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An Adult Daughter’s Thoughts About Growing Up A Contractor's Child

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Oct 01,2017 @ 05:00 AM

An Adult Daughter’s Thoughts about Growing up a Contractor's Child

Katelyn McCaddenMy dad asked me if I would write an article for him about the value of being raised as a contractor’s daughter, and how that might differ from other people’s experiences. I can’t actually imagine what it might be like to not be a contractor’s daughter. My childhood was filled with the smell of sawdust flying through the air, and classic rock crackling in from a dusty radio. Many of my earliest memories are of playing with my sister at the office around proudly branded displays of windows and shutters, and pretending to be mermaids in the basement storage. It shaped who I am.


My ambitious driven father, tempered by my fiery compassionate mother, expertly juggled raising us and running the company. Custom Contracting was as much a home to us as any other; a spot where our family worked together towards earning our place in the world. It made our family unit a team capable of moving mountains.

Growing up as a contractor's childMore than once I watched my father and his brothers build a house or barn. I cannot begin to describe to you the lingering feeling of awe which this type of undertaking inspires. With synchronicity honed their whole lives, they would take a wooded hill and a stack of reclaimed lumber, and create monoliths to my child’s eyes.

Not every moment was filled with awe and inspiration. My sister and I cleaned and helped renovate rental properties, we split hauled and stacked firewood, and we slaved through endless yard work. We hated (nearly) every minute of it. But we took great pride in our accomplishments, and the warmth of our house in the winter. I find that, as a young adult, I am not only more capable than my peers, I also believe myself more capable. I can hammer a nail and fix a sink better than most people I know, male or female. Because I am so confident in my abilities, I never think twice about taking on the world.

Life as a contractor's daughterAs the dust settles on my wild adolescence I have carried with me a foundation of values on which to build my adult life. Now it seems I just can’t shake the need to buy my own house and some dirt to sit it on. I find that less and less of my down time is spent scrolling Facebook, and more and more is spent Googling the cost of putting in a septic system and what contributes to real estate values. As I drive down the street I find myself judging the quality of people’s roofs and cringing at water damage where proper gutter installation is begging to be.

So, I can’t imagine what life must be like for someone who was raised in world without wet paint and sawdust, without a family who builds monoliths and moves mountains, or without pride in the woodstove thawing my frozen fingers. I am defined by so many of these things. Being a contractor’s daughter created a world for me screaming with potential and teeming with possibilities, and a hard earned confidence to succeed at even my wildest dreams.

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Guest Blogger:  Kate McCadden is the oldest child in the McCadden family.  She’s the one in the family with the creative artistic abilities.  She is working on her career to become a writer and plans to get rich writing a book everyone will want to read. 

Topics: Fun Stuff, Mentoring/Coaching, Guest Blogs, Generation Y

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


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

Key Differences Between Carpenters and Great Lead Carpenters: Part 1

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Jul 07,2015 @ 06:00 AM

Key Differences Between Carpenters and Great Lead Carpenters: Part 1

Creating lead carpentersSkilled 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. Below is the first half of a list of key skills a carpenter should have or will need to acquire to become a great Lead Carpenter. I created this list to help carpenters and construction business owners improve their chances of success developing Lead Carpenters and a true Lead Carpenter System.  


Skills to be a lead carpenter


This first list describes the basic skills and thinking skills a carpenter must possess to be eligible to become a Lead Carpenter. These are skills that should be inherent to the carpenter already, learned from an early age through schooling and practical application as a person evolves from childhood to adulthood.   If a carpenter does not already possess these skills the chances of success as a Lead Carpenter will be greatly compromised.

In my next article I will discuss the people skills and personal qualities a great Lead Carpenter must learn and develop.


