When you started your construction business it was simple and fun. You were in control of your destiny, priced estimates yourself, presented bids in person, signed every contract, made all the important decisions, negotiated subcontracts, ordered materials needed, supervised most jobs, handled the paperwork, created invoices and paid bills, met with customers, handled problems, and got things finished. It was satisfying being the busy business owner doing everything it took to win work, build it and get paid.
Because you were a good contractor, did excellent work and provided great customer service at a fair price, you got more referrals and landed more projects to build. To handle the growing volume of work, you hired a few more field workers and an assistant supervisor. All employees reported directly to you and were under your constant supervision and direction.
You continued to get busier and busier and therefore had to hire even more people to handle multiple jobs you had contracts to complete. As you grew, cash flow was getting tighter and tighter and people you hired were not the most experienced or what you really needed to help you do more.
As your company grows, you eventually reach your personal limits and realize you can’t handle much more work than you already have going. Your calendar is full, your day is packed, you’re working 12 hours seven days a week, and it gets more stressful every day. You’re unable to keep up with all the tasks, orders, contracts, inspections, meetings, demands, employee questions, paperwork and problems you have to take care of.
Your ‘To-Do List’ is too big to complete, and you’ve reached the level of what you control can and do yourself — the level at which you are about to explode.
When you spend all your time DOING work, you can only DO so much yourself. You get stuck and can’t grow beyond what you can do. Most companies stop growing when the business owner reaches their maximum level of what they can do themselves, micromanage, supervise, and control. It is like a valve that stops all work flow at a certain level.
Has your company stopped growing?
Look at the many companies you do business with. Most have stopped growing at a certain size or level. Some stop at 10 employees, three crews, 25 people, or in some cases as many as 50 or 75 total workers. Whatever the level is, they’re stuck at a level that’s determined by what the owner can control, manage, handle and do.
And when the company reaches this level, the owner is overworked, stressed-out, underpaid and has no life. And the company doesn’t make enough money for all the effort and stress it takes to keep all the balls in the air.
Bad things continue to happen at the ‘stuck’ level. When all you have time for is to do work, you don’t have time to go out and get enough work to keep your company growing. This downward cycle eventually destroys a potentially great company.
Obviously you can’t do more work yourself. You have to free yourself from day-to-day supervisory activities that bog you down and hold your company back. And you can’t continue to hire inexperienced managers to run your projects or cheaper workers to do field tasks required.
What is the solution?
To get your business growing, you must realize the problem is likely you. You are holding your company back with an overbearing controlling management style and your unwillingness to let go or delegate most decisions to key managers to run the "Do" part of your business. Again, look at successful companies who continue to grow and make lots of money. What do they do that your company doesn’t?
Read next: Tips for Delegating Work
Successful construction companies have a strong experienced management team of key leaders who know how to run a business, manage projects and supervise productive crews efficiently. The owner of these top companies does not do work, negotiate subcontracts, supervise work, schedule crews or equipment, order material, or get involved with project details.
The owner, however, does manage the management team with a series of meetings, targets and scorecards to keep the team accountable and responsible for achieving desired results needed to hit overall company goals.
Get in the grow business
When I coach construction company owners to help them grow, the first step is to determine the growth barrier that exists in their business. They generally have a ‘lack of the right people’ problem. It could be a weakness in accounting, estimating, office management, project management, supervision, or out in the field.
Take a hard look at what you need to free you up and get you out of the "Do" mode. Where do you need to delegate activities by handing them off to experienced professional managers who can get things done right without your constant supervision and micromanagement?
To get out of the "Do" role, you must delegate the "Do" work responsibilities required to build projects from start to finish. Great companies have accountable project managers, detailed contract administrators, experienced supervisors, and take-charge foreman who get things done per the contract, on-time and under budget.
Where is your weakness? If you don’t fill the void and cut out the deadwood in your organization, you can’t let go and will never get out of the "Do" role!
Growing companies have a major focus on growing their business. They have a business development strategic plan, marking plan, sales plan, and a BIZ-DEV activities calendar that lays out all the sales and marketing activities for the year. They also have a pinpointed customer target list of potential high profit customers they want to find, attack and acquire.
Each of these targeted customers has a detailed action plan to stay in touch and convert them from first time customers to repeat to loyal regular clients. To help you get started with growing your company, email GH@HardhatPresentations.com to get your copy of ‘Winning Ways To Win More Work!’
Are you the best salesperson in your company?
The best salesperson and business development director for most construction companies is the owner. After getting your company properly organized with the right people in place to handle the "Do" part of your work, the owner can then spend up to 50% of his or her time getting work and growing the business. Remember, the more you do, the less your company makes! Do what you need to do to get your company growing.
George Hedley CPBC is a certified professional construction BIZCOACH and popular speaker. He helps contractors build better businesses, grow, increase profits, develop management teams, improve field production, and get their companies to work. He is the best-selling author of “Get Your Construction Business To Always Make A Profit!” available on Amazon.com. To get his free e-newsletter, start a personalized BIZCOACH program, attend a BIZ-BUILDER Wealthy Contractor Boot Camp, or get a discount at www.HardhatBIZSCHOOL.com online university for contractors, Visit www.HardhatPresentations.com or E-mail GH@HardhatPresentations.com.