3 Principles for a Better Construction Business

Better Construction Business

Construction challenges are nothing new. But the issues we’re now facing are different. Labor, materials, supply chain, and yes pandemics impact architectural construction business companies as much – maybe more – than contractors. 

One thing that never changes in any construction business is customer care. CX (customer experience) company Client Savvy notes if clients expect superior customer sat when buying an $8 box of chicken nuggets, shouldn’t they expect the same when spending $800,000 on a construction project?

Here are 3 best practices for AEC (architecture, engineering, construction) and construction business professionals:

1. Keep Project Planning Flexible

Remember, people are your most valuable resource. Respect clients’ and employees’ experiences equally using collaborative feedback. The ability to accommodate change will always be critical in construction business development, so be prepared to make adjustments quickly. No whining.

2. Prioritize Relationship-Building

If your CX is foundering, try going back to the beginning. Perhaps reviewing your company’s original mission statement and priorities is another way of going “back to the future.”

Signs you’re on the right track include:

  • Clients make efforts to compliment work
  • Employees take pride in their work
  • Fewer invoice disputes
  • Positive feedback
  • Referrals
  • Repeat business
  • You hear “thank you” a lot

3. Remember Marketing

When you have more business than you can handle it’s easy to let business development slide. Marketing is another way of communicating. It keeps you visible so when potential clients are thinking about project development, they will recognize your brand.

Customers may choose you, but you should also select the types of customers for which you want to work. Are their company values similar to yours? Understanding what motivates each customer is key to knowing if you can – or even want to – deliver.

Meanwhile, continue to nurture loyal clients. Following project phases and post-milestones use an email communications system that seeks their input. Asking long-time, as well as new clients for feedback, tells them you value the relationship.

Another important marketing tip is to consult Construction Monitor marketing pros for ideas and free marketing samples. Building permit data is often used to create marketing strategies that will create business. Ask us how. Contact Construction Monitor.

5 Ways Cameras Benefit Construction Industry Projects

construction cameras

Think about how often and the variety of ways we use cellphone cameras. Camera information enhances personal and professional activities almost daily.

Digital Imagery for Construction Industry Worksites

If you’re using free satellite imagery to monitor project sites… Well, you get what you pay for. The technology is often outdated and unreliable. Digital imagery technology is becoming critical to providing and managing construction industry solutions. The possibilities are exciting and seemingly endless.

Construction sites are chock-full of high-value equipment and materials. Most project sites are deserted at night and poorly lit; this is an invitation to thieves and vandals. Increasingly, jobsite surveillance is needed, and cameras are the visual technology we use.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) + Aerial Imagery (AI)

Aerial imagery is evolving, and construction industry contractors and stakeholders can monitor a project site without roadtrips. At its most basic, cameras offer better project safety and save time for managers.

Today, additional imagery tools can provide remote measurements. You can gauge length and width, area and radius offsite. Object detection and image segmentation are artificial intelligence aerial imagery tools used by engineers and land surveying professionals.

Five ways aerial imagery adds value to construction industry projects are:

  1. Client care – The value to take clients on a virtual tour of their projects is priceless. Some digital images provide site “immersion” and 3D models.
  2. Historical data – How has the topography changed over time and what seasonal disruptions are likely?
  3. Natural disasters – Monitor the effects of fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other disasters in real-time for a knowledge-based response. You can also appraise the level of damage and prioritize areas that need restoration/repair.
  4. Positioning – At-a-glance imagery can reveal bottlenecks and work stoppages. You can re-position workers and when supplies and materials are incoming, see the best locations for delivery.
  5. Verification – If you’re mid-review of documentation and there’s a question or concern, real-time images and/or historical photodata are readily available. Before-and-after incidents or accidents are captured for later evaluation.

Construction Monitor building permit data can provide a real-time picture of business leads in your area. Don’t miss an opportunity: Contact Construction Monitor.

Hot Tips for Summertime Construction Safety

Summertime Construction Safety

2022 will likely be one of the hottest years in recorded history. In June, thousands of cattle died from the extreme heatwave. A 67-year-old man ran out of gas and died as he sought road help. The temperature reached 123° that day.

Working outside will be more dangerous this year. Construction safety is always a priority, but this summer, increased vigilance will be needed by project supervisors, workers, and co-workers to spot HRI (heat-related illness) symptoms.

