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!

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.

A Proposed Change Order for a Construction Project is as Important as a Proposal

If So Many Issues Come from Not Doing Change Orders, Why Are They Not Done?

A Proposed Change Order is another very important tool that should be in the business toolbox of every construction company. However, it’s probably used less than almost any other business tool. Its lack of use causes as many, or even more, problems than any other tool.

If it’s that important, why is it not used?

We’ve discussed multiple times the reasons for doing Proposals for construction projects and the importance of communication with construction customers.

Proposed Change Orders are just as important.

If Proposed Change Orders are so important why are the done less?

The main reason for paperwork not being done is time. Time is the one thing that there is a limited amount of. There is more of everything else in construction. We can look for and find more help, job materials, money, etc. But, no matter how hard we look we can never get more time.

This time limitation is the main reason paperwork isn’t done. It’s easy to see the direct connection between production and revenue. Paperwork…not so much.

Doing a proposal or estimate is done before any construction agreement is made.  This has a direct connection to the cash flow and increases time being spent on them. If we don’t have construction work to do, we don’t get paid.

After the project is started though, our focus shifts to the construction of the project. From that point forward paperwork takes a back seat on the priority bus.

Like any tool…it costs more money if you don’t use it.

I was speaking with my mechanic earlier this week and he told me a story about a contractor that he knew, that took a $15,000 hit on a job because he neglected to provide the customer with a Change Order.

The contractor and customer agreed on the work that was to be done and a price of $20,000. While the contractor was working on the project, the customer asked for some additional work to be done. The contractor did the extra work.

When finished the contractor gave the customer a invoice for $35,000. The customer was furious and would not pay the additional $15,000.

Not communicating with the customer before the work was done cost the contractor $15,000.

Spending the time to do a Proposed Change Order would have been worth it.

A Proposed Change Order is like a proposal…it lets the customer know what to expect. It gives both the contractor and the customer clear expectations before costing either.

In my forty plus years in construction I have witnessed this story happen too many times.

In addition to the time needed to do a Proposed Change Order another reason for them not being done is simply not having a process in place for doing them.

This is common in the construction industry. Most people running construction companies were taught construction…not paperwork.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

That’s why we’re in the process filling up a Business BUILDing Toolbox with ready to use templates, fill-in-the-blank worksheets, instructions, and examples of:

  • Proposals
  • Contracts
  • Change Orders
  • Payment Applications
  • Profit Comparisons
  • Job Cost
  • Six-week Cash Flow
  • Savings Account Transfers
  • Etc.

This Business BUILDing Toolbox (future link) is just one part of the 5-step Business BUILDing Plan.

Fixing problems such as neglecting to do a proposed change order as discussed above comes down to –

  • Being aware that there are problems
  • Understanding those problems
  • Getting the Information about and Instruction of systems and processes needed to solve those problems
  • Learning to use those systems and processes
  • Delivery of your DREAM business

Check back to find out when the tools are in the toolbox and ready to go.