What’s it Take to Build a Successful Construction Company?

Gene’s Excited About His Meeting with John

As usual, Gene had been on the go, nonstop, trying to keep construction projects moving forward, collecting money, paying bills, and meeting with new potential customers when he realized he still had six projects needing proposals. As he thought about this, he realized it had been more than two weeks since he had talked with John about how he did construction proposals.

It’s so easy in business to get caught up in fighting daily fires.

Gene picked up the phone and dialed John’s number. “Hey John, this is Gene, have you got a few minutes?” “Sure,” John said, “What can I do for you?” “I just realized that I’ve got six projects that need priced, this reminded me of our conversation a few weeks back, when you offered to go through your bidding process with me. Does that offer still stand?”

“Sure,” said John, “when would you like to meet?” Gene thought for a minute, realizing he wasn’t sure when he would have time to squeeze in anything else. “I don’t know John, as usual, I’m booked pretty full.” John waited for a minute and then said, “I understand. Think back to what you said in our previous conversation. Do you remember how frustrated you were?”

“Your situation isn’t going to change until YOU decide to change it.”

Gene rubbed his forehead. He knew John was right. “Okay”, Gene said, “I can probably squeeze in an hour or maybe two Saturday. Would that work?” John shook his head and smiled, remembering what it was like to be where Gene is.

Then he said, “Gene, I appreciate where you are, but the process of getting from where you are, to where I am, isn’t going to happen in an hour or two. I’ve been doing it for forty years. If you can commit to four hours Saturday, I will be glad to meet with you and we can start the process.”

“YOU are the only one that has the power to make this change.”

Gene sat there with all the things that needed to be done, bouncing around in his head. Then he thought about how tired he was of feeling out of control. Once again, he knew his mentor was right. John had taught him so much about construction and how to build things.

Now it was time to learn about the business part of construction.

“Okay,” said Gene, “How about we meet at noon on Saturday, and I’ll bring the pizza.” John said, “That sounds great, and we can get started, but that’s all this meeting will be…getting started. Like I said before I’ve being doing this for years. It takes work, it takes commitment, but the end result is worth it.”

“It’s more than just learning. It’s a lifestyle change.”

“Gene, most people in construction never learn the business side of operating a company. This is where they struggle until they get to a point where they give up. Bring an open mind and an open heart and be ready to have them both filled.”

“Nothing is going to change until something gets done”

Now Gene was getting excited and looking forward to meeting with his friend and mentor and making some changes in his business and his life. He was beginning to realize that a construction project started out right, begins long before any actual construction takes place.

It takes the right tools, training, and action to build a successful construction business. It requires you to do more than just talk about it.

If you or someone you know is feeling out of control like Gene, there are tools and training available to help get control of the business. The Business BUILDing Toolbox is filled with construction business tools.

If you would like to dive into the Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal, we’re hosting a free 90-minute workshop for Building a Better Proposal on Saturday, January 6, 2024, at 10:30 CST. Register for the workshop here.

If you have questions about the workshop or business systems, you can schedule a free 30-minute construction company consultation here.

Procrastination is Not a Good Plan for Making Changes

If Not, Why Do So Many Do It?

This is the million-dollar question. And it actually may be. The amount of dollars lost by procrastinating is costing money and a lot of it.

Decisions have consequences.

Every decision we make every day comes with consequences. Some of those consequences may be good, some may not.

Every day of our lives is full of decisions. It’s like playing a non-stop game of “would you rather”.

Most everyone is familiar with this game in which the players are asked questions that compare two different scenarios and asked to choose which of the two they would rather do. These questions can vary from simple to complicated.

Would you rather…

  • Spend a day in the Sahara Desert or Spend a day at the North Pole
  • Have the ability to fly or Be invisible
  • End hunger or End hatred

This game isn’t any different than everyday life. We are faced with choices every minute of every day. Some of these choices are small and simple, some are important and carry major consequences.

Would I rather…

  • Eat this or Eat that
  • Wear this or Wear that
  • Drive this route or Drive that route
  • Go in debt to buy a new car or Save money and drive something older
  • Take this job that pays well but requires me to sacrifice my morals or Take that job that pays considerably less but allows me to be true to my principles
  • Take the scary step to implement tools in my business that have the potential for success or Continue doing the comfortable things the way I always have with the potential for failure

This week I listened to a Ray Edwards podcast that asked the question, Why People Don’t Change. This comes back around to the question…

Why do people put off doing something that they know would help them be more successful?

