Monthly Archives: July 2021

5 Ways to Say You’re Ready for a Construction Career

If you’ve been wondering whether or not you’re ready for a construction career, there are several ways you can tell. But making a career decision often feels like something you have to hide until you are already most of the way there. Sometimes, if you’re struggling to get to the next step, you just have to find a way to say it out loud. Here are a few tips.

“I Need to Try Something Different.”
In the 20th century, a lot of people expected to work in the same field for the vast majority of their adult lives. These days, hardly anyone expects to stay in the same industry, much less the same kind of job. Plenty of people still do that in construction, but the career plan in many other industries has changed a lot. If you’ve been working in a field that you realize no longer suits you, or if you’re tired of moving from one dead-end job to another, making a change could be an excellent idea. Sometimes, the ability to say that you’re not happy where you are and that you need to try something different is the most important first step.

“I Want More Career Mobility Than I Have Now.”
Our culture still sets the expectation that people should know what they want to do for a living before they get out of middle school, much less college. The problem is that people often enter a career path in their 20s, only to realize that they will peak by the time they’re 25 or 30. After that, they have to fight younger workers for the same jobs they were trying to get 10 years before. If you are in a field that peaks early like this, it’s perfectly sensible to say that you’d rather find a career that allows you to keep moving upward.

“I’ve Spent a Lot of Time Considering My Options.”
Whenever you’re about to make a big change in your life, it’s tempting to spend much more time than you need evaluating your options. It’s even harder if you’re the kind of person who stands at the fork, worried about the road not taken. And of course, you may have friends and family members who encourage you to keep thinking about it, rather than act. But once you’ve looked at your career trajectory at present, and compared it to the jobs that you could have if you go into construction, the only thing left to do is make a decision. In some cases, saying out loud that you’ve put in the work is enough to silence the naysayers, including the one inside your own head.

“I’m Ready to Run My Own Business.”
Many people go into construction because they want to run their own businesses. It’s not that construction is an industry with lower costs for businesses, or some other similarly enticing prospect. Mostly, there are lots of careers in construction that don’t require you to work with a larger company. That makes it easier for people to consider running their own businesses. And if that’s always been a dream of yours, saying it may be a way of kicking those ambitions in gear. And if you’re not quite ready, this statement could be the incentive you need to get there.

“In Five Years, I’ll Be Glad I Made This Decision.”
Many expert advisers tell people not to plan their careers out by the year. Instead, they often say that you should look at where you want to be in the next five years. There’s a couple of reasons for this. First, most people can reasonably expect to work for 40 or 50 years. Planning it out in single-year increments might be overwhelming. Second, you’ll see more progress in a five-year period. If you can imagine the benefits of starting your construction career now, a five-year plan might show you achieving the goals of becoming a licensed contractor or starting your own contracting business.

If you’re ready to go into construction, there are a lot of ways to say it. For assistance in learning what you’ll need to pass the contractor licensing exam, contact CSLS today!

Should You Hire a Photographer for Your Contractor Business Marketing?

When you work for yourself, you become a big part of your own personal brand. If you want to put yourself and your business in the best possible light, you may need good photography. Research shows that consumers and potential clients expect images to look excellent, and your competition probably already knows this. Here are a few reasons to consider hiring a photographer for your contracting business.

Brand Your Business
When you first start a contracting business, you might be running it all by yourself for a while. For many contractors, faces and names are a big part of their branding. Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself what about you makes clients want to hire you to work on their projects. If you use your own image on your website, you want to present yourself in a way that conveys commitment, professionalism, and other important qualities. A professional photographer can take pictures of you in various poses that you can use on your logo or other aspects of your brand.

