Does Your Contracting Business Security Extend Beyond the Job site?

You’d never leave the warehouse or jobsite without confirming that the door was locked and security activated. Are you as careful with your electronic devices? Scammers are getting better at finding the weaknesses in people’s workflow, and they may be coming for your contracting business. Officials say that businesses are often the biggest targets for cyberattacks, and that they can seem more real and innocent than you think. Here’s what to watch out for, and a few ways you can protect yourself.

Remember: It’s Easy to Get Scammed
Practically everyone has received an email from a prince offering millions of dollars to anyone willing to give sensitive bank account information. While most people know not to fall for something like this, most modern scams are much less obvious. Scammers look for weaknesses in the system and figure out the most effective ways to exploit them. They’ve spent years getting better at it. This means that when you get an email from a contractor you know asking for your routing number for a wire transfer, it might look entirely legit. As a general rule, you want to assume that many communications like this can be faulty.

Lock Down Your Passwords
If you’re not changing your passwords regularly, or if you’re using the defaults on the devices you buy, you’re putting yourself at risk. You hear about hackers using conventional passwords on smart home technology to break through a home’s security. This is just as easy to do for your security cameras on the jobsite. Good passwords should be:

  • long, at least eight and preferably 12 characters
  • a combination of numbers, letters and symbols
  • different between accounts
  • difficult for anyone to guess

Strong passwords are hard to remember. If you’re constantly forgetting them, or choosing easy ones so you don’t, it’s time to get a password manager.

Never Share Confidential Information Over Phone or Email
People expect scams to look over-the-top fake because they assume scammers are sending it to hundreds of thousands of people. At the business level, identity thieves only need to get one hit to get a huge payout. This encourages them to make it as personal and realistic as possible, knowing that you’ll be more likely to take the bait if there’s a real person on the other end. Just like you wouldn’t believe someone making a prank phone call, you should treat all unexpected communications with suspicion. That texter can’t fix your student loans, your bank would never email you to ask for your password, and the IRS doesn’t make phone calls.

Use Multiple Means of Verification
Phishing scams, where the person uses some correct information about you to try to get more, are so slick these days you might not even see it. Sure, you might think that you should log into your business bank account to make sure the email is correct, but how do you get there? Clicking on the link in the email is how they get you. Instead, find the contact information for the institution through their regular website or from an official communication like a bank statement. As an added layer of protection, use a different device to verify it. If your phone or computer is already compromised, using the same machine might still put you at risk.

Watch What You Download
When a random website asks you to download something, you may already know not to do so. What happens if you get an email from someone on your team asking you to review documents in a ZIP file? This is where being a little more suspicious comes in handy. Scammers hide ransomware and malware in certain types of files that seem reasonable and related to your business. If you download them, they’ll often create hours or days of trouble for you. When you’re not expecting the files, don’t click on them. And if you are, install anti-virus software to help identify problems.

Keeping your business secure is getting harder and harder, especially in the construction field. By taking this advice, you can protect your information and your money. To discover the benefits of a career in construction, visit CSLS today!

 

How to Structure the Workday for Your Contracting Business

If you do most of your work outside, it makes sense to try to stick to the sun when planning out your regular work schedule. During the summer, this is fairly easy to do. Once winter hits, it’s harder to make enough time in the day with the hours of daylight. Throw in employees who need to battle rush hour and other scheduling concerns, and you might need to completely rethink it. Here’s a few ways you can approach scheduling your workday in your business, so that everyone can get their work done with the least hassle.

Understand Flexible Scheduling
If the concept of “flex time” feels like something more suited to a tech startup, it might need a little clarification. Many people believe that keeping a flexible schedule means that you never know when someone is going to show up or leave. In reality, offering a flexible schedule to your employees usually requires a clearly-defined schedule. That way, everyone knows when they’re supposed to be at work. Giving people the flexibility to determine if they need to show up early so they can leave early can make it easier for them to maintain a work-life balance.

