How Can I Ever Get Everything Done?

Trying to Spin Too Many Plates at The Same Time Can Make You Dizzy

Maybe you’ve have seen a plate spinning act in some form or another. There are multiple plates spinning simultaneously on the top of sticks. The performer is running around trying to keep things from crashing to the ground.

When I was a kid, I remember watching Erich Brenn perform his plate spinning act on the Ed Sullivan Show. I remember him running back and forth, trying to keep all the different plates spinning at the same time. It was amazing…and a little stressful.

The same thing happens in our lives when we try to do too much.

The number of things we’re trying to get done just increases around the Holidays. I know the last couple of weeks I’ve have felt like I had a lot of plates spinning.

Erich knew what he was doing and had a system for keeping those plates spinning, but it was only sustainable for a short period of time.

Most construction companies operate this way, they’re trying to do too many things at a time. Just like the performer who keeps putting more and more spinning plates up on the end of sticks, we keep trying to do more and more.

There is a limit to how much a single individual can do. We can only run back and forth keeping the plates spinning for so long before they start crashing.

Trying to run a business without a plan or structure just increases the odds for failure.

To build a successful business there needs to be a sustainable process for keeping the plates spinning and this starts with a plan. It’s much easier to share and understand a plan when it’s drawn out. Just like constructing a building can’t be done when the blueprint is only in someone’s head.

Most construction business systems are similar. They consist of the same basic areas of operation.

Sales/Marketing

  • Prospecting for customers
  • Follow up on leads
  • Meet with prospective customers
  • Pricing and Proposals
  • Sales Reports
  • Advertising/Promotions
  • Marketing and Sales Planning
  • Customer Relations
  • Market Research
  • Public Relations
  • Product Development

Production/Operations:

  • Project Management
  • Project Assignments and Scheduling
  • Productivity Monitoring and Control
  • Quality Control and Documentation
  • Production Team Prep. & Development
  • Communicate with Team Members
  • Project Troubleshooting
  • Inventory Planning and Control
  • Purchasing and Vendor Relations
  • Customer Service
  • Equipment Maintenance and Repair
  • Facilities Maintenance & Repair

Administration/Finance:

  • Computer Systems
  • Team Member Records
  • Team Member Policies and Benefits
  • Office Support
  • Office Maintenance
  • Information Archiving and Distribution
  • Data Processing
  • Communications
  • Contract Preparation
  • Budgeting
  • Invoicing
  • Cash Flow Forecasting
  • Financial Reports
  • General Bookkeeping
  • Accounts Payable
  • Taxes
  • Banking

As you can see here, even just the basics are a lot of plates to keep spinning and there are a lot more to spin than just these. All these plates going around and around will make your head spin.

This is why at Solution Building, we’re making available the Business BUILDing tools and systems that were developed and have been used for years at Timber Creek Construction.

The Business BUILDing Toolbox is currently available at a discounted Holiday price.

There are a lot of plates to keep spinning in a construction business. Why not get some tools that will help you keep your plates spinning?

If you have questions or would like to know more about the Business BUILDing Toolbox you can schedule a free 30-minute construction company consultation here.

Nothing Can be Built Without Action

Too Many Times This is Exactly Where Dreams Get Left

Dreams don’t magically build themselves. This includes a dream business.

For years people in the construction industry have asked me where I got the business system and tools that I use in my construction company. After my accident in 2012, I spent a lot of time thinking about this. That was when it became clear to me that my business and life had been on autopilot without much intentionality.

Being hit upside the head caused me to think about my life and business and how they weren’t what I had expected them to be.

Not that things were terrible…just not what I had envisioned.

There was so much more that I wanted to accomplish. I had been going through the motions of living without acting on the plan.

At that point I decided to become intentional and take action. I’ve always been a planner, but it’s sad that it took a hit in the head for me to realize that planning wasn’t going to accomplish my dreams without action.