Here are a few of the points that Ray makes:

  • Change happens when the pain of not changing is greater than the difficulty of making the change.
  • The fear of not changing is often overshadowed by immediate gratification, making it difficult for people to prioritize long-term consequences over short-term pleasure.
  • To change, you need to make the future pain of not changing more real than the current pleasure.
  • People don’t change unless they associate significant pain with not changing and take ownership of their ability to change.
  • Enjoy the process of pushing yourself to achieve your goals, not just the end result.

Resistance to change is a real problem.

Just consider the situation of someone in an abusive relationship and their unwillingness or inability to make changes when they know that they need to. I’ve never been in a relationship like this, so I’m not claiming to understand this emotionally.

When it comes to business decisions though, I understand them and agree completely with Ray’s points.

Ultimately your business decisions are up to you.

You can continue to procrastinate until you either garner the courage to change…or until you go out of business. It’s up to you.

If you would like to change, we can help you with that. We have tools for the construction industry available in our Business BUILDing Toolbox. You can learn more about the tools and training here or you can schedule a free 30-minute construction company consultation to get your questions answered.

There is a Time and a Season for Everything Here on Earth

God Knows What He’s Doing, Get Onboard or Get Out of His Way

Many of us don’t like change. We’re comfortable with a “This is the way we’ve always done it” attitude. A few weeks ago, I told you about changes happening in our church. We discussed that change is inevitable whether we embrace it or not.

The past several months our church has been dealing with a lot of change and unknowns. The unknown part is what makes us so apprehensive about change.

As a United Methodist church, our congregation had some concerns about the direction of the denomination. These concerns created questions which led to other questions. This question-and-answer process went on for months.

Were we going to stay United Methodist or we going to leave?

If we left, what were our options? Which of these options was the best? What did this mean for our property? What did this mean for the pastor? How long would this take? The questions went on and on.

This is where faith comes in.

As Christians we should trust in God and His “blueprint for life”. His Word gives us the instructions for living the life that He wants for us. This brings us to where we are now and this week’s message from our new pastor.

Welcome Lisa Buffum.

She started her message with her story and how God brought her to us to be our pastor.

Being a member of a United Methodist church and aware of what was going on in the denomination, she knew about the things our church was going through. She came to one of the meetings our church held as we were working through the process of what to do. She actively prayed for churches that were going through this process of answering the question of what to do.

The night that we had our vote for what we were going to do going forward, she drove to our church and sat in the parking lot praying.

We voted to leave the United Methodist and become Global Methodist as have several other churches in the district and conference.

There has been a shortage of pastors for a long time and with this split came the question of who would pastor these new churches. As she heard of more and more churches separating, she was concerned that there wouldn’t be enough pastors for the new Global Methodist churches.

She was thinking about this and had the thought that church laity might need to step up and fill some pulpits.

As she was praying, she heard God ask…” Why not you?”

This is a question that we all tend to push back on. Why me? Because I don’t have what it takes. Because I’m not good enough. I must have not heard that correctly. We’ve all done this at some time or another.

Why not you?

As a lay person she is going to be leading our church. She will be going through the process of becoming ordained. Becoming a pastor is not something that was a part of her life plan…surprise.

Looking back, it is clear how these things were happening separately and simultaneously. This is how God works. This is us getting onboard with His plan.

It’s up to us to do accept the changes that are part of God’s plan. If we don’t, we will suffer the consequences. In Isaiah 43:16-21 we are told to not get hung up on the past and accept the amazing new things that God is creating.

We need to remember that this is God’s story…not ours.

Life is a great adventure, and we need to embrace it. There is a time and season for everything here on earth, it’s up to us to open our minds to be aware of and embrace these changing seasons.

Change is Going to Happen, Whether We Embrace it or Not

Memories From the Past, Looking to the Future, Living in the Present

This past Sunday was Pastor Lee’s last Sunday serving as our pastor. After more than eight years of him being a part of our lives, it was an emotional day. You don’t spend this amount of time with someone without there being a significant impact made.

