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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

The Difference the Right Employees Can Make For Your Construction Business

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Jan 14,2016 @ 05:30 AM

The Difference the Right Employees Can Make For Your Construction Business

 
choosing good construction employeesHaving the right employees at your business can make a huge difference to your business in so many ways.
It should not be left to chance. In addition to your construction company's profitability the right employees can also make a huge difference for your customers and the way they view and or will share their experiences with others. In this article I share my experience with one United Airlines employee who helped make my experience and day way better than I had come to assume it would be.  I bet by sharing it you can use my experience as a guide to better seek, choose and train your employees.
 
Over the holidays this Christmas season I went on an annual goose hunting trip in Illinois with some contractor buddies.  My first return flight was delayed and I was at risk of making my connection to get back home. I was obviously bummed out.  But, thanks to just one exceptional airline employee, I made the connection and got back in time to celebrate the New Year with my family.  Here's what that employee did and why you should seek, choose and train your employees to be just like her.
 

First off she had a great attitude and presented herself well

The woman who checked me in was well dressed and well groomed.  Sure she had to wear a uniform (and so should your employees), but in addition to wearing professional attire she obviously also had a lot of self-respect and presented herself well.  Unlike others I observed working around her she was professionally groomed, interacted with a genuine smile and spoke with a professional vernacular. I suspect someone raised her to be that way and I could tell it was natural for her, not an act.  In my opinion hiring her was a great investment.

Related Articles:

 

Next, she managed my expectations and offered proactive assistance

how to choose the right construction employeesAs she checked me in she made me aware that my flight was likely to be delayed and therefore making my tight connecting flight might be at risk.  I had never had anyone else at any airline do this at check in.  She also told me why it might be late before I had chance to ask her why.  By doing so my attitude about my situation was already less stressful.  She then helped me make a "Plan B" in case I missed that flight.  By doing so I went to the gate in a much better frame of mind than the frame of mind I would have been in if I discovered my possible dilemma at the gate.  
I soon found out the flight was expected to be delayed by at least 30 minutes, I was now assuming "Plan B"
 

Then she was at the gate and was working hard to mitigate potential challenges

Yes, the same woman who checked me in soon came to work the gate, and was all by herself.   I suggest, like a small business, the gate at that small airport could not support additional overhead.  She was obviously cross trained by her employer to perform a wide variety of tasks and to do so very efficiently.  For that I not only credit her employer for properly training her, but for also hiring an employee with the right cognitive abilities and a desire to learn.  For that I can probably also credit her as well as whoever raised her and or mentored her in her formative years.  With her actions, knowledge and a professional demeanor she got the incoming passengers squared away, prepped things for my outbound flight, and very efficiently got us all boarded faster that I have ever experienced before.  And I travel a lot!  She minimized the potential delay big time like it was second nature.

Related Article:

 

The good news was that I made my connection to get home. 

how to hire the right employeesThe better news, for me and her employer, is that she restored my faith in her company as a preferred option.  The next time I have a choice when deciding between available airline options to serve my traveling needs my experience that day with her will definitely become part of my buying decision.

I hope sharing my experience that day will help you make better hiring plans and decisions.  For additional help and insight check out his article titled "One Simple but Powerful Tip for Hiring the Right Employees”

 

Topics: Hiring and Firing, Worker Training, Recruting, Team Building, Differentiating your Business, Culture, Customer Relations, Creating Referrals

Key Differences Between Carpenters and Great Lead Carpenters: Part 2

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Jul 09,2015 @ 06:00 AM

Key Differences Between Carpenters and Great Lead Carpenters: Part 2

Skills to be a lead carpenterAs I pointed out in part one of this article skilled carpenters are assumed to have the trade skills needed to do the work at hand and to understand construction. But just because a carpenter has these skills doesn’t necessarily also mean he or she has the rest of what it takes to be a successful Lead Carpenter. In the first article I listed the basic skills and thinking skills a carpenter must possess to be eligible to become a Lead Carpenter. Below is the second half of a list of key skills a carpenter should have or will need to acquire to become a great Lead Carpenter. We will be covering these topics and others at our Lead Carpenter System Workshop for business owners coming this summer.

