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Commercial and Industrial Painter Safety Practices Everyone Should Keep In Mind

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Mon, Aug 14,2017 @ 05:00 AM

Commercial and Industrial Painter Safety Practices Everyone Should Keep In Mind

Painter-WR.jpg

Painting is a great way to enhance the beauty of a home or office but it can also be a job that can result in some serious chemical contamination if you aren’t careful. Do yourself a favor and act to protect yourself while painting on a professional basis. As an industrial or commercial painter, you’ll want to follow the following steps to limit your exposure to unhealthy substances while doing your job.

Protect Your Skin

It’s bad for you to get paints, solvents and sanded materials on your hands when working as a painter, but you’ll be handling the substances daily. That’s why it’s important to get some long-sleeve shirts, some pants, closed sneakers and strong nitrile gloves (can be found online at websites like BulkNitrileGloves.com) to protect yourself while working. Ensure that waterproof protective equipment is worn and that you are fully protected against all the risks that you’ll face while painting.

Dust MaskKeep Particles out of Your Lungs

Use a high-quality dust mask when you’re sanding or painting with strong substances. The mask will keep particles out of your lungs and help you stay in good health over time. It’s important to realize that even the best masks will miss some of the smallest particles, so keep the area ventilated as well when doing something like sanding down walls and other surfaces before painting the area.  Rather than a dust mask, a respirator may be required depending on the materials you are disturbing. 

Ensure Excellent Ventilation

When working with solvents and most paints, be careful to work in well-ventilated environments. This will reduce the risk of working with these materials and the health hazards that they cause. Open windows and doors and rely on fans or other devices to keep fresh air flowing through the space. This helps remove any harmful odors and chemicals in the air, keeping the space nice and clean.

Safety Glasses on floor-WR.jpgProtect Your Eyes

While painting there is always a risk of hurting your eyes, especially when painting up above the head. That’s why it is so important to invest in safety goggles to protect your eyes. Get a good pair of goggles or glasses to cover your eyes, or rely on a face mask to keep particles out. This will keep your eyes in good shape and you’ll thank the protective gear the first time that paint splatters or drips over top of your eyes.

Safety Doesn't Happen By Accident:

Follow the above steps and you shouldn’t have too many problems with your health while working as a painter. Always follow OSHA requirements should they apply to the work being done.  Just be careful that you don’t skip any of the safety precautions, or you’ll risk letting paint, solvents and other substances through all your protective measures.

 

Other related articles you might find helpful:

OSHA Compliance Checklist: Will You Be Ready If OSHA Visits You?

RRP Conundrum: To Test or Not to Test for Lead Paint.

 

Tom Masters

 

Guest Blogger:  Tom Masters has been working in the construction industry since he was a child. Lately he prefers the business end and writing about the trade. He is currently working with Contractors Today

Topics: Contractor Training, Guest Blogs, Paints and Painting, Tools and Supplies, Safety

3 Tips for Prepping Your Vehicle for the Job Site

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Aug 09,2017 @ 05:00 AM

3 Tips for Prepping Your Vehicle for the Job Site

Unloading the pickup truck 2-WR.jpg

 

As someone who works in construction, you already know about the importance of having the right equipment to stay safe on the job. From installing scaffolding to access certain work areas to making sure everyone is properly trained on using heavy equipment, you pride yourself on having safe work sites.

If you use your own car or truck as a work vehicle — and routinely drive it to construction sites — it's important to treat it like any other piece of work-related equipment. That's why many contractors as well as their employees make sure their vehicles are properly maintained and prepared to be on any job site.

With this in mind, check out the following tips that will help keep your car in good shape on any and all job sites:

Maintain Your Tires

Construction sites can be muddy and filled with sharp objects that can puncture tires. With this in mind, regularly checking your tires is a must; after all, you'll want rugged tires that can handle slick and rocky conditions — and you'll need to catch and fix any damage before any tires go flat.

Tires for contractor trucksBefore heading to work each day, check the treads and condition of your car or truck’s tires to make sure they're safe to drive on, and then conduct the same practice before heading home at the end of the day. When it's time to replace the tires on your truck or SUV, consider an all-terrain variety like the Nitto Ridge Grappler from an online retailer like TireBuyer.com.