When we’re young the tendency is to think that we have all the time we need. There’s no hurry…we’ll get around to it someday. Then one day we wake up and realize life has flown by, and we haven’t done all those things we wanted to.

Don’t wait to be smacked in the head to take action.

Think of your life or business as a construction project. It begins with a dream but doesn’t end there. You can see the vision of the completed project in your mind. The tricky part is getting that dream out of your head and making it a reality.

Having the dream drawn out is a step in the right direction, but it’s only the first step. It’s a great time to make changes and corrections, rather than waiting until construction, but the building still isn’t done.

It’s good to have the help of a professional when drawing out your plans for building your dream. Their experience, knowledge, and skill can save you time and money. Done well, it will make the entire process more productive.

But a dream drawn on paper is still not done.

Too many times this is where the dream gets left. It takes time and effort to build, and the cost of building can be scary.

This is where having the right tools and systems can help you turn that business you’ve always dreamed of into a reality. It takes intentional action to build anything.

Take intentional action today.

After continually being asked about our business tools and systems at Timber Creek Construction, we knew there was a need. People in the construction industry were looking for help with building their dream businesses.

This is why we put our tools and systems in the Business BUILDing Toolbox. This toolbox gives construction businesses access to the tools that we use at Timber Creek Construction every day.

Normally $297, the Business BUILDing Toolbox is currently being offered at a Holiday price of $147 through Nov. 30th.

You can learn more about the Business BUILDing tools here or you can schedule a free 30-minute consultation to ask about them.

Don’t wait to be smacked in the head to take action because the business of your dreams isn’t going to build itself.

Some content from a previous post on May 26, 2018.

It’s Important for You to Have the Right Tool for the Job

And There’s More to the Right Tool Than You Might Think

For those of you that remember the TV sitcom “Home Improvement” you’ll remember Tim ‘the Tool Man’s’ Taylor’s attempts to give “more power” to everything from cars to household appliances and the infamous ‘grunts’ that accompanied this.

Guys love tools. There’s something primal in getting a new tool and learning to use it.

You’ve heard it said, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. I agree this works pretty well. However, I would argue that an even better way is…give him a new power tool.

There is a tool out there for every job, usually more than one. As cool as they all are, they’re worthless if you don’t have them and don’t use them.

The biggest “tool” problem is…the lack of “business BUILDing tools”.

Most “construction guys” would prefer to use a circular saw or screw gun rather than a computer. Paperwork most likely isn’t what they think of when considering tools.

One of the most important tools in the “construction toolbox” is paperwork.

Profitability and the success of the company hinges on the accuracy and knowledge of income and expenses. It requires having the right tools, knowing how to use them, and then actually doing so. 

Some of the tools needed for BUILDing successful construction businesses are sales tools like construction proposals and contracts. Production tools like change orders and payment applications. Financial tools like job tracking, job profit/loss and savings account transfers.

When I started my construction company, I had no tools for BUILDing a business. Like most construction companies, I just guessed. After looking for business BUILDing tools and not finding what I needed…I developed systems that took the guess work out of running a construction company. I’ve been using and refining these tools for more than 35 years.

You can have these same tools by purchasing the Business BUILDing Toolbox (complete with templates, instructions, and examples of the tools). This way you can stop rolling the dice with your profits and take control of your money and your business.

Too often construction companies see the benefits of having tools and systems for their business but aren’t willing to spend the time or money. They can’t see the value. These same people wouldn’t think twice about spending hundreds or thousands of dollars to buy cordless tool kits or pneumatic nail guns and compressors, not to mention the price of things like skid loaders!

The real question is value…not price.

When considering tools, you should consider the return on your investment. Those power tools that you purchase are going to wear out over time and need to be replaced. The Business BUILDing Tools won’t. You can get the whole toolbox for less than the price of a good quality cordless tool kit and the return on that investment is priceless.

