Running a contracting business is hard work. Every project is different and will see to its own share of slip ups and obstacles that you will need to know how to manage properly and overcome in a professional manner. If you are looking to start a contracting company, have recently done so, or are a veteran of the business, it doesn’t hurt to check out some tips and tricks regarding how to make your business run more successfully and smoothly to boot.
Even when a job is easy, running a contracting business is a constant uphill battle, so it helps to know how to minimize the bumps you’ll undoubtedly experience along the way. Being prepared is a great way to start.
Put Scalable Systems in Place
If you want to improve efficiency and grow your company, you will have to streamline a few things. That way, not only will your organization be on point, but it will be much easier when integrating new workers as your business grows. Having clear-cut roles and positions, and even step-by-step guides of instructions for each employee is a great practice. Having a documented baseline for on-boarding, subsequent training, expanding employee skills and replicating that success with newer hirees can be critical and may help you expand your business without having to backtrack or take time out of your day, or your project, to figure out who goes where, who knows what, and who needs to be training who.
Marketing is a Big Part of the Job
Advertising your services is not just an important aspect when it comes to getting projects to work on, but it is key when it comes to getting better projects period. If you focus on your marketing well enough, you can be sure to get better clients with better projects – which means better pay and a better looking portfolio of work for your contracting business’ site, which is also integral to your marketing campaign. Everything comes full circle.
When marketing, whether you are drawing up a flyer, brochure, or working on your company’s website, you need to keep several things in mind at all times. Your main question is: Who is my target audience? Once you have pinpointed the kind of customer you want to attract and the sort of projects you can complete, you can begin to ask, and answer, further questions: What truly motivates my key demographic? What are they looking for? And where can they best reach me?
Using all of this information, you can begin curating a marketing plan that best adheres to the sorts of customers and clients you are looking to attract. Look at what styles they are interested in, what other pages they follow, what brands or trends they like and work with it.
Hire Talented Workers
If you are a small contracting business, it may be tempting to hire whoever will work for the cheapest amount of money. While this may sound like a great way to save you money, it will only end up costing you money. You can always hire people with little experience and train them, but realize that extensive training takes time and time is money. Also, if you are working with untalented and unknowledgeable workers, then you are likely to produce sub-par work. As a contractor, you want to produce the best output possible. Hiring people who have experience in one way or another is always the better option. That doesn’t mean that you should only hire savants and prodigies however. You will want to hire creative and talented people who have at least some knowledge of the work that you do. That way, you know that you can train them, that they are open to new ideas, and that they can provide some valuable input on their own, too.
You want to create a stellar team that will produce stellar work. Sure, some workers will take some learning and getting used to, but hire people that you know are cut out for the job and will really thrive under pressure.
Make Sure Your Expenditures Deliver a Measurable Return
Ideally, you will want to make money and be able to pay your workers, right? When someone gives you a budget, it really helps to know how to work with what you have and to be inventive and innovative, as well. The problem with many small businesses, especially people in construction or labor, they end up failing to focus on ROI or Return on Investment because they just aren’t “numbers people” but budgeting and planning can be a lot easier than you think.
First, it helps to plan things out beforehand. If there are hiccups along the way, you will need to keep track of your expenses and make sure that you are making the most constructionally and monetarily sound decision possible. Another way to increase ROI, or at least keep it steady, is to provide excellent customer service. Customer service is key when it comes to keeping customers, and having a reliable set of return customers is a great way to keep you in business. While you will always want to be marketing and advertising for more customers and more work, by providing excellent customer service you can rely on the people for whom you have worked before and know that they will put in a good word, too.
Keep Track of Your Cash
One of the major pitfalls businesses fall into is poor cash flow. Losing track of when and where your business spends its money is an easy way to lose it, period. That’s why the best way to ensure that you make the most of your work is to document everything, stay on top of billing and to set reminders if you owe something or are owed something.
It also helps to stay on schedule and check in with your clients, as well. Provide them with updates and ensure that their wishes are being met. A happy client is a paying one.
Keeping accurate records is absolutely key to running any business, ever. Not only is it a great practice to implement if you want to stay organized, but it’s actually necessary in some areas like filing taxes. Keeping documents also helps you stay on track project-wise, too. Knowing what materials you have, when they were purchased and for how much can be vital half-way through a job where some changes need to be made and you need to make sure that you stay on budget. It can also be vital in the event that you lose track of something, too, and can help point you in the right direction.
Plan for Everything
A last minute purchase that requires overnight shipping can start out costing you $5 but ends up totaling somewhere in the $500 range instead. Making sure that you have everything planned out ahead of time makes even dealing with small hiccups and oversights much easier in the long run. If you go in prepared and make sure that you don’t complete aspects of your project at the last minute, you are more likely to make more money and deliver a product that you are proud of. Poor planning and procrastinating doesn’t just give you a headache as a contracting business owner and operator, but the projects you work on, your clients, and your workers will all suffer for it as well.
Stick With What Works
What with the increased popularity in DIY shows and renovation series, the latest trends and hottest new styles are always in demand. As a contractor, you will certainly be asked to adhere to a client’s wishes that falls under either one of these categories, but it is important that you stick with what you know, or at least how you know how to do things. By trying something different or quirky, especially at the last minute, you may be putting your project at risk. Using your already amassed arsenal of know-how, apply what you know to whatever it is that your clients are asking for. Trying something new without the added cushion of time or any leeway to make mistakes is always a bad idea. If you already know how to accomplish something, do so. You can still meet your client’s wish list and create something new by utilizing old tips and tricks.
The key to all of these tips is to stay focused and organized. Keeping track of every aspect of your project may seem dreary and uninteresting, and maybe even a nuisance, but it truly isn’t. In order to make a return on a project, it helps to stay on task, on time and on budget and to use the skills you have at your disposal to the best of your ability.