Determine Your Priorities
Before you start changing the schedule, you want to set a few priorities. After all, you may be flexible enough to allow some of your employees to burn the midnight oil. Your customers, on the other hand, might expect communication during normal business hours. Start with the things you need to keep your business going, like sending invoices, following up on sales leads or submitting bids. Make sure you have someone on the clock at the right time who can be responsible for the most crucial daily tasks, even if it comes at the start or end of their shift.

Rethink Your Existing Schedule
If you’re thinking, “My schedule is already flexible because I am literally always here,” it might be time to rethink how you approach your own workday. Burnout is a big deal in construction, in part because people tend to work such long hours. But 15-hour days for weeks on end aren’t a very good long-term strategy, especially for people who have obligations outside of work. Taking this as an opportunity to improve efficiency might be an ideal path to getting the same amount of work done without running yourself into the ground.

Consider Different Scheduling Options
If you’ve ever done shift work, you know that this is a standard in a variety of industries. There’s the day shift, the swing shift that starts in the afternoon and the graveyard shift running overnight. When you’ve got a big push to get a project done and you’re working some long hours, building in two separate shifts for your employees can allow you to stay on schedule. Otherwise, you might consider operating a 12-hour workday where people are expected to show up at a specific time during that interval. Just make sure that your workflow permits having one skilled worker showing up later or earlier than another.

Evaluate How You Attract New Employees
With a labor shortage, you’ve always got to think about how you bring people on and keep them for the long-term. Offering a flexible schedule might be an effective way to entice students or others with limited time to get on board early. Give yourself some time to work out the details, so you don’t have to change the schedule on a whim if it’s not working. In the long run, giving your employees flexibility could open up different demographics of workers who might never have considered your business beforehand.

Keeping a business running is a lot of work, but sometimes tweaking the schedule makes a big difference. These tips can help, as well as a solid grounding in the construction field. To start your career, visit CSLS today!

Is Design-Build-Automate the Next Step for Construction?

You may already know that automation is shaving months or years off construction projects. As technological innovations improve, the degree of accuracy in various tools allows contracting businesses to consider how they can use automation to get their work done faster. Here are a few reasons automation deserves an important role in your design phase, and how you can best take advantage of it.

Why It’s Time to Automate
Whether you’ve been working in the industry for years or you’re just starting out, there are plenty of reasons to rethink the way you do things. The construction labor shortage exploded by the housing crisis and was made worse by increasing numbers of construction professionals heading into retirement. It’s getting better but it’s still a big problem in a lot of fields. Automation isn’t just gaining popularity–it’s improving in accuracy. This means that you can automate processes that will do the work nearly as well or, in some cases, better than you could do with a skilled worker.

Tips to Incorporate Automation Into Your Workflow
When you aren’t sure what is out there, it’s hard to imagine how automation could possibly make your work faster and more effective. That’s where a little research comes in. You wouldn’t think of hand-writing an invoice that you could easily input into a tool, because this technology has been around for decades. Here’s how you can find ways to make automation a seamless part of your workflow:

  1. Identify where your projects are falling behind schedule (or over budget).
  2. Research the best solutions to your current issues.
  3. Don’t jump at the first option you find, because there may be better ones on the horizon.
  4. Take opportunities to test out products before you buy.
  5. Read reviews of tools and software systems, to get a sense for their success rates.
  6. Test it out on low-impact projects before you automate full-time.
  7. Offer employees training in the latest methods.

Give yourself the time to adjust, and you might be surprised how quickly it changes your perspective.

Fields Where Automation Is Taking Off
Even 10 years ago, automation wasn’t a big deal in many areas in construction. With changes happening every year, you’ll find more and more businesses adapting technology to make projects go faster. Automation is currently driving:

  • increases in the use and efficacy of modular construction
  • availability of self-driving construction equipment
  • innovations in drone technology, which allows workers to perform complex tasks from a distance

Right now, a lot of the technology is proprietary. This means that one company’s approach might be completely different from another’s. Within the next few years, you’ll see the best performers rising to the top and spreading to other fields.