TireBuyer.com stocks a wide variety of sizes of the Grappler tire, which can easily handle driving over uneven and muddy construction sites. The Grappler features shoulder grooves, which will clear mud from the tread, along with stone ejectors that can help keep your treads clear and damage-free.

Stick to a Maintenance Schedule

To ensure your vehicle is in proper working order at all times, adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. Driving through construction areas can wreak havoc on air filters and other parts of the car that collect dust and dirt, so making sure your car goes in for regular tuneups is essential to control repair costs as well as fuel costs.

If you have to tow or haul a lot of heavy equipment, or if you drive long distances every day traveling from site to site, you may want to bring in your vehicle more often for maintenance. To help stay on top of your car’s maintenance needs, consider downloading the free AUTOsist app, which let's you keep detailed records of all of your oil changes, brake jobs and tire rotations. You can even set reminders within the AUTOsist app to bring in your car for a tuneup based on mileage or date.

Always Keep Safety Equipment in Your Car

Safety Glasses for contractorsIn addition to maintaining the outside of your vehicle, what you keep inside it should also prepare you for safely spending time at a job site. Keep your personal safety equipment in your vehicle at all times and double check you have everything before leaving home in the morning.

ISHN.com suggests keeping safety glasses and/or a face shield and eye protectors on hand, along with a hard hat, heavy gloves and an extra pair of steel-toe work boots. Experts also suggest keeping a checklist of all of your safety equipment and storing everything in a bin that fits into the trunk.

Finally, check your hardhat and other gear regularly for cracks or other damage; if you notice anything amiss, replace it immediately.

 

Alison StantonGuest Blogger: Alison Stanton has been a freelance writer for the past 18 years. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Alison thoroughly enjoys writing about a wide variety of people and topics. When she is not writing, Alison can be found hanging out with her family—which includes three wonderful rescue dogs—and sipping a caffeinated beverage from Starbucks.

Topics: Production Considerations, Guest Blogs, Personal Protection, Tools and Supplies, Safety

How to Choose the Appropriate Finish for Stained Woodwork

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Fri, Mar 17,2017 @ 05:00 AM

How to Choose the Appropriate Finish for Stained Woodwork

Wood finsihing options for contractors

 

Stain can be a beautiful addition to any wood product.  As a general contractor or a flooring contractor, you have undoubtedly had many customers ask which stain would be best for their flooring, cabinets or other wood surfaces. When choosing which finish to go with, it is essential to consider some pros and cons of the available options.  With this information you help your customers make a more informed decision.  It can also help you identify and schedule the right services necessary for the work you need to complete.

Finishes can provide a protective outer layer, while keeping the look of the natural grains throughout the wood planks and pieces. Each individual finish will vary in appearance and some work better with certain woods while others do not.

Some options can be used as both a stain as well as a finish depending on the material you are finishing. When explaining to your customers the various finishes available for the work at hand, be sure to detail some of the following so they better understand the products available and can make an informed decision when choosing a finish.

 

Varnish

Wood finishing product comparisonOne of the most common choices to go with, varnish provides a protective glossy overcoat. It comes in stained colors or clear. You can choose from water based or oil based and a small quantity can go a long way. The best part about varnish is that you can use it on wood both inside and outside of the home. Varnish can be very flammable so it is best to keep it away from open flames.

 

Beeswax

Beeswax protects the outside of the wood and when buffed down can provide a shiny outer coating. It should however only be used on wood materials that will be inside the home. Beeswax is available in both an oil and water based mixture. This is an eco-friendlier option if looking for a coating that is non-toxic to the environment.

 

Linseed Oil

Linseed oil finish on wood-WR.jpg

When used on wood water will not penetrate through the linseed oil surface and it provides a smooth, slick outer shine that other choices might not give. It should only be used over unsealed wood.  It too is highly flammable, so it should always be kept away from open flames. Linseed oil can be used both inside and outside for multiple wood projects and can easily be applied by someone with experience working with wood products

 

Wood Preserver

Wood preservers are available in both oil and water based.  Preservatives provide a way to protect the wood against insects and other intruders. It provides a clear, glossy coat over the wood that hardens and protects. It is recommended for exterior use. Wood preserver comes in a clear coat or can come in stained color.  