Basic skills needed to be a Lead Carpenter:

  • Math skills for a lead carpenterSpeaking: Ability to speak clearly including selecting language, tone of voice, and gestures appropriate to a specific audience.
  • Listening: Listens carefully to what people say, noting tone of voice and their body language, then can respond in a way that shows a true understanding of what is said.
  • Reading: Ability to identify relevant facts and locate information in books or manuals. Ability to find the meanings of unknown words and use computers to find information.
  • Writing: Ability to write ideas completely and accurately with proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Also able to use computers to communicate information in writing.
  • Mathematics: Ability to use numbers, fractions, and percentages to solve problems and communicate solutions.


Thinking skills needed to be a Lead Carpenter

  • Carpenter_framing-wrCreative Thinking: Has the ability and is not afraid to use imagination freely to combine ideas or information in new ways. Can easily make connections between ideas that seem unrelated to others.
  • Problem-Solving: Can easily recognize a problem, identify why it is a problem, create and implement a solution, and naturally watches to see how well attempted solutions work so they can be revise as needed.
  • Decision Making: Can identify goals, suggest alternatives and gather information about them. Can identify and weigh pros/cons and choose the best alternative along with a plan to follow through.
  • Visualization: The ability to imagine, strategize and sequence the construction of a building, object or system by looking at a blueprint or drawing.


Don't miss Part-2 of the list

Subscribe to the Design/Builders Blog Be sure to come back here to find the second half of this checklist to learn about people skills and personal qualities a great Lead Carpenter must learn and develop. It will be published in a few days.   To be automatically notified via email when new blogs are published simply subscribe to the Design/Builders Blog.


Click here to see a Job Description for a Lead carpenter

Other articles to help contractors and construction business owners choose and grow the right carpenters into Lead Carpenters

Evolve From Being A Contractor To Being A Construction Business Owner

Afraid To Hire Production Employees For Fear I Would Run Out Of Work For Them

A lead-carpenter system helps both the business and the employees to grow

Compliance Checklist: Will You Be Ready If OSHA Visits Your Job Site?


Topics: Worker Training, Careers in Construction, Recruting, Employee Advancement, Production Considerations, Lead Carpenter System, Mentoring/Coaching

Why January Is Great Time Of the Year for Me and My Contractor Coaching Clients

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sat, Jan 31,2015 @ 09:00 AM

Why January Is Great Time Of the Year for Me and My Contractor Coaching Clients

Working with a contractor coachOne of my goals when working with my contractor coaching clients is to offer them new ways of looking at and doing things than they may have already experienced in the past. At this time of the year we debrief how well they did last year putting changes in place. Our interactions typical include review, celebration, planning and commitments. Using this process proves to be very rewarding for them, and for me as well.

My coaching strategy is to help them explore the options they have to improve and grow their businesses so they can make their own informed decisions about how they want to move forward. I really enjoy working with them in this way because it helps them discover and experience how to think and act on their own. I purposely do it this way so as not to create a dependency on my assistance and so they won’t need me to help them over and over again with the same things year after year.

My calls and interactions with them during this time of the year focus on reviewing the successes of the past year’s efforts. They also include identifying the goals and actions they will commit to in the New Year to continue moving forward on their defined path to personal and professional success. We also agree on how they want me to hold them accountable to achieving those goals.


Here is a taste of what we do in January and why it is so rewarding for me

Working with a mentor for contractorsFirst they share with me their excitement about their personal and professional progress, and how much more time they have to work on their business, not just in it.

We then review their financial reports for the previous year to see how they did and make sure all transactions are in the right places within their chart of accounts based on the financial system strategy we designed together. This helps get things ready for their accountant and simplifies filing tax returns.

I celebrate with them and point out how much better they did financially than the previous year because of the changes they put in place. Then we discuss budgeting and pricing/markup for the New Year using their historical information as our guide and as a reference. With the economy improving most of my clients are willing to sell at higher prices to help increase volume in the New Year, rather than just sell more work.

I encourage and support my clients in accomplishing a combined total personal compensation and net profit of 20% of produced volume.   This compensation strategy gives them the money and the confidence they need to use some of those profits for investing back into their businesses to continue growing them. That level of total compensation also provides money to build their retirement funds and or finance other investments.

