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The Value Of Documenting Effective Construction Business Systems

Posted by Sharie DeHart on Fri, Sep 15, 2023

Many entrepreneurs operate with their business processes and systems in their heads. They know what they must do daily and how they want to get things done.
Unfortunately, when a construction business grows, and staff need to be hired – or the owner needs to take time away from the company – it's an absolute liability not having processes and systems documented in one place.
To be in business and to remain in business, become a business person! To run a construction business, you must be business-like. It's not sufficient just to be very good at what you do. Many people who are 'very good at what they do' have failed. The familiar cry: "I'm far too busy for that," is also no excuse. Are you 'too busy' to be a competent businessperson? If so, your construction business won't last long. You must continue to develop your business skills.

The Value Of Documenting Effective Construction Business Systems


To be a businessperson, you must try to become an all-rounder, not just a specialist player. You can offer outstanding goods or services, but if you don't develop sound business systems, you are not a fully rounded businessperson, and your construction business will be in danger of failing.

Remember that other stakeholders in your business - such as the building material suppliers who give you credit and the bankers who extend loans and financing terms, are constantly assessing your business skills. If you consistently pay people late or can't meet the duration of your debt agreements, they will draw obvious conclusions about your business skills.

Here are the top five reasons to record your company processes and systems so your business can run more efficiently and effectively even when you're not there.

1. Improve efficiency

When you sit down to record your processes and systems, you may discover gaps where improvements could be made. You might find better ways to perform routine tasks, reducing bottlenecks and eliminating extra steps. You may decide that some tasks are too time-consuming, and you'd save time and money switching to an automated solution. Reviewing how you do things as you record systems can help create better systems, improving productivity.

2. Support staff training

When hiring new talent, a systems manual can dramatically reduce the time you spend training. Documenting your processes can also ensure that jobs are consistently performed to a high standard. Sharing your procedure guidelines can help new employees and casual staff quickly get up to speed on expectations and give them a reference to check before asking questions.

3. Sell your systems

Develop a unique turnkey system that other construction businesses can implement to save time and cut costs, and you can increase profits by selling your operating manual. Those documented processes are part of your company's intellectual property and can be licensed like your brand name.

4. Getaway

One of the perks of running your own business is setting your schedule. But without systems, it can be challenging to get away for a vacation, let alone retire. To build a company that can run without you, you need to be able to delegate the tasks and processes to someone else with confidence that they'll be performed correctly and consistently. Another excellent reason to make sure your systems are recorded and your manual is updated regularly.

5. Sell your business

When it comes time to sell your construction business, you'll get top dollar if you can provide a buyer with an operating manual. A potential buyer wants to know that the company will continue to run smoothly without you throughout the transition period and that institutional memory will be retained when there's staff turnover. The greater ease with which someone can step in and operate the business, the greater the value and the higher your compensation when you're ready to sell.

As we've seen, several excellent reasons exist to review your systems and record them, even if you're just starting. You might update it yearly, just like your business plan, to discover best practices and ensure it maintains its usefulness to you and your staff.

Too many businesses fall over because the owner has not established efficient business systems. This typically happens because the business owner is so caught up in the day-to-day running of the business that the fundamentals of good business management get forgotten. It must be often said that the owner doesn't like bookkeeping or other administrative tasks, so these get put on the back burner.

The symptoms are familiar, and their results are disastrous:

  • Poor or non-existent record-keeping.
  • Tax obligations are not met.
  • Invoices go out late, and debts remain uncollected.
  • There is one cash flow crisis after another.
  • Goods and services are incorrectly costed and priced.

Any of these factors can lead the business down the slippery path to failure, but all are avoidable. The whole point about using sound systems is that they free you to spend more time working ON your business, not in it.

How good business systems will help you?

Good systems will make your construction business more substantial, efficient, and manageable. They will also make your business far more attractive to future buyers because if you have developed clear operating and procedure manuals, the business will be seen as an independently viable unit and less dependent on you.

Consider, for instance, what makes franchises so successful: they are designed so that people can buy a proven system and operate it after minimal training. They can do this because the business procedures are captured in simple, clear operating manuals.

You don't have to be an expert at everything in your construction business. For example, you might hate bookkeeping. Okay—but do get someone else to do it for you; don't rely on a shoebox for your accounts! And you should at least understand the processes and the overall accounting picture, even if you don't want to do the 'drudge work' yourself.

Final thoughts

Large, profitable construction companies have known and used some form of Business Process Management (B.P.M.) for hundreds of years. We've always used M.A.P. to help our clients find the treasure hidden inside their construction business. (You can download our free toolkit here if you haven't done so).

Having poor systems is the road to stress and burnout. On the other hand, good business systems will enable you to work smarter, not harder. They free you to work on your business rather than in it. That way, you're more likely to avoid burnout, and you'll be able to take time off work because you can train others to follow your documented systems and procedures. Build a better construction business and liberate yourself from it.

We offer free resources to help you save time and money that you can download and print now. 

About The Author:

Sharie_DeHart_President_Fast_Easy_Accounting_Serving_Contractors_All_Across_The_USA_Including_Alaska_And_Hawaii-1Sharie DeHart, QPA, co-founded Business Consulting And Accounting (Fast Easy Accounting) in Lynnwood, Washington. She is the leading expert in managing outsourced construction bookkeeping and accounting services companies and cash management accounting for small construction companies across the USA. She encourages Contractors and Construction Company Owners to stay current on their tax obligations. She offers insights on managing the remaining cash flow to operate and grow their construction company sales and profits so they can put more money in the bank. Call 1-800-361-1770 or sharie@fasteasyaccounting.com



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