Busy But Broke

construction business

All of us have different goals, but the common denominator for every construction business is this: We want more (more money, more work, more time off – with pay, more leads, more bids, and more resume-building wins).

The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem
you had last year.
-John Foster Dulles

Busywork: Chipping Away Construction Business Profits

If you want more construction business, first get yourself in a position to manage it. Many companies say they are busier than ever. Being busy can be a trap for construction business management.

It “keeps key people overworked…without time to plan, prepare, think, manage…” says George Hedley.

Being busy sometimes means issues aren’t documented properly and communications aren’t shared with necessary team members and stakeholders. When you’re too busy, you’re forced to make decisions without the necessary information.

“Busy” doesn’t make more money. In fact, it can erode profits. It’s time to leave putting out fires to the fire professionals and to make more profit.

Here are some tips:

  1. Admit you need more help – Overworked employees (and you) make mistakes. Get some support and stop asking everyone to do more. What’s not getting done? You can better balance your construction business by shuffling assignments and adding personnel, not subtracting.
  2. End overtime – It’s a money drain and working 50+ hours/week reduces productivity and morale.
  3. Stop bidding every job in the pipeline – Bid better. Carefully analyze and bid on the right kind of projects for the right customers against worthy competitors.
  4. Make pre-project planning standard – Once you’ve won the bid, hold a pre-project meeting with the estimator, project manager, superintendent/foreman, etc. Review the bid, project requirements, and:
  • Contract
  • Estimates
  • Schedule
  • Scope
  • Subcontractors
  • Suppliers

Then allow time to prepare:

  • Construction work plan
  • Crew requirements
  • Equipment needed
  • Schedule
  • Working budget

Never sacrifice quality and professionalism because you’re “busy.” Review meetings can examine your construction business performance. They allow you to make changes sooner when changes can still make a profit margin difference.

Construction Monitor is the ultimate lead source for your construction business. Contact or email us to learn more about making more profit.

Measuring Progress for Construction Projects

construction projects

Why is it important to track progress on construction projects? One very important reason is to prove to investors, stakeholders, and other important sources of support that you’re making progress. And you’ve got the numbers to prove it.

Another reason is to provide reinforcement to the troops. Your workers will see through false encouragement, but when you provide them with the metrics proving they’re doing a good job – and making progress – it’s the best motivator you have.

Tracking Methodologies for Construction Projects

Key metrics for construction projects are:

  • Compliance
  • Deliverables
  • Milestones
  • Spending

Too often, we emphasize the required tasks without analyzing the results. “…Teams are watching the wrong signs and metrics. Instead of leading indicators, which might warn of problems before they happen, these teams may focus on lagging indicators…flagging issues when it’s too late,” says process improvement professional Lori Benson.

Measuring Metrics for Construction Projects

Here are some types of metrics used for construction projects:

  • Cost ratio – This measurement is based on the dollars budgeted vs. labor hours. Example: The overall progress of the project was 42%. The contractor earned 42% of the overhead and fees.
  • Experience/opinion – This method is obviously subjective and not recommended; it can cause conflict between project managers, owners, contractors, or architects.
  • Incremental milestones – Aka the “steps” method for subtasks that need to be completed in a certain order. You calculate each step and the amount of time needed to complete each step. Each completion is an incremental milestone.
  • Start/finish – This is good for short-time tasks. Examples: load testing, flushing/cleaning, pipes. You measure the percentage of completion. Some teams use these length-of-time milestone metrics:
    • 0/100
    • 20/80
    • 50/50
  • Units completed – This is great for task-tracking, especially repetitive jobs. Example: We have 100 light fixtures. Each light fixture takes the same amount of installation time. Units to measure: 100.
  • Weighted/equivalent units – This requires more effort but gets the thumbs-up from many construction projects. Tasks’ measurements are calculated and divided into sub-tasks and their varying units of measurement.

We’re curious to know which progress measurements you use for construction projects.

Construction Monitor is interested in the most up-to-date methodologies for construction projects. Call 800-925-6085 or contact Construction Monitor for data that drives business development.

Reduce Waste for Your Construction Business

construction business

“Haste makes waste.” “Waste not; want not.”

Wasting time, labor, materials… For a construction business, waste means fewer profitable projects or worse. A good question we should be asking ourselves is, “Why do we waste so much?”

A more important question is, “How can my construction business waste less to earn more?”

Construction Business Technology Drives Efficiency

“Rework costs, including labor, materials, equipment and subcontractors can run from 2%-20% of a project’s total contract amount. That equates to an estimated total of $15 billion a year,” says communications professional Eric Harris. The construction industry also generates 39% of global carbon emissions; a lot of it is due to waste.