If we have worked on their marketing plan and strategy over the past year we also do a year end review of their results.   After doing so most tell me they want to invest more on marketing this year because of the result they experienced last year.


David Agnew“Before, when I was working with other people, I felt like I was on a trampoline. Now, when I work with you Shawn, I feel like I’m on a concrete floor.”
              David C. Agnew, Custom Home Renovation Solutions, LLC

contractor coaching for remodelers

I actually love what I do!

The business owners I work with are great people. Although they all have different motivations for seeking my assistance, they all share the common desire to remodel their businesses to make them better. As a bonus for me, when they give me the opportunity to help them, I also get the opportunity to help change the lives of their employees, trade partners and the customers they serve.

And, these are just some of the reasons I really love what I do!


Topics: Contractor Training, Earning More Money, Mentoring/Coaching

Breaking Past $1M in Remodeling: Typical Characteristics of the “Take-Off Stage”

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Jan 08,2015 @ 06:00 AM

Breaking Past $1M in Remodeling: Typical Characteristics of the “Take-Off Stage”


Growing a remodeling business past $1M


(Note: This is the second 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 seriesthat have been published.)

Every remodeling business and its owner are different from other remodeling businesses and their owners. This is because remodeling businesses are typically not designed, they just happen.  As a result, both the business and the owner evolve forward based on and limited by the skills and knowledge the owner brings to the business.  


Successful growth of the business depends on the owner

Hard working entrepreneurs have what it takes to get the business going, but most entrepreneurs lack the business skills, practical experience and insight to successfully grow a remodeling business past $1Million. This doesn’t necessarily mean they shouldn’t do it or they should replace themselves as the business leader.  It does however typically require they get the outside assistance and guidance needed to help make the required changes happen.

Successful construction company growthThis stage of business growth is what I refer to as the “Take-Off Stage” for a remodeling business because either the business takes off successfully, or it doesn’t.  Another way of looking at it might be either the business owner commits to doing it and doing it right, or accepts the status quo of accidental and unplanned growth.

In this article, from a high level perspective, I want to share some typical characteristics of a remodeling business on the doorstep of the Take-Off Stage.  If your business has already started on and or put these items in place your business is at that critical point where you must decide to remain a contractor or become a construction business owner.  Putting off the decision can lead you and your business from controlled chaos into what I call disorganized chaos; where discovering and dealing with fires everyday overwhelms the business owner and prevents proactive business growth activities.


Typical Characteristics of Take-Off Stage

  • Produced volume somewhere between about $750K to $1.2 Million of installed sales. Note: Volume can range because for example if your markup is really low (10%) you might be installing as much work as a remodeler using a very high markup (75%)
  • Getting a remodeling business ready to growThrough experience an advanced schema has developed in both the owner and a few key employees. As a result:
o   The business has learned to identify who their ideal customers are and why.
o   The business has begun to focus on customer and project niches that help stabilize sales, production and profitability.
o   The business is purposely beginning to use systems and processes that serve the customer, not just the business; such as Design/Build, prescheduled project meetings and the Lead carpenter System.
  • Computer and software use has increased dramatically, but consists of segregated off the shelf solutions.
  • The owner is working many hours, performing multiple job descriptions and for the most part is just keeping up with day to day activities.
  • The owner realizes what he he/she is currently doing will not take the business to the next level.

Topics: Success Strategies, Business Growth, Mentoring/Coaching, Business Planning, Sage Advice, Breaking $1Million

3 Considerations Before Working With A Construction Business Coach Or Mentor

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Jun 10,2014 @ 06:00 AM

3 Considerations Before Working With A Construction Business Coach Or Mentor

Contractor Coach


Working with a coach or mentor to improve your construction business can help you avoid potential challenges, particularly those you might not know to watch for yourself. It also can help speed up your path to success while at the same time reduce the cost to get there, particularly if your "go it alone" path ends up being the wrong one.


