Build systems around your identified niche. As you do your niche work, develop and tweak your systems until they're fine-tuned. The longer you do a particular type of work, the better your personnel will get at what they do. As they get more acclimated to that type of work and the paperwork that goes with it, they begin to feel better about what they do. It all adds up to a more productive workforce.
Field employees don't like change. When they do one thing and do it well, they like it. The other thing to consider is that different people are good at different things. If you've got a great flatwork crew, don't assume their success will easily translate into, for example, curb and gutter. Take one type of work and get good at it and get your crews good at it.
The systems and efficiencies you build into your work through your experience is what can set you apart from the competition. When you've got it running so smoothly that the jobsite runs itself, that's when you should think about adding a new type of business. Look at other types of work that fit well with, or complement, what you are already doing. Don't try to jump into something that is entirely different from what you have specialized in up to this point. For example, a lot of contractors are adding decorative concrete to their offerings. Well, if you're a flatwork contractor thinking about that, go into something like stamped concrete, because of its similarities to gray flatwork, as opposed to starting right into countertops.
Be strong about it, be disciplined and don't go jumping ship to the latest and greatest thing you saw in a trade magazine or at a show while you're still nurturing this one. We are all guilty of jumping into too many types of work without developing one type extremely well. Identify what you do best and excel at that. Excellence is the superlative execution of the basics.
Rocky Geans is president of L.L. Geans Construction Co. and has more than 30 years' experience in the concrete industry. He is also vice president of the American Society of Concrete Contractors and a popular industry speaker and consultant. Rocky can be reached at (574) 255-9671. For more information on Rocky's seminar schedule, visit www.rockygeans.com.