Having the right tools, knowing how to use them, and then actually doing so can be the difference of having a successful company or giving up and going out of business.

You’ve never been afraid of getting a new power tool and learning how to use it. Don’t be afraid of Business BUILDing Tools either.

You can learn more about these tools here or feel free to schedule a free 30-minute construction company consultation.

We are going to be starting a half price Holiday Special on Black Friday (Nov. 24th) with the toolbox price increasing $25 each week through the end of the year. So, be ready to grab your toolbox full of Business BUILDing tools at the sale price before it’s too late. Also, feel free to share this holiday offer with any construction companies that you think could benefit so they can take advantage of the reduced price!

Why Choose Trick over Treat…Isn’t Treat the Better Choice?

You Would Think So, But Construction Companies Do It All The Time

Halloween is almost here. Most of us have done trick or treating as kids. You know, that tradition where children dress up in costumes and go from house to house asking for treats with the phrase “trick or treat”.

The “treat” is usually some form of candy/sweets, although it might be some other small gift. The “trick” refers to a threat, usually an idle one, to perform mischief on the resident(s) or their property if no treat is given. 

Sure, there’s some cost to buying the candy and it requires some time to answer the door and pass out candy, but given the choice…

As a property owner…a treat seems like the better choice.

If the treat is the better choice, why do construction companies continually insist on tricks?

I’ve written a lot about construction companies being scared to do things differently. They’re stuck in the rut of “we’ve always done it this way”. Trying to build your dream business this way is like being in a horror movie.

Everything is predictable. Rather than doing something different, they hide in the basement, the attic or behind the chainsaws, when they could just get in the running car.

Hiding behind chainsaws is what most construction companies do. They choose the discomfort of the known trick, over the uncertain treat.

I don’t think these companies started out hoping to have unhappy customers, or not have enough money to pay the bills, or to be working 70-80 hours a week for minimum wage.

The reason most construction businesses are stuck here is fear. They are afraid that trying something different might not work. They choose the discomfort of the known over the unknown.

It doesn’t have to be this way!

This is why over 30 years ago I decided that I wasn’t going to hide behind the chainsaws anymore and I got in the running car (okay, really it was truck).

Did everything I try work…no. Was it scary…yes. But I didn’t stop, I kept trying until it did. Then I worked on it some more to make it better. And then I started working on a new and different business tool or system.

This is where I figured out the 5-step business BUILDing process. I BECAME AWARE that what I was doing wasn’t working. Then as I researched, I began to UNDERSTAND the problems. Next, I compiled INFORMATION about what was needed and began IMPLEMENTING new tools and systems into my business. The more I used these tools, the more I LEARNED and the easier it became. This process led to BUILDing my DREAM business.

The great thing is, YOU don’t have to go through the long, hard, and scary process to build your dream construction business by yourself.

You can get the tools and systems that we use by going to the Business BUILDing Toolbox and get started quicker, and it’s less scary. If you would like to learn more about these tools and systems, check out the 5-step Business BUILDING Process. To learn more about how these business tools and systems can help you build your dream business, schedule a free 30-minute consultation.

Set yourself apart from your competition by choosing the treat over the trick.

Information, Instruction, and Implementation…This is Where the Real Work is Done

Do You Think the Construction Business of Your Dreams is Worth it?

Last week we discussed how hard it is to keep a construction company from failing. If you have a construction company, this all-too-common outcome doesn’t have to be yours.

We’ve talked about how building a dream construction business starts with BEING AWARE of the issues construction companies face. The next thing is UNDERSTANDING these issues, which starts with asking questions and finding answers.

One of the biggest issues in construction is that most people in this industry are willing to do the hard physical work of building a building but will work even harder to avoid the work of building the business.

Building the business of your dreams is a choice.

Our lives are a string of choices, one after another, after another, after another, after another. These choices are the things that direct our paths through life and business.

We need to be aware of these choices and understand how they affect who we are. Understanding this leads us to gathering the information needed for building a business.