 

Wood Finishing Tips

  • Contractor Wood finishing tipsStay away from safflower oil and carnauba oil, since both are not highly rated for finishing stained wood.
  • Check for VOC ingredients on the label to find out if the finish you choose is eco-friendly. This will be extremely important for your customers who are trying to, or already have, decided to go green with their home or business and want eco-friendly products only.
  • Read the product label to find out what types of wood the product should not be used on. Even with years of experience, it’s easy to get various products mixed up and make mistakes.
  • Follow the guidelines given by the manufacturer to achieve the best result on the wood you’re sealing.
  • Always stain and finish the wood in a well ventilated, open area. Allow for plenty of time for the fumes to dissipate after the work is finished.  
  • When applying finishes protect yourself and workers from breathing harmful vapors. Also, make sure the homeowner and pets will not be closed in with the fumes when you leave.

 

Tom MastersGuest Blogger:  Tom Masters has been working in the construction industry since he was a child. Lately he prefers the business end and writing about the trade. He is currently working with Contractors Today

 

Topics: Remodeler Education, Green Considerations, Guest Blogs, Paints and Painting

Networking & Dating: How the Two Go Hand in Hand

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Mar 14,2017 @ 05:00 AM

Networking & Dating: How the Two Go Hand in Hand

Networking guide for remodeling contractors

Not sure how to get started using networking to help grow your business?

Building a professional network can often feel like dating: putting yourself out there to strangers, not knowing what to say and carrying that fear of rejection. But just like dating, there are ways to make networking much easier. Here's how.

 Getting Out There

The first step in professional networking is simply putting yourself out there, but many of us don't know where to being — it's not like there is a Tinder app for professional networking, right?

Actually, there is. Shapr works just like Tinder, where users swipe right and left when matched up with others in their field. Many young professionals enter a room with little to no information about anyone inside, so Shapr takes the guesswork out of the equation by only pairing you with people you're interested in meeting.

But if a Tinder-like app is just too close to dating, there are always more established sites, like MeetUp.com, to connect with others in your business.

 

Networking options for contractorsMaking an Introduction

While apps like Shapr make it easier to find others, there is no avoiding introducing yourself in person every now and then. If that sounds intimidating, just remember that you're not alone in this endeavor — some of the world's most reputable entrepreneurs stood in your shoes, and found themselves not knowing anyone in the professional world.

Tim Terriss, speaker and author of Tools of Titans, spoke to a crowd at the South By Southwest Conference and Festivals about building a world-class network from nothing. He goes into extensive detail during his presentation, but the core of the story is very much like dating: be yourself, don't be afraid to say hello and ask people to tell you about themselves — people love to talk about themselves.

 

The First Date

You have a match! You met someone in your industry and the professional sparks are flying. It could be tempting to sell your service or product on day one, but you wouldn't propose on the first date, so the goal here is to take things slowly.

The best way to create a long lasting relationship — and make the sale — is to give, give, give and then ask, says investor and social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk. A good example would be a graphic designer offering marketing advice for a company or group he or she knows. After some time, if the advice has value and the graphic designer gains credibility, some will eventually become customers willing to pay.

 

Going Steady

Networking tips for contractorsIf you've ever played the game "The Sims," you know that maintaining relationships can sometimes be harder than starting them. And like dating, you often have to take the initiative to keep the relationship strong. Treating clients or close professionals to gifts or flowers will never go out of style, and many find the extra effort is appreciated by the recipient.

Once you've established a relationship, going back to the beginning can always be a pleasant surprise. Just like taking an old girlfriend or boyfriend to the place where you first met, a young professional remodeler might go back to their first industry conference to brush up on basics, or set up a few coffee dates with friends in their networking groups to chat about the market.  Many great business idea can come from chatting with peers over coffee or a cold beer.

 

Jim Burch

 

Guest Blogger: Jim Burch - Jim is a copywriter from Phoenix and avid admirer of alliteration. His goals are to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, see all 30 baseball stadiums, and eliminate the improper use of "literally," but he figuratively can't even.

