Subscribe to the Design/Builders Blog

The Design Builder's Blog

Getting Your Remodeling Business Ready to Produce More Work

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Apr 01,2018 @ 05:15 AM

Getting Your Remodeling Business Ready to Produce More Work

Remodeler estimating systemGrowth 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 Remodler job costingwhat 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.

Remodeler financial systemEven 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.

 

Don't Underestimate Your Estimating System Workshop LEARN MORE

If you would like to learn more about improving estimating at your remodeling business consider attending one of our estimating workshops typically offered in Massachusetts.   You can even get MA CSL Credits by attending.  Shawn McCadden can also come to your group, company, remodeler education conference, or remodeler trade association to conduct the workshop.  For more information contact Shawn today.   

 

 

 

Topics: Business Financials, Job Costing Considerations, Profit Sharing, Estimating, Business Growth, Financial Related Topics, Estimating Considerations, Breaking $1Million

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

12 Hard Questions: Do You Own a Remodeling Business or a Job?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Fri, Dec 02,2016 @ 05:00 AM

These 12 Hard Questions Can Help You Decide if You Own a Remodeling Business or a Low Paying Job

Contractor or construction business ownerAre you pretending to be a remodeling business owner but in reality you are actually just a "job owner"?  The questions below are tough and may make you feel real bad about yourself depending on how you answer them. But that’s not why I assembled them. Don’t kid yourself. If you are not cut out to be a business owner recognize that reality now. Don’t wait until you lose you all your money, your home and maybe even your family.  If being in business is not your calling keep in mind the industry is desperate for good employees.  Real remodeling business owners offer good jobs with great pay and benefits.  Answering these questions might just be the best thing you do for yourself this year.

 

  1. Are you one of about 85% of remodeling business owners who have no clue regarding how to calculate your required markup and gross profit margin (WAG)?
  2. Are you one of those business owners who uses a convoluted scheme for marking up different things at different markups even though you have no idea whether you are buying or selling jobs (WAG)?
  3. Remodeling Business accessmentAre you one of those business owners who doesn't know the difference between markup and margin, or worse you think they mean the same thing (WAG)?
  4. Are you one of about 80% who do marketing without a marketing plan?
  5. Are you one of those business owners who has no idea whether you made or lost money until your taxes are done in March or April by your “historian accountant” (WAG)?
  6. Are you constantly getting tax filing extensions because your books are a mess and or because you don't have the money to pay the taxes you were surprised to find out you owe (WAG)?
  7. Is your business up to its eyeballs in debt and you have no idea how or why you got there, or how you will ever get it paid off (WAG)?
  8. Are you, or will you be, one of the 52% of Americans ages 62-65 who have less than $25K saved for retirement?
  9. If you divided your total pay Wage plus net profits) by the number of hours you worked this past year are some or all of your employees making more per hour than you?
  10. Are you able to still say you’re still in business because of your wife’s job and health care plan?
  11. Do you brag that you do no marketing and totally rely on referrals but at the same time complain about the jobs and customers you get?
  12. If you answered yes to most or all of the above are you ready to do something about it?

 download free business assessment worksheet

 

Topics: Business Financials, Margin and Markup, Careers in Construction, Retirement Planning, Cash Flow, Marketing, Business Considerations, Taxes

How to Raise Your Markup: The Short 7 Step No BS Answer

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Feb 17,2016 @ 11:21 AM

How to Raise Your Markup: The Short 7 Step No BS Answer

How to raise your contractor markupOK, I’m sick and tired of the foo-foo fluffy BS answers some magazines and bloggers put out there to answer how contractors can raise their markup.  All the BS answers I see offered by others never call these contractors out on their ignorance. Without knowing what markup they actually need to use how would a contractor who is “slowly raising” his markup know when he has finally hit the right markup? It drives me crazy!   If you are ready for the no BS answers read on…

I have observed that the most common reason contractors can’t or won’t raise their markups is because they have no idea what markup they actually need to use. Yes, the hard truth is they are ignorant to how profits are built into their pricing and how to determine what markup they actually need to use. Due to their ignorance they have to guess and therefore completely lack any confidence in the prices they quote to consumers.

 

OK, no more BS.

If you want to make a predictable profit as a contractor here is the short and sweet no-BS plan.  