The INFORMATION that we consume determines who we will be.

Information comes from what we read, listen to, watch, and who we surround ourselves with. This is true for every aspect of our lives including our businesses.

Information is knowledge obtained through learning, investigating, experiences or study. It is the answers to questions that we ask. Knowing what’s needed to build a successful business begins with having the right information.

INSTRUCTION is an efficient way to consume information.

Instruction is advice or direction about how to do or use something. It happens when someone with more experience and knowledge teaches or trains others.

This lack of knowledge and understanding is why most people in construction don’t have business systems and tools. Sure, it can be learned without instruction over time, but why wait? Instruction is a more effective way to learn how to do or use things.

Don’t spend years by yourself in the “School of Hard Knocks” when is much quicker and less expensive to get instruction from someone who’s already graduated.

IMPLEMENTATION is making instruction and information real.

Implementation is the act of putting things learned into action or to use. This is where knowledge becomes reality. It’s where the rubber meets the road.

This is the scary part.

What if it doesn’t work right the first time? – It won’t.

What if I forget something? – You will.

What if it feels overwhelming? – It will.

Without implementing the things you’ve learned, you gain nothing.

This fear of failure is why most people choose to do nothing. They will just keep doing it the way they always have, knowing there’s a better way but just like the GEICO commercial, they’ll hide behind the chainsaws rather than getting in the running car.

Your construction business is worth the effort needed to gather the INFORMATION, get some INSTRUCTION, and IMPLEMENT what you learn.

If you would like some information about tools to help you build the construction business of your dreams, check out the 5-step Business BUILDing Process. Or if you need some tools for building that dream business, check out the Business BUILDing Toolbox. If you have any questions, you can schedule a free 30-minute consultation here!

Why is it so Hard for Construction Companies to Stay in Business?

It’s Really Not That Hard…It Just Requires a Change of Perspective

It’s crazy the number of business that start and fail. Millions of businesses get started each year, but only a small portion survive. Why is it that 90% of all businesses fail? An article by Luisa Zhou is full of research-backed business failure statistics.

  • 18.4% fail within the first year
  • 49.7% fail within the first 5 years
  • 65.6% fail within the first 10 years
  • Only 25% make it beyond 15 years

There are countless reasons that businesses fail, but just because other businesses fail, doesn’t mean yours will too. Being aware of and understanding these statistics increases your chance of survival.

You can’t succeed if you don’t try.

If your dream is to own a successful construction business, you need to do your homework and then commit to it. Construction businesses do have a high failure rate, but that’s not to say you should avoid the construction business.

It just means you need to be aware and get prepared.

Listed below are five small business types with notoriously high failure rates.

  1. Restaurants – Independent restaurants have a failure rate of over 60% at the 10-year mark. The key to success is the ability to raise capital when needed. If a business owner cannot do that, there’s not much left but to close the doors.
  • Retail stores – Another business with intense competition is retail stores. Not only do you have to contend with other brick-and-mortar stores, but you also have online businesses undercutting your prices. Like independently owned restaurants, retail stores have a failure rate of over 60% at the 10-year mark.
  • Direct sales – Yes, it’s your own business, but if a friend asks you to become part of a multi-level marketing (MLM) business, say no. What you’ll hear are success stories. You won’t hear that, like a pyramid scheme, 99% of direct sales reps suffer significant financial loss. It’s the people at the top and the person who recruits you who makes money. 
  • Construction – Starting your own construction business is a tough gig. Construction businesses also have a failure rate north of 60% at the 10-year mark.

Not only do you have to be good at your craft, but you have to become a full-time salesperson, accountant, administrator, bookkeeper, and part-time counselor.

If you have a passion for building and offering unique touches that buyers can’t get from another builder, you’re off to a good start. The thing that’s usually missing is a business plan and the right business tools.