 

Topics: Differentiating your Business, Marketing Ideas, Lead Generation, Guest Blogs, Creating Referrals

3 Financial Strategies for a More Scalable Construction Business

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Feb 07,2017 @ 05:00 AM

3 Financial Strategies for a More Scalable Construction Business

Scaling a construction companyAs 2017 dawns, the outlook for the construction industry is optimistic. Despite setbacks experienced during the Great Recession, the industry is set to add 790,400 jobs over the decade of 2014 to 2024, accounting for the majority of new jobs in the goods-producing sector. Real output will grow 2.8 percent annually during this period. In 2017, total U.S. construction starts will increase 5 percent, reaching $713 billion, anticipates Dodge Data & Analytics.

For contractors, this is great news, but it also presents the challenge of scaling up to meet growing demand. Scaling up requires not only hiring more workers and buying more material, but also adjusting your financial strategy to cover your increased overhead expenses without hurting your cash flow and profits. Here are three financial strategies for successfully scaling up in 2017.

 

Scale up Revenue while Scaling Down Costs and Expenses

A scalable remodeling business model is designed to allow you to increase revenue while holding both job costs and overhead expenses down. To be scalable, your financial plan should aim for gross profit margins of 40 percent or more (minimum of a 1.67 markup).

Scaling a remodeling companyTo achieve this level of gross profit margin, one fundamental strategy is increasing your revenue. The key to increasing your revenue is improving your marketing and sales. One of the most efficient ways to improve your marketing is by improving your positioning through a better unique selling proposition (USP): a brief statement that summarizes what you offer customers that your competition doesn’t.

To refine your USP, narrow down your ideal target market. For instance, is there a certain neighborhood or a certain type of building that would be more profitable to specialize in? Research what your target market is most seeking in a construction contractor. For example, are they price shoppers or are quality or service bigger priorities for them? Craft your USP to emphasize what your target market most values and make sure all your marketing material reflects your new USP.

Along with increasing your revenue, the other half of keeping a high profit margin is keeping expenses low. Many construction businesses fail because they can’t cover the cost of overhead. Finding ways to reduce the money you must pay for running your business is key to minimizing your expenses. Taking the time to research different organizational charts, industry best practices, project management methods, business management software and employee compensation strategies based on performance.   Investing in these areas now can help your business reduce overhead through efficiency of operations as well as economy of scale as the business grows.

 

Maintain Efficiency through Automation

3D Automation for remodelersAnother effective strategy to lower job costs is automation. Automation can help you lower the costs of materials by helping you plan more precisely to avoid unnecessary waste. J.E. Dunn has partnered with Autodesk and Microsoft to develop Lens, a cloud-based software tool that combines 3-D virtual modeling with instantly-calculated cost estimates for each component of your building project.

Although not common yet in residential remodeling, another way automation can help cut materials costs and waste is by using 3-D printing. 3-D printing allows you to select from a wider range of cost-efficient materials, while speeding up the building process. Last year, Chinese company Huashang Tengda was able to assemble a 3-D-printed house in just 45 days.  Remember, many said nail guns would never catch on!

 

Keep Costs and Expenses Down with Outsourcing

Outsourcing for remodeling contractorsOutsourcing is another proven way to cut labor costs both in the field as well as the office. Many successful large companies outside our industry have used outsourcing effectively to streamline their labor expenses. For instance, Google relies heavily on revenue from pay-per-click advertisers who pay to have their results featured in search engine rankings. Maintaining its advertising revenue requires a large sales support team, which Google has outsourced. Amway is another company that outsources its sales, relying on a distributor model to promote direct sales.  In our industry many contractors already outsource activities such as design, engineering, building permit procurement, sales, lead intake and prequalification, RRP demo, specialty trades and even general carpentry.

As these examples illustrate, you can outsource functions that are part of your core business if it is more efficient to delegate them to specialists than to maintain in-house talent. For instance, there is no need to pay for the expense of in-house 3-D drafting when you can easily outsource it. With the right plan and system you can also easily outsource routine peripheral functions such as bookkeeping and payroll.

 

Topics: Margin and Markup, Technology for Remodelers, Success Strategies, Cash Flow, Marketing, Guest Blogs, Marketing Considerations, Prequalifying

Elements To Consider To Achieve The Right Construction Office Design Layout

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Feb 02,2017 @ 05:00 AM

What Are The Elements To Consider To Achieve The Right Office Design Layout?

Modern desk for contractor office layoutThe layout of your workplace is extremely important, because the wrong layout can restrict staff and hinder productivity, while the right layout can help your team to carry out their tasks more effectively and boost productivity and even creativity. For this reason, it is important that you plan your layout carefully and make the right choices.