Change is inevitable and we need to embrace it.

We need to remember that if we get stuck, we will become stagnant. Think about how fresh and clear a running stream is. Then compare that to a stinky, muddy, moss ridden pond.

A large portion of Sunday’s service was spent sharing what he means to us and what we have meant to him.

He shared that over the years we have learned a lot from each other. He knows us, who we are, what we like, and how we act. We learned the same about him and his family. Three things that he said he learned were…

  • People are searching for God, knowingly or unknowingly
  • The Bible is still as relevant today as it was when it was written
  • The Church is necessary

Embracing these truths rather than pushing them away makes for a better community and world.

Embracing is hugging, taking up readily and gladly. There was a lot of embracing (hugging) done Sunday.

As a church we’ve been going through a lot of change in the past year and Pastor Lee’s leaving is just one part of that change. This is why it’s important to be “flexibly rigid”. (link to post)

We need to be true to who God has called us to be without getting distracted by things that are fleeting.

A good example of this is one of the stories that was shared. It was about a milk cow that was bought. It was kicker. It kicked over the milk bucket. It kicked over the milking stool. Milking this cow was not going as planned.

At the same time there was a cow in the pasture that was not feeding its newborn calf. After giving this situation some thought, it was decided to see if the kicking cow would feed the calf…it did.

So, the pasture cow became the milk cow and the milk cow became the pasture cow. This is being flexibly rigid. They got a milk cow and the calf got fed. This was not their plan, but it worked out.

This is embracing change.

Let’s embrace the past and what we’ve learned from it.

Let’s embrace the future and the possibilities it holds

Let’s embrace the present and not forget to live every day in the here and now.

Thank you, Pastor Lee, for your leadership, friendship and making us better people!

Epiphany is More Than Just a Day on the Christian Calendar

It’s About Seeing What’s Going on Around Us and Doing Something Good with It

The word Epiphany comes from the Greek work epipháneia that means manifestation or appearance. It’s the celebration of the awareness of the physical manifestation of Jesus. It commemorates the Magi coming to visit Him after His birth. It also celebrates the beginning of Jesus’ ministry through His baptism by John.

Traditionally the date for Epiphany is twelve days after Christmas on January 6th. There are a lot of variations of dates and celebrations for Epiphany around the world. But one thing is consistent when it comes to Epiphany…it’s based in the Christian belief that God came to earth as a man.

Epiphany is not as “big of a deal” as Christmas but is every bit as important.

Another use of the word Epiphany is a moment in life when a person experiences a new revelation or a new perspective on something that jolts them out of their current state. Most people have at least one these experiences.

This moment of realization, when a person sees reality in a new light, is called an epiphany.

Here are some examples of normal people epiphanies that had extraordinary results –

First – There was a young man name Ole in Milwaukee, Wisconsin who was smitten by a pretty young girl named Bess. Ole wanted so much to impress Bess that he invited her and some friends to a beautiful spot on the other side of Okauchee Lake for a picnic. When they had finished the meal and were cutting the pie for dessert Bess said that it was too bad that they didn’t have ice cream.

Ole responded by getting in the rowboat and going back across the lake to get some ice cream. The problem was that by the time he got back across the lake, the ice cream had melted. This was a good laugh for everyone but Ole.

After rowing across that lake Ole Evinrude had an epiphany and built the first practical and reliable outboard boat motor.

Second – A young boy named Benny and his brother were being raised in Detroit by a struggling single mother. Benny was having a difficult time in school and was falling behind. He was angry and began lashing out, even once trying to stab a friend.

Their mother was determined to do something about this. She limited their time watching television and required them to read and write book reports on two library books per week. She would grade these reports even though she could barely read herself. Benny began to excel in school, went to college and then to medical school.

After seeing the sacrifices his mother was willing to make Ben Carson had an epiphany and turned his life around.

He became a neurosurgeon that separated conjoined twins, who had been joined at the back of the head.