  • Insurance sales – Insurance agents face the same challenges of construction…wearing too many hats. They must be a master of administrative work, sales, and an ever-changing insurance scene.

If you’ve been in construction for any length of time, or know someone who has, you’ve become aware of how hard it can be to operate a successful construction company. Understanding the things that are needed to achieve this is one of the BUILDing blocks in a solid business foundation.

NOW WHAT? Now you need to change your perspective.

Perspective is a particular way of looking at something. This doesn’t mean it’s right or the only way. It just means that it’s our perspective.

Rather than assuming you’re the only one in construction dealing with issues you need to understand that this is not the case. These struggles are common across the construction industry. But changing your perspective is just the beginning.

Real change requires action. You’re going to have to do something.

So, what is the something that you need to do?

You need to lay the next block to BUILD the foundation of your business. This block is INFORMATION, INSTRUCTION, and IMPLEMENTATION. This is the third block in our 5-step Business BUILDing Process. Check back next week, and we’ll take a hammer to this building block to see what it’s made of.

It can be really frustrating trying to figure out how to build a successful construction business. But you don’t have to do it by yourself.

After owning and operating a construction business for more than forty years, I’ve developed business tools and systems that we are now making available to construction companies to give you an advantage over the competition.

If you would like to learn more about BUILDing a successful construction business, you can schedule a free 30-minute consultation here.

Why Understanding is Critical to BUILDing a Successful Construction Business

Because Your Company is Too Important to Just Roll the Dice

Why is it that people operating construction companies are willing to gamble with their business? This random hit and miss business model is an all-too-common practice in the construction industry.

Somewhere along the way as we grow into the routine of life and business, we stop asking questions.

As kids we’re expected to ask questions. In school we’re taught to ask the five Ws (who, what, when, where and why) and how. These questions are considered basic to information gathering.

UNDERSTANDING starts with asking questions.

Asking questions is the first step to understanding success. The questions are more important than the answers. Asking questions is necessary to break out of routines. Questions cause us to dig deeper and ask more questions. If we don’t ask questions, we will stay stuck in the mundane habits of doing the same old things over and over hoping for a different outcome.

It’s like people in horror movies. If you’ve ever watched a horror movie then you’ve seen this. Teenagers are in a dark scary place and instead of getting out when they have the opportunity, they continue to hide in a basement, an attic, a cemetery, etc. The GIECO “horror movie” commercial is a great example of this.

If you don’t want your business to be ‘chopped up by a chainsaw’ you need to BE AWARE and start asking questions.

Asking questions leads to UNDERSTANDING.

Like any tool, if you don’t understand how to use it, what its purpose is, and how it works it won’t be any help to you when you’re doing construction. The same is true for tools used to build a successful construction business.

  • Sales tools like Proposals and Contracts
  • Production tools like Change Orders and Payment Applications
  • Financial tools like Job List and Savings Account Transfer Sheet

Understanding how these tools work, their purpose, and how to use them can be just what you need to build that business of your dreams.

Understanding is the mental grasp or comprehending of something. It is the knowledge about a situation, how something works or what it means. Understanding is also an agreement between two or more people. It is the sharing of thoughts and ideas of others and willingness to listen with an open mind. This kind of understanding leads to trust.

If you’ve been in construction for very long, you’re aware of problems like –

  • Balancing construction projects and paperwork
  • Feeling like your business is out of control
  • Keeping projects on schedule
  • No money for bills, taxes, or emergencies
  • Keeping projects within budget
  • Disappointed or upset customers
  • Communication breakdowns

You can either ignore these issues and keep doing things the way you have, or you can start asking questions and figure out what to do about them.

Questions like why…

  • Why should construction contractors do proposals? –

This question is the one that baffles me as much as any. How can contractors expect customers or production crews to know what work is going to be done and what it’s going to cost without some clear communication? I don’t think you would buy a truck without knowing what you were getting. I know I would be disappointed if I ordered a new $70,000 truck and when I got it, it was a 1999 ½ ton pickup missing a wheel and the driver’s door.