Keep Watching for News
Although automation is picking up speed in all kinds of fields, it’s also changing rapidly. This means that if you there aren’t many options in your specialty, or if most of the choices you have are pretty sketchy, just wait six months or a year. You can probably remember a time when drones were terrifying at worst and vaguely helpful at best. They’re now shifting from surveying the scene to interacting with it. Imagine how much better tools and systems will be in five years.

Make Workers a Priority
Although automation is often feared as the killer of jobs, it doesn’t have to be. In a world where there’s years more work available than qualified people to do it, efficiency is king. Automation isn’t going to force or even allow you to get rid of your whole staff in a year. Instead, it will make you and your employees’ jobs easier. That means you can take on more projects and satisfy more clients with reliable deadlines and a shorter turnaround.

Construction automation is becoming an integral part of the industry, and you should consider how it will affect your contracting business. To discover more about the latest tools and technology used by licensed contractors, contact CSLS today!

Who’s Your Contracting Business Team?

When you first start your contracting business, you might be going it alone. Yet, it’s often impossible for people to do all the work to keep a business running on their own. You’ll need a team, and sometimes it’s hard to decide which jobs can be filled by you and which ones require support. Here’s the basic components of the team you’ll want to have for your contracting business.

Marketing and Sales
To a certain extent, it’s true that you can build a business based on word of mouth. In other words, pick up a few happy clients and they’ll let other people know to hire you for their own projects. However, construction can be a competitive industry, with lots of small businesses you’ve got to compete with to get a client’s contract. This is where brand management comes in. Knowing how to find your target demographic and the best ways to secure their business takes experience that you might not have. A sales and marketing manager can handle leads, but also advertise your services in the right places.

Cash Flow Management
Every business needs a person who can collect payments, handle the bills and maintain the budgets. When you first start your business, this person will often be you. However, in order to make that work, you’ve got to be reasonably good with numbers. This is an administrative task that will bring your business crashing to a halt if you forget to take care of it, though. If you’re too busy completing projects to make this a priority, you’ll need an administrative support person to keep track of the general cash flow of the business.

Accounting and Payroll
Although handling the finances for the business seems like it could easily be done by one person, this usually isn’t true. There’s a reason many businesses outsource their tax accounting and payroll work to a service or accountant. If you get it wrong, you may be held legally liable for mistakes. There are lots of rules you have to follow to pay your employees and take care of your taxes each year, and they can be tricky to understand or remember. Paying a service to handle it for you ensures that everyone gets paid on time, including you and the IRS.

Skilled Workers
Contracting businesses that serve homeowners for relatively minor tasks may be able to get by with just one person doing the work. However, it’s worth considering a second person, if you have enough work available and you can pay them reliably. When all the work depends on you, you’re on the hook to get the job done around the clock and in any kind of condition. Failure to meet the terms of the project can make it harder for you to secure clients in the future. Adding a skilled worker who can duplicate most of the work you do can improve your efficiency and provide a cushion for when you need to focus on administrative tasks.

Subcontractors
Although subcontractors aren’t technically a part of your business, many of the projects you do wouldn’t succeed without them. You’ll hire subcontractors to do the jobs that require skills you don’t have, or to fill roles that you cannot do simultaneously. There are rules for the way the state allows you to classify contractors compared to employees, so you want to make sure you’re doing it correctly. A reliable subcontractor who does good work is worth their weight in gold. They make it easy to take on more-complicated projects, without you having to provide regular work for them.

Being an independent contractor feels like a business of one, but it often takes a team to make it a success. Understanding the different roles your business needs will help you build a fulfilling career. To get started, visit CSLS today!

How to Get the Most from a Construction Conference

There are dozens of construction industry trade conferences across the country each year. If you want to know the latest trends and insight into the newest best practices, you might want to attend one on occasion. Travel for work isn’t cheap when you run your own business, so you want to choose wisely and come prepared. Here’s what to expect from a conference, and how you can get the most out of it.

