How Can You Best Serve Others, That’s the Real Question

We Spend Too Much Time Focused on Ourselves Rather Than Others

We need to be clear on what things are most important and focus on them first. Being clear on what’s most important is the hard part. There’s always something vying for our attention.

For example, how important is fixing a broken lawn mower?

How could a broken lawn mower become a point of contention for a happily married couple? After all, it’s just a piece of machinery. Or is it?  When does it become the central flashpoint between a man and a woman?

“When our lawn mower broke and wouldn’t run, my wife kept hinting to me that I should get it fixed. But, somehow I always had something else to take care of first, the truck, the car, playing golf – always something more important to me.

Finally she thought of a clever way to make her point.

When I arrived home one day, I found her seated in the tall grass, busily snipping away with a tiny pair of sewing scissors. I watched silently for a short time and then went into the house.

I was gone only a minute, and when I came out again, I handed her a toothbrush.

I said, “When you finish cutting the grass, you might as well sweep the driveway.”

        (Wait for it)

                (Just a little more)

The doctors say I will walk again, but I will always have a limp. 😊

I think this broken lawn mower was pretty important.

We find ourselves in a very noisy world. Surrounded by something or someone needing something from us.

We get to decide who or what we give our attention to.

In Matthew Chapter 4, Jesus spends 40 days by himself clearing His mind as He prepares for His ministry. At the end of these forty days Satan tempts Him with food, wealth and fame. The same things we find ourselves tempted with every day.

Then in Chapter 5 verses 1-12, He gives us the Beatitudes, a perspective of where our attention should be focused and the blessings that result from that.

Ultimately, we are supposed to be aware of those around us and help them when and where we can. It’s about slowing down long enough to see and hear those around us and then do something to let them know that we do see and hear them.

When Joe Serna was arrested for drinking and driving, one of the terms of his probation was that he would not consume alcohol for a predetermined amount of time. However, after lying on a urine test, Joe was brought back to the courtroom, this time in front of Judge Lou Olivera. Judge Olivera felt he had no choice but to sentence Joe to a night in jail for breaking probation, a sentence which was carried out.

Joe is a decorated veteran who served three terms in Afghanistan and has two purple hearts to show for his bravery. This Green Beret survived an IED and a suicide bomber, as well as a terrifying experience getting trapped in a sinking truck with his fellow soldiers and Joe was the only soldier to make it out of the truck alive.

While following a creek, the road gave way, causing the truck Joe and his men were in to be submerged underwater. Unable to move, Joe was trapped in place and forced to feel the water rise up his legs, his torso, and his neck. Finally, it stopped at his chin.

Considering this terrifying brush with death, as well as his other horrifying experience in the war, Joe suffers from PTSD. One of his triggers, which he blames on the sinking truck, is a fear of small, confined space such as a jail cell.

So when Judge Olivera sentenced Joe to a night in jail, he was sending this war vet to one of his very worst fears.

Moments after Joe was locked away for his night in prison, he was surprised by Judge Olivera, who came to stay the entire night with the man he had sent to jail. (Judge Olivera was an Army veteran who served in the Gulf War)

Joe said that with Judge Olivera there, “the walls were no longer there.” His anxiety and fear melted away, and he was able to have a genuine conversation with this wonderful person.

After this night in jail, Joe promised Judge Olivera that there would be no more screw-ups. This might not be the usual way the law works, but this act of connecting and compassion was exactly what this brave veteran needed.

This is the kind of thing Jesus did for us. He left the comfort of Heaven and came to spend time with us here on earth. Ultimately, He paid the price for all our screw-ups by giving His life on the cross.

I’m not saying that you need to spend a night in jail or give your life on a cross.

What I am saying is that we need to slow down a little and open our eyes. Stop being so focused on ourselves and see who and where we can help others.

It’s Christmas Time and This Is the Most Wonderful Time for Giving

However, Proposal Systems are Not What We Normally Think of When We Think About Giving

Giving is an interesting word. For such a small and simple word, I had no idea how complex it was. In the Meriam-Webster dictionary there are sixteen different definitions with several sub-definitions for the word give. This is just as a verb, plus there are additional ones for uses of nouns, etc.

Just like the large number of definitions for the word give, there are a lot of great ways of giving.

One way of giving is the traditional wrapped presents under the Christmas Tree. And who doesn’t look forward to getting together with the people we love and sharing in the excitement of unwrapping that unknown gift?

Another great way of giving is sharing our knowledge and experience.

In my forty years in the construction industry, I learned some things. 😊 After struggling trying to figure out how to do accurate proposals, communicate clearly with customers and prepare a production budget, I knew there had to be a better way.

