industry as a whole.
- Have more than one supplier on your list of go-to places.
- Spend a minimum of 25% of your time finding projects and customers
- Understand construction bid management.
- Know about regulatory compliance and adhere to it.
- Are adamant about safety standards and how they’re met.
- Provide or find ways to train your team for their benefit as well as your own.
- Develop the best benefits package you can afford for your team.
- Know your numbers.
It may be necessary to pass on some of these responsibilities either through developing employees or outsourcing in some areas. Never the less, the buck will stop with you and your ability to surround yourself with the “right people” will be paramount in your decision making.
You Must Build a Culture Others Want to be Part Of
Some say, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” There is this wild thing that happens when you move from being the do-it-all guy to being a construction contractor with a team of employees and subs in your arena. Then the saying changes, “If the workers ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy – especially your customers.”
It pays not to get caught up in thinking which goes like, “I pay them to do a job, they should just do it.” Motivation comes in many forms. Making your construction contracting business fun, or exciting, or glamourous, or fast paced, or challenging is up to you. Your vibe will indeed attract your tribe. This is where hiring for attitude rather than experience can pay off big time. Bring in the guys and gals who can be taught the necessary skills because they have the right attitude about your customers and your business.
And guess what? Your employees want you to be generous. They want you to be generous with information. Let them know not only how you want things done, but why you want it done that way. They want you to generous with your time and your praise. A real pat on the back, a handwritten note, an awards dinner for “job done well,” all come to mind. They want you to be generous in training and coaching them in ways that will move them up the ladder in your company.
One last caveat concerning being the boss. Being “liked” by your employees is not a good or healthy goal. Being “respected” by your employees is a goal worth striving toward.
You Must Deliver Performance
Set high expectations.
Bring in systems as well as talent to execute each phase or portion well.
Figure out what your people need to do their job better, and help them get it. It could be tools, training, or knowledge. It could be advice or intervention. It could be as simple as targeted feedback.
Know your own strengths as well as your weaknesses and build your team using that knowledge.
At every turn, ask your customers how well you and your team are doing. Use that information to grow your business to be the best it can be in every way.
Your call to action
Determine to Rock Your Business by putting this information into action. Print it. Reread it. Save it. Use it.