Setting long term goals for your company is extremely important. But to make an immediate positive difference in your business starts with immediate action. Often construction business owners wait too long and postpone thinking or deciding about what they need to do to improve their companies. The day to day activities of bidding, negotiating contracts, scheduling crews, and meeting with customers forces them to keep their heads down working on getting projects finished.
Stopping these ongoing and demanding activities for a short time to draft a written business plan, set your goals, make tough strategic decisions or look for areas to improve never seems to become a priority.
Being too busy is a curse to business owners. Busy causes you to do busy work and not do what you need to do to make more money, find better customers and projects, improve productivity, or upgrade your systems. Busy becomes your excuse to accept profit shrinkage, tolerate poor performers, accept poor workmanship, allow project managers to miss deadlines, let customers continue to pay slow, finish late, not get change orders signed before you do extra work, win work based on a super low prices, or make unacceptable low margins for the risk and responsibility you take. So how do you get off the ‘busy’ treadmill?
Stop and decide what you need to fix
In order to halt the insanity of staying on the treadmill of being too busy and going nowhere fast, you’ve got to make and take time to think and plan your next step. Stop! Shut the door. And make a list of:
- What’s Working?
- What’s Not Working and Needs To Be Fixed?
If you have a management team or small group of key people in your company, involve them in this exercise. Get everyone together for a few hours to complete the lists. Think about and identify every part of your company and how well it is doing. Be sure to include:
- Sales, Revenue & Growth
- Profits & Dividends
- Equity, Wealth, Investments & Cash-Flow
- Accounting, Finances & Financial Management
- Customers, Markets, Services, Project & Contracts
- Business Development, Sales & Marketing
- Organizational Structure, Leadership & Management Team
- Project Management & Field Supervision
- Field Quality and Productivity
- Estimating & Pre-Construction
- Employees & Training
- Job Cost Tracking
First decide what parts of your business are working well and don’t need a lot of improvement or enhancement. Often business owners spend most of their time working in areas they enjoy and do well. To improve your company, you must work on areas you are not comfortable with and need improvement.
For example, managing people and making them accountable is not easy for most business owners. Therefore they shy away from being tough with their people and let them off the hook too often. In other cases, managers who are good at scheduling crews and ordering materials, spend their time doing these tasks and, therefore, don’t delegate to their key managers who could also do this activity very well if allowed.
And more importantly, many business owners aren’t comfortable with financial matters and, therefore, don’t focus on their numbers, have updated job costs, maintain accurate estimating pricing, or review their financials monthly.
What’s not working?
Next determine which areas of your operation need an upgrade, improvement, enhancement or major change. Be real and objective. Look at your company like a consultant and don’t take bad news personally. If your weakness is the problem, identify it as an opportunity for improvement. You can’t be fully competent in every area of your business. Each person has strengths and weaknesses, so be objective and truthful in your analysis.
If your strengths are building customer relationships, estimating and pre-construction, then you need to stay focused there and address managing projects and field operations by hiring a senior manager to handle that part of your company. If your company is not organized or systemized, take a hard look at your administration and project management systems.
Without written systems, your business will remain out of control. If you aren’t attracting new or profitable customers, you’ll need to address how you acquire contracts, your sales program, and your proposal follow-up systems. If your projects continue to come in over budget, you’ll have to address your job cost tracking systems, estimating standards, and field productivity issues.
Create 3 months FIX-IT goals
Prioritize what improvements will make the biggest difference in your company the fastest by identifying what you need to improve or work on over the next three months. From your FIX-IT list, select the top three to five areas you want to fix fast and write out three month goals to address each of these areas. Delegate to specific FIX-IT teams the responsibility to develop a solution to fix or standardize each improvement area. Have each FIX-IT team meet weekly until each of the priority problems have a written procedure or solution which can be implemented in your company.
Three month FIX-IT goals work well and can be managed without a major overhaul of your operations. By breaking down your improvement program into three month bite size pieces, you’ll make time to work on your company. Some of your challenges however, may take longer than three months to fix or implement. So be realistic in your approach and modify your FIX-IT goals to address these long term solutions as well.
George Hedley CPBC is a certified professional construction BIZCOACH and popular speaker. He helps contractors build better businesses, grow, increase profits, develop management teams, improve field production, and get their companies to work. He is the best-selling author of “Get Your Construction Business To Always Make A Profit!” available on Amazon.com. To get his free e-newsletter, start a personalized BIZCOACH program, attend a BIZ-BUILDER Wealthy Contractor Boot Camp, or get a discount at www.HardhatBIZSCHOOL.com online university for contractors, Visit www.HardhatPresentations.com or E-mail GH@HardhatPresentations.com.