Earlier this year, Guillaume Bailly, a GAF Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence (CARE) manager in Canada published a blog on exploring the key distinguishers between contractors who succeed and contractors who… don’t succeed.
Strong (or poor) business management and strong (or poor) business operations were the overarching challenges he identified. Among the issues he cited common to those contractors struggling:
- Lack of vision, strategy, and tactics;
- Difficulty managing growth;
- Marketing errors — specifically in targeting the wrong prospects; and
- Cash flow and expenses.
Like any small-to-mid-sized businesses, the owners/manager of construction companies, subcontractors and the trade all too often gets caught up in or even overwhelmed by the daily minutiae of running their businesses — finding the work, putting out fires, managing teams, overseeing POs and change orders and… With only 24 hours in a day, taking a moment to look at the big picture — “How are YOU doing?” seems like an extravagant luxury.
But it’s not. And GAF CARE Manager Bailly asks that contractors consider what he calls the “killer” question: When was the last time you took a moment to think about your company’s vision (that aspirational description of your company’s long-term goals or mission) — the Who; or the What — your plan to get you to your goal; and the How – the tactics you’re going to employ to reach those goals or achieve your mission.
Write it down
The most common response to those questions is: “It’s in my head. I know all this.” In your head is invisible — out of sight and out of mind. If you’ve never thought about the who/what/how of your business, or haven’t reviewed your situation for more than a year…Labor Day weekend is as good a time as ever to put those wheels into motion.
Write down your who/what/how and then share your notes with your key employees the Tuesday after the holiday. Bailly, who’s been training roofing contractors of all sizes for the past three years says, “When I walk into a successful company, I always see a mission and vision statement on the wall somewhere, and when I dive deeper into their operation, that vision is easy to see. [And] when I ask them about their plan this year, they typically correct me and say: ‘Our strategy is…’ as opposed to giving me a sales number such as $2 million.
“A sales plan is good, Bailly explains, “but a strategy is much better.” Ensure that every member of the team is aware of your strategy, discuss it at regular meetings when you review progress towards goals. Develop the tactics to address your market’s conditions. In his post, he references the example of a salesperson with a rural territory made up mostly of farmers. “Farmers believe that when something is broken, you fix it and make it last, not throw it away. So [this salesperson] put together a rural maintenance program for farmers that includes a roof inspection and cleaning every other year, free for the first four years. He then offers a discounted price to lock in a maintenance plan for 10, 20, or 30 years.”
So what are you doing?
Part of the problem Bailly was addressing is time management. Whether you are running a two-person shop or a 150 member team, finding the time to work on your business is ever so much harder than working in your business.
That’s why we created Knowify (that’s our commercial!): Our mission/vision is to help contractors run their businesses efficiently and profitably. And that means reducing time-consuming paperwork. We believe that in an environment where everyone you work with and work for has a smartphone, a laptop, or a tablet, there is no place for paper spreadsheets, timecards, and paper-intensive estimates, billing, or change orders.
It is possible to be a craftsperson and efficient. You can deliver old-school customer service while running your back office on new school technology. Why not run your business, your estimating, your purchasing, jobs progress/change orders, and labor on tools designed to make your life easier?
How do you get there? Do your research. Knowify, for one, can help. We’re already helping contractors integrate their business management needs with accounting systems like QuickBooks from an easy-to-use interface accessible from any device — in the field and in the office.
If you have any questions or wish to share your feedback, you can find us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Knowify. Built for the real world.