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    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.

    Workers on building construction site-1


    If you're feeling stressed and less productive than you'd like, it's time to get better at saying no. Here's how:

    First, check your business plan.

    Your business plan is more than a record of the year's goals and projections. It's a living document designed to help you guide your business in the direction you want it to go. 

    Although some decisions may seem small—an invitation to coffee, a request for advice—all of those "asks" add up. To stay focused on the success of your business, you always need to keep your short and long term goals in mind. 

    If you don't have a business plan, Randal put together a Construction Business Plan that generally follows this outline:

    #1 Executive Summary - Reputation

    In construction, reputation is vital because construction is a perishable commodity that does not age well, and delays cost much money. So construction firms establish and protect their reputations very carefully based in part on having the resources and expertise to complete the work on time and on budget.

    #2 Mission Statement - What Type Of Construction Are You Good At?

    What type of construction are you focusing on? New, remodel, service and repair?

    #3 Competitive Analyses - What You Do Better Than Any Contractor Within Twenty Five Miles?

    Every contractor has a different mix of resources and expertise, which means some aspects of construction are fast and easy for them, and that is their Unique Selling Proposition (USP) where they should concentrate all their energies.

    #4 Marketing Strategy - Who Are Your Most Profitable Clients Using The 80/20 Rule?

    • 20% of your customers usually generate 80% of your net profit. 
    • 20% of the goods or services you sell contribute to 80% of your revenue
    • 20% or 2 out of 10 of your staff create 80% of the value for your customers.

    Every construction company knows who their best clients are and who the worst ones are. The key is to make a list to identify each group

    #5 Executive And Field Staff Qualifications - Journeymen vs. Cheap Labor

    The journeyman costs more per hour but produces more and better results at a lower cost over the long haul than a group of cheap laborers. This is easily documented in a well set up QuickBooks file.

    #6 Financial Information - Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet

    Contractors typically run their business with a daily print out from the online account at their bank. Some use software, and most that we come in contact with use QuickBooks.

    Creating a business plan can help you get clear on where you want to take your business—and how you'll get there.

    Now you're ready to make a thoughtful decision.

    If someone's request does not help your business, your decision is easy. If you may want to work with the person in the future, or there's something you can ask in return that will benefit your company, a definite maybe is in order.

     Before you say yes, ask yourself the following questions:

    · How does agreeing to this benefit my business? How significant is that benefit at this time or in the future?

    · Do I have the capacity to carry out this request at this time? How might other aspects of my business suffer if I prioritize this request?

    · What does my gut say? Will I feel burdened, owed a favor, or for any other reason resent saying yes to this request?

    Scripts for saying no

     If you've weighed the decision and need to turn someone down, these simple phrases can help you to say no gracefully.

    · Thank you for thinking of me, but I can't take on another project right now.

    · I'd like to help you, but I have other commitments.

    · A healthy balance at work and home is my priority at the moment. I know this is a small request, but I can't be of service right now.

    · I'm sorry I can't do what you've asked, but I can do this for you if it helps.

    · I'm unable to help you now, but perhaps another time.

    Notice that specific reasons given for declining a request aren't offered. You don't need to provide a list of excuses for saying no, which can sound unconvincing. Unfortunately, when offered reasons for refusing a request, some people will add pressure by trying to challenge them.

    In conclusion

    When you become skilled at saying no, you'll not only avoid additional stress; you'll have more time to spend doing meaningful work you enjoy, building a business you love. 

    One final thing: if the thought of saying no still fills you with dread, don't think of it as saying no. Think of it as saying an enthusiastic yes—to you and the success of your construction business.


    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.

    Alignable Small Business 2020

    Screenshot of Alignable nomination

    About The Author:

    Sharie_DeHart_President_Fast_Easy_Accounting_Serving_Contractors_All_Across_The_USA_Including_Alaska_And_Hawaii-1Sharie 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



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