Monthly Archives: May 2020

Is Now the Time for Your Contracting Business to Look for a Better Workspace?

Having a lot more time to think about your workflow outside of the jobsite might make you realize that your workspace isn’t working. And even if it is, it may be a good opportunity to revisit what you’re getting from the space, and what you could have instead. A sudden vacation of a lot of commercial spaces due to COVID-19 has changed the dynamic. It’s also changed the way you think about doing construction, on and offsite. These five aspects can help you determine if you should stay where you are, or consider moving to something different.

Your Workspace Needs Have Changed
It would be hard to find some aspect of your workflow that wasn’t changed by COVID-19, but your workspace may be the biggest. If you were accustomed to doing most of your work onsite and relying on a separate workspace for administrative tasks, you may find that this no longer suits your work dynamic. Many companies are shifting to offsite construction, mostly through the use of modular building practices. If you have discovered that you need much more space than you had before, or much less, it may be time to think about moving.

You’re Overpaying on Your Rental
A sudden decrease in demand for workspaces has led to a drop in prices in some areas. If you are overpaying on the rent you pay for your office or shop, you may be able to negotiate a better deal right now. Do some research in your area to see how often owners raise rates, and how much. It also may be practical to take this information to the owner or property manager of your current space, in the hopes of getting a discount on your next renewal. Keep in mind that if you have an active lease that’s not on a month-to-month schedule, you may have to pay hefty fees to break it early. It may or may not be worth it, so be sure to do the math before you pull the plug.

You’re Barely Making Ends Meet
Getting a big discount on rent for a workspace can be a boon, but you’ll pay for it at first. Rentals usually involve deposits and possibly the first and last month’s rent required in advance. While this might not be a big deal for an established business with a lot of assets, not everyone is feeling that kind of stability right now. In some cases, trying to cut your future expenses may have the potential to sink your business in the present. If your cash flow is running too close to empty, you may be better off waiting.

Pandemic Closures Limit Your Access
Many office complexes and coworking spaces closed during the pandemic, which made it far more difficult for tenants to get in and use the space. And while some landlords compensated by discounting or even canceling the rent, it was hardly the norm. If you were one of the lucky ones who enjoyed unimpeded access to one of these spaces, that stroke of fortune might serve you well in the future if closures happen again. On the other hand, if you were unable to retrieve your equipment or complete work offsite because your workspace was closed, you may need to consider alternatives.

You’re Not Sure What You Need
It’s hard to predict where construction will be in six months, much less in a year or two. As such, it is perfectly fine not to be certain what you need right now or going forward. This is a good indicator that you should stay put. If you can, give yourself the time to think. Revisit the subject in a month, when you have more information.

Finding a great workspace may be easier in the next few months than it will be next year or the year after. If your current situation just isn’t working, your contracting business may thrive better somewhere else. For more information about running a modern business as a licensed contractor, contact CSLS today!

5 Ways the Post COVID-19 Construction World Will Change Your Contracting Business

If you look back at the way you thought the year would go in January, it might be hard to imagine a different conclusion. So much has changed in the past few months that the whole world seems almost unrecognizable. Yet, work will continue, and over time, you’ll find ways to get back to the jobsite. Here are five things you can expect will be significantly different, so that your contracting business will be better prepared.

Long-Term Changes in Demand for Projects
Industry experts have wondered regularly over the last couple of years when the backlog of construction projects would finally ebb. While it seems that 2020 has tipped the scale as they predicted, most people did not anticipate the way the demand for projects would change. In most instances, the predictions included a general decrease in demand for all projects, not a sharp decline in certain areas.

In this case, demand for commercial construction, specifically hotels, hospitality and retail spaces, has significantly dropped. Large hospitality industry stakeholders like Airbnb have seen a huge decline in demand and revenue. This means that while construction may see an increase in certain kinds of commercial and residential projects, there will probably be a notable decrease in demand for projects like these.

Adaptation to Remote Work and Project Management
Although it isn’t usually possible for construction-related businesses to do all of their work offsite, you’ll probably observe an increasing reliance on remote work. This may also be a good time to re-examine your project management practices. If you’re in the habit of keeping an eye on people as they work, this will probably have to change. Instead, you may find more opportunities to give your employees greater freedoms to control their own productivity. You may also discover developments to the modular construction segment of the industry. In fact, that may offer new career fields or an expansion of existing ones.

Heavier Reliance on Technology
Just like you can plan to spend more time off the site going forward, you can expect to use more online or virtual tools to collaborate and communicate. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, of course. Using tools to get certain aspects of the job done more quickly increases your efficiency and may also improve your income. However, not everybody in the industry is excited to grab the latest app or device. This means that you may need to do more work to persuade subcontractors, clients and employees to get on board.