In this article, we take a look at some of the most crucial elements you and your office design company will need to consider when planning the layout of your office space.


1. The Size of Your Team

In terms of pure office space planning, one of the single most important considerations is the size of your team. If your team consists of around a dozen people, a small, shared space may suffice, but your needs will obviously be rather different if you are employing more than 100 people.

Where possible, you want to try and make sure your layout is future proof too. This means taking into consideration the potential for growth and, therefore, the addition of more staff members.


Office space planning for contractors2. The Nature of the Work

Next, you need to think about the nature of the work carried out by your business. If you primarily require people to stay focused on individual tasks, an open plan design may damage productivity, because staff may become distracted. Instead, it would make sense to try and give staff access to quiet spaces.

However, if you require constant collaboration between employees and teams, the open plan design may be better. If you have a mixture of needs, or if you have staff who work on a variety of different devices, you may want to create a design that allows people to move freely between different spaces.


3. The Views of Employees

One of the best ways to ensure you get the right design is to speak to staff during the office space planning stage of the process and ask them for their opinion. What do they like about your current layout? What do they dislike? What could you introduce to make them happier, or better able to carry out their daily tasks?

Some of the suggestions you get back may not be feasible, but you may also get some great ideas and become aware of problems that you weren't previously aware of. The main people you hope will benefit from a great design are your employees, so it pays to give them an input.


4. The Personality of Your Team

The final element to consider is the personality of your staff members - how they think and what they enjoy. According to John Holland, employees generally fit into one of the following six categories:

Office space layout for contractors

  • Conventional - Organised, orderly, enjoy working with numbers and records
  • Enterprising - Ambitious, competitive, enjoy selling and persuading
  • Artistic - Non-conformist, expressive, enjoy creative work
  • Investigative - Analytical, intellectual, enjoy studying and problem solving
  • Realistic - Physical, practical, enjoy working with machinery or tools
  • Social - Supportive, conscientious, enjoy helping other people

Identify the personality types in your building and work with your chosen office design company to create a layout that suits their needs. If you have a lot of artistic people, you might consider an unconventional layout, but if you have mostly investigative types, they will need conventional private spaces for concentration.

 

Reno MacriGuest blogger:  Reno Macri is a founder and director of a leading exhibition and event company Enigma Visual Solutions, specializing in retail designs, interiors, graphic productions, signage systems, event branding, modular exhibition stands design, office space planning and much more. He specializes in experiential marketing and event productions. He enjoys sharing his thoughts on upcoming marketing ideas and design trends. Feel free to follow him on twitter.

 

Topics: Business Management, Team Building, Business Growth, Guest Blogs, Culture, Business Planning

Only For Contractors Who Want to Use Marketing to Help Them Make Tons of Money

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Jan 29,2017 @ 05:00 AM

Only For Contractors Who Want to Use Marketing to Help Them Make Tons of Money

JLC LIVE 2017In March I will be presenting two seminars for contractors at the JLC LIVE trade show in Providence RI.  Both seminars will be marketing related and although they certainly will have value individually, the two are very complimentary towards creating an effective web site for your business.  Additionally, both are offered on the same day making it easy and cost effective to improve your marketing knowledge all on the same day.  Below I share the seminar descriptions as well as why I am offering these topics.  If you want to get better qualified leads for profitable projects, from your ideal customers, I invite you to join me.  Better yet, think of it this way.  If you are not there you better hope your completion isn’t either!

Both seminars will be held on Thursday March 23, 2017 at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, RI.

 

JLC Show seminars by Shawn MccaddenSeminar #1: 7:30-9:00 AM

The first seminar, titled “Web Site Bootcamp for Beginners” will be an overview of how to get started and what to include if you are planning your first web site.  I put this session together because I see way too many contractors get sucked into paying for worthless web sites that might look good, but don’t do a dam thing towards causing qualified leads or profitable sales.  It will also be very helpful if you are not happy with your current web site and or are trying to figure out why it doesn’t help create lots of business. At this JLC seminar I will also share what I consider to be the “secret weapon page” you should have on your web site.