 

This second list describes the people skills and personal qualities a carpenter must possess before becoming a great Lead Carpenter. These are skills that can be learned and mastered while working as a carpenter. Training, supervision, mentoring and coaching by the business owner and or other leaders in the business can help the right carpenters acquire these very important skills. Before investing in a carpenter in these areas make sure your Lead Carpenter to be has the demonstrated cognitive ability and willingness to learn and apply such skills.

 

People Skills needed to be a Lead Carpenter

  • Social: Has a natural ability to show understanding, friendliness, and respect for the feelings of others, but at the same time is able to assert oneself when appropriate. Also takes genuine interest in what people say and why they think and act the way they do.
  • Negotiation: Ability to assess and identify common goals among different parties and at the same time clearly present their and the company’s position. Can also examine possible options and make reasonable compromises.Lead Carpenter skills
  • Leadership: Can appropriately communicate thoughts and feelings to justify a position. Can also encourage or convince while making positive use of rules or values. Demonstrates the ability to have others believe in and trust in them because of demonstrated competence and honesty.
  • Teamwork: Contributes to the team offering ideas and effort, but also does his or her share of the work to be done. Has the ability to encourage other team members and can resolve differences for the benefit of the team. At the same time can responsibly and appropriately challenge existing procedures, policies, or authorities for constructive purposes.
  • Cultural Diversity: Works well with people having different ethnic, social, or educational backgrounds and understands the cultural differences of different groups. Can also help the people in different groups make and embrace cultural adjustments when necessary.

 

Happy_lead_carpenter-wrPersonal qualities needed to be a Lead Carpenter

  • Self-Esteem: Understands how beliefs affect how others feel and act. Can identify irrational or harmful beliefs they may have and understand how to change and or adjust them when needed.
  • Self-Management: Honestly assesses his or her knowledge and skills accurately. Proactively sets specific and realistic personal as well as professional goals and can self monitor progress toward those goals.
  • Responsibility: Works hard to reach goals, even if the task is unpleasant. Will consistently do quality work and maintains a high standard of attendance, honesty, energy, and optimism.

 

Click here to see a Job Description for a Lead carpenter

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Click here to read part one of this article

 

lead carpenter system workshop click here Other articles to help contractors and construction business owners choose and grow the right carpenters into Lead Carpenters

Helping Lead Carpenters Become Managers Benefits Them and The Business

Is He Or She Really A Lead Carpenter?  Probably Not!

Interesting Considerations For Putting The Right Employee On The Right Job

Getting Employees to Think Like Owners

 

Topics: Hiring and Firing, Worker Training, Careers in Construction, Recruting, Team Building, Production Considerations, Lead Carpenter System, Mentoring/Coaching, Culture, Leadership

One Simple But Powerful Tip For Hiring The Right Employees

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Mon, Aug 11,2014 @ 06:01 AM

One Simple But Powerful Tip For Hiring The Right Employees

Hiring the right employees for a construction company

 

 

Many contractors complain about employees not doing their jobs as expected, don’t fit in with other team members and or are not performing their individual work tasks as expected.   These are common problems to be recognized and unless addressed can cost the business a lot of money and can compromise customer satisfaction.  However I find that in many cases the employee is not the one at fault, but rather the construction or remodeling company that did the hiring hired the wrong person. 

 

So why does this happen and what can construction business owners do about?

A big mistake I see many contractors make is creating the job description for a new hire after he or she has already been hired.  Think about that for a second.   Whether written down or worked out inside your head, figuring out the job description for a new hire after the fact may just be a way to rationalize your hiring decision.   Done after the fact the job description is only a documentation of who you hired and what you got; not necessarily who you should have hired and what that person should be able to contribute and deliver as an employee.


Instead, here is a radical idea

Using job descriptions to help with hiringWhy not write job descriptions before you seek to hire! 