  1. Recognize you have no clue what to charge to be profitable and make a commitment to stop using the WAG Method (Wild Ass Guess)
  2. Learn how the financial game works so you will know what needs to be considered and how to figure out what to charge. If you have never been able to do this on your own, consider the definition of insanity and take a different route.
  3. Do the work and due diligence required to calculate the markup you need to use to be profitable, to live the life style you deserve, and to be able to retire some day (before your body gives out or you die). Knowing this number will be business and life changing.
  4. Accurately estimate your direct costs to build projects and then use the markup you calculated to establish the profitable price you need to sell at.
  5. Tell prospects your price and stick to it with confidence.
  6. If you don’t know how to sell, other than by dropping your price, get real sales training. Remember, profits are earned during the sales process and protected during production. If you are trying to make money in production it’s probably because you’re not a business manager, you’re a carpenter.
  7. If the people in your current market won’t pay what it takes for you to run a real business find a new market to work in.

Done! No more BS.

how contractors can raise their markup

She took control of the bull.  But, will you do it?

 

Need help? Here are a few options:

Option #3, Take a class: Attend this full day class in Auburn MA on April 14th, 2016 (Note: sign up for just day 1 unless you also need your MA CSL Credits)
Option #4, Ignore and or deny your ignorance....

 

 

Topics: Business Financials, Margin and Markup, Financial Related Topics, Earning More Money, Keeping More Money

Essential Business Hacks for Independent Contractors

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Mon, Oct 05,2015 @ 05:30 AM

Essential Business Hacks for Independent Contractors

Man_at_Laptop_talking_on_phone-wr-1Over 10 million Americans are independent contractors, according to the most recent estimates by the U.S. Department of Labor. Whether that means you do freelance work or have started your own company and hope to employ many people yourself one day, most independent contractors have one thing in common: they are learning as they go.


Here are some tried and true tips to help you navigate the time, energy and, most importantly, money-sucking pitfalls of entrepreneurship, so you can actually appreciate the joys of working for yourself:


Get Eco-Friendly

Your customers will love you for getting eco-friendly and so will your bank account. Eliminate paper from your processes as much as possible. Having everything digital makes your business run faster and smoother and saves you money and time down the line.

If you travel for work and your vehicle is not the most fuel efficient, you’re throwing money out the window every month, as well as contributing to smog and pollution. But that doesn’t mean you have to invest in an expensive electric car to save precious startup money. Check out the EPA’s new SmartWay certification for a list of budget-friendly vehicles that reduce carbon emissions and have saved drivers over $16.8 billion in fuel costs since 2004.


Buy in Bulk and Ahead of Time

Office supplies for contractorsFrom office supplies to packing materials, the biggest waste of time and energy is buying things you knew you would need at the last minute and paying full retail price. If you’re a retailer, seek out wholesale options and buy in bulk for the maximum discount. Look into a Costco membership for any and all office supplies. Office furniture can also be found at the local thrift store, furniture rental company or hotel furniture liquidators for pennies on the dollar.


Don’t Let Cash Flow Stop You

You are bound to have cash flow issues at some point. The thrill of working for yourself can quickly become the anxiety of "why on Earth did I think I could stand not knowing how much money I was going to be making each month?" Your bills may be fixed, but your income is not, so saving money prior to striking out on your own and during the startup process is crucial. It’s impossible to foresee all the hidden costs that are sure to crop in the beginning, so you need a little cushion.

SBA Loans for contractorsBut not even a lack of cash flow can stop you these days. With the popularity of crowdfunding, job placement services and Craigslist, there are outlets everywhere for the hard working, resourceful, independent contractor. Leave no stone unturned and check to see if you qualify for any small business loans or grants from the SBA.


Leverage Free Technology

Marketing yourself doesn’t have to cost you a fortune, but beware of companies looking to take advantage of unwitting new contractors. There are a lot of lead referral services out there that boast thousands of job postings for everything from nannies to graphic designers. Often they pull the old bait and switch move: you spend hours creating a profile for their sites, adding product pictures, reviews, references and certifications only for them to ask for a credit card and a hefty fee when you’re about to hit submit. You don’t want all that work to go to waste, so you plunk down your credit card against your better judgment and pay for a month (or three) of leads that, honestly, may not even exist.