  • Why don’t contractors do proposals? –

The most common answer to this question is that they simply don’t know how. This is something that just isn’t taught. Most contractors start out doing construction, not paperwork. They figure out some guesstimation process and then wonder why customers are upset when they get a bill that is higher than they expected for less work.

  • Why does this customer want to do this construction project?

This should be the primary question that a contractor gets the answer to. It is more important than what. The “what” answer has a “why” answer behind it. The why question doesn’t have to be asked directly, but regardless, needs to be answered. The why is the foundation for the customer’s dream. A foundation is critical to building construction projects and dreams.

  • Why do we do the same things over and over expecting different results?

We all do this to some degree. Why? Why do we continue to repeat things thinking it will be different this time? We shouldn’t do things just because… “we’ve always done it this way”. The more we walk back and forth in a rut, the deeper it gets and the harder it is to get out. I heard it said that a rut is just a grave with both ends kicked out. Stop walking and determine if this is what you want and if it’s the best plan. If not do something different.

These questions are a starting point to understanding how you can BUILD a better construction business.

Like so many things out there UNDERSTANDING can be a scary thing. It may take us outside of our comfort zone and we don’t like that. We would prefer to be like the people in scary movies…and just go hide behind the chainsaws.

At Solution Building we’ve developed a 5-step BUILDing process to make stepping out of your comfort zone a little less scary. If you would like some help knowing which questions to ask or answering questions you have, schedule a free 30-minute consultation here.

What’s the Number One Problem Construction Companies Struggle With?

It Would Be So Much Easier If There Was Only One Problem to Deal With

The construction industry is a complicated business and is only getting more so in today’s fast-paced world. If you’re working in construction, or know someone who is, you know how overwhelming it can be trying to keep up with the business.

As complicated and overwhelming as the physical on-site construction portion is, the business part is equally daunting. This includes things like budgeting, scheduling, communication, labor issues, planning, and cash flow to mention a few.

While researching the number one problem construction companies faced, it was confirmed that there is more than one problem, and they are common across the industry. Trying to ensure that projects stay on schedule, within budget, compliant with safety regulations, and running smoothly is difficult.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was only one problem?

Blackridge Research and Consulting is a market research and consulting organization. Their 2023 blog about the Major Challenges Facing the Construction Industry confirms what I’ve been saying for years.

Here are seven major construction industry problems –

  • Cost overruns – This is one of the top construction industry problems. This is when a project exceeds its pre-planned budget. A McKinsey study estimates that 98% of large construction projects deal with cost overruns of more than 30%. This is often caused by poor cost estimates during the planning phase, design change requests, and payment delays. This results in lower profit margins, material shortages due to running out of funds, damage to the company’s reputation, and delays.
  • Delays – The same McKinsey study also shows that 77% of construction projects are at least 40% late. Some factors that contribute to this can’t be controlled, i.e., weather, labor shortages, and equipment failures. But there are as many or more factors that can be controlled and prevented, including scheduling issues, project conflicts, and incorrect data. One of the best ways to reduce delays is through the use of technology but the industry’s willingness to adapt is a problem.
  • Push back on new technology – This is one of the biggest problems in the construction industry. Its hesitancy to adopt new systems and processes that could make their companies more efficient is a problem. Even when construction companies acknowledge that there are solutions that they could benefit from they tend to stick to the mantra, “This is the way we’ve always done it”.
  • Poor communication – One of the most prevalent construction issues is poor communication. Since construction projects require multiple people during the planning and construction, effective information exchange is crucial for the project’s success. Oftentimes, there’s a disconnect between the office and on-site workers. Poor communication is linked to a high percentage of construction problems resulting in complications such as unrealistic expectations and important tasks being overlooked. Keeping everyone in the loop by sharing obstacles and daily progress is a great way to avoid conflicts. Documented communication helps in cases where conflicts do arise.
  • Poor planning and budgeting – When projects aren’t planned well it leads to unachievable goals that can result in construction issues like stagnant productivity. It helps to break larger goals down into smaller and more attainable ones with daily objectives. In terms of budgeting, incorrect estimates can disrupt progress and can cause projects to be delayed or dropped altogether. It can also lead to a reduction in company profit.
  • Lack of organization and poor document management – This is another prevalent problem in the construction industry. Construction involves dealing with a lot of information, from contracts to material orders to receipts to insurance certificates. Document management is not something that people in construction typically like doing. Not doing it is inefficient and creates room for mistakes. Having a system that is digital allows for better access and centralizing important information.
  • Cash flow issues – Problems with cash flow can cause construction challenges. Having a steady stream of funds is crucial to paying employees, subcontractors, vendors, and suppliers on time. When payments fall behind, it further disrupts cash flow, halting project progress and causing delays. The reason so many construction firms struggle with managing a project’s funding is that they rely on outdated systems. Having more modern solutions can ensure that all payments are made and accounted for.

