Cleaning Up The Dirty Business That Is Construction Contracting

A lot of people who are good with their hands and have a keen organizational mind about them will see plenty of potential in construction. It’s possible to make a lot of money as a contractor. But it’s easy to get bogged down in all the different complications of the job as well. To lose money over things that seem obvious after they happen. In this article, we’re going to look at how you keep the ship on the right course from the very beginning. We’ll assume you have your qualifications, licenses, and permits already. This is about getting the best out of your construction contracting business as you can.

Document everything

The absolute first thing you need to get right as a contractor is your reliance on paperwork. From your permit and license papers to records of all the transactions in the company’s past. Sites like Construction Office Online can help you with templates for all kinds of documentation. You need to stay on top of it for several reasons. Your own record-keeping is important enough. Then you need to have everything accessible and on hand when tax season comes around. As well as keeping physical records, it’s a good idea to have them on a hard drive and backed up online, too. You don’t want to lose any of these.

Determining profitability

Those documents are going to help you be able to measure how profitable your business is, as well. However, you don’t want to be figuring that out after the fact. Contracting jobs can take a long time and a lot of effort. To find out they’re not profitable after the job is done is how you run a business into the ground. You’re going to do a lot better by using things like estimation software before work begins. You’ll get more leads, as well. Customers like businesses that can provide accurate, transparent costing up-front. So make sure you’re taking all the costs into account when you’re estimating. For your sake as well as your customer’s.

Managing overheads

Construction businesses naturally have a lot of overheads to contend with. So what are you doing to make sure that they’re not growing too large? A lot of those costs, for instance, might come from your vehicle fleet. Could you stand to reduce the quantity and size of your fleet? Could you replace older vehicles with more cost-effective ones? Sustainability and energy conserving strategies could also reduce the costs on-site. Managing your overheads isn’t only going to make jobs more profitable. It also allows you the opportunity to get a good deal more competitive with your prices. On the other, letting overheads run away from you can make any seemingly profitable job turn the other way before you realise it.

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Getting the team you need

Of course, you’re not going to be getting much work done without a proper team. Starting with essentials, you’re going to need to figure out how to spot the right labour for the team. Spotting good employees and subcontractors is all about getting a closer look at their experience. Don’t just take their resume as the gospel. Call up any of their previous references and see if you can get a look at some of their work in the past. It’s not just about those working on-site, either. You’re going to have need of salesmen as well. You need people who are going to work on finding leads and helping you construct a proper marketing plan for the business. Make sure you’re covering all the skills you need, not just the manual ones.

Be a leader

A team isn’t complete without a leader. In most cases, this means you. You might have gotten into the business because you have experience and because you like working with tools. As a manager, however, you have to let your team get on with that. Your task is to run the business and to manage them. That means addressing individual performance and maintaining morale. For motivation, there’s one simple rule you need to follow. Keep criticism private, make praise public. No-one likes being humiliated in front of their peers and their work rate will show that. By keeping discussions on performance levels private, you can also frame them as an opportunity for development.

The power of marketing

We’ve already mentioned briefly that it’s important you get the best salesmen you can on your team and come up with a marketing plan. Producing leads in this business isn’t always easy. As well as shaking hands and doing deals with other contractors, you need to build up a presence in the market. This means establishing a brand. To begin with, you need to find the core of your company. You need to find what you need to be known for. Is it reliability and trustworthiness? Or the highest possible quality? You need to hone down your brand and make your website and marketing reflect it. Different branding appeals will work for different markets. So you need to think carefully of which you want to best appeal to.

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Zoning the site

Then we come to the matter of  how you’re going to organise the business when it’s actually on the job. One of the biggest problems in construction sites that are run poorly is a lack of physical organization. If everything is put where it seems convenient at the time, you will run into problems. People will get in one another’s way. Messes will build up. The best way to keep a clean efficient site is to designate a place for everything. For storage and for an on-site office, consider using shipping containers. Make sure vehicles are kept away from building materials. Make sure everything has its boundaries and that the zones are tidied regularly.

Accidents and risk

Keeping the site tidy is one of the essential factors of avoiding accidents in the workplace. Construction sites can be dangerous to just about anyone. Compensation costs are going to be a factor you need to account for. But you can significantly reduce your spending, and improve the lives of your workers, with proper risk assessments. You need to assign someone as a safety officer on the site. They can handle the responsibilities of keeping an inventory on all the PPE. They can ensure that signage for equipment is in the right place. They can monitor heavy equipment usage and make sure that the area is clear. If you’re not performing proper risk assessments, the costs of paying for comp will way outweigh the cost of hiring a safety officer.

Theft and crime

Personal injury isn’t the only risk to your business, of course. Any kind of business is in danger of being targeted by crime. With the amount of resources and machinery that construction sites have on them, they’re at even more risk. You need to seriously consider the safety measures you use to protect your business. For example, erecting proper fencing around the site and reinforcing any entrances and exits. You might even want to use temporary installations of CCTV. You can also use electronic inventory systems on any of the workplace machinery. That way, if they’re used or moved when they’re not supposed to be, you can be alarmed and deal with it straight away. You need to take equipment theft seriously.

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Looking after your equipment

You can’t let your equipment be stolen because it’s so valuable. Then why you should you let it be just as open to the danger of malfunction and breakages? There are a lot of construction businesses that aren’t taking the time to look after their equipment properly. You need to schedule maintenance on all machines and do assessments on them before they’re first taken out on the job. You need to make sure that any operators are fully trained and qualified before they set foot near the machine as well. To lower training costs, you might want to consider using cross-training as well. This also helps the team build a communal mindset, helping one another on the job.

Always keep the bottom line in view

Investing in safety and efficiency is an important part of running a company that isn’t at risk of constant spending on mistakes. However, sometimes the frugal option can be the right one. It’s a good idea to consider your bottom line in all decisions. For instance, you should rethink every time you’re about to buy equipment. Instead of buying new, you might want to buy used. Or if it’s equipment that you don’t usually use, could leasing it be more economically sensible in the end? Are you calculating the number of employees you have to the amount of work being done? It might not be good news, telling them they’re not needed on a job. But you can’t afford to pay to have people standing around. A successful construction business needs to make those tough decisions.

In the world of construction, problems can pop up out of nowhere. You never know what the next crisis will be. The tips above, however, will ensure that you’re a lot more prepared to deal with it.

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