By creating a written job description you can make sure any new hires will have the skills, personality and previous experience to fill the job’s position within your organization.  

When putting the job description together I suggest you consider and include not only the desired trade skills, but also the expected outcomes if the employee performs properly.  To make sure the person will fit in well with the position, as well as the rest of your team, also include a profile of the candidate's desired attitudes, behaviors and disposition.  If you think this through and express it in writing before you hire, you can use what you put together as your guide and as a checklist when interviewing and considering candidates.

 

Here are a few example considerations by job position

  • Carpenter: Do you need someone who can preplan the project including making materials lists and setting up sub contractors in advance of starting projects or are you OK with a good carpenter who can figure things out well enough as he goes, but can’t preplan? (Click here for a Lead Carpnter Job Description)
  • Bookkeeper: Do you want someone who can set up and use QuickBooks to track financial information and create business reports from the information, or are you OK with a data entry level person who just follows someone else’s instructions within a QuickBooks file that was created by your business coach or accountant?

 

You can either hire for what you need or settle for what you get

Investing in the right employees for a construction companyI hope you can see by my examples offered above that if you don’t define what you want in advance you may not get what you really need.  If fact, hiring the wrong person can cost you a lot of money due to wasted time and lost opportunities while you seek out and onboard a replacement candidate.  

Hiring the right employees should be looked at as an investment.  With the right employees the business can grow faster and generate a lot more profit.  Hiring the right employees can also help put you on a path towards a comfortable retirement so you won’t have to work until you die.


How about you? 

Are you a business owner who figures things out as they happen, or will you plan ahead and set up what you want to have happen when it comes to growing your business and hiring the right employees?

 

Topics: Hiring and Firing, Success Strategies, Recruting, Culture

Do You Do A Better Job Picking Lumber Than You Do Picking Employees?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Jan 14,2014 @ 06:00 AM

Contractors: Do You Do A Better Job Picking Lumber Than You Do Picking Employees?

Lots of contractors these days complain that they can’t find any good help.  Others complain they can’t get the help they do have to do good work and or be conscientious employees.  These contractors claim their workers just don’t have the skills, attitudes and or behaviors the business owner desires.  It would seem, at least in my opinion, that these contractors are rationalizing why it’s their employees who are at fault for this, when in reality it’s the business owner who interviewed and hired the employees.

 

Hiring good construction workers

 

Here’s an analogy for you. 

Choosing employees is a lot like choosing lumber.   Like lumber, employees are available in different grades.   If you want good quality lumber you need to know where to go to get it and you will have to accept the fact that the better grade will cost more money than the lower grade.

 

Are you making do with what you have in stock?

Hiring construction workersIf you buy straight, clean and clear lumber, decking for example, you can quickly install the decking because you won’t have to straighten out each piece as you go.   Also, you won’t have to worry about trying to hide any imperfections like loose knots, wane or checks.  On the other hand if you buy (hire) a lower quality decking (employee) you will need to do the best you can with what you bought (hired).   And, with low quality employees or lumber, you ultimately won’t know what finished quality you can expect until you are done doing the best you can with what you have to work with.

 

Does this make sense to you?

Why is it then that so many contractors make personal trips down to the lumberyard to pick up and pick out the specific materials they want to build with, but spend little time or effort choosing the right employees?   Why will a contractor buy the best materials for the job but then make do with poor or average quality labor to install those materials?

I think it’s mostly because contractors have no idea how to recruit, interview and hire properly.   These same contractors learned how to hold up and “eye” a piece of framing lumber.    A similar concept can be used to qualify and pick out the right employees.


Shouldn’t you be committed to being a business owner, too?

Hiring a carpenter

 

For the most part contractors gain and master all the required trade skills because someone first taught them the skills and because they have purposely practiced those learned skills with the honorable desire to become craftsman.  In my opinion this same process and commitment should apply regarding learning business skills; like hiring employees.   A good business manager must first learn the skills required to properly recruit, interview and hire the right employees.  Then, they must have actual experience using these skills so they can apply what they have learned and eventually become successful at doing them.  