If you’ve implemented processes to increase productivity and efficiency, good for you. But if your construction business team is ignoring the amount of waste you’re generating as well as the amount of energy you lose to reworks and runarounds, you’re only tackling part of the problem.

BIM (building information modeling) is a process utilizing technology to digitally generate and manage construction business projects. This streamlines production in theory but sometimes fails in reality.

Ordering more materials “just in case” is a prime example of wasteful working practices we need to manage. Most companies don’t even realize how much waste they were generating until they get the technology to measure it.

Here are 3 examples of companies that used technology to reduce waste:

  1. A project timeline was shortened from 120 to 42 days at a cost savings of $500,000 by using a materials management system and modern technology vs. manual methodology.
  2. An excavation operations construction business worked 41% faster with 75% increased accuracy when machine-control technology was introduced.
  3. Working from 2D drawings, one company averaged 10%-15% waste in rebar fabrication. Using constructible models, 99% of the rebar was fabricated correctly.

Construction Monitor Generates Profits

Construction Monitor is the construction business resource for accurate, timely, and geographically complete building and solar permit information in the United States. Our construction leads help building professionals, general contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers reach new customers

 Contact us today.

What is Lean Construction?

lean construction

Working “lean” is a business principle for reducing waste and increasing profits. It can apply to any industry.

Lean construction has been slow to develop, according to the Lean Construction Institute (LCI). But construction technology developments are making this practice easier to implement and therefore more attractive to construction business owners and managers.

How Does Lean Construction Work?

Lean construction shares the same 5 business principles as lean manufacturing:

  1. Identify value
  2. Map the value stream
  3. Create better flow and fewer bottlenecks
  4. Establish a pull-planning system
  5. Seek perfection and continuously adjust principles 1-4.

The most basic residential renovation has thousands of documents and pieces of information. Today, it’s impossible to manage without technology.

Value stream mapping approaches the job from the customer’s point of view and explains the value possibilities and how you’re maximizing them. “Necessary materials, labor, and other supplies are identified before each stage of work,” says PlanGrid “…rather than during the fray or only after bottlenecks create delays.”

Lean construction principles reduce waste:

  • Defects/reworks due to lack of skilled/trained labor, outdated information, etc.
  • Excessive inventory ordered “just in case”
  • Extra materials processing (dimensional lumber cutting, assembly of trusses never used anyway)
  • Unnecessary transportation of unnecessary materials, workers, or equipment to a jobsite
  • Wasted time due to unnecessary distances between worksite locations and/or poor storage sites

Benefits of Lean Construction

The new generation of workers is invested in your company. They will appreciate lean construction business principles and take pride in working for your organization. They’ll delivery higher quality work. You’ll also realize higher quality work by virtue of early problem-solving to reduce rework.

Advanced pull-planning encourages effective risk management.

You sometimes know when a project is designed with a formula for failure. Walk away before you waste time, lose money, and lower morale. Remember, you’re seeking higher profit margins and greater ROI (return on investment). You’re using lean construction business principles.

Information You Need

Business permit data sorting is time-consuming. Construction Monitor does that for you. Call 800.925.6085 (International/435.586.1205) or contact us today to learn more about using business permit data to increase profits.

Cyberattack: The Other Virus

While we’re developing processes to protect workers from each other during a pandemic, we may be lowering our defenses against other viruses. Cyberattacks are becoming more cause for concern in the construction business, but we’re taking fewer steps to mitigate cybersecurity.

Construction Companies and Cyberattacks

“Hackers are increasingly going after construction companies,” said Zachary Phillips of Construction Dive. And construction companies are often underprepared for an attack. “The disconnect between the field and the office can create lapses that hackers can exploit, and there are more chances employees can make mistakes.”

How They Hack

Hackers will pose as subcontractors. They’ll message construction business A/R (accounts receivables) or accountants and claim to have a new routing number.

Another hack is to email an employee at 4:00 p.m. on a Friday, just as things are wrapping up for the weekend. The hacker will ask for vital information and hope the employee is too distracted to see the red flags.

5 Clues You’re Being Hacked

“Odd-sounding” wording and spelling mistakes are often clues to a potential hack. Other indicators your construction business may be the victim of a cyberattack can include:

  1. Action pop-ups – One of the more successful pop-ups says, “You’ve won! Click here to claim your prize!” A more deadly pop-up is “Your files have been encrypted. Send $1,000 by noon tomorrow or we’ll delete the key.” It’s called “ransomware.” Even if you send the money, you may not get the key.
  2. Crashes – Uploaded malware can cause crashes or slow-running equipment.
  3. Mass emails – Employees not known for sending mass emails about anything suddenly send one to the entire organization.
  4. Network performance – Your construction business router or network slows substantially. A hacker is downloading large amounts of information or connecting to your network.
  5. Unusual activity – You see activity at vacant workstations. Working employees may notice their cursors move or programs and files open “by themselves.”