Dealing with these problems is the reason I developed the business tools that I use at Timber Creek Construction every day. Seeing other construction companies struggling with the problems is the reason I started writing about them on Solution Building.

Now we’re going to make these tools available to construction companies that are tired of feeling trapped with no way out.

We plan to open our digital Business Building Toolbox next week. These tools and training are designed to help construction companies build the business that they always dreamed of. We will continue to add new tools and training in the future. If you would like more information about these tools and training and how they can help your construction company with these problems as well as others, schedule a free 30-minute consultation here.

Getting Signed Construction Proposals, What’s the Best Number for You?

How to Know What Your Number Is and What You Should Do with It

I have been reading Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why this past week. In it, he discusses how customers will do business with companies and not even really know why. He says that it often has more to do with trust than price.

This is where word of mouth marketing comes in. If someone you trust shares about the great experience that they had with a company, you’re more likely to do business with that company.

This got me to thinking about the closing ratio of our proposals. Our closing rate has almost always been higher than industry standards. This is in large part due to many of our projects either being

repeat customers or someone that has been referred to us by one of our past satisfied customers. It does not seem to be this way for most construction companies.

With the hit and miss way of doing business in the construction industry, it’s amazing to me that there are any construction companies out there at all.

Another thing to be aware of and something that is often overlooked is when our closing ratio gets too high. Selling a lot of jobs is a good thing, but when this number gets too high, it’s a good indication that your pricing is too low.

Is your bid-hit ratio ok?

When asked the questions… “Do you know what your bid-hit ratio is? Do you keep track of it? How do you use it?” Most contractors have no idea. Well over 50 percent don’t have a clue what their ratio is. Less than 25 percent know and track theirs.

This is like driving a car blindfolded — trying to go somewhere without a clue where you are headed!

In order to determine how many jobs to bid on and what type of jobs to bid on, you must know your bid-hit ratio. Track it regularly. Track it for all projects you bid on. Track it by customer.

Having a system will help you determine which jobs to bid on and which jobs not to bid on. It will also help you determine when to eliminate a project type or customer from your plate and seek out better opportunities to invest your estimating dollars.

Knowing the percentage of proposals that get signed can be a critical piece of information and may determine whether your company will stay in business or not.

Most small to medium sized construction companies run their businesses by just throwing a dart and hoping it hits a dart board. They have no real idea of what they’re doing.

I would bet my annual salary that most construction companies have no idea of what percentage of their proposals turn in to actual construction projects. This is vital information to have for building a profitable business.

This is why we have a Job List tool for tracking this information in our construction business. This tool will do a lot more than just tracking the percentage of signed proposals.

You can find out more about this tool here –

I realize that the whole business thing can be daunting and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

The Job List tool, as well as, the Proposal, Contract, Change Order, Payment Application, and Saving Account Transfer tools are some of the tools that will be coming soon in our Business Building Toolbox.

