How to Help Your Construction Business Grow More Efficiently
Written by Megan Hamilton
December 15, 2022
Growing a successful construction business is similar to another great blue-collar industry: farming.
Farmers and construction business owners both put in tons of work upfront, but it takes a while to see growth. Fortunately, you can help your construction business grow faster and more efficiently. How? Take another tip from farmers.
They fertilize their crops and treat them for harmful pests to help the plants grow. Likewise, you must invest in things that are good for your business and remove things that are holding you back.
Here are seven ways to do that.01
Maximize your profitability
This may sound obvious—which is why we’re starting here. When you’re trying to grow your company, don’t overlook the obvious. The more profitable you become, the more money you have to reinvest in the business. So crunch the numbers.
Examining your profitability can help you find your sweet spot. Do you profit the most on certain types of jobs? Do you want to focus solely on those, making your business more specialized? Or can you find ways to make other jobs equally profitable?
Likewise, analyze your costs and revenue. Maybe costs have crept up, or you didn’t have time to look for cheaper alternatives before. Maybe you’ve bid low to drum up business, but you want to charge what your services are worth. Maybe you’ve had trouble estimating and found yourself over budget on some jobs.
Almost every construction business feels these growing pains at some point, whether you’ve been in business for one year or 10. That’s why it’s good to periodically evaluate your profitability, revenue, and estimating to make sure you’re on the right track.
Randy Blount, owner of Blount Contracting, teaches fellow construction business owners how to do all three:02
Amp up your marketing
When you start a construction business, trumpets don’t sound and prospective clients don’t magically learn your name. They don’t know you exist. You have to market your business to reach potential clients and teach them what sets you apart.
To be blunt, most construction business owners aren’t good at marketing. And there are several reasons why:
- You don’t have time.
- You’re not sure why it matters.
- You’re not sure how to do it “right.”
- You think your reputation should be enough.
- Marketing’s just not your thing.
Those are all valid. But when you start a construction company, marketing must become your thing, because it’s the key to growing your business. You have to get your company’s name out there and help potential customers see why they should work with you. To do that, you go where the people are—online.
Fortunately, online marketing is easier than you may think. Marketing expert Marcus Sheridan has a helpful video course that teaches you the basics of marketing your construction company online. You can get started in under five minutes.03
Refine your recruiting process
The Dirt World is facing a massive people problem, and it’s hard to grow your business when you can’t find enough people (or the right people) for your crews.
Whether you’re shorthanded or trying to attract a more professional caliber of crew member, you can likely solve your people problems by refining your recruiting program. You can start doing these five things right now to attract good recruits:
- Build a social media presence. That’s where the next generation of the workforce hangs out—so be present on social media and post jobs there.
- Expand your recruiting pool. The people who have 10+ years of experience already have jobs. So expand your recruiting pool to include people with little to no experience. Make your company more attractive to women and veterans. Essentially, be willing to give people a chance and train them up in the industry.
- Create entry points into the industry, and teach people about them. Many young people would love to work in the Dirt World, but they don’t know how to start. Create programs to help inexperienced recruits enter the industry—and then advertise those programs.
- Be candid. All the myths about construction—like it’s hard, it’s not a real career, or college is better—steer people away from the industry. You can change that. Be honest about the negatives, but also illuminate the positives. When people can weigh the pros and cons fairly, they’re more likely to choose a construction career. (They’re also more likely to want to work for you, because your honesty won their trust.)
- Showcase your current employees. Many people choose the same career as their friends or family, because they relate to someone in that job and they can see themselves doing it, too. If they don’t know any construction workers, you have to show them what the job is like. Have an employee spotlight section on your website, or create social media posts where your employees share what they like about the industry, their job, or your company.
For more advice on how to attract great workers, check out these resources:04
4. Train your team to increase productivity
Productivity is one of the biggest drivers of growth in any construction business. You need projects to stay on schedule and on budget in order to build a good brand reputation. That brand is how you win bids from new clients and get repeat business and referrals.
Your crew members and leadership team achieve peak productivity through good training. Training helps eliminate the problems that cause low productivity, like safety hazards, poor leadership, and frequent machine downtime and crew mistakes.
Good safety and role-specific training teach crew members how to help solve these problems—thus reducing costs, rework, and stoppages. Likewise, good leadership training helps your leadership team better manage crews and projects to achieve greater productivity.
Training also helps good crews work even more efficiently. When jobs run smoother, you can do more work in the same amount of time. You build a reputation for efficiency, that reputation becomes part of your brand, and people hire you based on that brand.
Learn more about maximizing productivity with these articles and videos:05
Build a good company culture
Good culture makes a pleasant workplace, but how does it help your construction business grow?
First, it helps with recruiting. People want to work for companies that treat them with respect and value them as whole people who have lives outside of work. A healthy company culture attracts workers who want to be healthy people.
It also helps build a good brand and win you more business. When clients see that you keep jobsites clean, treat employees well, prioritize safety, and so on, they’ll want to work with you even if you’re not the cheapest bid. Most clients would rather pay more for a first-class experience than deal with somebody who seems not to care.
It’s easy to let company culture slide in the early days when everyone’s working hard to get the business going. But it’s never too late to evaluate your culture and start reshaping it into what you want it to be.
If you feel like your company culture is already pretty solid, that’s great! Your goal is to learn how to keep it that way—and make it even better.
Our BuildWitt Leaders have created these tools to help you create a good company culture:06
Be willing to change and adopt new technology
You’ve finally gotten the company to a place where it’s relatively stable, and you don’t want to rock the boat.
But what if rocking the boat could make your business better?
Remember that for a seed to become a plant, the seed must split open and separate from its old husk. Likewise, something in your business may need to change for the business to keep growing.
Maybe you need to invest in a new construction technology that’ll make your crew members’ work easier. Maybe you need to invest in new business technology that’ll automate back-office tasks and help your team communicate. Maybe a process that worked when your company was small is no longer serving you, and now you need to do something different.
Or—this one’s really hard—maybe you need to have a tough conversation with somebody on your team who’s hard to get along with, but they’ve gotten away with it because they were there during the early days.
Take stock of where your company is, where you want it to be, and what obstacles are in the way. Then look for ways you can overcome those challenges.
How can you budget for that new equipment? How can you thoughtfully invest in the software and technology that’ll make the back-end of the business run smoother? How can you get the team onboard with a new process? How can you get that lone wolf to become a teamplayer?
We’ve pooled some of our best resources to help you in these areas:07
Invest in your own growth
You pour your heart and soul into your business, and it’s amazing how much that reflects on the company’s growth. If you’re struggling for a prolonged period of time, it’s a good chance that your business is suffering right along with you. And if you’re growing? Your business becomes much more nimble and able to handle whatever comes its way.
A great place to start investing in yourself is with your professional growth. What are your strengths and weaknesses as a leader or a business operator? How can you become better at those things?
Include personal growth in your plan, too. One of the ten commandments of being a business owner is, “Thou shalt get a life.” Do something that’s good for you, and do it just for you. Some ideas could be:
- Take walk
- Find a workout program you enjoy
- Read a fiction book for just for the fun of it
- Learn to meditate so you get daily quiet time
- Take up a new hobby (bonus points if you find something you can do with friends or family)
You need good people around you to help you be the healthiest, best version of yourself you can be.
The funny thing is, your business will grow even more when you care for yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—whatever that means to you. Because here’s the thing: when the Big Boss is at their best, it inspires everyone else to be their best. And when everyone is bringing their A-game, you create an unstoppable wave of positive growth.
Learn how to grow personally and professionally from the best:
Written by Megan Hamilton
December 15, 2022