5 Construction Business Tips for Dealing With Jerks

It’s surprising to encounter jerks at negotiation tables. People involved in management and negotiations usually have professional people skills. But you’ll probably work with less-than-polished people during your construction business career. 

Writer/editor Gwen Moran says when you’re dealing with people that seem to be biased against you or your company, give them the benefit of doubt. They could simply be jerks. They may not be subjective, and for them, negotiations aren’t an attempt at teamwork; everything is a win-lose.

You may be able to generate a positive meeting outcome:

  1. Before you go – Know what your bottom line is and define an exit strategy before the meeting. If you don’t establish your walk-away point, you could end up giving away negotiating options or being treated unfairly.
  2. Discover their fears – If you’re dealing with an unreasonable person, try to learn why. “Tell me more about that…” If you sense mistrust is the catalyst, reviews some of your shared goals.
  3. Defuse their fears – Humor is one way to deal with their mistrust. Sarcasm is a powerful tool (when it works). “Okay, so it sounds like we’re saying the same things; we’re both bluffing and lying…”
  4. Put out fires with water – Responding to anger with your own anger seldom leads to resolution. Take a break. Encourage refocusing by reminding everyone of the key points and goals outlined at the beginning of the meeting.
  5. Respect the silence – When there is an uncomfortable pause, don’t rush to fill the quiet by blurting something – anything. Let the others do that. Here’s a tip: Bring a writing tablet and pen; pretend to be making notes during silences.

If you choose to leave before striking a deal, do it with dignity. It may give you more leverage later. Set or agree to another meeting before you go if you want to try again, even if you’re dealing with jerks.

If you could use some tips for increasing your construction business opportunities this, year, we’ve got them! Speak with a marketing professional to learn more: Call 800.925.6085 (International/435.586.1205) or contact Construction Monitor.

Who’s Your Worst Enemy in the Construction Industry?

Construction Industry

The construction industry is customer-service oriented. We need happy clients and customers to beget more clients and customers. If your only business plan is to make a disgusting amount of money, then customer care is at the top of your hierarchical outline.

Management consultant Gregg M. Schoppman says frequently customers have unrealistic project expectations. They are their own worst enemies. But in the construction industry itself, especially project management, your worst enemy might be…you.

3 Ways To Wreck Construction Industry Projects and Customer Relationships

No project manager ever tries to make mistakes that cause a construction industry project to crash and burn. And not one PM took a class in creating customer ill will.

Here are sure-fire ways to sink your ship and jeopardize future business:

  1. Overpromise – During negotiations, do your best to be a bobblehead. Answer all questions with “Absolutely,” “Of course,” and “No problem!” Then be sure to underdeliver. Your customer will spread the word you’re not to be trusted.
  2. Blame others – Let the customer/owner know she/he hired a bunch of losers. Not you or your team, of course, but other contractors. They’re the reason the project is over-budget and behind schedule.
  3. Focus on problems – Often, how you present information is more important than the information itself. Schoppman says:
Instead of saying:Say:
“It rained for a week, so we’re behind schedule.”“We had a bit of bad weather, so here are 2 recovery schedules we can review.”
“The item you specified can’t be delivered for another 10 weeks.”“Supply chains are stressed, so here are 3 items that might be more available than what we wanted.”
“Your vendor damaged my >wall/ceiling/roof<. Pay me.”Before your vendor comes onsite, let’s have a meeting to set safety expectations.”
“The >city/county/state< won’t give me a permit; what do you want to do? And I’ll need more money to pay idle crews.”“We checked before we bid and it appeared the permits are backed up. But we did receive the go-ahead to begin >demolition/excavation<.”

Construction projects have enough challenges without creating more. Be solutions-oriented, and you’ll avoid or minimize the need for damage control.

Our subscribers include the top solutions-oriented construction industry leaders. What do they know you don’t? Find out; contact Construction Monitor.