If you have questions about the Business Building Tools and if they would be a good fit for your construction company, you can schedule a free 30-minute construction company consultation here.

Poor Communication is the Number One Reason for Disagreements, Part 2

Written Communication is Really the Only Way to Avoid This Problem

I have written multiple times about communication and the problems that come from the lack of communication. Most of the time this has been focused on communication between construction contractors and customers. This is certainly a problem, but can also be a problem between general contractors and subs.

Whether it’s subcontractors or customers, the communication responsibility lies with the general contractor.

Verbal communication leaves too many things open to interpretation.

Several years ago, a partner and I were meeting with a customer early in the process of building a new home. The customer pointed out that the distance from the electric meter to the house was more than the 50’ allowance, as per the written proposal.

He asked if this was a problem. My partner told him that it wasn’t a problem. Guess what…

It was a problem.

The problem didn’t surface until later when the customer was billed for the additional 100’. After some “digging”, the communication breakdown was uncovered.

The customer asked, “if it was a problem”. What he really was asking was…”is it going to cost more?”. 

My partner’s response in reality was, “we can dig the additional 100’, but it will cost you three times as much as the 50’ allowance in the proposal”. But this isn’t what was said.

Neither of them intended nor expected this to be a problem. It was a simple matter of misunderstanding…a lack of communication.

Communication is, …the exchange of information and the expression of feelings that result in understanding.

Understanding is the tricky part.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reminded of the importance of communication with subcontractors as well as customers. When I had a situation where I hired a sub to do a bathroom remodel that I had never used.

He came with a couple of positive recommendations.

After talking with him on the phone, I sent him a scope of work and before and after drawings. He gave me a verbal price range over the phone. The high end of his price was in line with my budget.

I asked him if he would get me something in writing.

We met at the job site later that week on Friday and physically looked at the project. It so happened that he had a crew that could start the following Monday and have the job done ahead of schedule. This was important because the bathroom that was getting remodeled was the only one they had. Again, I asked for something in writing. Again, he assured me that his price was still good.

He showed up on time and things progressed on schedule. They got the demo done quickly and got the customer a shower back within a few days. Things were going well.

There also was some moisture damage that was unknown when we started. This meant I needed to give the customer a change order for this additional work. I called the sub to get a price. He said the way things were going, it should still be close to the high-end price he had given me previously.

I prepared a change order for the customer based on the extra work and felt that should be sufficient to cover the subcontractor.

When it was all said and done the subcontractor’s bill was almost $4,000 more than he told me or what I had budgeted. On top of that he was unwilling to negotiate a settlement somewhere in the middle.

Surprise! I should have gotten something in writing.

Looking back, I should have pushed back more and gotten something in writing. But I was looking out for the customers and the subs availability. The speed with which they said they could do the work swayed me to move forward without anything written down.

I know that small and midsized contractors don’t like to spend the time and effort to do paperwork.

I understand, it takes time. The question we should ask is this…

Is it better to spend the time communicating before the project starts or wait until there’s a problem and everybody’s upset?

I understand that details and information take time, but I think it’s essential to good communication.

I knew better and can’t blame anyone but myself for being in this situation.

Even though I had the tools I needed to avoid this situation I didn’t use them. If you don’t open the toolbox and get the tools out, they can’t help you build your company.

Most construction contractors don’t have the tools they need for building a better business. That’s why we’re in the process of filling up a toolbox with tools to help you build the construction company of your dreams.

Whether it’s proposals, contracts, change orders, progress payments, or having money to pay your taxes, there’s a tool for it. We also plan to offer instructions, coaching, and consulting to help you learn to use these tools.

If you have questions and would like to find out if these tools would be a good fit for you, you can schedule a free consultation here.

Poor communication is the number one reason for disagreements. Avoid disagreements by taking the time to get the tools needed to avoid costly miscommunication.