Running a construction contracting business has never been easy, but contractors today are confronting a new breed of challenges. Despite high demand, many construction businesses are struggling with problems as basic as finding a consistent source of trash bags. Between supply chain problems and labor shortages, contractors are searching for a new way forward.
Disruptions in the status quo often come alongside the possibility of building something better. Contractors now have a crucial chance to optimize their workflows and develop new business strategies amid the big changes that are happening. These six tips will help your contracting business thrive and seize opportunity.
Table of contents
- Top 6 Contractor Essentials to Improve Business and Workflow
Top 6 Contractor Essentials to Improve Business and Workflow
1. Build a stronger supply chain
Delays, shortages, high prices and other supply issues are among the biggest problems affecting contractors today. Confronting these issues head-on is a must for contractors who want to build a more resilient and sustainable business. All options should be on the table in deciding how to build the supply chain that will feed your business’s future.
Evaluate your vendor contracts and ask detailed questions about whether they’re creating the value that you need. Learn and compare what vendors are doing to make their supply chains more reliable and keep prices manageable. Your suppliers might also have tips for you about how your procurement department can work more efficiently with them.
Many U.S. construction businesses with heavily globalized supply chains are also looking to “reshore” by shifting back toward the national and regional level. Sourcing bulk construction materials from U.S. companies rather than China may cost more upfront, but it can yield big improvements in shipping times and customer service.
2. Develop your web presence
A well-crafted web presence is indispensable for making connections and finding leads in today’s construction market. Start with making sure that your website is user-friendly. It should be easy and fast for potential clients to set up an estimate appointment. Include detailed information about your services and any photos of completed projects you’d like to show off.
Social media is also a big opportunity that many construction companies don’t take advantage of. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram allow you to connect with potential leads and familiarize people with your brand. They also offer a huge range of opportunities for showcasing your most impressive projects, so make sure you’re using tools like hashtags and Facebook groups to get your content in front of your target demographics.
3. Invest in acquiring and retaining great talent
The tight construction labor market has made it tough to acquire and keep the best talent. To tackle these issues, the benefits and compensation you offer are among the first issues to look at. Analyze whether your pay and perks are competitive, and consider how much you can afford to improve them to attract talent.
It’s also important to take a look at your company culture. Do your employees feel safe, supported and valued? Are safety issues taken seriously and investigated thoroughly? Do workers have meaningful opportunities to learn skills and advance their careers? These factors really matter in creating employee loyalty.
Social networks also count for a lot in recruiting the right talent. First, a positive culture also creates a virtuous cycle when employees recommend others in their network for a job. Another key tip is to consider offering referral bonuses. These bonuses incentivize employees to refer qualified and reliable friends who might not otherwise know about your job opening.
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4. Communicate openly about project schedules and delays
No client wants to hear that their project is behind schedule. However, proactive communication goes a long way toward maintaining good client relationships when you encounter delays. In fact, before you even break ground, make sure that clients understand the state of the construction industry and how it could potentially affect their projects.
This rule extends to all stakeholders in a project. Keep communication channels open between general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, project owners and all other stakeholders through regular updates about project scheduling. While there’s no guarantee that they’ll return the favor, their communication skills will definitely give you a good idea about whether or not to work with them again.
5. Use automation and modular construction to speed up work processes
We may not be seeing construction robots just yet, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for automation in construction. In fact, automation can simplify a lot of key front office processes like supply ordering and site management.
A painting company, for example, could automatically order heavy duty plastic sheeting to ensure that necessary supplies are always ready. On the design and management side, building information modeling platforms are becoming increasingly popular. These platforms help streamline and automate various aspects of the construction process — like clarifying client expectations and dealing with change orders.
Factory-based modular construction is another useful application of automated processes. Entire pieces of buildings can now be produced in factories, often using automated technologies. Once completed, these units are delivered to a job site. Using modular building services can help you optimize job site workflows and make your process more reliable.
6. Choose the path of safety and quality
Ultimately, the smartest growth strategy is always a commitment to quality. There’s no substitute for the drive to do the job right — in personnel, in materials, in safety and in workmanship. These are the choices that will define your brand and your success.
Realize that the small things do matter. For example, buying normal trash bags instead of sturdy contractor bags might be cheaper. However, the cumulative effect of bags that frequently break can cost you huge amounts of time and employee morale. (Plus, it doesn’t look great to your clients.)
A contractor business that’s committed to doing it right will prioritize quality in its decision processes. Management must set high standards for work quality and speed to give clients the experience they deserve. However, it’s also crucial to exercise leadership from the front in giving employees the tools, pay and benefits they need to do the job right.
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A contractor’s work is never done when it comes to improving their operational and business processes. Committing to constant process improvement is critical for creating continued growth and refining your ability to deal with challenging circumstances.