We’ve put together a list of six reasons why digitizing your contracting business could be one of the most important things you do in 2020.
We’ll look at standard operational efficiency points, but also consider some of the less-discussed areas (like transition planning) that also deserve some attention.
1. Improve transparency and job performance tracking
One of the first things to suffer in a high-demand environment is transparency. To keep pace, everyone works heads-down, focused solely on their own to-do lists. Information resides in a single place (often a single person’s brain!). Communication suffers. Important things are lost in the shuffle.
A project management system like Knowify solves this problem by moving all of that job information up into a single, easy to access, cloud-based platform. Did someone order the materials for next week’s installation? Skip the email or phone call—just log on to Knowify and check the purchase history. Who is scheduled to be on site on Friday? Leave the PM to their duties, and just check the schedule on Knowify. Things that required time-wasting interactions between already-thinly-stretched personnel can now be answered quickly and easily just by referencing the information online. And given the rich integration of all of Knowify’s data sets, the information being entered can be quickly rolled up into job performance reports, giving Project Managers and Owners reliable, actionable intel that they can use to make decisions. That’s a win-win.
2. Impress your customers
We all know the stereotype customers—particularly residential customers—have about the construction industry: it’s perpetually disorganized. Think about the impact an e-signable proposal or change order, or customer-facing portal for communications/file sharing, might have on that customer. You would instantly stand out, displaying not only superior organization but also a forward thinking, technology-enabled approach to managing your business. In comparing your proposal to the other guy’s (who submitted a sloppy word document via email), that customer would start to imagine what it might be like to work with each of you—and that comparison is going to favor you every time. That’s how you win business, and even command a premium for your services!
3. Build a foundation for your future growth
No doubt you’ve thought about adding people so you can grow into the market’s demand for your services. We bet you’ve also thought about how disruptive that might be—after all, new people take time and effort to train, and who knows how long it might be until they’re ready to work independently. Do you even have the bandwidth right now to teach a new person how things are done at your company?
Here again is a case where software like Knowify can really help. Because everything is already there, new hires can plug right in to your existing workflow. If they need a refresher on things like standard scope language for a certain kind of work, or details you like to include on your POs, old examples are at their fingertips for quick reference. Systemization, one of Knowify’s major value-added items, is a critical piece of a successful growth/scaling strategy.
4. Avoid key man risk
If you’re a construction business owner, project manager, or office manager, think about how much stuff lives only in your own head. Now imagine how disruptive it would be to the business if that stuff in your head were no longer accessible. From the perspective of the business, that’s a terrifying thought, isn’t it! If you can get information out of the heads of key employees and into a unified, easy-to-use project management system, then you’ve dramatically reduced a major source of risk in your business. Some key man risk is unavoidable, but there’s no reason why it has to remain nearly so fraught as it is at most contracting businesses today. Plus, as noted above, as a consequence of moving information into Knowify, you will get to enjoy the sort of rich, real-time, actionable intelligence that we can generate by bringing those data together for analysis. The business case is strong no matter what perspective you’re taking on this!
5. Prepare for succession
We see a lot of businesses where a family member is getting close to their retirement age. Maybe they don’t want to fully retire, but rather reduce their hours or step back into a more advisory role. For many, that decision is precipitated by a desire to have another member of their family take over, often a son or daughter. But as with the key man example above, there are challenges to this transition. How does one get all of their knowledge out of their head and into the heads of the younger generation? How do you set that next generation up for success? Well, there’s no substitute for experience, so no doubt you’ll have to teach them the subtleties of your business—perhaps little tricks for estimating, or ways to negotiate effectively with GCs. But a huge chunk of the rest, and often the biggest impediment in a successful transition, is systemization. If all your processes are defined in Knowify, and all your jobs, documents, templates, and more available at your fingertips anywhere in the world, then suddenly it becomes much easier for the younger generation to plug in and get going during the transition period (particularly given their fluency with technology!).
6. Increase your company’s value to an acquirer
The same argument above could be made for making your business acquirable. If your transition plan isn’t to pass the business down but rather to sell it, then the more the business lives in Knowify and not in your head, the more it will potentially be worth.
It may seem like a lot of work to embrace a new software package to run your business, but in the long run we’re confident you’ll agree that that decision will have paid you back many times over for the effort you put in!