Given the ongoing economic uncertainty, you may feel it's premature to discuss preparations for recovery. Yet, there are signs the U.S. economy has turned a corner, and we're already hearing more positive long-term projections.
Now granted, the construction market has a much deeper trough to climb out of compared to most industries. But the potential for further stimulus-related work coupled with pent-up demand, holds substantial promise for the future.
In the meantime, you have a "luxury" contractors don't often have - time to plan ahead and prepare for what's to come. So take this opportunity to:
Investigate new equipment and technologies to boost profit potential. Whether it's project management software, fleet tracking and logistics systems, automated grade control or the next generation of skid steer or excavator, start exploring technologies that can increase jobsite productivity and efficiency and cut project costs.
Talk to your local dealer/distributor to find out what's available, then ask for contractor references so you can learn from your peers' experiences with the technology. If it's equipment you're considering, schedule a demo or a short-term rental to see how it works and how your company might benefit.
Even if you can't justify an investment in new technology at this time, you will know exactly what you need once you can. You may also be surprised to find it more affordable than you thought, what with suppliers' willingness to deal, low interest rates and incentives built into the stimulus plan.
Uncover and invest in new talent. With construction unemployment at roughly 18%, there is a wealth of experienced workers in the job market. Find out who's out there (be selective); conduct careful background checks; then, if economically feasible, bring high-caliber new talent on board while starting wage rates are still within your budget.
Ramp up employee training. When business is booming, finding time for training can seem more of a hassle than it's worth. Yet, the right programs can optimize your employee investment by teaching workers new skills and increasing their value on the jobsite.
Start checking into education programs in your area. Ask your dealer about on-site equipment training; find out if your local tech school or university offers relevant classes/seminars; look into online programs, etc. There are many reasonably priced options to help you get started. Once you've identified them, encourage employees to participate so you both can benefit.
Build relationships with customers and prospects. Set up meetings with past and current clients to get their impressions of your company and its work (including suggestions for improvement) and insight on any future projects. Find cost-effective ways to let them know you value their business and relationship - e.g., a "valued customer" award, invitation to a golf outing, gift certificate, etc.
If possible, schedule similar meetings with prospective clients and/or invite them to an open house, tour of your facilities or visit to a current project site. By working to establish a relationship now, you increase the potential for it to become a business partnership in the future. ?
Additional Resources that Build on the Topics of this Article
Preparations for recovery
Plan ahead and prepare for what's to come
Automated grade control
Technologies that can increase jobsite productivity
Bring high-caliber new talent on board
Impressions of your company
Your client's value of your business