The good news is you really can market yourself for free. Research your competitors and find out what social media outlets they’re using. Take notes and improve upon their tactics to stand apart from the crowd. Many SEO experts recommend using five or less social media sites and keeping your focus on original, quality content. And don’t discount the power of LinkedIn for finding and connecting with the top names in your industry; it’s like the Facebook of finance.

 

Stacy EdenGuest Blogger:  Stacy Eden is a Phoenix, Arizona native with a passion for art, power tools, and historical significance. She draws inspiration from classic cars, ancient mythological sculptures and jewelry designers such as Delfina Delettrez, Shaun Leane, and Dior Jewellery creative director Victoire de Castellane.

Topics: Business Financials, Starting a Business, Free Stuff, Cash Flow, Marketing Ideas, Guest Blogs

Comparing Contractor Markups Can Be Pointless and Very Risky

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Jun 21,2015 @ 07:00 AM

Comparing Contractor Markups Can Be Pointless and Very Risky

What contractor markup to useMany remodelers determine their pricing structure by copying what other businesses do rather than figure out what markup their business actually needs to use. Comparing or copying markups or margins is pointless and very risky without knowing how they were determined.   The decision about what costs or expenses go above or below the gross profit line can be different at different remodeling companies.   Therefore the markup each company will need to use to cover overhead costs and planned net profit will be different. Let me explain and clarify.

 

Sample Contractor Profit and LossFirst, here are the terms you need to know

Above the line = direct project costs (materials, labor -including burdens, subs and equipment costs)

Below the line = overhead related expenses

Indirect costs = overhead expenses plus net profit added together

 

Here is the simple mathematical formula for determining your markup

The businesses’ total indirect costs divided by the expected direct costs for an anticipated volume of work equals the required markup % to add to estimated direct costs.

This assumes profit is a required expense of doing business!

 

Let’s do an example:

The setup:
Assuming a remodeler is running a $900,000.00 a year business with the following above and below the line expenses:
$300,000.00 (Of indirect cost: overhead + net profit) ÷ $600,000.00 (Of direct cost: materials, labor and subs) = 50% markup

Proving the math works:
So, $600,000.00 of estimate direct job costs marked up by 50% = $900,000.00 (Provides a sell price that includes $300,000.00 of gross profit to cover the indirect costs of overhead and net profit)

Therefore:
One contractor can put something like vehicle expenses or worker’s compensation insurance related to field staff above the line.   Another might put the same items below the line. These two contractors may get to the same exact selling price but will be using different markups to get there.

 

Other important considerations to be aware of

How contractors decide what markup to useIt also important to know that fewer than 20% of remodelers actually know the true costs of being in business.  That means that 80% or more are using what has been referred to as the WAG or “Wild Ass Guess” method when it comes to deciding what markup they use to price the projects they sell. I call that “Contractor Roulette”

If that isn’t shocking enough for you keep in mind that about 9 out of 10 remodelers go out of business within ten years. Your chances of copying a successful remodeler’s markup are therefore about one out of ten. And the odds of copying the wrong markup get even greater if you don't know how, or even if, that remodeler actually calculated his required markup or did the WAG.

 

So here’s the bottom line regarding markup

You need to do the math or you won't know whether you are buying or selling jobs! Your ultimate success hinges on knowing the true costs of being in business and how to profitably price the work you sell.

 

Contractor markupsSo, what about you and your business?

The choice is yours. You can get the help you need to figure out what you need to charge for your work so you can be successful. Or, you can continue using the Wild Ass Guess Method and go to bed every night wondering if and when you will join the 90% who go out of business.

 

If you do not have the financial system you and your business needs, ask yourself why.  

If you need help setting one up, get the help you need.   If you want to work one on one with someone who can explain things to you in a simple way, help you understand your options and get your system set up, contact me today to discuss your needs. I’d be happy to chat with you to see if I can help.

If you would prefer working as part of a peer group to learn about this and other business management topics check out our upcoming Construction Business Owner Education and Peer Group Program beginning this September.