Research the Best Options
With many construction-related conferences each year, you should be able to find one that works well with your timing and goals. Fortunately, many of them are held in California or in nearby cities like Las Vegas. The right one for you depends on your field, your interests and your funds for travel. Keep in mind that the best choice may not be located within easy driving distance. Several conferences aim to provide a variety of choices to suit almost any construction professional. There are also specialties targeting attendees who work in areas like modular construction or concrete.

Find Out Who’s Presenting
Some conferences mostly feature an exhibit floor that you can browse at your convenience, but many also offer presentations, demonstrations or classes. Since conferences often have limited opportunities to talk to people presenting, do a little homework in advance. Find out which of the major industry influencers will be there. If you can, research what they have been working on and get ideas for questions you’d like to ask in a question and answer session. Bring these notes to the conference. This will help you retain more information from the sessions.

Be Flexible About Scheduling
Depending on the conference, you may have a lot of flexibility in the sessions that you attend. There’s little point in occupying space in a presentation that doesn’t fit your field or give you new information, even if the company presenting is important or well-known. It’s important to get a vibe for conference etiquette, so that you’re not disrupting others. Just keep in mind it’s not uncommon to slip out at the beginning of a speech when you realize it’s not for you. If you’re not sure, it’s best to sit or stand near the back so you can make a discreet exit when necessary.

Save Time for Browsing Exhibits
In this industry, there’s a lot of innovation with new tools and approaches you can try. The exhibit floor is going to be the place to go when you want to take a crack at something you’ve never tried. Conferences, like World of Concrete in Las Vegas, may have as many as 1,500 exhibitors. Depending on the schedule, you might only have a few hours between sessions each day. Make sure to dedicate extra time to browse, and get a list of vendors in advance. That way, you’ll know which ones you definitely want to see first.

Prepare to Network
Whether you’re headed to a conference near you or one that requires a plane flight, networking is still an important idea. Networking is how you build relationships with other construction industry professionals that will help you keep your business going. Don’t skip the social lunches or coffee breaks, especially if they mean you get an opportunity to talk to other people who live in your area. Track down presenters on the exhibit floor and make sure they get your business card. This may be your best chance to get your name out there, find subcontractors and learn more about the latest news in the industry.

Once you get your contractor license, you need to keep building knowledge and connections. Passing the exam is one of the first steps. To establish a construction career that can thrive for decades, visit CSLS today!

What Is Your Contracting Business Leadership Style?

Everyone has had that boss who seems to know exactly what they need and gives it to them. Similarly, practically everyone has had a boss whose management approach cut them off at the knees. Running your own business requires developing a leadership style that allows you to get work done without alienating everyone underneath you. Read more about these common leadership styles to see which one fits you the best, and how you can use it.

Collaborative
When you have a collaborative leadership style, you like to get lots of input from the people working under you. You want to work as a team and it shows through your efforts to get employees involved in the decision-making that affects their own tasks. This leadership style can help you maximize the benefits you get from the people you hire. Just make sure that you are getting input from everyone on the team, not just one or two people. Develop a few strategies to refine vague or problematic suggestions, so that collaboration doesn’t slow your workflow.

Easygoing
With an easygoing leadership style, you’re going to let your employees mostly take care of their own jobs. You hired them for their skills and you expect them to use it. If you’re extremely busy with your own tasks, this approach can help you free up time you need to get things done. On the other hand, you’re putting a lot of trust in people who might not work as well in this kind of environment. Periodically check in with your employees to make sure they have everything they need and keep basic tabs on their progress. Consider a different approach with entry-level hires or anyone who needs extra support.

Authoritarian
The opposite of easygoing, an authoritarian leadership leads alone. They make decisions without much consultation from employees and often without considering their needs. Most people probably wouldn’t want to classify themselves in this group. However, as you first start out, you might develop this style by default. When you work for yourself and have no employees, this may be the only style you can choose. It might also make sense if you hire someone with very limited experience. Just make sure you’re giving your employees enough opportunities to learn and grow within the position.