Take Your Online Presence to a Higher Level
No one enjoys browsing a website with choppy design and terrible images. Similarly, if you plan to market by social media, you’ll need to add a high-quality image to catch the eye and persuade people to click. As a business owner, your online presence tells people stories about the way your business works. Marketing experts say that images are one of the best ways to convey a feeling to potential customers. If the image is too dark or obviously taken hastily on your phone, they may conclude that you are too quick to cut corners. Professional photography for your website and social media shows that you care about how things look, which is an important part of construction success.

Present a Professional Portfolio
It’s common for prospective clients to ask for a portfolio of images and details about similar projects you’ve completed in the past. You may want to keep one on your website so that customers can browse through it at their leisure. Since this is a point where people are usually getting ready to make a choice, professionalism is important. On the last day of the project, hiring a photographer to create pictures of the finished result is a great idea. You’ll have dazzling photos of your project from multiple angles, making every aspect look its best for posterity.

Keep Up With Competitors
Hiring a photographer is an investment. Sometimes it costs thousands of dollars or even more, depending on what you are asking for. It may make it difficult to justify the investment until you think about your competition. In most cases, contracting businesses have a handful of competitors in the area. In the early years, you’ll be working hard to present a professional persona that sets you apart from the rest. Professional photography can turn a website that looks amateurish to professional.

Save Time and Hassle
In the days where every job takes much of the week and the business only has you, there simply isn’t enough time in the day to do everything. And yet, you do want to present a professional look to clients, subcontractors, and your eventual employees. You can certainly buy an expensive camera and spend your nights and weekends learning how to take pictures of projects, but that takes away from your other work and relaxation time. Hiring a professional photographer saves you time and the hassle of worrying about how to get the best images without having to devote weeks to it.

Part of running a contracting business involves figuring out how to put your best foot forward. Professional photography for your marketing and other parts of your website can help you present an ideal image from the very beginning. To learn more about the things you’ll need for a career in construction, visit CSLS today!

How to Improve Your Retention When Building New Skills for Your Contracting Business

Experts say that you’ll need to practice a new skill a lot in order to master it and remember all the steps in order. Sometimes you have the time to invest, and other times you need to get up to speed quickly. Here are a few ways you can improve your retention, so you can ensure a higher degree of accuracy from the beginning.

Get Invested in the Subject
Everyone has a skill they need to learn that either bores them to death or terrifies them. Most of the things you need to learn for your business won’t fall to either of these extremes, but it’s good to keep it in perspective. One of the best ways to avoid a natural disinclination to learn is to give yourself a reason to do it. Make a list of reasons that you need to develop the skill and make sure that they offer benefits for you. For example, you might note that the skill will help you complete projects more quickly or be able to offer a wider variety of services so that you can earn more money.

Take Good Notes
If the skill you want to learn requires notes, you might as well make them good ones. Most people don’t love the process of writing down the contents of an article or lecture, but experts say it is the best way to get the most out of learning through these methods. Don’t just regurgitate whatever you have read or heard. Give yourself the time to think about what you’re learning and put it into your own words. Practice getting to the point of a subject and being able to summarize it cleanly. That way, when you go back to your notes, you’ll be able to scan for information quickly.

Test Out Your Knowledge
So much of the construction industry involves hands-on skills, and that’s why a lot of people like it. Once you get some research and investigation under your belt, you’ll want to test out your knowledge. Of course, this depends on the thing you’re trying to master, and how easy it is to test out. If you’re learning how to use a new piece of equipment, it’s important to ensure that you can use it safely without risking the health of others either. As a general rule, it’s best to pick a time when you are feeling alert and not in a hurry. Exploring a new process can often tell you as much as you learn by reading about it.

Review the Fundamentals
No one gets behind the wheel of a car and is able to drive perfectly, without effort, from the very first day. Even if you understand the concept and the basic information involved with the skill, you may still need to review standards and guidelines to help you keep control of what you’re doing. Take a moment to look at your notes and review lectures as needed. Watching tutorials more than once can sometimes help you to avoid missing important details. This review process is important for the accuracy of the skill you build, as well as your ability to remember it.