So, like lumber, you can bring low quality or discount employees onto the job.   But, if you do, you will also have to spend extra time trying to “straighten each one out” and to make sure you “hide their flaws” so they will look acceptable when the home owner comes around to see how things are going.

As a construction business owner the quality of your employees, just like the quality of your work, is your full responsibility.

 

Related Articles:

Is He Or She Really A Lead Carpenter?  Probably Not!

Successfully Grow Your Business By Creating a Ladder of Opportunity For Employees

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to Contractors:  Start Hiring Convicted Felons!

Mentor Me, Please - Gen Y Business Owner Offers Peers Advise on How to Learn From Craftsmen


Topics: Hiring and Firing, Recruting, Team Building

All I want for Christmas… Is a Real Production Manager!

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Dec 19,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Steve St Onge

 

Guest Blogger:  Steve St. Onge founded RI Kitchen & Bath, an award-winning design/build residential and light commercial remodeling company located in Warwick RI specializing in kitchens, baths, and multi-trade interior renovation projects.  Steve contacted me about help finding a production manager, so I convinced him to do this guest blog as a way to find a good candidate.  Steve can be reached via email at Steve@rikb.com

 

 

All I want for Christmas… Is a Real Production Manager!

Dear Santa Series

 

OK, so why is it so hard to find a complete package???

I want an employee who has:

  • A complete understanding of residential construction including knowledge about the challenges of older homes – say built before 1940, and also a working knowledge of current building code. 
  • A person with field installation experience so they understand just how long a task should take and what a quality fit and finish really looks like.
  • A people person – someone who can assemble and motivate a team of skilled professionals to complete projects on time, as well as maintaining a professional, respectful and solid working relationship with the architects and sales and design team that brought the project to us in the first place, with the ability to overcome challenges of missing information or changes, along with that all important trait of empathy for the client’s experience.
  • Production Manager wantedA communicator -someone who can exchange ideas, and be open to other’s solutions in addition to being able to clearly articulate their ideas through verbal and written channels in a timely and responsive manner.
  • A problem averter, not just a problem solver, because once there is a problem, it is too late.  This has to be someone that has vision and can plan and then implement that plan.
  • A detail person, someone who is organized, doesn’t lose the details and can create spreadsheets and collate data to analyze the stats and make adjustments to stay on schedule or increase efficiencies.
  • A tech savvy person, who understands how to leverage technology and use it in new and creative ways to manage multiple projects and tasks at the same time.
  • A student- someone who wants to continue to learn, and grow and accept new challenges.
  • A teacher- someone who is willing and able to share their knowledge to help others.
  • A happy person with good manners and a pleasant demeanor - someone you would invite to dinner.

Is this too much to ask?   I’ve been good….  Really.

 Production manager wanted

 

This is the second blog article in the "All I want for Christmas" series here at the Design/Builders Blog.

If you would like to contribute a guest blog for the Design/Builders Blog email Shawn with your suggest topic.

 

Topics: Fun Stuff, Hiring and Firing, Recruting, Production Considerations, Guest Blogs

As The Economy Improves, Will You Become A Slave To Your Business?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Jun 18,2013 @ 06:00 AM

As The Economy Improves, Will You Become A Slave To Your Business?


slave to your business

Now that work is picking up many remodelers who had larger businesses before the recession hit have admitted to me privately that they are overworked and limping along.  Because they let staff go during the recession they now have an insufficient team of leaders at the middle management levels, both in the office and in the field.  Without the right staff to help share the load and responsibilities that come with increased volume they are concerned they will become and remain slaves to their businesses.   To solve this dilemma and remain successful these remodelers will need to quickly find, recruit, train and create ways to retain high quality talented employees.  

 

The “Catch 22” #1

The longer they wait to get such people on board and trained the tougher it will be to find the time to get such people on board and trained.  This is because without the help already in place their workload will only increase even more, further limiting their available time to focus on finding new hires and getting them up to speed so they are productive.