 

 

Other related articles:

Self Quiz To See If A Properly Setup Financial System Can Help You:

10 Causes of Construction Business Owner Financial Anxiety

Don't Put Your Business at Risk by Guessing At What Markup to Use

Don’t Confuse Bad Cash Flow with Under-Pricing

The Five Biggest Financial Mistakes Contractors Make

 

Topics: Business Financials, Margin and Markup, Financial Related Topics

Great Way Contractors Can Make Sure Payroll Taxes Get Paid On Time

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Mon, May 18,2015 @ 06:00 AM

Great Way Contractors Can Make Sure Payroll Taxes Get Paid On Time

Payroll tax payment reminderPayroll is complicated enough without having to worry about when to make payments and when to file which form to which government entity. I have many clients who are comfortable creating paychecks, but are nervous about missing payroll tax payments or filing forms late. A client recently asked if I couldn’t find a simple way to have reminders that would prompt him to do whatever had to be done. To help I created a simple “in your face” payroll reminder.

Since he uses QuickBooks, my first thought was to use the Reminders or To Do functions. However, he leaves his computer running and QuickBooks open, and these only pop up when you open the company file. Then I considered putting an Excel spreadsheet or Word document on his laptop desktop so he could just open it up. But that required him to make a habit of opening it up to see if anything was due. As we stared at his laptop desktop, he said, “What I really want is something right here” (gesturing to the screen). And that provided the solution!

 

Here's what I did, you can easily do it yourself

I created a calendar in Excel, including all the various due dates for payments and forms, being careful to make the proportions similar to the laptop display proportions. I also included dates for making federal and state estimated income tax payments. The next step was to convert to a graphic file format. This can be done easily by simply printing and then scanning the calendar.

 

Simple Payroll Tax payment reminder 

How contracors can make payroll tax payments on timeHow to get it on your desktop

The final step is to save the scanned image to a convenient location, and then right-click the file and choose Set as Desktop background.

Now, whenever you turn on your computer, or minimize your work, the list of due dates will be in your face!

 


 

Melanie_Portrait-wr
Guest Blogger: Melanie Hodgdon is a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor who has been providing financial analysis and QuickBooks training for contractors since 1994. She’s the co-author of A Simple Guide to Turning a Profit as a Contractor.    For payroll and other QuickBooks related questions and challenges including how to capture burden in labor reports you can email Melanie to discuss what you need and schedule time to get the solutions you need.


Topics: Business Financials, Financial Related Topics, Government Regulations, QuickBooks Related, Taxes

How Long Does It Take Before A New Construction Business Sees A Profit?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Jan 29,2015 @ 06:00 AM

How Long Does It Take Before A New Construction Business Sees A Profit?

Creating a profitable construction companyI came across a great question asked by a group member while participating on LinkedIn. I replied to the question on LinkedIn, but also thought it would make for great info to share with other contractors who might be asking the same question.

 

Here is the question:

I'm sure we all have heard, "It takes a business 3 to 5 years before it profits." Does this apply for our industry? How long should it take when you start your own business before you start to see a profit?

 

Here is my expanded answer

Great question. Thanks for asking it. The answer depends on how you define profit.   Many factors can be considered.   Let me offer a few here.

 

What you charge will be a significant factor

Being profitable does have a lot to do with knowing what you need to charge so you can and will earn a profit. If a business is guessing at their rates earning a profit is a guess as well. Probably more like a HUGE RISK!

Also, consider that investments you make in your business for the tools, equipment and other larger and long term use stuff are just that; investments.   The cost of those items, at least for tax purposes, is not typically assumed to be cost covered in one year of doing business, but rather the cost is typically spread out over several years. The idea is that these items are "invested in" using profits so they will eventually help provide more income and profits than they originally cost.

To summarize, the more you charge the more profits you can earn and therefore the faster you can pay off your investments and show a profit.

 

Profit is not measured only by how much you have left in the bank at the end of the year

How can I have earned a profit if I have no moneyAlso consider, as a business owner you may personally be measuring your profitability including the costs of any investments for a one year period. As a result may not see a profit in the bank at the end of the year.  However the money spent on those investments is still considered profit for business and tax purposes. This is the case because when filing your taxes the government sees these investment type purchases as assets paid for with profits.  To get tax deductions for these assets you are allowed to depreciate the assets over time to reduce their value and take tax deductions for them over several years or more. Essentially, for tax purposes, the government measures your profit by combining the money you earned and still have; along with the assets you bought using any profits, as your total taxable net profit. Also, any money your business paid out to you the owner as profit distributions over the year will be considered part of your business’ total taxable net income.

These are a few reasons why a lot of business owners have to report profits earned but may not have any money left in the bank to cover the taxes on those profits. When this happens a lot of contractors view their businesses as not having earned any profit. I suggest as the business owner you can view it any way you want, but the government will still be taxing you and or your business.

