2017 is nearly upon us, and it’s the time of year when business owners begin to take stock of how their company has performed and make plans for the future. If you’re in the building industry, you’ll probably find things slow down over Christmas, giving you a chance to catch your breath and strategise for the coming year.
What does 2017 hold in store for your company? It’s time to make your 2017 resolutions. Here are our ten resolutions for the construction and building industry:
1. I resolve to … finish my website
Builders and construction companies are notorious for having clunky, out-of-date or simply non-existent websites. And while you may think a website is totally superfluous and no one would ever look at it, you haven’t dealt with the reality of the situation.
If you want to locate a construction company within a certain area, I'm not going to go to the yellow pages or check an ad in the newspaper. I'm going to type in "building company in <insert here>" into Google and see what comes up. And if your company doesn't show up, or I click on your link and discover an outdated, incomplete website, you miss out on business.
Your website doesn’t need to be expensive or include any fancy widgets - it just needs to be a few pages explaining your company, the services you offer, and some images of beautiful buildings you worked on. Contact a local design firm - or a family member who is a whiz with graphics - to make you something to fit your needs.
2. I resolve to … get savvy with job management
You know how six bits of wood fit together to make a bookshelf, but you have no idea how to track your time or expenses for constructing that bookshelf. The bookshelf invoice sits in your truck for months before you remember to give it to the client, and it then goes unpaid for months until your accountant gives you the nudge.
Is it time you investigated more streamlined ways of managing jobs at your company? Have a look at what WorkflowMax can do for your firm, or check out some of our construction case studies to see how ordinary firms are using the cloud to grow and thrive.
3. I resolve to … look after my health
Construction is hard, physical work. You are constantly bending, lifting, moving and hammering - and all this takes a toll on your body. Add in a tendency to snack on unhealthy foods like takeaways, cakes and biscuits during the day, and you have yourself a recipe for the kind of early retirement you DON’T want.
What are you going to do to improve your health in 2017?
Pack more healthy lunches - give up the fish n’ chips and greasy pies for some baked chicken or a roasted vege salad. Check out Mark’s Daily Apple for some healthy, manly primal food.
Slop on some sunscreen and wear your favourite hat, to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.
Drink more water; at least 2L per day.
Get in some serious exercise - while being active outdoors helps you keep fit and healthy, you should top it up with more strenuous exercise. Try running or biking to a job site, instead of taking the car, or heading to a Crossfit gym after work - it’s great fun and a mean workout.
4. I resolve to … set my company apart
With hundreds of construction companies in any one area, all fighting for the same jobs, it can sometimes seem like it’s impossible to get ahead. So much about this industry is word-of-mouth, so most of your marketing should be based around trying to get people to talk about you.
In 2017, think about how you can make your company stand out from your competitors. A great example was a local builder in my area, Stuart, who gives each new client a “Welcome Home” pack to celebrate the beginning of their build. It’s a hamper filled with wine, treats, a stressball (since the building process is quite stressful), some luxury bath products (see previous point) and a bunch of magazines and brochures to help the client get excited about their dream. It costs him practically nothing and results in some very happy (and chatty) clients.
You don’t have to be anything as fancy as this. One of WorkflowMax’s customers, T3 Group, explain that simply showing up for the job at the date and time they say is helping them to stand out from competitors through consistently delivering the most efficient service. “It gives us a real competitive advantage.” says David Maher, T3 Group’s CFO, “Tradesmen are notorious for turning up late to jobs. WorkflowMax helps us a heck of a lot to not do that. It’s a simple thing, but if you can be the one guy in the industry that just shows up on time and gets the job done, it gives us a real competitive advantage.”
5. I resolve to … stop showing my builder’s crack
I know, you have a hard job to do, and you can’t do it in a top-hat and tails. But that doesn’t mean you have to show up on site every day looking like a total slob. For 2017, you could invest in a bit of branded kit for you and your team, so you can show up to a new site looking professional and trustworthy.
6. I resolve to … pay it forward with an apprentice
Trades and practical work still run on the apprenticeship model, and that’s as it should be. You can’t go to university and learn how to build a house - the only way is to work alongside an experienced tradesman for several years and learn techniques firsthand.
Yet many construction firms baulk at taking on apprentices. “We can’t afford them,” they say, “They’re all terrible - we want experienced guys.” They moan. What they don’t realise is that they’re shortchanging themselves - when the old school retire, there will be no skilled tradesman to take their place.
How many apprentices are you taking on? Make it a goal for 2017 to train up the next generation, and pass your skills on to be used into the future.
7. I resolve to … invest in professional development
Some builders run with the attitude of, “I’ve done my apprenticeship - I work on site every day. I know what I’m doing. So why do I need any more training?” But the truth is, new products come on the market all the time, and acquiring new skills - whether that’s mastering a new product, or learning more about health and safety, business management or bookkeeping, help you to improve both as a company and as a person.
What professional development opportunities are coming your way in 2017?
8. I resolve to … take health & safety seriously
Governments across the world are cracking down on health and safety, and workers are starting to stand up for their rights and demand a safe workplace. How safe is your site? Does your team have a good culture around health & safety, or are they derisive of tools and systems designed to prevent accidents. Perhaps 2017 is the year you change this attitude and focus on bringing down the number of accidents on your sites to zero.
Things to look at around health & safety:
- Check all your PSE gear is up to code and replace or repair what isn’t.
- Look over records of previous accidents - do you notice any patterns? Are there ways of preventing or decreasing the occurrences of common accidents?
- What is your health & safety induction process like? Can it be improved?
- Look at your on-site processes. Is there anything you can improve on?
- Can you get a health and safety audit from an outside body? A fresh set of eyes will help you identify hazards and safer work methods.
- What is your health and safety culture like? Work on ways to make workers more aware of theirs and others safety.
9. I resolve to … embrace networking
Networking isn’t some slimy business word coined by used-car salesmen - it’s simply people talking to and helping other people, sharing ideas and tips and occasionally contacts and referrals. Construction is a referral business that relies on word-of-mouth to generate clients, and having a strong network of fellow business owners and previous clients who can share your name around will ensure you continue to have business for the rest of the year!
Here are some quick networking tips for the building industry:
Pair up with other businesses whose services complement yours: plumbers, electricians, drain layers, architects, etc.
After a successful job, send your client a basket of goodies or a bottle of wine, along with a stack of business cards and a request for them to refer you on to anyone needing a builder.
Join networking breakfast groups like BNI or Business Over Breakfast. These groups are a great way to build a solid “sales team” of business owners who can refer you to anyone needing a builder.
10. I resolve to … have the best year yet!
If you’re serious about taking your company to the next level, then 2017 is your year! The global economy is improving, more people are excited about investing in construction, and more innovative products are entering the marketplace and making your work more exciting. There’s never been a better time to be a builder (unless you count the builder who got the contract for the Great Pyramid of Giza - employing more than 100,000 for 20 years. Sweet!), so throw on your boots, pick up your hammer and make it happen in 2017.
What are your goals and resolutions for 2017?