Note: We are tracking the latest construction industry news and online resources for contractors in time of COVID-19.
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    What To Do When Your Construction Company's Supply Chain Faces Disruption

    Posted by Sharie DeHart on Fri, Apr 03, 2020

    Having a family-owned construction business in times of uncertainty, we spent many sleepless nights wondering how we were going to make payroll. Where would our next job come from? Would it be profitable, or would something terrible happen to cause us to go bankrupt?
     
    If your company relies on material suppliers in various geographic locations, it's likely that at some point, your construction business will face a supply chain disruption. Whether that disturbance is caused by a virus, regulatory lockdown, international tensions, changes in local laws, or a natural disaster, there will probably be scenarios in which your suppliers or transporters face obstacles that affect your company. 
     
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    Topics: Contractor, Contractor Tips, Contractor Operating Tips, Project Management For Construction

    7 Ways To Improve Construction Workplace Productivity

    Posted by Sharie DeHart on Fri, Mar 27, 2020

    (Note: We are tracking the latest construction industry news and online resources for contractors in time of COVID-19)

    The success of any business, large or small, depends considerably on nurturing an efficient, productive workplace. 

    Some contractors and construction company owners believe in maximizing production by driving everyone from the laborers to the Project Managers to work harder, longer, faster, hustle, and run. And if they are giving less than 110% to the company, they are not doing enough.

    While improving employee productivity should always be a priority when the ultimate goal is a sustainable and profitable business, the process is easier said than done.  

    Below are some of the most effective methods of managing a productive, happy workplace while increasing output:

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    Topics: Contractor, Contractor Tips, Contractor Operating Tips, Construction Productivity, Construction Workplace

    How A Business Dashboard Can Help You Drive Your Construction Company

    Posted by Sharie DeHart on Fri, Mar 20, 2020

    (Note: We are tracking the latest construction industry news and online resources for contractors in time of COVID-19)
     
    Business dashboards are a valuable business intelligence tool, offering an "at-a-glance" big picture view of a company's performance.
     
    Some construction business owners use a dashboard to track KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) relevant to just one aspect of their business, such as sales growth, marketing, or financial data. Others rely on an executive dashboard for an overview of data culled from various sources (e.g., their accounting software, CRM tools, and website analytics).
     
    The great advantage of a dashboard is that it presents and compares complex data drawn from several sources using visual tools (i.e., tables, line graphs, and bar graphs). With access to this consolidated data – information that would take hours to compile and analyze on your own – business owners are empowered to make more informed real-time business decisions.
     
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    Topics: Construction Accounting, Key Performance Indicators, KPI, Contractor, Contractor Tips, Contractor Operating Tips

    Tips For Getting Your Construction Business Through Tough Times

    Posted by Sharie DeHart on Fri, Mar 13, 2020

    If you're a small business owner whose construction company hasn't gone through hard times, that's great, but it's likely to happen at some point. As much as we dream about being brilliant enough in this industry that we'll never face slow times, there are many things beyond our control that can negatively affect our organization.
     
    Here are six tips for getting your business through difficult periods so you can look forward to many more years of construction business ownership:
     
    1. Take care of your employees
     
    Workdays lost to sickness are a considerable cost to the company and a threat to productivity. Regardless of health threats and virus spread, the workplace itself is a source of infection, and you can reduce the risk of causing absence in your employees by implementing control measures to ensure the environment is clean and safe.
     
     
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    Topics: Construction Accounting, Contractor Challenges, Contractor, Contractor Tips, Contractor Operating Tips

    Annual Tax Return Pointers For Construction Contractors

    Posted by Sharie DeHart on Fri, Mar 06, 2020

    Preparing for tax season is a year-round endeavor. Well-organized small businesses are better positioned to minimize their tax bill while avoiding penalties associated with missing or inaccurate information.
     
    Tip number one for construction company owners is to update financials every month, using a streamlined software or cloud-based system. This way, come tax time, everything you need is all in one place. 
     
    Second - The Profit And Loss Balance Sheet is what Tax Accountants use.
     
    The numbers on these reports offer a summary snapshot of your business. They are referred to and reviewed over and over by banks and others.
     
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    Topics: Networking, Construction Accounting, Contractor, Contractor Tips, Contractor Operating Tips, small business connections

    Contractor Networking - How To Connect With Local Business Owners

    Posted by Sharie DeHart on Fri, Feb 28, 2020

    Making a few good local business connections can go a long way in helping your construction business grow. Networking can spark mutually beneficial partnerships, lead to new opportunities, and attract more clients through word of mouth.
     