Third – 1927 was a pivotal year for Richard. His daughter had died in 1922 just before her 4th birthday. Richard dwelt on this and blamed himself for the poor living conditions. Then in 1927 he lost his job. They had no savings and the birth of their new daughter in 1927 added to the financial challenges. Richard drank heavily and reflected upon the solution to his family’s struggles on long walks around Chicago. During the autumn of 1927, he contemplated suicide by drowning in Lake Michigan, so that his family could benefit from a life insurance payment

Then on one of these walks Richard experienced a profound incident which would provide direction and purpose for his life. A voice spoke directly to him, and declared:

“… You think the truth. You do not have the right to eliminate yourself. You do not belong to you. You belong to the Universe. Your significance will remain forever obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your role if you apply yourself to converting your experiences to the highest advantage of others.”

After his epiphany Richard Buckminster Fuller resolved to think independently and went on to become an architect, systems theorist, designer and inventor.

He developed numerous inventions with 28 US patents and architectural designs including the geodesic dome.

These three men could have chosen to ignore or overlooked their epiphanies, but they didn’t.

We need to remember what the Christian holiday Epiphany is and celebrate it all year long.

We all have or will experience epiphanies.

The question is what will you do with yours?

It’s a Lot Easier to Say Something Than It Is to Do It

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

We’ve all heard this phrase, “Actions speak louder than words.” It’s a pretty common saying.

It is believed to have originated during the English Civil War. John Pym, an English parliamentarian, coined the expression in 1628. He said, “A word spoken in season is like an Apple of Gold set in Pictures of Silver, and actions are more precious than words.”

It’s easy to say things but harder to do them. Words can just roll right off our tongues before we take time to think about what we’re saying. This is especially true when we want to do everything for everybody. I call this a servant’s heart. I know because I have one.

When we do the things that we say we will, we are showing where our hearts really are.

The thing to remember is that we have control over both what we say and what we do.

We can change what we say and do. We don’t have to accept the status quo. We can write our own story.

In China, if they don’t like the way a movie ends…they change it.

In the final scene of the movie Fight Club. the star stands with his girlfriend, as they watch explosives blow up a cluster of skyscrapers — all part of what was presented to the audience as a plan to destroy consumerism by erasing bank and debt records.

That amount of anarchy — and the government’s inability to stop it — doesn’t appear to have passed muster with China’s notoriously strict censorship rules though.

In the version available in China, the entire scene featuring the explosions has been cut out. Instead, it has been replaced with a caption explaining to audiences that the authorities arrived just in time to save the day.

“Through a clue received by the police, they rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding,” the caption reads. “After the trial, Tyler was sent to [a] lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment. He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.”

We have the power to change how our story ends.

We can decide if our actions or words will speak the loudest. As long as we are still alive, we can write our story.

In Luke 23:33-43, we see an example of rewriting the end of a story. As Jesus hung on the cross there were two criminals hanging there with Him. One of them insulted Him by saying, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

The other criminal responded harshly to the first, “Don’t you fear God, seeing that you’ve also been sentenced to die? We are rightly condemned, for we are receiving the appropriate sentence for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.”

Both criminals wrote their own stories by the choices they made in that instance.

Jesus’ actions spoke loudly. The criminal’s choices spoke loudly. Our choices speak loudly.

Our actions are more important than what we say. We shouldn’t stop at our words. We can bring our words to life through our actions. We can write the ending to our story.

Choose your words and actions wisely and write the ending to the story that God wants for you.

How Do You Stay the Course in Times of Confusion?

It Requires a Clear Understanding of Your Compass

The year of 2020 has certainly had it’s share of confusion. It seems to be the focus of many, if not most, conversations. I’m big on talking through things. It’s a great way to process your thoughts. In essence that’s what these posts are…me thinking through my thoughts.

As you sort through the chaos it is imperative to be clear about where you’re going.

Having a clear understanding of where you’re headed will help you focus on which direction to go. In Sunday’s message Rev. Reece told a story about when he was playing high school basketball. He said that he got the ball and was headed toward the goal. He was getting around the opposing team; the crowd was yelling…he was going to be a hero and score a goal. It wasn’t until after the shot that he realized it was the wrong goal.

In Dave Ramey’s Financial Peace University, he has the audience stand up and close their eyes. He then asks them to point north. When they open their eyes, people are pointing every different direction. It was clear that some did not know where north was. Then with a compass Dave shows them true north.