 

Make sure you give enough attention to these important tax considerations

tax_pie_chart-wrAgain, great question to ask. I hope this article helps.   Being a business owner means you have to understand how to manage and protect the profits you earn, but at the same time manage how you will be taxed on that same money.   By not knowing or ignoring these considerations you can be working hard to make money while profits that could have stayed with you are going out the door to the government as taxes. That said there are a lot of great reasons to have a proactive accountant helping you and your business instead of a historian type accountant who only files your taxes for you when everything is already said and done for the year.

Now, go on out there and generate some profits so you have to pay even more taxes next year!

But, don’t pay any more than you have to!

 

Contracor tax savings considerationsNeed more help with understanding business financial considerations?

If you are in the Massachusetts or Southern New Hampshire areas consider joining our Peer Group Program scheduled to begin in March 2015.

Otherwise contact Shawn to discuss how his one-on-one coaching and mentoring can help you make and keep more money.

Topics: Business Financials, Starting a Business, Business Growth, Financial Related Topics, Keeping More Money

Financial System Considerations for Remodelers Looking To Break $1Million

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Mon, Jan 19,2015 @ 06:00 AM

Financial System Considerations for Remodelers Looking To Break $1Million

Financial reports for contractorsGrowing a remodeling business past $1Million a year of installed sales comes with new costs and expenses as the number of employees and overhead related activities naturally increase.   Just like estimating the cost of a remodeling project, the business owner will need a practical plan for growing the business and an accurate estimate of the costs related to growing it.   Then just like a remodeling project the business needs a way to measure how well things are actually going against the plan and budget.  

Without the ability to measure as the business grows the owner will experience a lot of financial anxiety.

Here is a list of several important financial system related items the business should put in place before growing past that $1million threshold.  Remember, this is supposed to be what I refer to in the second article in this series of articles as the Take-Off Stage.  Either the business properly prepares to take off and grow profitably or it risks disorganized chaos and lots of frustration attending the Lumberyard School of Hard Knocks.

 

Create a Financial System Strategy:

Identify what the business needs to measure and how it will be measured.  This is important because the business must have apples to apples ability for comparing estimated job costs and overhead expenses to actual cost and expenses.   Without a well thought out and accurate chart of accounts in place job cost reports will be misleading and estimated gross profit margins for sold jobs will not be comparable to the profit and loss reports the system creates.  I bet most of you don't job cost your actual labor costs for each employee using the same burdened labor cost strategy employed when estimating those labor costs.

Find or create a fast and accurate Estimating System:  

Yellow pad estimatingAs the business grows and more employees are added to share the workload the owner must be able to delegate tasks he or she probably did them self as they grew the business.  These delegated activities might include things like product selection, product procurement, production management, and even the responsibility for doing the estimating.   The yellow pad estimating method will not be adequate anymore.  A more advanced estimating system using spreadsheets and or industry specific estimating software will be needed and employees will need to be properly trained to use it.  The right system will speed up the estimating process and provide the information the entire team needs to build projects on their own without the need for constant micromanagement by the estimator, salesperson production manager and or the business owner.    

Create and document an Accounting and Bookkeeping System:

To support the financial system that was designed to best serve the business as it grows, a software system to support it must be setup and put in place.  Keep in mind that financial software like QuickBooks is not a financial system, but rather the tool that will be used to support that system.  Software like QuickBooks can be setup in many different ways.   Setting it up correctly is probably a task far more involved and time consuming than most business owners, bookkeepers and even most accountants are skilled to tackle.  Make sure you use a qualified expert to help you in this area.  Also, the business will need to create and document an administrative system for how financial information will be collected, coded, entered into the system, filed and verified.  This is needed so trained employees can follow the system and the business owner can be confident about the accuracy and timeliness of information when reviewing financial reports.

Growing your business should be profitable and should not be left to luck or chance.  

Financial system for remodelersWithout an accurate financial system in place your business will, unfortunately, be like the majority of other remodeling businesses in our industry.  Over 80% of remodelers have no idea of the true cost of being in business.  These businesses use what is referred to as the WAG method, or "Wild Ass Guess Method” for estimating direct cost and even the markup percentage to use on estimated costs when pricing the jobs they sell.  If that describes you and your business put the things I describe here in this article in place at your business before you seek to take-off past $1Million in remodeling.  Growing your business should be rewarding and profitable.  Entering the unknown without being properly prepared can be costly and may even lead to the demise of your remodeling business.