Construction Business Intelligence for Our Industry

Your construction business has technology options to maximize efficiency, including cybersecurity software. Make one of your new year resolutions to explore cybersecurity options for your company. You may think you’re “not big enough” to be a target, but you’re wrong.

Construction Monitor uses business intelligence data to help your organization work smarter and more competitively. Contact us today.

Construction Contractors and Business Relationship-Building

Construction Contractors

There are exceptions to every rule but many believe there are innate differences between most men and most women. One pandemic-quarantined man bemoaned, “If I have to talk about my feelings with my wife one more time, I may kill myself.”

Construction contractors are diverse men and women of every cultural and educational background but there’s one thing they all need to do: Construction contractors should build relationships in the construction industry.

When construction contractors focus on relationship-building, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re sharing their feelings. It means they’re creating a positive customer experience. Engaged, satisfied customers can lead to more work, more business connections, and more money.

Successful Construction Contractors Build Positive Customer Experiences With Every Touch

Relationship-building is just as important as building houses and infrastructure. Your website, project sites, cellphone conversations, even your leave-a-message message “touch” potential clients.

Here are some relationship-building tips for construction contractors that strategize for industry success:

Open, Responsive Lines of Communication

How many lines of communication do you have? Does someone have to blow dust off a laptop to discover you have online requests for information? Is your cellphone mailbox full?

There shouldn’t be any dead-ends in your lines of communication. Lines of communication include:

  1. Cellphone calling
  2. Cellphone texting/messaging
  3. Email
  4. Snail mail
  5. Your business website

And every line of communication should be open and responsive.

Say What You Mean; Mean What You Say

Probably the best advertisement for your business is a reputation for honesty. It’s sometimes called “transparency.” If you can’t answer a client’s questions now, let them know when you will respond. And do it.

Construction contractors that lowball bids and then try to make it up mid-project get the kind of reputation you don’t want. The same goes for promising quality and delivering shoddy work.

Being honest – transparent – should be the easiest thing to be for most companies. If not, they won’t survive beyond this generation of buyers and builders.

Customer Satisfaction Is Key

If you’re about to enter a relationship with a customer you are 99% sure isn’t going to be happy no matter what you do, walk away. Just one disappointed client can put some big chips in the goodwill you’ve worked so hard to build.

Put Technology to Work for You

You can work faster and smarter when you use technology. Construction Monitor has business development technology for relationship building and lead generation. Don’t delay. Communicate with us today.

Using Big Data for Construction Business Development

Construction Business Development

You hear terms like “actionable insights,” “business intelligence,” and “tools” but they’re not talking about screwdrivers, IQ, or 5-year plans. Big data is a reality impacting every segment of the construction industry.

When it comes to construction business development and management, what you don’t know can hurt you.

Construction Business Development: Managing Information

Let’s talk about one large construction project.

  • The project involves approximately:
    • 130 million emails
    • 55 million documents
    • 12 million workflows
  • 13% of construction teams’ working hours are spent looking for project data/information
  • 95.5% of all data captured goes unused
  • 30% of engineering/construction companies use software apps that don’t integrate with one another

Building a Better Toolbox

The “right tools” are what you need to manage big data, and more importantly, increase business opportunities. For many years, some construction industry-related organizations simply avoided the issue. (They may be out of business by now.)

But what are the right tools?

Your first task is to admit your current data is all over the place. Gather the information you have from various employees’ hard drives, blueprints, log sheets, PDFs, cloud storage, and even Rolodexes (Yes, some still use them.) and “integrate” the data into one location.

‘We’re Looking for It…’

If you could harness the time spent by various teams “looking for” information, you’d be able to corral the next decade. Follow the leaders in the construction industry and switch to:

  • BIM (building information modeling)
    • Collaboration
    • Automated workflows between employees and stakeholders
    • Supplier collaboration for transactions
  • Connected jobsites
  • Equipment locators/tracking
  • Geolocators
  • Materials movements
  • Prefabrication methods
  • Tracking sensors
  • Virtual reality
  • Wearables

The Best Business-Building Tool for Construction Business Development

Analytics software for your business depends on the size of your organization and growth trends. But knowledgeable business development for the construction industry depends on Construction Monitor. We analyze between 8,000-12,000 new building permits every week.

“I hear people say there aren’t many jobs,” said one Construction Monitor representative, “And I then retrieve real-time, local construction business development information in minutes.”

The jobs are there. 