Construction Business & Concrete: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Construction Business & Concrete

Q: What is responsible for more than twice the carbon dioxide emissions of airplanes or freighters?
A: Concrete production.

Concrete is one of the most unsustainable materials with which construction business contractors work. “Concrete is literally everywhere you look above ground and below ground…everywhere the world works, lives, and plays,” says Kris Moorman. Making the use of concrete more environmentally friendly has been investigated for many years because concrete production generates so much carbon dioxide. The only viable solution appeared to be recycling concrete waste and wastewater, and that was about it.

In 2021, we shared a new method of producing concrete being developed by MIT that would reduce Co2 by 60%. The scientists said it might be possible to reduce the ratio of calcium to silica during manufacturing. A 1:5 ratio worked best vs. the commonly used 1:7 ratio. It was one of several studies on reducing Co2 emissions in concrete manufacturing. No solution seemed realistic enough to put into action.

Volumetric Concrete Mixers Promote Construction Business Efficiencies

A more practical approach has been the use of volumetric concrete mixers that pour the exact amount needed. Less waste saves money, saves the planet, and makes sense. And you’ll no longer have to deal with leftover concrete.

Volumetric mixers also conserve water. Cleaning a traditional drum concrete mixer uses about 200 gallons of water. Volumetric mixer-cleaning uses 8-10 gallons of water. This is a huge water-saving difference.

Another big plus is volumetric mixers can produce concrete onsite. No more traveling back and forth, wasting time and fuel to retrieve mixed concrete. And you can adjust the concrete formula real-time when necessary.

“Sustainability” is no longer a fancy word used by unrealistic environmentalists. It’s a very real way to improve the quality of our lives and save money. Sustainable project deliverables should be explored by your construction business every day. Every project.

The use of solar energy is one of the ways we can better-utilize what we already have – sun power – and save electricity and money. If you’re seeking construction business alliances with solar building permit applicants, let us know. We’ll show you how Construction Monitor analytics generate solar and more business opportunities every week.

Contact Construction Monitor.

Emotional Intelligence in Construction Business Management

The road to success is always under construction. -Lily Tomlin

Construction Business Management

The first impression clients have of you occur within the first seconds of your meeting. Your appearance says who you are, but later impressions can either reinforce or discount your appearance.

If you’re the representative of your construction business (And guess what? Everyone on the payroll represents your construction business.), you want to win friends and influence people* to work with you or for you because they had positive first impressions that were reinforced with solid information.

The other first impressions are:

  • Aggression
  • Competence
  • Likeability
  • Trustworthiness

But not necessarily in that order.

Construction Business Competition: Second Place Is the First Loser

Can character be learned? Construction management professor Joe Egan says character is built. To build character, we must survive losses.

“Survival requires the resiliency of a rubber band snapping back from being stretched,” says Egan. “It hurts to try hard and still experience failure…this requires positive character. Emotions lead to reactions, which lead to behavior, which then defines your character.”

Emotional intelligence separates successful construction business managers from the wannabes. Internal emotional intelligence is your ability to control your emotions. External emotional intelligence is the ability to manage your reactions to others’ emotions.

When there are challenges and a client comes to you with problems, that means you are trusted.

You Have One Chance To Make a Good First Impression

Successful business management isn’t about doing everything right. It’s about doing a lot of things right and effectively managing the things that go wrong. That ability can give you personal pride as well as professional achievement. To be successful, be especially careful with those first steps or first impressions.

Fortunately, you have many opportunities to improve your construction business. We have several we can share with you. Our marketing pros want to show you how our data analytics can not only “win friends and influence people” but also make money. Ask us to tell you about one of the best investments you can make this year. Contact Construction Monitor.

*Dale Carnegie

Your Construction Company Business Plan

Construction Company Business Plan

It was during a camping trip that two groups learned standard operating procedures differences can be considerable. For example, building a campfire:

  • One group had a process. They stacked kindling log-cabin and teepee style then carefully inserted moss and other materials in their firestarting structure.
  • The other group tossed a bunch of twigs together and lit a match.