Increasing Project Delivery Times
Ultimately, one of the biggest hurdles that contracting business owners and clients alike will have to accept is that projects will simply take longer. The need to invest more time into safety, coupled with the importance of reducing the number of people on the site at any one time, makes it harder to accomplish more in one day. You may be able to minimize the worst of it by scheduling separate shifts. This may not be possible for all projects, or for all regions of the state at any time of year. If you want to reduce overrun in your project timelines, you will need to add in these factors and adjust your commitments as needed.

Greater Attention to Site Cleanup and Sanitation
Dropping work equipment and leaving debris at the jobsite was neither a clean nor sanitary practice. But now more than ever, people are putting their own lives at risk if they fail to clean up after themselves and ensure a sanitary workspace. The level of risk in any given area is going to depend on the state of the virus at the time. However, contracting businesses should prepare to clean and sanitize equipment and protective gear after each use. They will probably also need to provide PPE like masks and gloves, and additional hand-washing or sanitizing facilities.

COVID-19 has changed the world, and in many cases, your contracting business. The way you move forward helps determine your future. To start on your career path, visit CSLS today!

Is Now a Good Time to Create a Partnership for Your Contracting Business?

If your goal has always been to become an independent contractor, the independent part might be one of the most appealing aspects. You get to set your own hours and run your business in your own way. In an economic downturn where the whole industry has been turned on its head, you may need to collaborate. Here are five factors that can help you decide if forming a partnership would be a better path forward.

Related Fields
In order to form a partnership, you need to have someone whose skills and services relate closely to yours. If you’re finding that there are too many contractors and not enough jobs in your own field, you may want to find someone whose services and products are in an adjacent field. For example, if you find that you’re hiring the same subcontractor every single time you have a project, this might be an indicator that you have two businesses that could work well together. Be wary of duplicating your own skills, though. Unless you have more work than you can handle, doubling the paycheck obligations may not be enough.

Working Relationships
As a general rule, business partners get together as a result of a long-term professional relationship or other type of relationship. This means that you have to have somebody in mind before you can form a partnership. Advertising that you’re looking for a partner may take a lot longer, and it would be harder to tell if the people who are interested would make a good candidate to partner in your business. Think about the people that you have a good working relationship with, who aren’t employees. If you don’t know of anyone who meets this requirement, it might be time to beef up your networking skills.

Financial Stability
In the middle of an economic downturn, no one may truly believe that they are financially stable. But the last thing that you want when you start a partnership is for one person to be on great financial footing while the other is inches from disaster. This kind of imbalance can create a lot of conflict in the partnership, that may ultimately cause it to fail. Make sure that you are forming a partnership so that you can both help each other, instead of one person providing financial support to keep the other one going. A slight imbalance is manageable. But unless you have so much work and stable funding guarantees, you’re probably going to struggle to support two on the money that used to support one.

Balance of Skills and Services
Similarly, you want to confirm that both professionals have at least a moderate wealth of skills and services that they can provide. This depends greatly on the field you’re working in, and the nature of the industry at large. But typically, you both should have a variety of advantages that you can bring to the table. Don’t forget soft skills and other needs for business administration like sales and marketing. Ensuring that you can split tasks in a way that feels even to both of you will help to guarantee that everyone remains satisfied with the partnership going forward.

Ultimately, not everyone is cut out to be in a partnership. Sometimes, you can end up in a partnership with someone that is simply unsuited to work with you or vice versa. In other cases, you are just better off working by yourself. Think about the way you collaborate. If you can set aside your individual ambitions and work together to reach a consensus almost all of the time, then you will have a much higher chance of a successful partnership. By comparison, if you have a difficult time conceding the point to others, that may be a sign that you will have a lot of conflict in a partnership.

Forming a partnership is one way to run a contracting business, but you need to be sure you can do it right. To start on your career path in construction, contact CSLS today!

What Does Contractor Confidence Mean for Your Contracting Business?

When you read about consumer or business confidence, it feels like it could mean a variety of things. What does it mean to be confident in a particular aspect of the economy? How does this data change the way that you make decisions for your contracting business? And what if people turn out to be wrong? With this information, you’ll understand what confidence means in finance and how it may affect your contracting business.

What Is Confidence?
If confidence feels like a somewhat nebulous standard of measurement, that’s because it is. Confidence is the way that people feel about themselves or some aspect of their world. It is not always an indicator of the way things actually are. However, finance experts use confidence as a way of determining what may happen in the future. People make decisions based on the confidence they have in certain aspects of the economy. For example, contractors look at their existing and expected sales and profit margins as a way of determining how confident they are in their own fields for the next several months or longer. It’s not a certain way of predicting the future, but it helps complete a more robust picture.