Keeping Your Cool: HRI Prevention

Heat-related illness “warning signs are tricky,” says Construction Business Owner. An outdoor worker might get a cramp or a wave of nausea. Or feel nothing. HRI is easy to discount; “I skipped lunch,” you might say. Or you feel bad because you’re “just having a bad day.”

One myth says if you’re perspiring, your body is doing its job and keeping you cool. Not true; you can overheat and suffer from HRI even if you’re sweating.

  • Drink, drink, drink WATER – Your body needs the sugar and salts found in foods. There are packets of hydration additives for bottled water available this year. But spend this summer walking around with a bottle of water; plain, old-fashioned water. Drink more water more often.
  • Eat healthy foods – Your Dr. Pepper® breakfast and bag of corn chips for lunch aren’t great on “normal” days and especially bad during a heatwave. Limit sugar, caffeine, and alcohol to keep your body better prepared for working outdoors. Another FYI (for your information): Fruits, veggies, and proteins in adequate amounts will keep you healthier than carbo-loading.
  • Understand health risks – Workers with ongoing medical conditions, older employees, over- or under-weight people… Some are more at risk for HRI than others. Learn about HRI and contributors to heat-related illness. Then encourage at-risk employees to learn more. Prevention truly is the best cure.

Technology Can Help

There are construction technologies with heat-monitoring abilities. Encouraging workers to seek physical fitness assessments this summer can reduce HRI risks. You may consider on-the-job education and share tips to prevent HRI:

  • Clothing
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Physical fitness
  • PPE (personal protective equipment)
  • Sweat rate

…and other factors that can impact work-related HRI.

Technology drives our company. Construction Monitor is an information source, and our core mission is to provide industry professionals with data analytics based on building permits and construction starts. To learn how to use our technology, call 435.586.1205 or contact Construction Monitor.

Solving Construction Challenges

Construction Challenges

What’s in a word? A lot. You once had construction problems. Very real construction problems. But now you have challenges.

A construction problem is an ordeal; a challenge is a call to arms. Grab your sword and begin problem-solving! Or challenge-managing.

Identifying & Solving Construction Problems

One of your problems is not enough time. T­­aking the time to implement automation software to better-manage time seems a bit redundant. But it will save time. And money. It will empower you to solve construction problems and even prevent them.

Construction project problems can include:

  • Connecting office (in-house) and project site teams – There are a lot of important communications that many people need. How many times each day do you repeat the same information to 3 or more different people? Software real-time updates flag all key project personnel with changes and updates.
  • Contract/document management – Your paper trail includes:
    • Agreements
    • Bids
    • Bills
    • Design/architecture
    • Permits
    • Safety reports
    • Timesheets
    • Work orders
    • …and hundreds more documents and contracts. Software standardizes everything from estimating to project management. It categorizes and stores much more you’re your paper-filled in-basket or cardboard boxes on your floor.
  • Keeping on-schedule – Our minds go from Point A’s completion to Point B’s initiation. That’s basic project management. But if you wait for one phase to be completed before you begin the next, you’ll slow the entire project. And if there’s a holdup in one phase, does that mean every phase is now operating on delay?
    Project management software provides visibility to project management so yes; you can walk and chew gum at the same time.
  • Risk/safety management – Software stores everything in one place. Policies and procedures, incident reporting, and safety training/implementations are easily accessible, shareable, and audit-ready. You can also identify safety risks: If it’s reported workers are doing something that could lead to injury, you can eliminate the risk and provide education quickly.
  • Staying within-budget – Software manages money. But it also provides shareable, visible information. A phase delay can lead to additional warehousing costs. Material shortages can trigger delays.
    Your software alerts you and you can communicate with clients to engage them in solutions: finding a different supplier, altering contracts. Fewer budget surprises make everyone happier.

We have software solutions that manage opportunities. To learn more, contact Construction Monitor.

Latest Construction Technology

construction technology

What’s included in construction technology? It’s drones, real-time cameras, and safety wearables. It’s also business management: accounting, contracts, payroll, taxes, permit documentation, etc. The technology your business needs is available when you need it.

This is a compilation of pain points that can be addressed with construction technology. Contributors include Autodesk, Procore, and Trimble.

Cybersecurity

Our reputation for being slow to embrace construction technology precedes us. And hackers have taken advantage of it.

