Either you’re thinking of starting a contractor business or you’ve already taken the chance and struck out on your own. We’ve collected a quick list of the best tips from those who have gone before for running your new contractor business.
We’ve kept our tips general, as a sort of primer, but these are all topics that we explore in depth in the Know More section of our website. Hopefully, you can use this list as a springboard for more research and new ideas for your company.
In addition to software that simplifies your customer connection, there is software that simplifies your asset and labor management.
Procore is a suite of software for contractors, there are four main categories: Construction OS, Project Management, Quality & Safety, and Construction Financials. Procore is intended as a resource for medium to large contractors, but look over their software to find one that may save you time.
A management software built specifically for equipment owners, VisionLink gives you tracking data for machine runtime, fuel burn, profitability and more.
busybusy is a software that simplifies your time card collection and project bidding, coupled with our Equipment App; you can know where your team is and what they are working on. busybusy also integrates with Procore and VisionLink to give you a unified interface to your management software.
Keep Detailed Records
“It is essential, industry practice, and standard internal corporate policy for construction companies to maintain a project documentation system,” says Troy Stutton, Manager of the Contracts Group at Stanford University. “In addition to being a contract requirement in most large construction projects today, thorough and organized documentation throughout a project provides the only contemporaneous “memory” of what actually happened on the project.”
For example, a small construction company based in Memphis, Tennessee, reversed a termination for default of a $9.2 million contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers because of good record keeping.
With all this paperwork your office can quickly become overwhelmed with filing cabinets, that’s where a move to the cloud will help you. Make digital files of all your paperwork and keep it on a six-inch hard drive or save it online on a cloud-based server.
“Data gives you the ability to be relevant,” says John McDonald, vice-president of marketing, America, at British Airways. “Our approach is making sure we are leveraging the ability to be more relevant by using data to more effectively communicate across the customer journey. Spending the time and energy to understand it gives you credibility with your teams, your business colleagues, and your clients.”
Collect as much data from your completed projects as possible. End each project with a review, go over how your team performed, where improvements can be made, your project budget, and any complications you ran into. Tracking this data gives you more knowledge for increasing your profit margin for the next project you have to bid.
Connect with Your Customers
“There is a real imperative for companies to bring the customer front and center,” says Michelle Peluso, global consumer chief marketing and internet officer at Citigroup, a US multinational financial services corporation. “Increasingly in the digital world, the tools have evolved so you can bring the customer perspective much closer to the business.“
Your company website and email address have become vital for communication between you and your customers, but trends indicate that in the next three years, social media and mobile searches will surpass those channels. Construction companies, especially emerging or small team contractors, have shied away from technology to effectively reach customers.
There are two tools that your Office Manager can use to easily reach your potential customers.
Google offers a complete suite of free tools to manage your online marketing in-house. One of the most important is their AdWords platform. With the right setup, you can attribute your marketing budget to actual customer exposure and conversion. We recommend starting out with a small budget of $300 a month and increasing as you focus more on your target audience.
Likeable Local is a social media platform manager. It gives you one dashboard for all your social media platforms at an affordable monthly subscription. It also gives you some invaluable functions such as keyword tracking, post scheduling, reports, and social listening. They also include a free mobile app so you can manage your social posts from your smartphone.
Did we miss any important tips? What advice would you give a contractor just starting out?