Incentivizing
As an incentivizing leader, you are goal-oriented and you want your employees to reach those goals. To do so, you set benchmarks and provide incentives like prizes or bonuses to people who work within those limits. This can be an effective leadership strategy as it gives employees an extra reason to push through the next obstacle. Mix up the rewards so that everyone feels like their needs or wants get representation. Just keep in mind that people can get stuck when you ratchet up the goals too far or too fast. Make incremental improvements that people can stretch to grasp but still reach.

Leadership by Example
Many people like to build a rapport and respect as a leader by not being much of a leader at all. If you love to get down into the equipment with your employees and work as hard as they do, you can inspire them by your commitment. People who lead by example tend to teach as they go, giving less-experienced workers the benefit of your knowledge. It’s important to make sure that you don’t get too distracted by the job to let others take turns. It can be difficult to let go of some tasks you’ve done 1,000 times. If you remember to give them the opportunity, they’ll reward you by making your job easier.

Becoming a leader isn’t something that happens overnight. You have to evaluate your leadership style and develop ways to motivate your employees to make your business a success. For more information about what you need to start your own contracting business, contact CSLS today!

How Your Contracting Business Can Handle Sudden Price Increases in Construction Materials

As a contractor, you know that prices for materials fluctuate regularly. Most of the time, you can anticipate what’s likely to happen and plan ahead. At other times, you get hit with a surprise new tariff that dramatically increases costs. When you’re bidding on projects that won’t be completed for a year or two (or longer), it’s hard to predict now what you’ll pay for the things you need. Here are a few ways you can manage it without losing your profit margins.

Keep an Eye on Rising Prices
Prices don’t always go up with inflation. Sometimes they go down. On occasion, they’ll fluctuate, especially if there is some event like a disaster that forces everyone in the supply chain to accommodate. Sometimes, price increases mean that certain businesses will struggle to keep up. If you want to avoid being one of them, you should keep tabs on the news and regional prices for all materials you use regularly. Update your estimates as prices change so you don’t accidentally use last year’s numbers.

Round Up, Not Down
A good rule of thumb for many construction materials is to estimate how much you’ll need and add an extra 10 percent. You might want to do something similar for material prices, as well. You can’t predict when the federal government will institute a tariff that increases the cost of materials you bring overseas by a margin as large as 25 percent. But you can guess that prices will go up year after year. Look at price averages in your region and how they’ve changed over the past five years. Use that data to inform your estimates, and always round up. Underbidding on materials may make your bid more appealing to clients looking for a bargain. But you’ll pay for it with less money to keep your business going.

Consider an Escalation Clause
Once you sign a contract, generally you’re committed to doing the work at the price you specified. An escalation clause gives you a way to renegotiate the contract based on price increases. The terms are usually very specific, which means that you’ll have limits on the time you can raise prices, how much you can increase them, and how soon you can get payment for the difference. If you can’t reasonably predict what materials will cost you for the project, the clause may make the difference between safeguarding your profits and shaving them off entirely.

Evaluate the Best Terms
In an industry with fluctuating material prices, using escalation clauses can be a way for contractors to avoid cutting into their profits when prices go up. It’s important to choose the right one based on the project. For example, you might opt to share the risk up to a certain point. If the project is relatively short and you don’t anticipate rapid changes, you can offer to shoulder the increase unless it passes a certain percentage.

During longer projects, it may make more sense to activate an escalation clause past a certain amount of time. That helps to accommodate price changes that happen months or years later. Some escalation clauses allow you to raise the price the day it changes. If you want or need this level of flexibility, expect to show your work in your original price estimate.

Keeping a contracting business above water involves careful attention to the prices of materials you use. By tracking material costs and adding escalation clauses to certain contracts, you can protect your income and profits. To discover more benefits of running your own business, contact CSLS today!

What’s Buried Under Your Construction Site?

Finding toxic waste or hazardous materials isn’t the only disturbing thing you might find as you dig into a construction site. In many parts of the country, people start work on a construction project only to learn that it was a sacred burial ground long ago. There may be laws you have to follow when you discover such things, especially if they involve human remains. Here’s a few tips that will help you keep your head and your project on schedule.