What’s the Difference Between Consumer, Investor and Contractor Confidence?
Now that you have a general idea of what contractor confidence means, you should know that there are indexes meant to measure confidence in other aspects of the economy. For example, you may read about increases in investor confidence in a thriving stock market, or decreases in consumer confidence based on rising housing prices. While you must keep in mind that confidence is highly subjective and heavily dependent on specific measurements, it can still give you an idea of what people plan to do with their own money. Specifically, if confidence in the economy starts to drop, you’ll notice that people will become more reserved in the types of financial risks they are willing to take.

How Does Confidence Affect Your Business Right Now?
At the moment, contractors are reporting lower levels of confidence in their ability to continue to grow sales and keep their profit margins high for the near future. As a business owner, you can imagine what those kinds of concerns may do for the way that you run your business. If you’re worried that you won’t be able to get enough sales this year, you might limit your overhead as much as you can. You may decide against hiring more workers, and if the trend continues, you may have to consider laying people off. This can affect the way that your business runs. That might mean that you have a simpler workflow, or it could mean that you have fewer services you can offer and more limited selection of projects.

How Can Low Contractor Confidence Change the Construction Industry?
Confidence in one aspect of the economy can change on a dime, but it depends heavily on the pivot point. Once people are worried about the future of their contracting businesses, they may make decisions that affect their ability to continue the business long-term. If these changes happen at the same time as lenders tighten loan requirements, or at the same time that a lot of other industries are noticing a drop in sales, there may be broader effects. Ultimately, part of rebuilding the economy after an economic downturn or recession lies in establishing confidence once again. After the last recession, it took a few years before the construction industry was able to run at levels even close to where they were before the housing crisis.

Contractor confidence may not mean a lot to you yet, but it poses serious long-term effects to your contracting business success. For more information about starting on a construction career path, visit CSLS today!


How to Measure Your Contracting Business Productivity While Working Off the Jobsite

When the world is operating as usual, you probably spend most of your time on the jobsite. There, it’s easy to set goals and determine if you’ve achieved them. If you’re working from home or trying to manage an ad-hoc workspace, productivity takes on a whole new meaning. Here are some ways you can evaluate your work and set goals that are easier to measure and reach in a different working environment.

Communicate with Employees and Subcontractors
From the very beginning, you should communicate with your employees and subcontractors to get a sense for what they are able to do off the site. At present, lots of people are dealing with interruptions to their time due to trying to work with children or other family members at home. This makes it harder for people to focus, and can make it even more difficult for someone who needs to work on a dangerous task. Although productivity is important, it is also vital to start with goals that people can reasonably achieve.

Re-Evaluate Project Risks
If you are like many business owners, you conduct at least a basic risk management analysis for each project that you do. Some projects that you formulated prior to shelter-in-place orders may need to be re-evaluated. Specifically, you may want to look at timelines, budgetary concerns, and alternatives for components that you planned to assemble or build onsite. This will help you to figure out where you need to put most of your resources, and which areas are best for getting work done off-site.

Set Goals Based on Current Expectations
Businesses in a lot of industries will be finding their way to a new normal over the course of the next year. You can do the same by recognizing that the standards you set for productivity last year probably won’t work this year. Take a look at your current situation, including limits on where you can work and with how many people. Build in some flexibility if you can, to take advantage of changes in restrictions as they happen. Ultimately, be sure to keep your goals realistic not just for your employees, but for you as well. It serves no one if you are constantly setting standards for yourself and others that you simply cannot meet.

Aim for Self-Management
In a new, post COVID-19 world, your management practices will also need to change. If your standard so far has been to keep a close eye on everybody working under you, now is a good time to rethink that. People don’t tend to be more productive if they have the sense that a supervisor is watching them constantly. Micromanaging bosses in all sorts of industries are starting to find out what a productivity-killer this can be. Let this be an opportunity for you to invest in employees and subcontractors you can trust. That way, you can let them do their work and focus their time on productive activities, instead of responding to your monitoring system.

Use Tools to Collaborate
Since people working offsite and individually may keep different hours, being able to standardize your expectations and make them accessible to everyone is crucial. If you haven’t already started using online collaboration tools that allow everyone to look at goals for the project and the individual day, this is your opportunity to start. Collaboration is likely going to look very different for the construction industry in the next few years. Learning how to share visual updates and keep everyone on the same page can make it easier for you to measure progress and ensure that the workflow continues forward.

When you run a contracting business, productivity isn’t just a buzzword. Finding way to stay on top of it during a crisis can make the difference between success and failure. To get started, visit CSLS today!