What’s most vulnerable:

  • Company financials
  • Confidential contract information
  • Designs or blueprints
  • Employee data; social security numbers/bank information
  • Material pricing
  • Trade secrets

Robotics Alleviate Labor Shortage

With millennials hitting the acquisition stage of life, demand for new housing is high amid an unprecedented labor shortage. Part of the labor shortage problem is repetitive, mindless jobs are considered worse than unemployment.

One solution is to offer advancement and incentives to high-performance workers. Another solution is to use bots when possible to free workers for more critical tasks. It’s unlikely you’ll fire a bricklayer and replace her/him with a robot. It’s far more likely you’ll implement a hybrid solution: a bricklayer programming and monitoring the robot.

Robotics deliver high efficiency and speed as well as increase safety. And implementing this technology will be a magnet for a younger workforce.

Smart Construction Includes Smart Technology

You may say you can’t afford to implement the technology solutions you need just yet. But if you don’t know how to build smart, you’re in big trouble. DIRTT Environmental Solutions says connected infrastructure is one way you can build smart.

It’s no longer enough to install base-service technology (cabling, low-voltage networking, etc.); you need adaptable technology installations. Smart buildings adapt to technology upgrades without the need for ripping out walls and remodeling floors/ceilings.

  • Cabling services – manufactured to pre-defined lengths
  • Modular walls/access floors – Adaptable to accommodate modular cabling with simple plug-in connection points
  • Removable panels – Allow easy access to components that would typically be buried behind drywall
  • When change is required, power/network extension cabling can be disconnected/reconfigured

Smart construction technology also includes our marketing information. To find out how, when, and why, call 800.925.6085 (international/435.586.1205) or contact Construction Monitor.

Controlling Construction Spend

construction spending

Having construction expenses to manage at all is a relief after two years of wild on-again, off-again projects. It is the nature of our industry to have financial cycles, even when we’re working steadily.

However, 42% of us pay our subcontractors before our customers pay us. Later, cost overruns nibble away at profits. If you think in terms of win-lose, the customer wins, the subcontractors win, and hopefully you don’t lose. You just win less.

Controlling construction spend through software automation is a way to better manage projects’ financial outcomes.

How Automation Can Manage Construction Spend

Financial automation software tracks every dollar spent:

  • Accounts payable
  • Corporate cards
  • Employee expenses

…and more.

Automation increases control over construction spend through:

  • Real-time reporting – All projects stray off-budget, but automation software gets you back on track sooner. Knowing real-time status means decision-making is faster and more efficient. Cost overruns are caught earlier and finance teams save time looking for exceeding expenses; the software raises a red flag in real-time.
  • Time-saving money-management – Your finance team can save time reconciling expenses. The back-and-forth financial transactions between vendors, corporate cards, and general accounts payable are minimized plus the human-error factor is greatly reduced.
  • Workflow approval processes – An automated approval process gives you a handle on construction spend like nothing else. You can quickly go to the expenditure source with questions. It also creates an audit trail that – again – saves time for finance team members hunting and reconciling so they can provide insights and actual finance management rather than spending time on damage-control accounting.

When you’re able to see the big picture, construction spend and budgeting become knowledge-driven. You can make necessary adjustments quickly.

Construction Monitor Provides Money-Making Business Leads

We believe construction spend and money management software are necessary to grow your business. That’s why we offer information about software platforms. But you’ve got to make money in order to manage it.

Construction Monitor won’t endorse any brand of software except our own. Building permit software allows us to refine data you can use for business-building. Whether you’re seeking a mentor, considering new-start partnerships, or simply tracking competitors, we can give you data analytics pertinent to your area of the U.S.

Need to know more? We’re eager to share. Call 800.925.6085 (international/435.586.1205) or contact Construction Monitor.

Construction Building Materials: New Options

Construction Building Materials

The revolution of materials for new construction buildings is interesting, to say the least. And some hot ideas are emerging, like using molten lava bricks.

Iceland has a lot of volcanoes. We know they rumble and occasionally spew fiery lava that is housed beneath the earth’s surface. One architect began contemplating better use of natural resources. She thought if we drill for oil, a natural resource we refine and use for fuel, maybe we can drill for molten lava and use it as a construction building material.

Icelander Arnhildur Pálmadóttir and her company began researching ways to use molten lava as a building material in 2018. Her project is called Lavaforming. As the construction industry strives to reduce its carbon footprint, getting back to nature makes sense. Many countries have abundant, untapped natural resources.

