Getting Your Remodeling Business Ready to Produce More Work
Growth in consumer spending on remodeling during 2018, and beyond, is expected to skyrocket. This means that remodelers will have the opportunity to grow their businesses, and if done well; will make a lot of money. But is your business ready for the work? If you are already working too hard for too many hours will increasing volume just end up with you in divorce court and or on blood pressure medicine? Below I offer a vision, and some suggestions, for what you can do to be ready. If you already allowed yourself to get in too deep, then perhaps my suggestions can help you create a plan to get things running better than you had ever imagined.
It all starts with estimating.
Estimating might as well be the center of the universe for remodeling contractors. Using a defined process and key information, your production team can conquer that universe. If you grow your business without an advanced estimating system you risk dropping into a financial black hole. Your estimating should not only help provide a profitable selling price, it should also create, document, and organize the information your production team needs to build independently, without constantly bothering you or your salespeople. Done well, it should also help you predict your cash flow needs, and therefore your payment schedules. This way every job finances itself using your clients' money to pay bills on time, not yours. Successful estimating will also help your production team identify and schedule all the resources needed to complete the project weeks, or even months, before they are actually needed at the job site.
A real estimating system includes job costing.
First, an estimate is not what you give to a prospective client. That is called a price. The estimate is really the contractor's best guess on what the project will cost their business to complete before overhead and profit are added. That's right, it’s just a guess. To continuously improve the accuracy of that guess, particularly as your business is exposed to new products and construction methods, or brings on new untested employees, job costing will be the only way to reduce the risks of estimating. Imagine going six months or a whole year before realizing you were using inaccurate information. Imagine the benefits of offering profit sharing if your team brings jobs in on budget. But, what if your budgets are never adequate and there are no profits to share, and when your employees ask why you can't tell them?
This all requires a well set up financial system.
Even if you are a good estimator and you never miss any of the sticks and bricks, if you do not know which labor rate and markup to use you may be buying jobs instead of selling them. Without a well thought out list of estimating and matching time card work categories (sometimes referred to as phases), you will never know how well your team did compared to your estimated labor assumptions in specific areas. Also, without the right time card categories, how will you know and or confirm how many non-billable hours of pay you will need to add to, and cover, inside the burden labor rate you assume and charge for their billable hours?
There are plenty of things to work on as you grow a remodeling business. However, if you don't get the estimating of your jobs right growing your business will just help you lose money faster.