 

Seminar #2: 1:30-4:40 PM

Mccadden Seminars at JLC LIVE 2017The second seminar is actually a 3 hr. workshop with plenty of time built in for questions and interaction.  The workshop is titled “Choosing and Targeting the Right Customers and Project Types for Your Business”.  I put this JLC Marketing Workshop together to help contractors become much more strategic about the marketing they do and how they do it.  If you plan to do any marketing this workshop will help make sure you and anyone else involved has a clear understanding of exactly what you are trying to solve and or accomplish with your marketing.  That way you can make sure your employees and or marketing provider you work with can be held accountable to the purpose of the marketing they help you with, not just pay them for doing it even if it doesn’t work.  I’m even including a sample marketing plan in the handout so we can review and discuss it together at the workshop.

Scroll down to see the full description and learning objectives for the two seminars.

I hope I will see you there!

 

View JLC LIVE 2017 Show dates, location and hours

View the 2017 JLC LIVE Conference schedule

Register for JLC LIVE

 

McCadden Seminar Descriptions for JLC LIVE 2017

Web Site Boot Camp for Beginners (90 Minutes)

Every remodeling business can benefit from a well done website if it wants good customers to find and buy from it for reasons other than price.   If you have been putting off doing a website for your remodeling business because you have no idea where to start, this boot camp is for you.  Don’t worry if you don’t know what SEO means or you don’t know the difference between HTML and a URL.  This will be a down to earth presentation using language and examples every remodeler will understand. 

Learning objectives: By attending this seminar you will:

  • Identify what you need to know and consider before going forward with your website.
  • Learn to identify what you can and should do yourself and where you will need help
  • See how easy it can be to maintain and add to your web site if you have the right tools
  • Learn how to get the right people to find your website and tell others about it

 

 

Choosing and Targeting the Right Customers and Project Types for Your Business (3 Hours.)

Many remodelers and builders have come to realize that their businesses can no longer be all things to all people and that trying to do so makes it almost impossible to differentiate themselves in today’s marketplace. Smart consumers don’t want generic. They want different and they are using the internet to find, research and prequalify which businesses they will work with.

By strategically targeting specific customer types and project types your business can benefit in many ways and increase profitability at the same time. This seminar is designed to help you understand the many factors that you and your business can take into consideration if you want to successfully and profitably target, market to and attract a strategic niche.

Learning objectives: By completing this class you will:

  • Learn several powerful areas to explore and consider when identifying your target customer and niche
  • Learn how earning gross profit can depend on what you sell and how you sell it.
  • Find out how the internet and your website can help the right prospects find you and your business

 

Topics: Contractor Training, Differentiating your Business, Marketing, Web Site Related, Lead Generation, Marketing Considerations

Is Your Business Ready For The Expected Surge In Remodeling Spending?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Fri, Dec 23,2016 @ 03:58 PM

Is Your Business Ready For The Expected Surge In Remodeling Spending?

Puzzle pieces on money-WR.jpgRemember back in 2006 before the great recession how much work there was for remodelers?  Remember how busy you were and how easy it was to sell your services?  And, back then, there was a good supply of experience workers and subcontractors.  Then the recession came and things changed forever.  Well, the remodeling economy has become healthy again and is predicted to get even better for the next year.  According to one article in Qualified Remodeler magazine the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies predicts an 8% increase in remodeling spending between now and the end of 2017.  That means a lot more work for remodelers, but only if they and their businesses are ready for it.

Below are three things to consider if you want to be ready to take advantage of the surge in sales predicted to begin in the first quarter of 2017.  How you address the third one could make or break your ability to take advantage of the surge.

 

Decide what your price point will be:

Raising remodeling pricesWhen demand for services picks up so does the market price for those services.  If you have been selling on price and as a result haven’t been making enough money to live the lifestyle you desire, both today and when you eventually retire, now is the time to start charging more.  And, in addition to raising your prices, be careful how much work you say yes to. The point here is to make sure you don’t pre-sell a whole bunch of work at your current margins.  If you do you will prevent your business from being available to sell and complete work when demand and therefore job prices rise due to supply and demand. Although having a good backlog of work can be comforting, coming to realize you could be making a lot more money may lead to strong regrets.  Also, keep in mind that material and subcontractor costs will also climb due to supply and demand.  Make sure you estimate direct job costs based on when you will actually do the work, not what it would cost if you were doing it today.