    In the age of social media, small business owners may think networking isn't as valuable as it used to be. On the contrary, it's just as crucial for people to get to know your face out and about in the community as it ever was. And fellow business owners are much more likely to refer you once you've met in person or have worked with you in the past.
     
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    Topics: Networking, Construction Accounting, Contractor, Contractor Tips, Contractor Operating Tips, small business connections

    Bookkeeper, Accountant, And CPA For Contractors - Understanding Roles

    Posted by Sharie DeHart on Fri, Feb 21, 2020

    The tax season is here. This is when most construction company owners think about getting their construction bookkeeping system in order, so they can file their annual tax return for the previous year.
     
    Keep in mind that each branch of accounting serves a different function similar to how it works in construction. There are framers, rough carpenters, and finish carpenters, and all three works with lumber, yet in most cases, the skill sets to do everything are rarely found in the same person.
     
    If you're like many construction business owners, you may not be exactly sure of the differences between a construction bookkeeper, a construction accountant, and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)  - and whether you should hire one, or all.
     
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    Topics: Accountant, Construction Accounting, Contractor, Contractor Tips, Contractor Operating Tips, Construction Systems And Processes

    Why Your Construction Business Needs You To Say No

    Posted by Sharie DeHart on Fri, Feb 14, 2020

    Being open to new possibilities is a positive trait shared by most construction company owners —but saying yes to all the people you meet and opportunities that come your way can get you into trouble.
     
    When we over-commit—especially when we take on projects that don't benefit our business—our stress can hit the roof. It's much hard to be productive when we're feeling burned out and resentful.
     
    One of the most impactful changes you can make in your construction business is to form one simple habit: give yourself time to weigh the cost and benefit before making any decision, and politely decline any opportunity that doesn't align with your goals.
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    Topics: Business Planning For contractors, Contractor, Contractor Tips, Contractor Operating Tips, Construction Systems And Processes

    Six Effective Ways To Save Money As A Construction Business Owner

    Posted by Sharie DeHart on Fri, Feb 07, 2020

    We are always looking for ways construction contractors like you save time and money. These tips will help you make a noticeable difference to your bottom line.
     
    Reduce staff costs
     
    Without a doubt, having someone to help deal with routine tasks can significantly improve productivity. The rub is that hired help is often too expensive for small business owners.
     
    Internships can be a real win-win: a student gets hands-on experience assisting you with marketing, accounting, or administrative work, and you get time-saving help for free.  

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    Topics: Accountant, Construction Accounting, Contractor, Contractor Tips, Contractor Operating Tips, Construction Systems And Processes

    A Construction Contractor's Optimal Guide To Profiling Clients

    Posted by Sharie DeHart on Fri, Jan 31, 2020

    Easily an essential first step in establishing your construction company is to define your clients so that you have the information you need to attract the right audience and generate valuable traffic to your website.
     
    Understanding your customers and what makes them tick is the key to any successful construction business, particularly if you are paying out large amounts of money to drive relevant traffic.
     
    One of the most practical ways of defining your prospects is by building client profiles that represent the typical types of customers that you are aiming for. As a result, you'll be able to home in on a more specific target audience, communicate with your audience in a more relevant and personalized manner, and, ultimately, generate more revenue.


     

    Every business caters to a specific demographic, and while some audiences might be vast, it is still essential from a marketing perspective that you know your clients and how to reach out to them. You'll need to understand your product or service, seek out feedback, learn about your customers' habits and interests, and maintain a consistent and targeted marketing campaign.

    Knowing Your Brand

    There's no shortage of novice construction companies out there who are attracted by the empty promises of making a quick profit by providing a service that is in high demand during a particular season, even if they aren't at all familiar with the execution. The reality of a successful construction business is quite a different thing; however, you need to be thoroughly familiar with what you are trying to work on (whether you are installing, repairing, or renovating), and you need to believe in it.

    Whether you're a lone contractor or you're planning to start a small construction business with multiple employees or partners, you'll need to define your mission and come to understand your products and services fully. You cannot hope to accurately profile your clients if you do not have the utmost familiarity with what you are trying to sell to them. You'll need to pay attention to every detail before putting yourself in the shoes of your customers. When you know your brand, and it has a clearly defined mission, you'll be ready to start profiling your customers and tweaking your approach to marketing as necessary.