Both groups got campfires. But the campers that built a solid foundation spent more time planning and less time doing damage control. The toss-the-twigs group got their fire going sooner but had a harder time keeping it going.

Construction Business Plan Basics

Most new companies develop a business plan immediately, but some just toss their twigs in a pile and light a match. Business coach and author George Hadley offers suggestions for what should be in your construction company business plan.

The fundamentals include:

  • Overall company mission, vision/values – Why are you in this business? What do you hope to accomplish? How can you maximize time, energy, and money for the best possible return/outcome?
  • Processes for:
    • Business development
    • Business-building
    • Equipment/inventory management
    • Financial management
    • Problem-solving
  • Staff assignments/responsibilities – Surround yourself with the best talent possible. They’re worth the investment. List the positions that would most benefit your company; they may include:
    • Estimating
    • Finance
    • Marketing
    • Operations
    • Sales
  • Training program – What makes a bookkeeper valuable? The skills and qualities may not be the same as required for an effective foreman. For 20 minutes every week, hold training sessions that reinforce the top 5 qualities that your team members need to grow your company. Incentivize your professionals at every training session.
  • Who’s who and their strengths/weaknesses – Once you’ve listed the team members and their roles/responsibilities, evaluate the list. You may have several people in the wrong roles.

Construction Monitor & Business Development Tools

Are you developing a construction company business plan? If yes, you’re building a business. Your plan includes business development, and it forms your company’s foundation. What you do with landed jobs determines future growth.

That’s what we do: We give you the tools; information you need to build your business. What you do with those tools makes all the difference. To learn more about marketing plans for your construction company, contact Construction Monitor.

Apartment Construction Demands High; Pitfalls Deep

Apartment Construction Demands High; Pitfalls Deep

When people realized they could work anywhere, the stampede from downtown offices was epic. And not only did “anywhere” mean nearby city suburbs, for many it meant anywhere warm. Anywhere fun. Anywhere their kids could get a great education. Anywhere. Apartment construction went beyond lucrative to high-demand, especially in the South.

Strategies To Stay Ahead of Apartment Construction Challenges

…Our company’s multifamily volume quadrupled between 2019-2021.
Ripley Bickerstaff, Hoar Construction

Fueled by demographic shifts from the North to the South, the multifamily housing market is on fire. But the supply chain unraveled and material prices left town. “If builders don’t have processes in place to navigate recent price hikes and supply chain challenges,” says Ripley Bickerstaff of Hoar Construction, “a project can sink as black turns to red on the balance sheet.”

He shared some of his company’s strategies to stay on top of volatile apartment construction situations:

Verify what you ordered and its shipment in person. Bickerstaff’s company sent teams to warehouses for in-person verifications. It made a difference. Ensuring the hardware, etc. works as planned means corrections can be made real-time. It’s no longer enough to order, wait too long for components, and assume they work.

Buy appliances, components, and materials as early as possible. General contractors need to work with the design team before the drawings. They need to understand what’s available, what isn’t, and affordable options for expensive parts and materials. Consider alternative materials and look to domestic, North American products.

Hoarding is no longer a bad word. If you can secure materials at lower prices, warehousing them saves money. It’s difficult, but if you can predict shortages, buy what you don’t need for later. Bickerstaff said they stocked up on toilet accessories and flex ducts, which are currently in short supply.

Lock-in skilled labor. Get subcontractors to commit the best people they have as much or more than a year before construction begins.

Hoping for the best but planning for the worst is good business. We believe planning to grow and increase profits is even better. To learn ways to maximize your construction business potential, contact Construction Monitor.

Construction Contractors Running Out of Gas?