Ball and Chain

The “Catch 22” #2

In a good economy it can be very difficult to find people who have the background, skills, and experience to perform as high achievers.   These employees are already working for someone else or are taking advantage of the good market and are running their own businesses.  On the other hand, during the recession economy like the one we are hopefully getting out of, there was an abundance of available talent, including those who owned but closed down their businesses.  Act now as the economy and remodeling are picking up and you might find great hires.  Wait and you will likely have to comb through whoever is left after other contractors have scooped up the cream of the crop.

 

Consider the following options if you want to lead the pack and get your life back

  • Consider hiring new talent before everyone else figures out it is time to hire.  Make sure money isn’t the only reason they are joining your team.
  • Consider replacing underperforming staff now while the selection of good employees is strong, before compensation expectations explode due to supply and demand, and while those who want new opportunities are eager to prove their value.
  • If too much of your time has been shifted back to production management activities, consider letting go those carpenters who need to be managed, hire real lead carpenters this time and use subs where needed to fill in labor gaps.
  • If you already have good talent, make sure you do what you can to keep them with your business.   As the economy returns other businesses, desperate to fill positions, will be over-paying to grab or steal talent from their competition.
  • Keep in mind that money is not the primary motivator when trying to retain good talent.  A positive culture, opportunity for advancement, benefits and real responsibility all rank high for employees who have a long term perspective about their careers and personal goals.

 

Final thoughts

Ramping up a remodeling businessAttempting to strategically ramp up staffing needs as the economy improves and get new employees acclimated before your business already needs to have them at high capacity will definitely be a juggling act.   There is no better time than now to get that process started.  Those contractors who use their past experience in this area and or the shared experiences of a mentor will have a jump on grabbing top talent.  They will be the select few who are ready for the business opportunities that will come with an improved remodeling marketplace.

 

 


Topics: New Business Realities, Hiring and Firing, Success Strategies, Recruting, Business Growth

Have The Right Compensation Strategy For Carpenters Before You Hire!

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, May 30,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Have The Right Compensation Strategy For New Carpenters Before You Hire Them!

Pay rate for a carpenter

 

One of the benefits of the great recession was that as business slowed down businesses got rid of underperforming and or overpaid employees.  This article is intended to help those remodelers who had or may still have such employees.   I hope by reading this information they can avoid repeating the same mistakes again as the economy eventually improves.

 

During the boom times many contractors, trying to get enough field labor to keep up with volume demands, resorted to overpaying carpenters and other field workers just to get them on board.  Also, over time, many remodelers gave wage increases to these people just to keep them, either in fear of losing them and or because another business offered the employee more money.  Additionally, many employees received wage increases based on longevity, perhaps with little or no consideration for any actual advancement in performance, responsibility or productivity.  One could fault the business and or the economy for why this was happening, but certainly not the employees.  After all, if market demand stimulated increased wages, employees would be foolish not to pursue and take the increases.

Then the bottom fell out

pay rate for carpentersThe great recession changed this scenario somewhat due to layoffs and downsizing.  The surplus of unemployed field workers got as high as 27% for the construction industry during the recession.  Unfortunately many skilled workers left the industry for other jobs, less physical jobs and or better job security.   This has set up what is expected to be a major labor shortage problem for our industry as the economy and construction pick up again.  Many contractors around the country are already reporting challenges finding skilled carpenters to keep up with construction demand.  As the demand goes up, so will the wages that carpenters can demand to either stay at their current jobs or that other contractors will use to lure workers away to work for them.

 

Finding, attracting and keeping the best carpenters will require strategic thinking

Finding good carpentersIf you plan to hire additional carpenters as your business volume picks up now is the time to put a plan together for not only finding, but also attracting good carpenters to work for your business and then to get them to stay with your business.  The compensation package you put together should not only capture their interest, but also help them see opportunities for future growth and increased compensation if they are loyal and motivated.