Consider Testing Before You Dig
You can often avoid a lot of problems simply by doing some research in advance of the project. If you’re subcontracting, you might not have as much say in the process before you start. Otherwise, consider getting a sense for what might be under the surface. Soil testing helps to reveal possible contaminants or toxins that could cause problems once they come out of the ground. If you’re worried that you might be disrupting an old graveyard or burial ground, look at old surveys of the property. You might even be able to see old pictures to give you more information.

Research Local Rules
In California, this practice is common enough that there may be state and local guidelines in place to guide your actions. In September 2019, workers participating in a project to widen the 405 in Orange County found remains they believed to come from Indigenous Americans. The law dictates that they were unable to release information about the location or what they found except to local authorities. Investigate state laws concerning finding human remains, and see if the city or county has a task force that helps to handle the situation. This will help ensure that you can manage things without making yourself liable.

Create a Plan of Action
No one expects to dig into the ground and find bones unless they’re working in a field like archeology or anthropology. This means that you and your employees might be surprised or even shocked by the presence of remains. It’s best to start with a plan of action. Tell your employees that if they find remains, they should:

  • stop work at the site immediately
  • alert local authorities
  • avoid telling anyone about the site

This can happen in almost any part of the state. Dry areas can preserve bones for millennia, which means that you may have no idea what is lurking beneath 10 or even 15 feet of dirt.

Avoid Disturbing the Site
Really old remains look quite different from bones of those who died a few years ago. Besides that distinction, you may have no idea exactly what you have found. That is why you should leave it alone as soon as you find it, until authorities have a chance to investigate. It may not be human remains. It could be a burial ground. It might be evidence of a crime. Leaving the remains as they are allows investigators to determine the most information, including whether or not they should do additional digging to search for other remains.

Keep Information Discreet
Once you’ve alerted the authorities, it is not necessarily obvious what will be the next course of action. You may need to let the client know that there has been a delay, although local guidelines will determine how much information you can give them. Officials usually like to keep these finds quiet at first, as a way to avoid further disruption of the site. Although it may be difficult not to go rushing to the newspapers with the story, you may find it makes sense. For your own workflow, you don’t want a flood of tourists arriving to traipse through your worksite once you get clearance to continue.

There are lots of things hiding under the surface that you might not know about. Research in advance can help flush out a few possibilities, but you won’t know everything until you dig. Making a plan helps you avoid finding more than you bargained for. To dig into a construction career you’ll enjoy for years to come, visit CSLS today!

When to Say No to Projects for Your Contracting Business

In an industry that is dictated largely by season and often unpredictable, it’s hard to imagine a time when you’d ever want to decline bidding on a project. However, there are cases when you might get in over your head on a project that has major flaws. When you’re first starting out, you don’t want to be too selective in the kind of work you’ll do related to your business. But there are definitely a handful of red flags you should watch for so you know when to pass. Here’s what they are, and how you can decline projects professionally.

Client Doesn’t Know What They Want
Sometimes, you may get a client who could be good, but they’re too far up the sales funnel. Many people start reaching out to contractors before they have a fully-developed sense of what they want from the project. This can be a problem if you try to push them to commit to details too early. They may decide that they want something smaller, or fail to have the budget necessary for the project they have in mind. Instead, give them a few resources they can use to ideate and get a sense for the total cost, as well as your contact information.

Client Won’t Commit to a Bid or Estimate
There’s a reason everyone in business recommends getting the details in writing. Without them, it’s just your word against your client’s. Clients who push away the idea of a signed contract in favor of a verbal conversation can create big issues for the project. They may fail to understand the details and therefore underestimate costs. They may deliberately confuse the issue in an attempt to get you to do more work than you agreed to do. They could even expect you to change the project halfway through. Make it a regular process to get a signed contract before you start doing any work.