While a lot of construction companies are great at “constructing”, they often struggle with the business side of things. There’s a lot more to owning and operating a construction company than just building.

Unexpected costs, changes to projects and poor communication plague the construction industry.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

That’s why I developed the Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal system. This proposal system will give you the documents and instructions needed for preparing proposals that communicate clearly and accurately with the customer, while allowing you to be profitable.

This system includes templates for:

            Bid sheet – A Word document with all the construction sections and individual items already listed out with space for filling out the scope of the work to be done, dimensions, materials, locations, etc.

            Worksheet – An Excel spreadsheet with all the construction sections and individual items already listed out with optional overhead and profit markups already inserted in the appropriate cells.

            Estimate – A word document with spaces to fill in the pertinent information, i.e. customer’s information, what will or will not be supplied by the contractor, the scope of work, the estimated price for each specific element and a total estimated price.

            Proposal – A word document with spaces to fill in the pertinent information, i.e. customer’s information, what will or will not be supplied by the contractor, the scope of work, the proposed price for each specific element, a total project price, payment arrangements and project duration.

            Contract – A word document with spaces to fill in the pertinent information, i.e. customer’s information, list of referenced documents, construction funding information, property specifics, project start date and legal terms and conditions.

            Proposal-Contract – A word document that is a combination of a proposal and contract in one.

It also includes:

            Data Base – An Excel spreadsheet with prices for material and labor for a wide variety of specific construction tasks. This information can be copied and pasted to the worksheet.

            Instructions – Complete and comprehensive instructions for how to use this system and put it to work.

            Example documents – Complete Bid Sheet, Worksheet, and Proposal for a hypothetical construction project.

Back to the spirit of giving –

I want to give of my experience and knowledge because I want to see more successful construction contractors and more happy construction customers.

So, this Christmas we’re giving by reducing the $497 price of our Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal system by 80%.

The Christmas price is only $97!

This reduced price will allow contractors to give clearer more accurate proposals to their customers.

If you know someone in the construction industry that you think would like the chance to save $400 on this proposal system…give them the link to the Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal or give them the link to this blog post.

We also have a free document you can download called the 7 Bid Mistakes. It will walk you through the common mistakes that cost contractors a fortune and how to avoid them. And because it’s free…we’re giving it too.

Christmas Is About Giving, Business Should Be Too

How Do We Know What to Give Without A List?

Last week I wrote about the coming new year and our excitement about the possibilities and opportunities it will present. This week I’m going to back up just a little (chronologically) to focus on Christmas (considering that it is just a few days away).

Christmas at its very foundation means giving. “God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him would not be lost but have eternal life.” John 3:16, ERV. We’re talking about the ultimate gift. The giving of His child to be mistreated and ultimately killed on a cross. This Holiday is the celebration of that Child’s birth.

“God created humans in His own image. He created them to be like himself.” Genesis 1:27 ERV. If we have been created in His image, then shouldn’t we be willing to give. Isn’t this a part of who we have been put here on earth to be?

What does giving look like in business?

It doesn’t mean we do work for free. It doesn’t mean that if we win the customer loses or the other way around. Business isn’t supposed to be a win-lose arrangement. It can and should be a win-win.

Once again, this last week I met with another couple in the middle of a remodeling project that has taken a bad turn…they had to fire their contractor. What should have been the fulfilling of their dream turned into a nightmare. This was primarily due to a breakdown in communication. As professional builders, or businesses of any kind, this responsibility is ours. This is such a big problem. I have written about it as much or more than any other.

Here are links to some of those “Weekly Solutions”:

So, how do we know what it is that the customer wants? WE ASK THEM

This seems to be a no brainer, but for whatever reason the question doesn’t get asked, not really. The basics get discussed and everybody thinks they know what the outcome is going to be, but some where in the process things go off track. It takes time and effort to dig deep and find the underlying dream. This is critical to the project being a win-win.

It’s like finding out what a child wants for Christmas. Sure, we can go get them a gift and it might be something they like but, the odds aren’t very good. Or, we can have them fill out a Christmas list. If we don’t understand something on the list, we can ask and get some clarity before the process starts or money is spent.

Have the customer fill out a “Christmas List” for their project before moving forward.

To the point of having a list filled out…I need a list filled out to help determine the best direction for Solution Building going forward. I have a lot of ideas, but your input will help me know what would be the most beneficial to helping you build your dreams.

Please share your thoughts, questions, ideas or dreams in the comments below. This will help me know what gifts I can give you.

If you would prefer you can give me your list by taking this short 8 question survey.