Does it ever feel like success is just beyond your grasp? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Contractors all across the country, and even the world at large, are vying for control of this high-risk, high-reward industry with only the faintest idea of what actually makes for a successful construction business. Contractors are forced to contend with numerous issues each and every day, including:
- Lack of skilled workers
- Cash flow issues
- Communication breakdowns
- Unreliable subcontractors
- Scheduling problems
- Exorbitant insurance rates
- Owner nonpayment
- Lackluster recordkeeping
- High turnover
- Complex construction-related laws
These issues will affect your ability to maintain professional relationships and procure contracts, whether public or private. As a contractor, your success is ultimately determined by your capacity to execute the project according to the terms of your contract, but all of these above mentioned factors and more will affect your ability to do so. It begs the question: what can a contractor do to rise above these daily issues and achieve success? In this editorial, the Orlando construction lawyers at Cotney Construction Law will detail seven attributes commonly found in successful contractors to help those in need of a breakthrough to reach the next level of their career.
1. Successful Leaders Keep Learning
There’s nothing more dangerous than getting entrenched in outdated building processes and ineffective management techniques. Throughout their careers, successful contractors continue to learn, grow, and adapt to changes in the industry to stay competitive. There’s always more to learn, and you’ll never be able to embrace new and potentially valuable ideas if your ego causes you to stonewall any incoming ideas that aren’t your own.
When you only act in self-interest, over time, your employees will begin to feel like they aren’t valuable assets to your company. They may seek out new opportunities with employers who listen to their ideas or offer competitive wages. If you fail to motivate your workers and sell them on a superior workplace culture, everything you’ve worked for could come crumbling down like a structure with a defective foundation. Remember, all it takes is one bad job to send your company into a tailspin, so motivate your workers to engage openly in dialogues with supervisors and institute an open door policy that brings out the leader in every member of your workforce.
2. Empower with Positivity
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of a healthy and positive workplace culture. You need your workers to buy into your vision, but this requires transparency, teamwork, and communication to accomplish. Workplace culture needs to be developed to not only attract new employees, but also to retain those already under your employ. Look, the construction industry is littered with obstacles on every level, and there’s a lot that can happen to make you and your workers experience negative emotions. Eliminate as many of these negative forces as possible, starting with “problem people,” so you can begin to cultivate a positive working environment to reinforce your firm from top to bottom. When you put together a good group of hardworking individuals, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.
3. Switch Up Your Recruiting Efforts
In the shadow of a labor shortage that has challenged the construction industry for years, it can feel like your recruiting efforts are squandered on ill-suited applicants that don’t have the skills or experience to warrant recruitment. Furthermore, some contractors are finding that they can’t find enough applicants, period — and are forced to pay overtime wages to simply get the job done on time.
Successful contractors are expanding their searches for skilled workers by switching up their recruiting efforts and avoiding the “slow to hire, quick to fire” stigma that affects many contracting firms. The hiring process is itself an expense, so your aim should be to capitalize on each applicant by turning them into a long-term asset. Consider looking into college and trade programs that specialize in preparing students for a career in construction. Similarly, consider visiting high schools to discuss the benefits of a career in construction after graduation. Since most academic institutions inform students that college is the natural “next step” following high school, students are often uninformed about the benefits of foregoing college and embracing a career in construction.
4. Plot the Course to Success
Many contractors know how to work magic on the project site but are less adept in the office. Strategic planning can be an enormous boon to any contracting firm, thereby allowing you to increase volume and profit growth at a faster clip than if you were working on intuition. Setting targets, following a clearly detailed plan, and maintaining an updated list of action items from meetings throughout the project can greatly increase efficiency, mitigate confusion, and help you meet your deadlines to avoid a contractual dispute with an owner. If creating strategic plans isn’t one of the talents in your wheelhouse, consider hiring an employee with an administrative background to help you manage not only projects but your business as a whole. When you have another agent to share the burden of satisfying your objectives, milestones, timelines, and more, you can eliminate obstacles and grow your operation.
5. Develop Strategic Partnerships to Sustain Your Business
For contractors, there are essentially two ways to procure lucrative projects: bids and negotiations. For public projects, it’s imperative that you consult a law firm with experienced Orlando construction attorneys for assistance with putting together a bid proposal or protesting a bid you believe was awarded unfairly. For private projects, it still pays to have an Orlando construction attorney on retainer to negotiate or review your contract. They can even draft you a new contract if needed.
While there are pros and cons to each of these types of contracts, you want to develop and maintain strategic partnerships to ensure that your firm doesn’t experience extended lulls in your ability to procure contracts.
Some of the secrets to accomplishing this goal? Stay likable and stay honest. Always follow through on your promises and get out ahead of your mistakes early to maintain transparency. Treat owners like family and prove to them that working with anyone else besides you is a mistake. You can keep new projects coming down the pipeline, but make sure you don’t stretch yourself thin and compromise an existing relationship in the meantime. Remember, no matter how strong your relationship is with an owner, there’s always another contractor lurking in the distance, waiting to swoop in when your partnership hits a rough patch.
6. Differentiate From Competitors
There are droves of capable contractors out there who can give you a run for your money, so figuring out how to differentiate your firm from the rest of the pack can be challenging. There’s a lot of value in building a strong brand and marketing it accordingly, but sometimes, your greatest differentiator is the quality and diversity of your portfolio. Construction trends come and go in hard-to-predict cycles, but there’s a lot to be learned from every building trend that washes in like a wave. By breaking ground in niche construction trends, you can showcase your flexibility as a contractor and prove that you have diverse capabilities. Owners will put a lot of stock into a firm that can provide excellent results across various specializations.
7. Invest in Ongoing Training
As we mentioned above, the workers you hire are a long-term investment. You need to foster their development within the industry and help them carve out a niche of their own. However, this can’t be done without training them in a variety of skills to see where their interests lie. Training isn’t only effective for building project site skills, it’s also important for sustaining project site safety. If you want to avoid workers’ compensation claims, you need to arm your workers with the knowledge and gear necessary to avoid accidents. Whether you’re dealing with a brand new worker or a seasoned veteran, training goes a long way to reducing costs and increasing profitability.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.