This provides a great opportunity for remodeling business owners to get compensation and any future wage increases in line with actual performance, rather than continue using the subjective reasons so prevalent the past.  It should only make sense for a business to put a plan in place that properly compensates employees based on the value they bring to the business.  It also makes sense to put such a plan in place so employees will know how they can and when they have earned the right to expect increased compensation.

 

Buying a boat or getting married is not a good reason to give a carpenter a raise!

pay rate for a carpenterThe automobile industry uses a flat rate manual to determine the labor costs for auto repair services.  The strategy they use is not to estimate the number of hours to do a certain task, but rather the typical actual cost of the labor to perform the task.  A repair shop that uses flat rates pays their employees for what they accomplish, not how long it took them to do it.  A construction or remodeling business could do something similar.  Such a strategy could also help the business and the employees learn where to invest training to improve performance and stimulate wage increases for those who buy into performance based opportunities.

If remodelers and other contractors continue to use purely subjective methods to determine compensation for field employees, they will be setting the example for and encouraging employees to also continue using subjective methods to assess their own performance.  If this plagued your business in the past it’s up to you to make sure it doesn’t happen again. 

Summary

Before you hire new employees or bring previous employees back into your business take the time to think out and document compensation plans based on merit.    If you introduce such a plan to job candidates it could even act as a filter.  Top performing candidates will be attracted to such a plan, but those who can’t or won’t perform will likely find somewhere else to work.  After all, as a business owner your compensation is based on actual performance.  Why not offer the same opportunity to employees.  If they make more money participating in such a plan, so will you!


Compensation plan for a carpenter


Related articles:

Successfully Grow Your Business By Creating A Ladder Of Opportunity For Employees

How To Make The Ladder Of Opportunity Happen At Your Construction Business

Simple Profit Sharing Plan For Contractors

 

Topics: New Business Realities, Hiring and Firing, Worker Training, Careers in Construction, Team Building, Employee Advancement, Business Growth, Sage Advice

How To Make The Ladder Of Opportunity Happen At Your Business

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Apr 11,2013 @ 06:00 AM

How To Make The Ladder Of Opportunity Happen At Your Construction Business

Note: This is the last article of a 3 article series on this topic (Click for article #1 or for article #2)

Turnkey business model for contractors 

Let’s use the example of creating a “Turnkey Business”

If you want a turnkey operation, which is one that runs without the need of the owner’s participation, the employees need to be self-motivated rather than motivated by the owner, their manager or short term measured motivation programs. Even if turnkey is not part of your vision, a single owner can’t wear all the hats of a continuously growing company. Vacations, health, and emergencies will at some point require the owner to delegate responsibilities to key employees.

 

Learn the “whys”

Employee motivationsThe best way to find out what will motivate team members is to ask them. While interviewing recruits or existing employees, find out not only what motivates them to grow, but also why. Connecting the “why” to the “what” can help get you, your business and that employee to where everyone wants to be much faster for two reasons.

  1. The first is the simple fact that adults choose to commit and follow through on their goals for their own, sometime selfish, reasons.
  2. Second, if the business, the marketplace or life changes at some point, knowing the why can help us find alternate ways to accomplish the long term company vision while still maintaining motivation.

 

Managing employee growth requires scheduled reviews

To help facilitate success support employee career advancement planning and implementation with a structured employee review process.  Be sure your review process identifies where the employee is today, where he or she is headed, and where you both expect them to be along their career path by the next scheduled review meeting. 

 

Generating a vision for where they will be is not enough

Career paths in construction

 

Work with the employee to identify the plan required to get there.  Include what the employee needs to do, as well as the company’s commitment and the necessary steps to help make it happen. 

Implementing a ladder of opportunity may require that the employee train and mentor his or her replacement.  Be sure the company provides "training of the trainer” early in each employee’s career path.  Education then becomes part of the company culture and facilitates constant growth among workers. 

 

Write down and maintain records of the employee review process.