Related article:

Why Building a Backlog of Work Could Cost Some Contractors a Lot of Money

 

Be selective about customers and job types

Targeting the right remodeling clientsThe surge in spending will lead to a surge in job leads. This will afford remodelers the opportunity to be much more selective about who they will allow to become customers as well as what job types they will accept from those customers.  Remember, the customers you serve will be sending you referrals. Those customers hang around with other people just like them.  If you work for customers who beat you up on price and micromanage how you do business, their referrals will likely want to do the same.  To avoid working for the wrong customers first define the profile of your target client.  Then, armed with that information, make sure you also have a great prequalify process to help you filter through you leads.  When it comes to job types be selective there too.   If you have been doing so I suggest you stop allowing customers to buy their own materials.  It may save money for them to do so, but at the same time it costs your business if you cannot get any margin on those materials.  Instead concentrate on material intensive project types like kitchens and baths.  Earning gross profit by selling more and more expensive materials is much easier than trying to do so by selling and managing labor.

Related article:

25 Sample Questions Contractors Can Use For Prequalifying Prospects

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Get your production resources ready

Carpenters_with_nail_gun-wr.jpgSelling the work and selling it at high margins is one challenge.  But in my option that’s a much easier challenge these days than trying to find and keep enough quality production staff and trade subcontractors to keep up with the work, and complete it with quality. Don’t wait until you already need the help to start looking for them.  Instead, recruit good workers now and test them out to be sure they are right for your business and your business is right for them. During the winter months many employees are let go or laid off by contractors who lack good sales and marketing skills. This makes the winter a good time to look for prospective employees because there are more to choose from and because their options of available jobs are limited. Use the next few months to vet out the good ones and send the underperformers back out looking for jobs. Using this strategy it’s likely you will be able to produce the work you sell much easier while your competition has to do the best they can with the workers you passed up and or let go.

Related article:

Afraid To Hire Employees For Fear Of Running Out Of Work For Them?

 

Topics: Sales, Hiring and Firing, Business Growth, Prequalifying, Creating Referrals

How to Have a Hassle-Free Tax Season: 3 Tips for Small Business Owners

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Fri, Dec 16,2016 @ 05:00 AM

How to Have a Hassle-Free Tax Season: 3 Tips for Small Business Owners

Tax tips for contractorsSmall business owners usually cringe at the thought of tax season. They are busy enough with their daily operations that they don’t want to spend all of the time and energy getting ready to file on time. They also may dread of thought of paying more in taxes than they feel they should. While small business owners cannot avoid taxes altogether (even though they wish they could), they can take some steps now to avoid the hassles that typically come at tax time.

 

Consult Last Year’s Return

One of the best moves small business owners can make now to prepare for the upcoming tax season is to review last year’s return carefully. You may realize that you missed some deductions or expenses that you want to be sure to take advantage of this year. Or, you may realize that you underestimated this year’s taxes and need to start saving now.

On the other hand, if looking at last year’s return makes you feel completely overwhelmed, it’s time to invest in W-2 software and/or 1099 software tax software or hire an accountant or tax lawyer who specializes in small business taxes. Sometimes it’s better to admit defeat and utilize the tools and resources available to you and leave the hassle to someone else. It’s also important to note that it’s not advisable to wait to consult with a tax attorney or hire an accountant. These professionals become swamped after the first of the year and may not be able to schedule an appointment with you if you wait too long to reach out for help.

 

Have Your Records in Order

How contractors can get ready for tax timeEven if you are diligent about keeping receipts, a tax organizer or tax diary is a must. It’s also critical that small business owners keep their expense logs separate from their tax organizers, especially because high-quality tax organizers cover all of the questions the IRS will want answers to regarding travel, entertainment, and expenses should you be audited. Small business owners who keep tax organizers are better protected if they are audited because the burden of proof rests on the IRS when they have all of their expenses and taxes in order and logged properly.