 

(Note: This is the sixth article in a series of articles written specifically for remodelers who want to successfully break past doing $1M/year in installed sales. Click here to see a list of all the articles in the series that have been published.)

 

 

 

Topics: Business Financials, Estimating, Business Growth, Financial Related Topics, Estimating Considerations, Business Planning, Software Related, Breaking $1Million

As Construction Recovers, Look at Business Operation Tools

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Dec 09,2014 @ 06:00 AM

As Construction Recovers, Look at Business Operation Tools

Business tools for contractors

 

 

The construction industry that drives so much of the contracting business is steadily gaining throughout the nation. U.S. News & World Report reports that new home construction grew almost 22 percent in 2014. Moreover, builders themselves are optimistic, according to the National Association of Home Builders, which reports its members have seen an increase in "serious buyers."

 

This is great news for the contracting business. But with the recovery still a bit fragile and lenders reluctant to release loans, smart contractors need to be able to respond to work requests quickly. This means working smarter, including the work that runs the business. Luckily, there are tools that can let them focus on their craft and leave the business end in responsible hands, too.

 

Outsource Complex Financial Tasks

Mountain_of_pitch_book_binders-wrLots of small businesses, including many contractors, outsource accounting services like payroll and tax preparation. This is a smart move; tools like QuickBooks and NetSuite are constantly improving their services and lowering their costs. Even better, they are hosted online—in the cloud—so they can be accessed from any secure Internet site, reports Forbes. Online accounting services are very good choices for new firms and small ones that do not have a large enough accounting infrastructure to handle all functions and future growth. They're also heavily focused on security and maintaining backups of their own clients' data.

What about revenue management? This is not part of standard accounting services like QuickBooks. But managing your revenue is how your company stays afloat and can perform tasks like payroll and paying your own suppliers.

Customer management firms like Chargify have filled this important gap, providing clients from businesses of all sizes with online, cloud-based services that include:

  • Accepting payments from several sources, including ACE, eChecks, PayPal, and credit cards.

  • Issuing refunds.

  • Emails to customers that handle electronic invoices and receipts, payment reminders, and upcoming credit card expiration dates.

  • Coupons and discount redemption.


Best of all, these online services guarantee their accuracy and post solid customer ratings.

 

Go Online for Business and Legal Filings

Online legal services for contractors

Most contractors are small businesses but still have to file the same paperwork as the big guys. Unlike the big guys, they don't have in house attorneys and generally don't have time to run downtown to talk to a lawyer about filing for a business license or how to get a federal EIN.

Online legal services can help with the routine legal issues that don't involve the courts. Services like Legal Zoom and RocketLawyer provide small business owners with information and assistance that can help them understand how to address common legal topics that often arise in the course of business, such as:

  • Whether to file as an LLC, partnership, or S-corporation.

  • Steps to take to ensure corporate compliance.

  • Debt collection advice.

Subscribers also get access to common legal forms like employment contracts, cease-and-desist templates, and nondisclosure agreements. On call lawyers are available to answer general questions around the clock.

 

Go Online for Office Software

Perhaps the biggest online industry is office products like word processing and spreadsheets.

Small businesses used to shell out a lot of money for office software and then spend more on antivirus software, backup systems, and of course upgrades. They don't have to do this anymore with online services from well-known companies like Google and Microsoft.

To get Google's free online office products, just open a free Google account which includes the famous Gmail email service and more free services:

  • Online drive that stores virtually any kind of document uploaded to it.

  • Word processing.

  • Spreadsheet.

  • Presentation slide.

  • Forms.

  • Drawing tool.

If you or your office staff can't live without Microsoft Office, the online Office 365 delivers the full suite of Microsoft products, including online meeting services, upgrades, and security. Prices start at $12.50/month.

 

Ruth_Ann-wr

 

Guest Blogger: Ruth Ann Monti is the founder of TimeStorm Communications, which provides original content, copywriting, social media and marketing services for entrepreneurs and small business. She lives with her son and two dogs in sunny Scottsdale, AZ.

 

Topics: Business Financials, Technology for Remodelers, Legal Related, Free Stuff, Business Management, Guest Blogs, Software Related