The construction industry is an area that won’t ever go out of fashion. As we’ve seen recently with the ongoing pandemic, there is always money being plowed into the construction of homes, and even some offices. But while construction is still in rude health for those who are looking to make their break in this competitive industry, they need to work hard but also work smart. The construction industry is such a smorgasbord of rules and regulations but it also requires a Midas touch when it comes to customer service, employee management, but also streamlining services to carve out a niche and be competitive, especially when there are preferred contractors floating around. So with this in mind, what are the best ways for an up-and-coming contractor to make their mark in such a competitive industry?
A Positive Working Culture
One of the biggest issues the construction industry faces is its somewhat fragmented approach to company culture. While this can be boiled down to a handful of antiquated notions, it’s predominantly the fact that it’s an industry that is not changing with the rest of the world that leaves it hanging behind. When was the last time you saw a woman working on a construction site, for example? And it’s these little things that we need to ensure that we bring the business kicking and screaming into the 21st century. But creating a positive work and culture is not just about the underlying ethos it’s important to remember that a working culture stems from the person in charge. If that is you, you must remember that you have to lead by example rather than being the person barking orders and not practicing what you preach. These days, organizing a construction gig is easier than ever with tools such as JobNimbus to track your schedules and keep everything organized. But it is vital to foster a positive working culture. How can we do this?
- Showing confidence in their abilities to make good decisions and focus on being the leader that you would want to see.
- Incorporating teamwork as a vital aspect of the business.
- Focusing on safety as a priority. You can do this by encouraging them not to cut corners to get things done on time.
- Incorporating training and mentorship. This has been shown to increase productivity on job sites. But it also shows employees that you care about them.
When we start to incorporate these components, this is the starting point for an effective working culture.
Having a Proper Filing System
Perennially underrated but while there are tools available to streamline your approach you have still got to learn how to keep good records. Whether you are creating a budget for the next tax year or you are trying to organize your company in some way before you make the next step, organization is something that everybody needs to pay lip service to. Ensuring that your business is stable is about the filing system and organization. Many companies, especially those fronted by so-called “cowboy builders” think that they don’t need proper materials to work from. But it’s these businesses that can struggle when it comes to paying the taxman. Many companies suffered at the hands of the pandemic due to not having proper records and were therefore unable to get the government help they needed.
Ensure you have a good filing system comprises of a handful of simple components:
- Having an accountant to look at your books or failing that, having a program that can organize your accounts. There are also apps that you can use to scan receipts and documents onto your phone which files them for you.
- Hiring workers that have an ethical and organized mindset. When we work in the construction industry and we have a handful of experienced contractors, they may not be able to turn their attention to the financial side so easily. Partially, this is why we would have an accountant to keep an eye on the books, but when it comes to submitting our tax returns we need to have a system in place on-site.
- Getting into the habit of invoicing your work as this provides a solid paper trail for any accountant to follow. You should also keep track of employee hours and look at records that comprise late payments. It’s also important to keep records of meetings when possible.
As boring as it sounds, it is important to have this in place. Many businesses outside of the construction industry suffer at the hands of poor organization. If you are looking to keep your business on the straight and narrow, you’ve got to get into the habit of being strict with your books. Even if you hire an accountant to look at your records, you still need a proper filing system in place. Organization is the thing that underpins any successful company, regardless of the industry.
The Importance of Building a Brand
Reputation is everything. When you start to build a brand, this is going to help you carve out a niche in a competitive industry. When you maintain a certain reputation, it’s not just down to how you promote yourself but it’s about everything you exude. Whether you are constructing small-scale buildings or you are working with a large company, when you deliver good work this is the thing that counts towards your reputation more than anything. When you build a strong brand, this will reflect the quality of your company. It is this that will shape the perception of your business by the general public. This is where, in the modern age, construction workers can get short shrift. Many construction workers still embody the age-old alpha male stereotype. This is where we can start to turn the tides by hiring different workers than the typical construction worker. In fact, there’s a lot to be said for hiring women in an industry dominated by men. And this is something that every budding entrepreneur in the construction industry needs to consider. Women bring something different to the table, such as organization or a different working method. Because as businesses we can get stuck in one type of work this can go against us. Starting to incorporate different mindsets into the equation is crucial, and this can help you to bolster your brand.
When it comes to advertising your brand there are a wide variety of branding tips that you need to consider which should become habit:
- Focus on marketing through getting into a good working relationship with a marketing agency that can help you design a marketing campaign. Perhaps using PPC or SEO marketing methods to increase your reach.
- Developing an online presence through the right digital content, such as blogs and videos.
- Engaging with customers old and new. For businesses that are looking to make an impact, it’s about starting small and doing a good job. Getting good referrals will help your business to snowball.
When you are looking at your business as a brand, it can help you to regain a different perspective. In some ways, if we start a business that can become too personal, but we have to remember how it is perceived by the public, especially when we want to network with growing clients who are looking for a leg-up in the industry as well. Networking is one of the most important parts of growing your construction company. But there are organizations like the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) that can help you gain opportunities to become certified and learn about the latest industry trends and meet new clients.
Fine-Tuning Your Communication
You might think that on the surface you don’t need to be adept at communication. It’s important that when you are building a business that it’s just the construction that matters, right? In fact, when you are learning the fine art of clear communication, you have to remember when you are learning other people’s perspectives this is grist to the mill in terms of developing your own skills as a business leader. It’s not just about providing clear communication on the site to get the job done, but it’s about incorporating a wide variety of components to build up the business, work with effective clients, and get the company out there. Learning to succeed in the construction industry is about mastering a wide variety of communication methods:
- Learning how to use soft skills to help people in all areas of the workplace.
- Learning negotiation and how to use them effectively so both sides benefit.
- Mastering all forms of communication, such as over the telephone and email.
- Learning how to handle and minimize conflict between yourself and other workers or between third parties.
Communication is something we all need to fine-tune to make an effective impact.
The Keys to Construction
Setting up a construction business isn’t just about the final product or even about profit, but it’s about ensuring that you can find your way in this competitive world. If you want to make a significant impact, especially when you are working in an industry that is antiquated in so many ways, you need to find components to bring it into the 21st century, but also make it relevant to the modern generation while also appealing to potential clients.