You’re Unsure if the Client Can Pay
Making sure the client can pay applies to big and small projects. When you’re working with property owners who have little experience in construction, get a firm number on their budget before you start planning. If your bid is coming near the top, make sure you put enough in your estimate to cover all costs. Clients may not be able to pay more than their listed budget, and you might have to fight to get what’s owed. For larger projects, ask for evidence that they have the funds to pay you at the right times. If they can’t, tell them that you’ll be willing to start work once they can prove they have funds in place.

Client Asks for Unreasonable or Illegal Terms
There’s a difference between making a stretch to meet the client’s terms and completely blowing away all your boundaries. You want to set a clear threshold between these two so you don’t end up in a situation you can’t manage. Some clients want a rush job that simply can’t be done in the time allotted. Others may ask you to skip getting permits or other required items to save money or time. These requests are not just unrealistic–they also put you at risk. Explain that your processes include adherence to local guidelines, and that you can’t change them without risking liability.

Trust Your Gut Instincts
When you’re trying to get established or you’re stuck in the middle of a slow season, it’s tempting to take any work for the sake of income. But there are instances in which the work is going to cost you more in effort and frustration than the benefit of payment. If the red flags are piling up and every instinct tells you to decline, it’s often best to respect it. Sticking to reasonable business operations will help preserve your abilities for the next project.

Running your own contracting business involves learning when to take new projects, and when to let them go. It begins with a solid grounding in the rules and standards of the construction industry. To start your education, visit CSLS today!

How Your Contracting Business Can Maintain Relationships With Partners

The longer you develop your business, the more opportunities you have to build relationships with business partners. Your contractors, subcontractors, supply chain and other companies help to keep you running smoothly. When you do it right, it’s a win-win for everyone involved. The trick is that you have to maintain the relationship so that it’s always there when you need it. Here’s a few ways to make it a priority.

Get on a First-Name Basis
You hear a lot about business success not being so much what you know, as who you know. In a competitive industry with a lot of small contracting businesses, this is certainly true. The better someone knows you and your work, the more likely they are to call you first when they need something. This is where all those networking skills come in handy. Whether you’re a B2B or a B2C, selling your services is paramount. You need to make sure that people with the right connection in the industry not just know your name, but can remember it. You can do this by communicating with them on a regular basis and remembering who they are, as well.

Keep Tabs on Your Contractors and Subcontractors
Businesses change names or switch owners all the time. Your job is to know who you need to talk to and how best to reach them. Once you get this information, write it down in a place where your employees can get easy access to it. At least once every six months, follow up with your most important business partners and confirm that your contact information is correct. The last thing you want to do is end up with a dead phone number or an email address that now goes into a black hole, right when you need it most.

Give as Much as You Take
Everyone has a friend who only comes around when they want something. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of businesses that run on the same premise. If you’re always asking for favors and not offering something in exchange, you may find that businesses are less interested in maintaining the relationship. Instead, make sure that you reciprocate on a regular basis. If you’re at the point where you might consider someone a colleague or a friend, get together for lunch or coffee on occasion. This little effort can remind someone that you’re a valuable part of their own business success.

Keep Your Promises
A lot of making sure you have a smooth workflow involves keeping up with your business partners, but there’s another step. You need to be a person they want to continue working with. When you first get started, it is really tempting to overpromise as a way to secure a bid or contract. The trouble is that if you underdeliver, you’ve given a cast-iron reason not to work with you again. Sure, completing a project late and over budget is practically part of the job description, but that doesn’t mean people will be happy about it. Set realistic goals you know you can achieve, and let your reliability secure your reputation.

Build Redundancy Into the System
In a field like construction, turnover is as predictable as the Santa Ana winds. The difficulty with cultivating long-term relationships with your subcontractors or supply chain is that you’ll develop relationships that break from time to time. This is where you want to build some redundancy into the system. If you have an employee who always talks to a particular company, make it a point to call them yourself on occasion. This helps them remain familiar with you, as you are with them. It makes for a more seamless transition, when one of your employees needs to move on.

Running a successful contracting business requires help from other businesses. To get their regular assistance, you need to develop a relationship that you can maintain for years to come. To learn how you can become your own boss in construction, contact CSLS today!