Going south can get you to your destination, but it’s the long way around.

We need to know where we are going and determine the best way to get there. It’s important to periodically pause and assess where you’re headed and make course corrections as needed.

There currently seems to be more confusion than normal. I’ve heard it said numerous times that “I’ll be glad when things get back to normal”. I would contend that this is normal. Not that the current situation will be here forever…it won’t.

Things are constantly changing. Look back over your life. The older you are the more change you’ve experienced.

Change is normal.

In Hebrews 10:19-25 it points out that when Christ died that the curtain in the Most Holy Place was torn. This let’s anyone who wants to come into the presence of God. We are told to “trust in God to do what He promised. …to show each other love, to do good deeds…to meet together and encourage each other.”

Don’t let things as they are today, get you down. They will change. Acknowledge change as a part of life, understand it and make adjustments as needed to stay on course. Check your compass and keep moving forward following the true north.

I Need to Focus on What I Know How to Do

And I Don’t Know How to Do Everything

You’ve probably heard it said, “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.” I have to remind myself of this often. I get started doing something a certain way and it’s hard to change directions.

We are creatures of habit.

My tendency is to try and do everything myself. I think this is a combination of who I am and my upbringing. Growing up on a farm if it needed done…we did it. This isn’t all bad, these things also contribute to my ability to think outside the box and find solutions.

The problem is, there’s not enough time to do everything. I need to be more focused on the things I do well. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be learning new things. What it does means is that we need to be intentional about what we invest our time doing.

Focus is hard, especially when there’s no revenue.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how frustrating it is, to be doing something and not be achieving the expected results. This frustration increases when you’re sure it’s the thing you’re supposed to be doing. I’ve tried several different things to get my message out to construction companies and customers who desperately need it. CRICKETS

For years I’ve been faithfully writing and publishing Weekly Solutions. I estimate I’ve spent upwards of 2000 hours researching, writing, editing, publishing, etc. Even at a small hourly rate of $35/hour that comes up to $70,000.00. That’s a pretty big investment to have generated no revenue.

Another part of my farm upbringing was frugality. I don’t like spending money on things if I can’t see a clear return. This coupled with my “I can do this” attitude. I struggle with the idea of employing help. Looking at the numbers above, hiring would’ve probably had a better return on investment.

If I want things to change, I need to do something different.

The frustration led me to do several things different this year. I joined Kingdom Builders Mastermind hosted by Ray Edwards. In my cautious world this is a sizable investment. It’s been an investment worth every penny.

Through this group I’ve become connected with others who have experience and skills that I don’t. One such person is StoryBrand Certified Guide, Bryan Switalski with Clarity Consulting. We discussed the possibilities that could be achieved in my hiring him to help me with my digital marketing, clarifying my message and getting that message to those who need it.

My naivete with the digital marketing world is evident when you consider the amount of time invested and lack of accomplishment. I was a little unsure of moving forward with this due to the cost. We discussed options and ways to break the big project into smaller ones.

After looking at the cost of the time I had invested, considering what other things I could have been doing with that time it looks like a good investment to me. Oh, not to mention earlier posts I wrote about this very thing as it relates to construction and the value of a professional and whether or not to hire. I really should take my own advice.

So, if I don’t want to be considered insane, I need to make some changes.

Bryan and I are meeting next week to get started. There are some new and exciting things coming. Something that would be helpful is if you or any contractors you know would share with us your “construction proposal frustrations” in the comments below.


Learning How to Get a Construction Project Started Out Right

John Gets Excited About His First Meeting with Gene

As usual John had been on the go, nonstop, trying to keep construction projects moving forward, collecting money, paying bills, meeting with new potential customers when he realized, he had six projects that needed proposals. As he thought about this, he realized it had been more than two weeks since he had talked with Gene about how to do proposals.

He picked up the phone and dialed Gene’s number. “Hey Gene, this is John, have you got a few minutes?” “Sure,” Gene said, “What can I do for you?” “I just realized that I’ve got six projects that need priced. This reminded me of our conversation a few weeks back when you offered to go through your bidding process with me. Does that offer still stand?”