Demonstrate Your Skills
Many experts believe that one of the best ways to solidify your ability to do something is to teach someone else how to do it. In the case of a complicated process or the use of possibly dangerous equipment, you may be demonstrating it more than you are teaching it. However, this process can also help you to put the individual steps into your own language. That makes it easier for you to remember. And when you do find yourself in the position of needing to teach someone how to do it, you will already have the language that you need to explain it in a way that makes sense.

Construction is a career full of skill-building. The faster and the better you can do it, the more you can make it pay off. To learn more about construction careers and how you can become a licensed contractor, contact CSLS today!

How to Save Money on Insurance for Your Contracting Business

As a contracting business owner, you’ll need to carry insurance. And like other expenses you have for your business, you’ll want to get the best deal without compromising on that necessary protection. There are a lot of ways to save money on insurance that allow you to choose the best coverage. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Shop Around for Coverage
When you shop for any big purchase, you’ll probably go to a few different places to see which one offers the best product or service at the best price. You should be doing this for a variety of services you keep for your business, especially insurance. Insurance companies often have significantly different rates and package options, and you should check out at least a few of them before you make a choice. In fact, you might even notice different prices between agents of the same company. If price is a big factor for you, be prepared to invest several hours into considering your options.

Find Out How Much You Really Need
As you’re browsing types of insurance for your business, get input from your insurance agent about the amount of coverage you’re likely to need. You definitely don’t want to undercut yourself and end up in a situation where you don’t have enough coverage in the event of an accident or other kind of liability. But you can certainly ask about deductibles and other ways that you can lower the cost for the same level of coverage. It’s worth doing independent research or asking a mentor for information about coverage recommendations, so that you’re not just having to take your agent’s word for it.

Ask About Discounts
Insurance is a highly subjective service. The cost you pay depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • Industry
  • Area of specialty
  • Size of the business
  • Experience
  • Claims history

Insurance agents may have some flexibility in determining the prices that they offer you for insurance. It’s a good idea to ask about discounts that you might qualify for. When you’re just starting your business, you might not be able to access discounts that require you to prove certain aspects about your business, like safety. But if you sign up for a package deal, including liability insurance and insurance for something else like a company vehicle, you may be able to lower your costs that way.

Update Your Policy
When people start a business and get the insurance they’re required to have, they often assume that their role in the process is done. But if you want to ensure that you continue to get the best price, you’ll need to periodically evaluate your policy. If the nature of your business changes, it’s important to notify your agent and get recommendations about changing your coverage if necessary. Updates may open up new discounts that you didn’t qualify for earlier, and they also ensure that you always have the right amount of coverage when you need it.

Make Safety a Priority
In an industry like construction, the safety of your business and your employees is a significant factor in your insurance costs. Insurance companies prefer to work with contracting businesses that have a strong commitment to safety. That means that you may be able to save a significant amount on your insurance premiums by implementing a safety program and maintaining it on a regular basis. It’s a smart practice to ensure that everyone you work with knows how to do the job safely and protect others. But from an insurance standpoint, safety also saves money on claims. It makes sense that companies that work to minimize injuries and damage will pay less for insurance.

Finding the right insurance coverage at a good price is another part of running a contracting business. For more information about what you’ll need to start your own, contact CSLS today!

What Is a Construction Apprenticeship?

There are many educational paths to working in construction, and apprenticeships can be a popular one. The concept of the apprentice is hundreds of years old, presuming that people who wanted to take up a particular trade would study under an expert for years. At the satisfactory conclusion of the apprenticeship, the apprentice would have the skills they need to move into their careers. Here are a few things you should know about construction apprenticeships.