We’re not “just selling” construction business development information. We’re selling the support and business-building tools that go with it. Contact Construction Monitor to learn more about construction business development for your company.

Construction Safety Tips for 2020

construction safety tips

The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to pose cross-contamination and exposure risks for the construction industry (indeed, every industry) for potentially years to come. Construction supervisors and owner/operators will need to provide education that defines new workplace safety standards for the remainder of 2020. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has released its construction safety tips and guidelines for post-coronavirus:

COVID-19 Guidance for the Construction Workforce

  1. Discourage space invaders – Encourage workers to avoid physical contact and maintain 6-foot distancing where possible. This includes inside jobsite trailers.
  2. Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns immediately.
  3. Face-to-face meetings – Keep jobsite meetings short and reinforce distancing practices.
  4. Keep cool – Offer shaded rest areas, plenty of water stations, and switch to nighttime work shifts if dangerously hot days pose serious health risks.
  5. Masking – Mask-wearing may be recommended but mandates are unlikely to be enforceable. Allow workers to wear masks or not unless based on community/legal requirements.
  6. Portable toilet sanitation – Construction jobsite toilet cleaning and disinfection should be increased and hand sanitizers provided. Hand sanitizers should be refilled/replaced frequently.
  7. PPE – Personal protective equipment should be used when needed, as always. Provide training in proper PPE use.
  8. Promote personal hygiene and “respiratory etiquette” – Coughs and sneezes should always be covered. If access to soap and water is limited, provide hand-sanitizer stations throughout the jobsite.
  9. Put it in writing – Construction safety diligence will be more important than ever before. Be able to show documentation that construction safety training has been completed by all workers. Document instances of best-efforts in reducing cross-contamination and disease exposure risks. Record days/times workers left the job due to illness.
  10. Use EPA-approved cleaning products – Cleaning products should meet standards for SARS-CoV-2. Alcohol-based wipes should be used on shared tools before/after use (while following manufacturer instructions for cleaning).
  11. Workaholics are no longer jobsite super-heroes – Reinforce policies to discourage workers to stay home if they are sick.

Construction Monitor LLC increases the efficiency for thousands of construction industry-related companies nationwide. To learn more about our technology tools and strategic partnerships, contact Construction Monitor today.

9 Tips for Getting Your Contracting Business Through COVID-19

Contracting Business

The National Law Review offers this piece of advice for your contracting business: Get it in writing!¹ That’s especially true during the coronavirus pandemic that is threatening our nation’s population and economic health.

Coronavirus vs. Your Contracting Business

This situation is here and now. It changes every day, so if you had an optimistic 5-year plan for your organization, toss it away and get ready to move quickly. 

Here are 9 tips to get your contracting business through COVID-19:

  1. Be proactive – If you’re silent, clients and employees become extra-nervous. Communicate with emails and online how you’re managing this event. Share due diligence efforts and business recovery plans.
  2. Communicate early – By now you should have reached out to all project stakeholders to review terms of performance, timelines and costs. Strive to keep projects alive and get everything in writing.
  3. Consider mobility implementations – If administrative and back-office personnel can work from home, consider making the move to a mobile workforce.
  4. Contract modifications – Every project contract you have in the works needs to return to the table. Try to recover or offset rising costs.
  5. Coronavirus impact – The time to “wait and see” is past. Your contracts should have included “excusable delays” or “force majeure” clauses. Provide notice to all contract-holders how coronavirus has impacted contract deliverables, including supply chain issues. Cite all time/performance delays, real and predicted.
  6. Cybersecurity – If administrative people will be working from home, you may need to upgrade cybersecurity and educate them about not compromising confidential information.
  7. Prepare for new workplace safety requirements – Your employees will need masks and/or gloves to reduce virus cross-contamination.
  8. Put it in writing – Document every communication, every delay, every challenge… If you weren’t the kind of person to keep a “diary,” you need to start. Others are depending on you to show diligence in trying to salvage work.
  9. Update policies for paid days off/sick days – This is going to be a tricky area. Employees must not be “punished” for staying home when sick, but your guidelines must also be reasonable. Consult with HR and/or legal professionals to revise employment terms.

Construction Monitor is Here for You

What’s happening now is temporary, but it will change the way we do business forever. Your contracting business can prepare for growth, even while time seemingly stands still. Call 800-925-6085 or contact us to learn more about using construction data reports.

We wish continued good health for you and your company.

How to Use Mobile Apps to Make Your Construction Business More Efficient

mobile appsThe overwhelming popularity of smartphones means that it’s likely you, your staff, and clients will own one. These devices not only make communication easier, but they also offer computing power and software applications that can improve the function of your construction business. Here are some effective ways to use mobile apps to make your construction business more efficient, easier to operate and more profitable.
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