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Successful contractors set and keep expectations, communicate effectively, are organized, and build reliable teams that meet quality standards. There is a lot more to being a successful contractor, but these four traits will make you a hero to your customers.
Communication is a skill that you will use constantly as a successful contractor. You’ll need to effectively communicate with your team, clients, vendors, and subcontractors.
Many of your clients don’t have any idea what to expect when they’re having their project built. It’s up to you to set the expectations for what this process looks like. It is also critical to fill them in on all of the negative aspects of building or remodeling prior to starting the job.
If the customer will be living in the construction zone, communicate early about the precautions that you and your team will take to keep a clean and orderly site. Clear expectations build a foundation of trust and accountability that your business can profit from.
Recapping conversations and decisions made with clients will help prevent last-minute frustrated calls and texts. Misunderstandings happen and sometimes they’re hard to recover from. Ensuring clear and thorough communication up front will remove those issues down the road. Effective communication requires you to prioritize these phone calls and in-person check-ins to alleviate many of the misunderstandings that can occur.
Set working hours and response times upfront with your client. Make sure to leave yourself plenty of padding with timelines. If the client expects you to reach out to them every day and they only hear from you twice a week, you may find a frustrated customer. Set aside time every day to ensure you aren’t missing texts or emails that need your attention.
Successful contractors are organized, especially on job sites. This benefits both you and your client.
Organized site setup is always important, especially when partnering with other contractors. Ensure everyone is on the same page with what the safety and protection standards are for each job. For some contractors, this might involve floor coverings, dust covers, equipment-free zones, material storage, and more. Each job is different. Make sure you have the protection standards in place for any circumstance. If things do go wrong, you want to have a list of items you can look back to and see what worked and what didn’t.
Require your team and subcontractors to do daily cleanup. A clean, well-maintained construction site communicates your experience, mitigates injury or property damage, improves team morale, and it sets the standard for new team members.
If you can implement consistent site setup and organization standards, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a more successful contractor.
Learning your team's skills and limitations will make your business more successful. If a member of your crew or subcontractor is great at a particular task, let that be their specialty. Letting people excel in their areas of expertise is an important part of building a reliable team.
Finding capable leaders isn’t always about hiring the perfect candidate. Challenge the people you already have and cultivate their natural abilities. If you want to grow your business and team, you’ll need to replicate your skills and complement your weaknesses.
Enabling the success of leaders on your team requires:
Clearly defining their role and your expectations
Having confidence in their ability and skill set
Letting them own their role
Providing them with routine critical feedback and encouragement
If you want to grow beyond your abilities, you’ll need capable leaders to help you get there.
Another way to grow is with purposeful investment in your team. One of the best ways to empower your team to level up is by investing in training. Provide clear guidelines for them to meet quality and work standards. Call out quality work and continually reward the team and subcontractors around you. This is a huge morale boost and will help you retain and attract higher-quality workers and partners.
Successful contractors prepare for unexpected and worst-case scenarios. The construction industry is prone to scheduling delays, price fluctuations, and scope changes.
Accurate bookkeeping is necessary for your business to react to unexpected situations. It is important to know your costs and margins for each job. Knowing your numbers will help you prepare schedules, react to changes, and understand what is necessary to keep your business profitable. Make sure to include a margin for mistakes and unexpected expenses, it’s part of the cost of doing business.
Always include margin for changes in your schedule. Some things are outside of your control, make sure you point those factors out to your client so you’re not making promises for someone else. If you believe you can get a project done in three weeks, let the clients know that you expect it to take four or five weeks instead, but don’t promise an exact deadline. Timelines are exceptionally hard to meet, so give yourself some breathing room and keep your internal calendar separate from your external schedule.
Scheduling margins will help you adjust when the unexpected arises, enabling you to meet or exceed the expectations you’ve set for your client.
Communication, site management, team building, and preparing for the unexpected will result in more referrals, happier clients, deadlines being met, and attaining your financial goals.