Why Does Construction Offer Apprenticeships?
If you’ve worked in other industries, you might wonder why apprenticeships are much more common in construction. There are many industries in which you can learn everything you need to know simply by doing the job. In others, you might need to pursue a college education in order to get the foundation you need to qualify for the job. Construction is a little different. In this industry, workers can often start doing the most entry-level tasks with relatively little instruction. Over time, they need more support and training to be able to do the work correctly and safely. Apprenticeships are a great way to get that training in a supportive environment, without having to work for free.

How Does an Apprenticeship Work?
If you’re familiar with the concept of internships in other industries, it may be easier to understand how a construction apprenticeship works. Apprenticeships are paid positions, and they usually involve working with a specific company. You have to apply for the apprenticeship, and depending on how popular it is, it may be difficult to get one. The company pays your wages while you are in the apprenticeship, although they may get some of that funding from government grants. During the apprenticeship, you receive on-the-job training and support from a qualified mentor. By the end, you may receive a certification or meet most of the requirements you need to apply for a contractor license.

What Are the Basic Qualifications for an Apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships may have a variety of qualifications. It all depends on the particular job, so it’s a good idea to investigate and make sure that you can meet the requirements before you apply. As a general rule, you can expect these qualifications:

  • At least age 16, or 18 for certain jobs
  • High school graduate or appropriate alternative
  • Ability to do all the tasks that the job requires
  • Residency in the region, or a willingness to relocate

In some cases, you may need to have a certain amount of experience in the industry or additional training.

How Does an Apprenticeship Compare to College Education?
In many ways, apprenticeships are comparable to a college education. For example, an apprenticeship gives you access to experts in the field who can teach you and guide you through the tasks, not unlike a college program. Some apprenticeships can last for several years, approaching the length of a four-year college program. In some cases, you can even get college credit for completing an apprenticeship, although that’s heavily dependent on the individual program and school. The biggest difference is that you don’t generally get paid to get a college education, while an apprenticeship usually does provide some kind of stipend.

How Can People Find Available Apprenticeships?
The availability of apprenticeships depends a lot on the area you live in and the field you’re looking to go in. If you’re interested in applying for an apprenticeship, you can search online for options close to you. You may be able to locate them through job-posting websites, or from listings tied to local trade organizations. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, keep searching. The availability of apprenticeships may not follow a typical calendar or school year, as it depends on the company offering it.

An apprenticeship might be a way to jumpstart your construction career. For more information about what you’ll need to become a licensed contractor, contact CSLS today!

Bid Shopping and How Your Contracting Business Can Avoid It

When property owners look for a contractor for a project, they are often searching for the lowest price. So it’s not entirely surprising that, on occasion, you might interact with a property owner or a contractor who reveals another contractor’s bid in an effort to get you to lower yours. This concept is known as “bid shopping,” and it is illegal in certain contexts. By understanding it, you can have a better chance of avoiding it.

What Is Bid Shopping?
It’s common for property owners to ask for lots of companies to bid on a project, so that they have various options. This is not the same as bid shopping. When a general contractor is looking for subcontractors for their own bids on a project, they might publicize the bids that they are receiving in the hopes that subcontractors will offer to do the work for a lower price. Bid shopping essentially encourages other contractors to lower their prices in an attempt to secure work.

What’s Wrong With Bid Shopping?
If you have ever done comparison shopping or asked a company to match the price that a competitor is offering, you might wonder what is wrong with bid shopping. As a contracting business owner, you may quickly understand how bid shopping can create significant problems within the industry. There’s already a lot of pressure for small businesses to compete with larger ones by lowering their prices and cutting into their profit margins. Bid shopping can create a “race to the bottom” mentality where the lowest price becomes the biggest factor for general contractors or property owners to determine who gets the bid. If you’re constantly having to cut your bid to meet the lowest price, you may eventually end up losing money on projects.

What’s the Difference Between Bid Shopping and Bid Peddling?
The difference between bid shopping and bid peddling is the person who is doing it. Bid shopping usually involves a general contractor or property owner looking for lower bids from subcontractors. Bid peddling comes from a subcontractor offering lower prices than another subcontractor in the hopes that they can supplant that subcontractor for the same job. Both actions can be sneaky and unethical, they just come from different directions.