    Seek Feedback

    Seeking feedback is a critical ongoing process, but you should also start by doing plenty of research before you can even hope to get your marketing strategy off the ground. Your construction business will inevitably need to adapt over time to the needs and desires of its clients, not least because the customer has far more control these days than ever before by way of things like social media and online reviews.

    Seek out feedback from your clients at every opportunity, but make sure that you don't end up being intrusive and don't bombard people with too much information or too many questions. Many customers won't have the time or the patience to leave feedback, and you'll have to learn to accept that. Fortunately, there are some practical ways of encouraging your customers to leave feedback, such as by offering incentives like promotional codes and other discounts for completing a short survey or answering a few questions about their preferences and habits.

    Feedback doesn't always need to come from clients themselves, either. You can gain invaluable insights, albeit not entirely as accurate, by reviewing reports on your industry. Many companies provide insights into specific markets by analyzing trends in online behavior to help your business better define its target audience.

    Create Your Client Personas

    Create a profile of your perfect customer. If your construction business has an unusually broad reach, then you'll want to segment your target audience and create personas for each customer category. Map out the behaviors and interests of your customers based on important factors such as demographics, buying habits, geographical location, and more. You can even name these imaginary customers if you like, since this may help you to imagine them in a more practical light.

    When defining your customer profiles, be sure to seek answers to the following questions:

    • What other related businesses would they likely choose to work with?
    • What sort of subject matter is most likely to interest them?
    • What are their demographical attributes?
    • Where are they located? 
    • What do they need or want? 
    • What do your customers do to entertain themselves?
    • What is their income level?
    • How much would they be willing to spend?
    • What are their priorities and goals in life?
    • How do they approach change?
    • What are their past purchases?
    • How often have they hired you?

    Every day, millions of people turn to Google to find answers to their questions, solutions to their problems, or simply something to entertain them. What sort of queries does your business offer solutions for? By knowing your customers' problems, curiosities, and interests, you'll be able to tailor your content, your marketing strategy, and your product itself to better suit those criteria.

    Avoid basing your customer personas on a real customer, since no single individual can completely represent your target audience. Instead, a customer persona should be reasonably broad, and it should characterize your perfect customer. 

    Profiling your customers won't result in your construction company's profit if you don't know how to sell more to existing clients. Just because you're a contractor who provides services doesn't mean you can't cross-sell or up-sell. It's much easier to sell to existing customers than to acquire new ones. Read on to learn how to generate more income by working these two sales strategies like a pro.

    Cross-selling

    Cross-selling is simply inviting your customers to buy a secondary item that naturally bundles with a product they're already purchasing. This works particularly to the handyman and home service and repair contractors who have materials readily available for use. You'll get the best results with cross-selling when a complementary item is offered at a much lower price point.

    Up-selling

    When you up-sell to a customer, you're asking them to consider a higher-priced upgrade during a sales transaction. Think of an up-sell as a recommendation. You're endorsing the best version of a product or service your customer is already planning to buy. It's usually much easier to up-sell a customer than to cross-sell.

    Paying more for the premier option is a smaller stretch for a client than deciding to buy something extra that wasn't initially part of the plan. Whenever you're telling your clients about a product's features, suggest the benefits of the premier option. Even if they decide not to buy at the highest price point now, they might keep it in mind for next time. 

    Up-selling often happens naturally in sales when the focus is on the product that would best meet your client's needs rather than starting with price. Explain the differences between two or three options, providing all the information your clients need to make the best choice.

    In conclusion

    With your client profiles in place, you'll be able to match each area of your marketing strategy to the individual characteristics of your clients. By targeting smaller and more specific audiences, you should be able to increase the percentage of paying customers and valuable leads instead of wasting time and money on targeting the wrong people. 

    As you integrate up-selling and cross-selling into your sales strategy, always keep your ideal clients and their needs top of mind. By being knowledgeable about the problems your customers most want to solve and able to provide honest, helpful advice - your clients will grow to trust you and your recommendations. 

    Ultimately, don't forget that it's not about getting more visitors to your website: it's about getting more visitors that go on to become paying clients.

    P.S.

    We are excited and honored that Randal is nominated for the 2020 Small Business Person Of The Year award in our city. If you are on Alignable, I would appreciate it if you can connect with us and "like" our recommendation.

    Screenshot of Alignable nomination

    About The Author:

    Sharie DeHart, QPA is the co-founder of Business Consulting And 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 and offers insights on how to manage 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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