The housing crisis resulted in a severe contractor shortage in Florida, reports the SunSentinel. Now is the perfect time to start a general contracting business because the housing market in the Sunshine State has recovered from the recession and needs skilled hands to staff housing and development projects from Tallahassee to the Everglades.
To practice as a general contractor in the state of Florida, you must obtain a contractor license. Without it, you can’t accept jobs or submit bids legally. If you’ve worked in the construction industry for at least four years or obtained an equivalent education, you can simply study for and take the exam.
Start and Fund a Business
With your contractor license in hand, you can start a general contracting business. Unless you have significant financial resources, you’ll want to borrow money to fund your enterprise. Contractors need tools, equipment, supplies, materials, employees, and other assets if they hope to compete with other companies.
Whether you approach your bank, a credit union, or the Small Business Administration for a loan, you’ll need a business plan. This document should detail every aspect of the business you intend to run, from the services you’ll offer to a market analysis survey. If you need help writing a business plan, consider working with a consultant or seeking guidance from your local Chamber of Commerce.
Get Bonded and Insured
Contractors must protect themselves and their customers. Since construction is fraught with dangers, from workplace accidents to inadvertent mistakes, most residential and commercial customers will require you to show evidence that you’re bonded and insured.
A liability insurance policy covers any damages that might result from your work at a construction site, while a surety bond covers any work you don’t complete for a client. You might also need workman’s compensation insurance, commercial vehicle insurance, business owner’s policies, and industry-specific insurance.
Practice Continuing Education
Even after you hang out your shingle as a general contractor, you must continue your education in the industry. Standard practices change from year to year, especially with regard to technology and energy efficiency.
Prepare an Occupational Handbook
Every contractor needs rules and regulations for his or her crew to protect clients, workers, and equipment. Use this document to address safety, materials handling protocols, customer service expectations, and other details you want your staff to know.
Some general contractors hire full-time employees (especially when it comes to skilled labor), while others hire independently for each project. How you operate depends on the type of work you perform and the size of your business. When you first start a general contracting business, you might want to hire independent contractors who work on a per-project basis.
Advertise Your Business
Setting up your business’s website should become your top priority. According to Yelp, 85 percent of consumers rely on the Internet to find local service providers rather than the Yellow Pages or other offline sources.
Asking your customers for referrals also helps you expand your business. Consumers trust their friends, family members, and coworkers to recommend trustworthy businesses, so make sure all your clients have plenty of business cards to pass around.
Starting a general contracting business takes time, but it’s worth the effort when you establish it as a prime candidate for Florida construction projects. If you’re thinking about becoming a general contractor or if you need to perform your continuing education requirements, start your course now.