And Gene’s Not Sure He Can Squeeze It In
It’s Friday, and Gene is in his normal state of overwhelm. He’s supposed to be meeting with John tomorrow afternoon to go over the Building a Better Proposal system, and he doesn’t know how he can fit it in.
There are still so many things that need to be done.
“Maybe we can reschedule,” thinks Gene, “I’ll just give John a call and see about moving the meeting back a week… Okay, that’s enough.” Gene says to himself. “The whole purpose for this meeting is to change things, so that I don’t have to feel this overwhelmed.”
“I’m tired of always feeling out of control.”
A few minutes after noon on Saturday, Gene pulls up in front of the SMR Construction Company office and admires the building. As he gets the pizza out of the truck and goes up to the front door he thinks, “I sure hope I can have a place like this someday.” As he walks through the door John greets him with a solid handshake and a grin as he says, “I wasn’t sure that you would make it.”
“I wasn’t sure either.”, Gene says with a smile. “I came really close to calling yesterday, to see about rescheduling.” “I’m glad you didn’t.”, replies John. “You’ve taken the hardest step in a series of hard steps.”
“The first step is the hardest. It requires a change of thinking and direction.”
“Bring the pizza and let’s go into the conference room.”, John says. As they make their way into the spacious comfortable room Gene thinks back on when they used to have their weekly production meetings in this very room. Looking back, he realizes how much he had taken what John had accomplished for granted.
John hands Gene a plate and they both get some pizza. “There’s water and soda in the fridge like always.”, says John, “Help yourself.” As they set down and start eating John asks Gene, “Why did you start your own construction company?”
“Why do you do what you do?”
Gene sat there for a while chewing his pizza at the same time chewing on this question. “Why was he doing this?” He had asked himself this question a lot, but it was usually a question of frustration, not really looking for an answer.
After what seemed like an eternity, Gene answered, “I really don’t know. I suppose that seeing what you had accomplished, I wanted the same thing.”
“That’s the same answer I would have given if I’d been asked why I started SMR Construction.”, agrees John. “It wasn’t until I realized that to have a successful and profitable business, one that I was running rather than it running me, I needed to make some changes. One of those was to answer that question.”
“The WHY is more important than the HOW. Maybe your why is to make a lot of money, the enjoyment of building, the control that comes with owning your own company, something completely different or a combination of things.”
“Do you love what you do? In your current situation, do you even like it?”
Now Gene has another unanswered question to ponder. Does he like what he does? Life sure was easier when he worked for John. What was it that prompted him to go into business?
John interrupted Gene’s thinking, “Gene, you probably won’t get the full answer to these questions today, and we’ve already been discussing this for a while now. I would suggest that you take some time to think about these questions and dig down deep to find the answers.”
“The answer to these questions is the foundation your business will be built on.”
“Before we run out of time today, let’s move on to the topic you came for, a better proposal system. Here’s an overview of the proposal system that we’ll go over today. These are yours to make notes on and take with you.”
“Just like the why question for your business, you should answer the why question about proposals.”
“Why do we need to do proposals?
“Gene, there is a huge misunderstanding between construction companies and customers. The biggest part of this gap is poor communication. Even when attempting to communicate clearly, it often goes badly. Let me give you an example.”
“Several years ago, I met 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 agreement. He asked if this was a problem. I told him 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 research, the communication breakdown was uncovered. The customer asked, “if it was a problem”. What he was really asking was…”is it going to cost more?”.”
“The response ‘in reality’ was, “It’s no problem to dig the additional 100’, but it will cost you more.” Neither party intended nor expected this to be a problem. It was a simple matter of misunderstanding…a lack of communication.”
The bulk of the communication responsibility is the contractor’s; we are the professionals after all.
If you follow along on the overview, on page 2 you can see the importance of a proposal system and why you need it. Page 3 has reasons for and common reasons against doing proposals. Page 4 is a list of documents included in the system and descriptions of how they work. Pages 5 and 6 are an overview of the proposal system.”
“As we wrap up today, Gene, I would recommend that we schedule some time weekly to work through the proposal system. I know that you don’t feel like you can spare the time, but I would point out that if you want things to be different, it’s going to require you to do some things differently.”
Gene thought about this for a few minutes, “I get excited about the possibilities for my future every time we talk about this. Let’s do it. How does next Saturday sound, same time and place work for you?
“If I don’t commit to doing something different, nothing will change.”
John smiled wide and remembered when he had made this same decision. He was encouraged about Gene’s future and excited to be a part of it. “Remember when you called me a few weeks back and how frustrated you were? And then in the next call we discussed the possibilities for your future? Think on these things and your why as you study the pages from today. When we get together next week, I want to hear about your why, and we’ll go deeper into the Building a Better Proposal system.
“As you go through these pages write down any questions you have, and we’ll discuss them next week.”
If you’re interested in the Building A Better Proposal system that John and Gene are working on, check out Solution Building’s Business BUILDing Toolbox. To discuss how the proposal system could help your construction company, you can schedule a meeting with me here. As always, feel free to post any questions you have in the comments!