“Sure,” said Gene, “when would you like to meet?” John thought for a minute realizing he wasn’t sure when he would have time to squeeze this in. “I don’t know Gene, as usual I’m booked pretty full.” Gene waited for a minute and then said, “I understand. Think back to what you said in our previous conversation. Do you remember how frustrated you were?”

“Your situation isn’t going to change until YOU decide to make it change.”

John rubbed his forehead. He knew Gene was right. “Okay”, John said, “I can squeeze in an hour or two Saturday. Would that work for you?” Gene shook his head and smiled, remembering what it was like to be where John is.

Then he said, “John I appreciate where you are, but the process of getting from where you are, to where I am, isn’t going to happen in an hour or two. I’ve been doing it for forty years. If you can commit to four hours Saturday, I will be glad to meet with you.”

“Realize, YOU are the only one that has the power to make this change.”

John sat there with all the things that needed done, bouncing around in his head. Then he thought about how tired he was of feeling out of control. Once again, he knew his mentor was right. Gene had taught him so much about construction and how to build things.

Now it was time to learn about the business part of construction.

“Okay,” said John, “How about we meet at noon on Saturday and I’ll bring the pizza.” Gene said, “That sounds great and we can get started, but that’s all this meeting will be…getting started. Like I said before I’ve being doing this for years. It takes work, it takes commitment, but the end result is worth it.”

“It’s more than just learning. It’s a lifestyle change.”

“John, most people in construction never learned the business side of operating a business. This is where they struggle until they get to a point where they give up. Bring an open mind and an open heart and be ready to have them both filled.”

“Nothing is going to change until you take action and do something.”

Now John was getting excited and looking forward to meeting with his friend and mentor and making some changes in his life. He was beginning to realize that a getting a construction project started out right, begins long before any construction takes place.

Being Careful to Not Get Stuck in a Rut

The Importance of Changing and Growing

There’s a saying, “A rut is a grave with both ends kicked out.”. Too often we get in a rut and don’t even realize where we are. We are plodding back and forth doing whatever it is, never looking up to see where we are or where we’re going. If we’re not careful the rut will get so deep that we’ll never get out.

On the other hand, changing things just for the sake of change, isn’t a good strategy either. Growing and changing is good if there is a plan. Starting out on a trip without a destination and a map usually doesn’t end well.  

Change can be scary; it might not work. We know our rut well and we like it. Doing it because “We’ve always done it this way.” Isn’t a very good plan for improvement. This kind of rut thinking doesn’t allow for growth and change.

Change costs time, effort and money…the question is, is the change worth it?

Things that need changed and are ignored have consequences, i.e. diapers, your car’s engine oil, furnace filters, tooth brushes and bad habits.

Change is a natural extension of growth. As our services have grown from construction at Timber Creek Construction to coaching and consulting at Solution Building there have been a lot of changes. Changing allows us to do what we do better. Early in the growth process things naturally do more changing.

An example of this kind of change is the recent changing of our Solution Building tag line and logo. We originally started out with “A Foundation for Business & Life”. This was beneath the logo which included an image of a block foundation holding up the words Solution Building. This isn’t something that was thrown together quickly. I had given it a lot of thought and was sure it was the right choice.

After being confronted three different times by people thinking we laid block foundations I decided we needed to make some changes.

After going back to the proverbial drawing board, we changed the tag line to “Helping you find solutions for building your dreams”. The logo changed from the block foundation to a detective’s magnifying glass. This seems to better explain what we do…not to mention I’m NOT getting asked to lay concrete blocks.

It’s important that your message is clear.

Another change that we are going to be implementing next week is the changing of our weekly solution schedule. Since we added the mid-week Sunday School (email) post we’ve noticed that it consistently gets more opens. This caused me to ask the why question. We have concluded that people would rather not spend their weekends reading posts (no matter how good they are 😉).

So, rather than staying stuck in the rut of Saturday and Wednesday posts, we’re going to make some schedule changes. We are going to move the Saturday post to Monday and the Wednesday post to Thursday. I’m anxious to see if this change will help the open rate grow. If not, we can always change again.

One thing that helps us serve better is feedback. Please give us any thoughts you have about day of the week preferences, construction topics or business questions in the comment section below.