Construction Contractors

Construction contractors aren’t more exhausted than usual, but they may be tired of dealing with high diesel prices. “Absorbing it and just being less profitable” seems to be the only option we have, says Shrock Premier Custom Construction Founder Joseph Shrock. But there are some ways to deal with it.

What Construction Contractors Can Do

Keep your clients on top of timely and credible information about diesel and other material costs. Notify them immediately of supply chain snafus that may impact turnaround time or expenses. And investigate if contract changes would be beneficial to you both.

Associated General Contractors of America Chief Economist Ken Simonson says, “Nobody welcomes a higher bill, but the alternative of having a contractor go out of business because of impossible costs or timing is likely to be worse….”

It’s difficult to predict price increases. But construction contractors and project owners need to adjust their bidding processes to reflect more realistic expectations. In today’s climate, the likelihood of increases in material prices is high. Another idea is to add an if-I-pay-you-pay surcharge in contracts.

Shrock says historically, material and fuel prices increased about five percent/year. But over the last two years, they’ve increased 30%+. His clients have covered only 15%-20% of the price increases, so his company is absorbing 10%-15%. “We can’t raise our prices…because we would price ourselves out of the competition,” says Shrock.

Business Survival in a Tough Economy: Implement Business Development

You know the basics: Up your inventory management skills; keep your credit scores clean; reinforce teambuilding with employees.

One business site advised maximizing current customer relationships and wooing competitors’ customers. And also increase marketing rather than cut back. This is where Construction Monitor can be of help. We have the information you need to:

  • Consider competitors’ customers
  • Create business alliances
  • Create mass mailings and/or other marketing programs
  • Develop new customers

And make money. It costs nothing to learn more. It could be very costly not to. Call 800-925-6085 or contact Construction Monitor.

Construction Business Employees and Wearables

construction wearables

A recent study on wearables and construction business safety reported, “The construction industry has long been regarded as one of the most dangerous industries worldwide. It employs approximately 7% of the global workforce but contributes to 30-40% of total fatalities.”

There are plenty of websites explaining how wearables can increase construction safety but it will be years before we can say it’s been proven. There’s no data – yet – to support predictions, including the forecast that owners/operators of construction companies are ready to buy into wearable technology. However, employees may balk.

Construction Business Hazards & Wearables: Big Brother?

Wearable technologies require high adherence and commitment from the user.
National Library of Medicine

The first concern of construction business employees is invasion of privacy. “Is Big Brother watching us?” They wanted to know if the wearables monitored standing still too long, recorded conversations, or videotaped construction activity.

Physical overexertion causes 35% of all work-related injuries. Strains, sprains, and muscle/tendon tears from improper lifting, posture, and movement are ergonomic injuries that wearables train employees to avoid.

One wearable technology can identify high-risk movements in real-time and trigger an alert. The user must then self-correct. It does not “secretly” monitor anything else.

What it does do is create a competition between the wearable and the user. It sets safety goals and then challenges its wearer to meet those goals. It uses real-time feedback and gamification to further engage users.

For project managers, the information is valuable: One user had higher risk movements than most. Upon investigation, the supervisor learned the individual had knee difficulties and the wearable triggered a warning when bending to retrieve items from the parts bin. A workstation redesign solved the problem and the removed potential for future injury.

Another valuable benefit is wearables give voice to employee concerns. A manager is alerted to a risk activity. Upon investigation, the employee – who would never have complained – explained how he had been cutting corners to get a job completed within a certain amount of time.

Users find that wearables influence the way they do things at home as well. They tackle home improvement tasks differently because they now know strategies to work safer.

Construction Monitor strives to be a valued source of safety information in addition to being the top source for construction business development in the United States. If you have marketing questions, let us know. We’ll have answers and possible solutions. Call 435-586-1205 or contact Construction Monitor.

