Building a strong foundation for your small construction business sets the tone for everything your company does. The foundation will determine how well it performs for your clients, for you and your employees.
Here are six key strategies that will help you build a solid contracting business foundation.
Maintain Passion for Building
We all have good days and bad days. In contracting, however, the bad days often come back-to-back. The nature of construction means that today’s mistakes will almost always haunt you later. Whil fortitude is essential to get through the mess, fortitude alone wears thin without a passion for building.
When building is your passion, it’s contagious.
Like most vocations, building has to be about more than the money. In fact, for most of us, there is a weak connection between job satisfaction and our earnings. What motivates us is doing something we’re interested in and getting the satisfaction that comes with creating.
When building is your passion, it’s contagious. Those who work for you and those who work with you can pick up on your passion; some will even find it inspiring. Don’t ever forget about your passion for construction—make it a cornerstone of your contracting business.
Build an Accurate Map
Too many businesses are founded on vague dreams or desperation. The owners then support their businesses on hope instead of solid business plans. There’s definitely a place for hope in life, but it’s hard to convince a client to hire you because you “hope” you’ll be able to finish the job on time and on budget.
The same is true for this part of your business foundation. Build your business plan, and explain clearly what you expect the business to give you next year and five years out. Spell out the projects you’ll do, how your project list will evolve and exactly how you’ll bring it all to fruition.
Don’t overlook the very long-term picture. Do you expect the business to fund your retirement? At what age? Or, do you want to build it, sell it and pursue other adventures? Do not leave anything to chance or hopes.
Be Very Honest
Honesty is still valued by most people. One of the biggest issues about honesty in construction is not whether you tell the truth, but what truths you don’t tell. Builders often defer having tough conversations. Whether it’s out of fear, or procrastination, these unspoken words lie in wait to ambush you later. Untold truths are as troubling as telling lies.
If the client’s selections fail the litmus test for durability or are out of your skill and experience level, then say so. Having these conversations is crucial to averting disputes and to doing the best job you can.
Build and Maintain Consistency
Inconsistency is at an all-time high in modern societies. A restaurant serves a very tasty dish one time, but the next time it’s too salty. You get the expected service at the car dealer one time but not the next.
Unfortunately, construction is no exception. Inconsistency causes quality, safety and budget misses. One part of the floor tucks up nicely below the baseboard, another part shows a gap. One wall has a finish that could be on the cover of an architectural magazine while another has tool marks and uneven paint. It’s not a bad idea to make consistency a checklist item for punch lists and quality lists.
Never Stop Learning and Teaching
You can always depend on one truth: change is inevitable. It will happen with your approval, or not. A good way to keep up with change is to continue learning. Whether you’re taking classes, online courses or reading construction news and analysis, learning will cushion you from the surprises change brings. Extend learning to your employees and, ideally, even your subs. Teach them about new methods and new materials, and don’t neglect to help them improve human skills like communication and empathy.
Make improvement a part of your daily routine. It could be as simple as developing the habit of asking yourself, “What can be improved?” as you view work in progress. Ask your employees and subs about how you could modify processes to improve their workflows. Name a technology guru to test new tech. Talk about improvement and encourage people to question their methods. If you put a process to it, you’ll avoid dead ends unnecessary changes.