Being a contractor is one thing; building a construction business in Oregon is something altogether different. The Oregon Construction Contractors Board shows prospective clients whether you’re licensed and gives them an outlet for complaints. But staying on good terms with the Board is only a fraction of making your business grow.
There’s more to it than bidding jobs and going to work. Your business is a multifaceted entity, and it needs a broad-scope business plan. Here are a few elements to weave into your strategy and build the strong framework of a thriving construction business.
#1: Watch the Competition Closely
You know the old saying, “Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.” The competition might not be your literal enemy, but they vie for the same contracts as you. So you need to know how they operate.
Scoping out the competition lets you stay on track and know whether you’re competitive. You can learn from their successes as well as their struggles, and incorporate those lessons into your own business.
#2: Learn From Previous Jobs
A post-job conference is a great way to understand your own successes and struggles in a clearer light, which lets you learn from them, too. Construction Business Owner calls them “project autopsies.” Consult with the client and expect total honesty. Because that’s how you build a reputation for excellence. While the job is still active you’ll also need a method for tracking feedback, such as month-end reports, so that you can evaluate it.
Consulting within your own company at job’s end also gives you important insight. Where workers are frustrated with an aspect of a job, you have the opportunity to improve. That carries the added benefit of boosting morale. Employees or subcontractors that feel like they have a voice are more likely to stick around.
#3: Prefab Work Wherever Possible
A great money-saving device is prefab as much of a project as you can. When assembly and fabrication work is performed on a job site, construction costs can creep up. Make use of the shop yard, and you’ll cut down on labor costs.
This only works for some elements of a job, but every little bit helps. Contractors who handle electrical, plumbing and mechanical jobs can manufacture at least part of their materials at the shop, and create a lean process that makes your company more efficient.
#4: Make Cash Flow a Priority
No one goes into business just for the heck of it, so money should be a priority. Specifically, money owed to you. Every contractor has horror stories about a client who stops paying their builder. So before you develop bad money management habits, set in place a firm process for collecting what’s owed to you.
This might be in the form of a contract, which would also help give you a better leg to stand on in the unfortunate event that you wind up in court. However you approach it, set your terms clearly and have your processed ironed out well in advance.
#5: Focus on Retaining Good Talent
A construction business is only as good as its employees and trade contractors. So you’ll need a strong pre-screening process in place. Just as workers want to avoid the “just a warm body” stigma, you want to know that they really are as capable as you need them to be.
A strong pre-screening process helps you sift through and select the very best. And once you have them, you want to keep them. Competition is fierce. Construction Business Owner stresses that the best method includes “training, personnel development, structured incentive compensation, and long-term deferred compensation” to sustain your company and help it grow.
Oregon-based construction companies are already bound by the state’s regulatory authority and administrative rules. But the work doesn’t end there. If you want to stand out as one of the best in the industry, you need to think of your overall business structure.
An ear to the ground, an eye to improvement, and a head for money and talent go a long way toward building your construction business. Factor in continuing education credits, and you’ve got the framework for a business that’s going places. When your next course requirements are due, see what PDH Contractors can do for you. Check out our courses; we make staying current simple.