Is Bid Shopping Illegal?
In many cases, bid shopping is illegal. In fact, California state law requires that for public projects, contractors have to publish a list of the subcontractors whom they would hire to complete the work for the project. With a few exceptions, this law makes it much harder for contractors to substitute a lower-bidding subcontractor on a whim. Outside of this context, however, it may not be illegal. It’s worth keeping in mind that most professional organizations in construction dislike the practice, mostly because it kills profit margins and makes it more difficult for businesses to thrive in a competitive environment.

What Should I Do If I Encounter Bid Shopping?
Although bid shopping is often illegal and generally looked down upon, you may still encounter it on occasion. The best thing you can do is to understand the laws for submitting bids to a contractor. If there’s a contractor in your area who you find is trying to push the envelope to see what they can get, try to avoid doing business with them in the future. Ask your lawyer about adding clauses in your contracts to protect the confidentiality of your bid. You won’t be able to get rid of bid shopping entirely, but you can establish yourself as an above-board contractor who prizes a healthy industry. You’ll be able to build more credibility with that view anyway.

Bid shopping is a problem in construction, but if you know what to look for, you can generally avoid it. For more advice about getting started in construction, visit CSLS today!

5 Things to Do Before Starting a Contracting Business

When you start researching the various things you need to start a contracting business, you might be surprised by the simplicity. In fact, you don’t need a degree in business or years of experience handling money to get started. But there are a few things that you should make sure you’ve done before you open. Keep these five things in mind.

Find Your Target Market
Once you start your business, you’ll be eager to build a steady stream of new customers. But before you can do that, you need to figure out who your target market is and how you can find them. You can search online to determine which people are most likely to need your services. Then, you can do more research to learn how they find businesses like yours when they need one. This step is not as simple as it looks. You might need a month or two to get answers to these questions. The good news is, you’ll have a much better chance of securing clients once you know where they are.

Figure Out Your Funding Options
People who start a small business often rely on a variety of types of funding, including:

  • Personal savings
  • Gifts or donations from family and friends
  • Crowdfunding
  • Credit
  • Business loans

The amount of money you need depends a lot on the type of services you’re going to provide. For example, if you’re planning to focus on home repairs, you might not need as much as you would if you want to become a builder of new construction. Research your options and how to apply for different kinds of funding. That way, you’ll be prepared once your business is ready to go.

Make a Plan for Advertising
Construction professionals often rely on word of mouth to get new clients, but you may not want to make this your only option. You don’t need to have a hugely expensive or complicated marketing strategy, but you should probably have something. Think about how you would like people to find out about your business, whether that’s an ad in the local newspaper, online advertisements, or even your business’s name on your vehicle. Get a sense for what you can expect to pay for advertising so that you can budget for it once you have some funds to work with.

Research Rules for Starting a Business
Every state has specific rules that you have to follow when you want to start a business. Your city may also have guidelines that you need to obey as well. In order to get a license, you usually need to pick a business name that is unique and pay a fee in order to get your license. As a general rule, you should plan to maintain a business license, even if the business name is your own name and you’re planning to operate as a sole proprietor. If you decide to create an LLC or a corporation, you’ll need to follow those rules as well.

Prepare for the Contractor Licensing Exam
If you haven’t taken the contractor licensing exam yet, you’ll need to do that before you can open your contracting business. Keeping a current license shows your clients that you are committed to performing professional work that will provide a good investment for them. One of the best ways to ensure that you can pass the contractor licensing exam is to complete a course of preparation in advance. Exam preparation helps you understand what you can expect on the test and confirm that you have the right knowledge to get the desired result.

Starting your own contracting business might be a dream that you’ve had for years. If you do these things beforehand, you’ll have a good sense of where to go next. To get started, visit CSLS today!