Cosntruction employee performance reviewInclude in your record keeping not only the reviewer’s comments, but employee’s feedback about how well the company helps him or her to get there.  If your process includes writing down what has been agreed to at this review, both the company and the employee will know what to do between now and the next review.  You will also both know what you will be discussing at the next review.  This helps minimize the typical fears experienced by both the reviewer and the employee when anticipating the next review meeting and what they should talk about during the next review. 

If the review process is well thought out, properly documented and followed throughout each employee’s career, you have created a ladder of opportunity!

 

Related articles:

Article #1 of this series: Successfully Grow Your Business By Creating a Ladder of Opportunity For Employees

Article #2 of this series: How To Create A Ladder Of Opportunity For Your Employees

Government to Contractors: Start Hiring Convicted Felons!

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Topics: Hiring and Firing, Success Strategies, Worker Training, Careers in Construction, Recruting, Team Building, Employee Advancement, Business Growth

Grow Your Business By Creating a Ladder of Opportunity For Employees

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Apr 04,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Successfully Grow Your Business By Creating a Ladder of Opportunity For Employees

Ladder of opportunity for employees

Note: This is the first of a 3 article series on this topic

It has been my observation that the most successful construction businesses are the ones that plan for and achieve consistent growth. This growth is measured in two ways that go hand in hand.  The first, and probably the most obvious, is growth in revenue.  The second, and most important, is the growth of the employees who comprise the team.  These two forms of growth go hand in hand because without employees to manage and complete the work, you cannot increase your revenues. Another important consideration is that growth will be pointless unless you maintain profitability.  Adding quality employees helps you to maintain and boost your financial success.

You can jeopardize consistent growth by constantly replacing employees or forcing new hires into management positions. The fact is that as a business expands, you will need additional employees and skills to maintain the growth. Employee retention and improving upon their skills are easier and quicker ways to grow. Creating a ladder of professional and career opportunities for your employees helps facilitate a long-term design strategy for your business.  The ladder of opportunity is created by moving employees forward into new positions and bringing on new team members to fill the positions they leave vacant.  You maintain the ladder of opportunity by helping new hires to grow in this same way.

Reasons for using a "Ladder of Opportunity"


Evolution Vs. Revolution?

Business growth strategies for contractorsIt’s not easy to replace employees as they leave your team or to bring on new hires that possess the necessary skills to ensure your business grows. Doing so also delays the rate at which you your construction business can grow.  You need to also consider whether you feel it is really fair to existing employees if you don’t give them the opportunity to move up within the company. If you are not developing employees as the company grows, you will eventually face a revolution, rather than an evolution.  If this happens, you may be forced to replace these employees with others who already have the skills the growing business needs.  This approach can be very risky and expensive.

 

Offering a ladder of opportunity helps keep good employees. 

Career path for a carpenterI always found that great employees are far more motivated by opportunity, responsibility, accomplishment and a sense of personal fulfillment than by the use of short-term incentives, such as cost of living wage increases, one-time bonuses, or an occasional pep rally. The right strategy, as long as it is sensitive and relative to the career path of your employees, will help keep those employees on the team.  It can also steer your company in the direction of recognizing who can move up the ladder and how to train them to ensure that your business evolves. The effects of such strategies are longer lasting and often permanent for the business and its employees.  Additionally, this strategy works well because existing employees are familiar with your company’s systems. They already fit into the culture and know how and why you do business the way you do.  It will take longer for new employees to learn about your culture, adapt, adjust and become productive dedicated members of your team.  Having employees start their career paths at the bottom of the ladder affords the business owner the advantage of limiting the expense and risks if the employees do not fit in or decide to leave the business.

Read the follow up to this blog (article 2 of 3) titled “How To Create A Ladder Of Opportunity For Your Employees”

Related articles:

Government to Contractors: Start Hiring Convicted Felons!

Mentor Me, Please - Gen Y Business Owner Offers Peers Advise

Contractors: How To Work With Generation Y From One Of Them

Gen Y Member's Advice To Peers: How To Develop A Good Work Ethic

 


Topics: Hiring and Firing, Worker Training, Careers in Construction, Recruting, Employee Advancement, Business Growth, Culture, Business Planning