“Think adobe for much of Africa, bamboo for China, and even agave waste for Mexico,” says architectural journalist Elissaveta M. Brandon.

While most of us think the concept of using lava as a construction material is wildly revolutionary, Pálmadóttir is surprised no one thought of it sooner. She has three ideas for how this would work:

  1. Natural eruption – An Icelandic volcano erupts an average of once every 5 years. Scientists could work on eruption forecasting and trenches could be pre-dug to redirect the expected lava flow. Since lava cools to solid rock, it could form foundations and even walls in the pre-designed trenches. This method could be used on any of the thousand-plus active volcanoes around the world.
  2. Geothermal energy – Deep underground, fiery volcano magma transfers heat to the earth’s mantle. Could that heat be harnessed to generate electricity?
  3. Magma extraction – Drilling and extracting the magma is another idea. The resource could be formed into bricks. Molten glass is already being used in 3D printing. Maybe molten lava would work, too.

We live in exciting times. Affordable and sustainable construction building material alternatives are becoming more common every year.

It’s an exciting time for construction business development as well. Maybe you need new marketing materials. We’ve got ideas and business-building tools. Call 800.925.6085 (international/435.586.1205) or contact Construction Monitor.

Updated Construction Industry Metrics That Matter

Construction Industry Metrics

This information originates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data gathered from private and public construction industry sectors. It includes information from other sites.*

  • Architecture billings – The ABI (Architecture Billings Index) benchmark for increased billings is 50, and in March 2022, it rose to 58. Inquiries and design contracts rose to 63.9 and 60.5, respectively. The spike “may reflect a desire to beat the continued interest rate hikes…,” said Economist Kermit Baker.
  • Confidence – With 50 as the number reflecting growth, the sales, profit margins, and staffing levels declined but remained above 50.
  • Jobs – The labor shortage continues to challenge the construction industry. There were 396,000 construction jobs available in March, and the quit rate was 3.2%, twice as high as layoffs and discharges.
  • Spending – For the first quarter of 2022, construction spending was up 12%, driven by residential construction, which is up 18.6%.

Construction Monitor Metrics Can Build Business (Yours)

Our construction industry information is delivered to you in an easy-to-manage format. It’s presorted according to your directions and marketing requirements. We also offer:

And person-to-person marketing support professionals with business-building ideas for you. To learn more, contact Construction Monitor.

Types of Construction Loans

construction loans

Construction loans are short-term financing arrangements between a lender and a property owner. Homeowners can choose from several types of construction loans:

  • Construction-only – This is a short-term, adjustable-rate loan.
  • Construction-to-permanent – This loan finances construction and then converts to a mortgage loan.
  • Owner-builder – These loans are only available to licensed contractor-homeowners or those who have proven, recent experience as a homebuilder.
  • Renovation – This is like a mortgage and can be based on the home’s value after renovation.

Construction companies can also take advantage of business construction loans.

About Business Construction Loans

Business construction loans are small business loans that cover hefty construction expenses, including materials, on-site facilities, temporary machine parts, and wages for crew members. fundera.com

As with homeowner construction loans, there are several types of financing options for construction business owners. You can choose from the best business construction loan type based on your company’s size, age, and loan eligibility:

  • Business credit cards – Construction companies at any level are eligible to apply for business credit cards. The construction company owner is responsible for monitoring employee use. It’s a good way to track spending and also a good way to build solid credit for future business construction loans.
  • Business line of credit – This loan is a good option for a growing construction company. The lender provides a set amount of money from which you draw when you need it. You make interest payments on the amount of money you withdrew.
  • Equipment financing – This is good for new construction companies. The lender loans 100% for your equipment purchase and the equipment serves as collateral.
  • SBA 7a – This is the Small Business Administration’s most common loan and its requirements are stringent and well-established construction companies qualify easier. The loan can only be used for:
    • Debt consolidation
    • Equipment purchase
    • Working capital
  • SBA CDC/504 – This CDC/504 government-backed loan is best for established construction companies. Loan qualification requirements are stringent. The money can only be used for fixed assets:
    • Construction/renovation/converting
    • Leasehold improvement
    • Machinery/equipment
    • Real estate, land/existing buildings

Building permit information can provide a money trail for your city or state. For access to the largest and most refined U.S. construction information data, contact Construction Monitor.