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The people and technology you need to make a profit
Almost every business starts small. But what do you need to grow? A residential construction company has unique challenges—housing markets, labor shortages, and supply chains can all be disruptions to your business goals. The team at 1build works with construction business owners every day, so we’ve gathered some tips and tricks for you to start taking the next step forward.
Start with your people
The heart of your construction business is your team. Maybe right now you are a solo entrepreneur, or maybe you have a few key people working alongside you. Defining roles is one of the foundational practices for growing a healthy team. What responsibilities should be on your plate as a business owner, and what is important to delegate? What kind of people would be best for those tasks? Consider a superintendent for job site management, a project manager for bids, estimates, and change orders, and the craftspeople who will build a reputation for high-quality work and positive customer interactions.
As a small business, working with consultants is a crucial component for expanding your expertise and creating a deep network of industry professionals. When you are chasing larger projects, consider partnering with a consultant who has experience with that type of building or will complement your team’s skills. By partnering with a landscape architect, millwork craftsman, or interior designer to complete projects outside of your normal scope, you can add new skills and boost your portfolio.
One aspect of team building that often gets overlooked in the residential construction industry is mentoring. There is an emphasis on it within the trades for students and apprentices, but mentoring is also key for managers and owners. Is there a construction business owner outside your direct competition that you admire? Or maybe there is a member of your family who has run a larger business and can regularly meet with you to share experiences and advice. No one can build a business alone, so be on the lookout for the people who can help lift your team to the next level.
Get your tech in place
With all of the advancements in digital resources, there is no reason not to have the technology that makes your company professional and efficient. Start with your company website. Is it updated with your brand and easy to read? Can a potential client easily find a way to contact you about a project and read reviews from past customers? Prioritize quick communication from any channel a customer may reach you, so you don’t miss out on a project because of a missed email.
Your preconstruction software also needs to be up to date. If you are still relying on downloaded spreadsheets and manual cost data that has to be updated every quarter, there are better options available that will get your business ready for the future of construction. The 1build software platform combines the power of real-time, local cost data with support from professional estimators. 1build also includes a cloud-based dynamic takeoff software that seamlessly connects to your estimate and is easily shared with your team and clients.
Fight your networking fears
Your professional network is more than an annual conference, and certainly more than a Facebook group. Your network is created with a longterm reputation for delivering the best work in your field and allowing people to talk about it. Giving clients a way to share your work, encouraging them to write reviews, and showing photos of past projects will allow your network to grow organically.
There is also value is connecting with other builders who work on similar types of projects. Even for builders who may be in competition, a friendly network and a place to share the ups and downs of the industry can benefit everyone. You may find this in-person—or even online—with construction business owners across the country. Do your best to dive below the surface; don’t be afraid to ask real questions about business strategy and client management.
Price your projects right
One of the quickest ways to lose momentum in your residential construction business is to go over budget. Losing money on a project that was meant to bring in profit can send your entire team scrambling. Pricing a job accurately gives your client the assurance that you understand the market, helps your team avoid change orders and site slowdowns, and makes sure that every project you take on is going to help build your business.
With 1build’s construction cost database, you have access to local pricing averages as soon as they change. We pull pricing data from thousands of suppliers across the country, and you can access them by simply entering your project’s location. There’s no more need for guesstimating or waiting to hear back from subs and suppliers. You can get quick access to the information you need to create a spot-on estimate with as much detail as is required. The lumber, copper, and aluminum markets don’t have to keep you up at night when you know that your construction estimate will cover the real, current costs for materials and labor.
Don’t overlook your details
If you have worked on a job site long enough, you know how much the details matter. A room isn’t finished until the baseboard has been caulked and the drywall dust is vacuumed from the floor. The details are what separate the amateurs from the professionals. So if your trade details are in place, how about the details of your business? Here are some that are worth your time:
- Insurance and safety documentation
- Google Business profile
- Skilled labor and subcontractor payments
- Team building activities
Details also matter in your bid package. Including your logo and contact information is the first step, but you also want your estimate to be organized and easy to read. Use logical groups that include details about the material and labor costs for each line item. When you use 1build construction estimating software, exporting and sharing a well-designed bid package is simple, and you can reassure your customers that the prices are sourced from reliable, local data that represents true, real-time costs in your area.
Prioritize your quality and communication
The work you leave behind is what each customer will remember, especially when you are working on someone’s home. Ensure that each team member is equipped to produce their best work, and your referrals will begin to grow.
Your customer quality also matters. And while you don’t want to make a regular habit of turning down work, you also don’t want to take on projects that are too small for your team or a client who is never going to be satisfied with your work. Trust your gut and also interview your customers with the same mindset as you would interview a new employee. You are looking for the right fit for your company, even if they are paying you for your work.
Building a residential construction business may look like it is all about framing, drywall, and flooring, but at its core, the business is about communication. How do you clearly communicate about your pricing, your materials, labor, and values as a business owner? As your business grows, your team will look to you for clear direction and leadership, so they can perform their best work in the field. If communication is not a natural skill, consider carving out some time to learn from a book, an online course, or one of your mentors.
Need to upgrade your estimating tools while your company grows? Start with a personal 1build demo and see how our construction estimating software can transform your business.