 

Be Diligent about Deductions and Expenses

While you are keeping your records in order, you need to be diligent about it. Taking legitimate deductions is one of the best ways to lower your tax liability, but without the proper documentation, it is difficult to take the deductions and arm yourself should auditors come calling. It’s also a good idea to decide now whether you are taking the home office deduction or not; if you have a dedicated space in your home where you conduct business and nothing else, you are entitled to the home office deduction. You’ll also have to decide whether you are going to calculate this deduction using the standard method of calculating square feet and adding up costs for rent or a mortgage and utilities before multiplying by the percentage of the home that you use as an office or the new method of taking a deduction of $5 per square foot of office space.

in_truck-wr.jpgCategorizing expenses as equipment instead of supplies can cause a lot of headaches when it comes time to file your taxes. Keep in mind that supplies are things that you use during the year and replenish frequently, such as printer paper, pens, staples, file folders, and printer ink. On the other hand, equipment typically includes items that are more expensive and that last longer than a year. Equipment usually includes computers, software, furniture, and servers. You also should decide now whether you are going to write off the whole cost of new equipment this year or take depreciation over several years.

As a small business owner, you have the power to make your tax season hassle free if you learn from past years and take advantage of available tools and resources, have complete records in place, and correctly categorize deductions and expenses.

 

Guest Blogger: Julie Morris

 

Topics: Business Financials, Guest Blogs, Taxes

LED Lighting Guide for Contractors

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Mon, Dec 05,2016 @ 05:00 AM

LED Lighting Guide for Contractors

light behind the door-WR.jpg

 

A clear understanding of how LED lighting works can open immense possibilities for contractors to be able to evaluate and compare performance of luminaires. It will also enable providers to propose the right luminaires for clients based on knowledge of light installations and how they are predicted to perform.

Benefits of LED Lighting

LED Lighting info for remodeling contractorsLED or light-emitting diode has revolutionized light installations. This type of lighting requires less energy and loses less heat. The life of a LED bub is longer compared to the traditional ones. Life spans are quoted by companies from 50,000 to 100,00 hours or nearly 100 times longer than the traditional bulb.

In addition, it does not need a lot of maintenance and replacement making it cost-effective. To demonstrate, a typical LED lighting will produce over 100 lumens per watt (LPW). Lumen is the amount of light emitted from a source.  A 100W incandescent bulb will produce the same luminosity but will use up more energy compared to LED bulbs.

Not only is LED cost-effective, it has outstanding color quality and excellent efficiency. Color rendering index (CRI) is the term used to define the ability of light or lamp to replicate the colors of an object on a scale of 1 to 100 where 100 is the equivalent of sunlight.

LED lighting is also smaller and compact, an easy and quick job for contractors.

 

What to Look for When Purchasing LED Lighting

The most important specification when buying LED is lumen output. This means that when proposing lights for certain living spaces, you will consider the amount of light it produces (brightness) and ensure it is adequate for your customers' requirements. For example, you will need brighter lights in working spaces such as the kitchen and dimmer lights in the bedroom to induce sleep.

reading the paper-WR.jpgThen you will need to look at the LPW or lumens per watt. Put simply, this is the amount of lumens produced for every watt that is used. The higher the number, the better it is in order to match the CCT or the correlated temperature (measurement of coolness or warmth) measured in kelvins (K). It indicates whether a light is warm, neutral or cool white in appearance. Finally, you have to compare the CRI, with a higher rating a better choice, that is, greater than 80 is rated as good and greater than 90, very good.

 

Other Features to Consider

Safety certifications vary across different regions in the world such as UL, ETL, CSA, NOM and CE. Products must be rated for moisture conditions and intended use/application such as dry, damp or wet. You might see two codes: ingress protection (IP) and insulation contact (IC). IP ratings consist of two numbers: first one indicates protections against solids including dust (0-6 where 0 means not protected and 6 well-protected). IC ratings indicate protections against liquids (0-8 where 0 means not protected and 8 means that it can be submerged in liquids).

Overall, contractors have a large number of reasons for using LED light bulbs as opposed to rival bulb types. As mentioned above these range from flexibility of design and function, to lower energy costs and longevity. The LED bulb's market share is growing just as its purchase price decreases. This is giving contractors the perfect opportunity to create new, stunning and innovative designs, features, and displays that has not been possible until now. Using LEDs will give you the design edge you are looking for to stand out from the crowd.

 

Guest Blogger: Leigh Marcos worked in home design and lighting before becoming a mother of two and a freelance writer. A keen photographer, she enjoys taking her dogs for long walks through the countryside in the hope of getting that perfect shot.

Topics: Green Considerations, Differentiating your Business, Design Trends, Guest Blogs, Design Options