4 Ways Maintenance Can Increase Construction Business Performance

Construction Business Performance

Many car owners have a hard time keeping up with changing the oil every 3,000 miles or before such-and-such date; whichever occurs first. (Once upon a time, vehicles cost much less than payloaders.) Routine maintenance prolongs the life of expensive construction business equipment. It reduces downtime. And yes, it’s difficult to remember to schedule, much less track machinery use and maintenance.

Construction Business Asset Tracking Reduces Downtime

Depending on the type of machine and type of failure, the average cost of a breakdown can vary. Regardless of the actual dollar value, it’s always a blow.

Construction companies often share or lease equipment to avoid repair and maintenance expenses. Heavy-duty machinery is quite a liability. Construction business equipment is also an asset that can increase your net worth and provide great tax shelters.

Asset tracking software platforms can be used to trigger alerts about construction equipment. It’s a proactive way to manage:

  1. Accidents – Breakdowns of certain types of equipment can pose accident risks. Maintenance software can prevent breakdowns and reduce accidents.
  2. Breakdowns/repairs – Preventive maintenance costs most construction companies between $4,000-$6,000/year. But that’s minimal when you figure a repair on a Manitowoc 10000 crane is about $36,000. If your software can prevent just one breakdown and repair, you’ve covered the cost of the software and maintenance.
  3. Unnecessary repurchases – You can’t find your tape measure, so you buy another one. You’ve got 3 tape measures “somewhere” in the house. Now consider construction equipment like ladders. You’ve got five ladders “somewhere,” but can’t find them so you buy another one for $600. Equipment tracking tells you what’s where.
  4. Unused machinery – Unused equipment at jobsites is an unnecessary expense if you rent. If you pay $6,500/month plus additional costs for delivery/service, taxes, and inspection renting a Komatsu PC238USLC-11 mini excavator that sits idle for months, you’ll see how getting a loan to buy and maintain your own saves money.

Like regular maintenance, technology tools are driving the construction industry and business owners to greater profits and improved safety. Construction Monitor is your technology tool that can also increase profits.

To learn more about our customized for-your-demographics data, call 800-925-6085 or contact Construction Monitor.
Construction Monitor blogs are for informational use only. We do not endorse any software platforms (except ours).

Saving Time and Money With Construction Software

construction software

Too many of us think construction software costs money (it does) but it doesn’t make money or even save money (untrue). Remember, time is money, whether it’s your time, project workers’ or your office staffs’. Everyone’s time is valuable and (almost) everyone’s time has a price.

Construction Software Can Reduce Miscommunications

The one seriously underrated area construction software can improve is communication. The majority of our mistakes and expensive, time-wasting errors leading to do-overs involve miscommunication in construction. (Miscommunication includes failure to respond; 78% of your emails to project teams aren’t read until it’s “too late.”)

SMS and texting radically improve read-and-respond times. And much of this could be resolved with construction software that sends real-time updates and alerts.

Admin Manual Entry: High Margin of Error

Many of us feared automation would cut jobs. We quickly learned that boring, repetitious manual entry and spreadsheet maintenance could be reduced and/or eliminated with construction software. And our administrative personnel would be free to concentrate on more profitable areas, like workflow management, marketing and program development.

However, operating several software systems for different areas of construction project management is yet another problem. It often calls for data entry duplication – again increasing the margin of error – and can divide office staff into software specialists in one area while being untrained in another, or worse: an entire team with varying levels of software competency.

Explore Software Solutions

You’ve heard of “seamless integration.” That means there are ways to retain the information your older software system(s) contain while upgrading to more efficient construction software solutions. We encourage you to explore the possibilities for your company to save time and money. Stay abreast of the ongoing evolution in construction management software.

Construction Monitor can’t claim to be the construction software expert. There are many great companies offering solid business management solutions that work for any size construction company. That’s why we share what we’ve learned about construction automation without favoring one company over another.

However, there is one company’s construction-industry software we feel is the best for saving money and making money. Just ask us. Call 800.925.6085 (International/435.586.1205) or contact Construction Monitor.