Click here to read about the difference between a coach and a mentor.

Here are three considerations for contractors looking to work with a coach or mentor


Be cautious of who you choose to work with

A business coach or mentor should have proven success in their areas of claimed expertise.  However, there are many consultants and coaches out there who failed at their own businesses or may have never actually reached success with their businesses before becoming a coach.   Check the business history and actual level of success achieved by your prospective coach or mentor before you commit and invest in hiring him or her.  Also, if you are not sure of the coach’s reputation, check with his/her current and previous clients about their experiences.  As with other business investments, your best bet may be to ask for a referral from other contractors you respect who have already worked with a coach or mentor.  The reality is if you work with the wrong coach and or mentor you own the responsibility for that decision.  If it’s not working out with your coach first be honest with yourself about why, then either change your approach to working with him or her or find a new coach to work with.


Make sure to have a way you can both measure success

Remodeling business coach resultsTo make sure you will get a return on investment make sure you and your coach agree on how you will measure results.   Help with soft skills like leadership and people skills will be challenging to measure because changes and results may be seen as subjective and might be measured differently by different people.  However many changes can be measured in an objective way.   For example when I was first growing my business I worked with a coach on a financial system and the related QuickBooks setup required to support it.   Although he seemed to have the right experience he couldn’t offer me a reference specifically from a construction company.  After some discussion we agreed his compensation would be conditional on results and we made a list of desired outcomes to measure.  After several months we mutually agreed his system didn't serve the intended purpose and I got the majority of my money back.   Unfortunately I lost a lot of valuable time.   I assume he did too.  However we both learned a lot from the experience, I minimized my risk by agreeing on how he would be compensated, and I still had the money I needed to hire another expert to get it done.


Decide whether you want to remodel your business or do a tear down and start over

The business owners I work with as a coach and or mentor typically already own businesses that have been around a while and most already have pretty good business systems in place. These business owners come to me to help them remodel and improve their businesses so they can increase profits and or grow to the next level.  

remodeling franchiseIn addition to working one on one with remodeling businesses and their owners I have also worked in the corporate side of franchising. Joining a franchise can be a great option for the right business owner. For example, if you’re an entrepreneur who wants to carve out your own path and direction and evolve your business systems on the fly a franchise might not be a good option. On the other hand if your just getting started, or need to tear down what you have and start over again, and you want to adopt an established and tested business model, and you are willing to actually follow it, not question it, a franchise can be a great way to go. 

Most franchises offer some level of business coaching, just be sure it will be enough for you to achieve your desired level of success. Before joining a franchise I recommend you look into how much one on one support and coaching you and your new franchise can expect and will receive from the franchisor. If they offer a system, but not enough training and support to help you adopt it, you might want to keep looking.

Topics: Contractor Training, Business Growth, Mentoring/Coaching, Sage Advice

2 Critical Investments For Contractors Wanting To Grow Their Businesses

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Apr 13,2014 @ 06:00 AM

2 Critical Business Investments for Contractors Looking To Grow Their Businesses

Improving a remodeling business


Good news!  Confidence in the future for remodeling contractors is starting to pick up.  A recent surge in new sales and leads being reported by many in the industry is a welcome change that will help businesses strapped with aging accounts payable and uncomfortable loan balances.  As welcome and helpful improved cash flow can be, be sure you prioritize how you use it.  Remodelers should not only catch up on dept with this money, but it is also important to direct some of it to invest back into your business as a way to prepare for an improved marketplace. 


Below are two critical areas remodelers should consider investing in as their finances improve and before the remodeling marketplace rebounds. Sure, both will cost money and require a commitment of your time.  However consider the lost opportunities and lost income you could be enjoying for the rest of your career if you invested in your business now.


#1, Think past the present and develop a long term perspective:

Developing a long term perspective for a business If contractors knew how to prepare for this recession, they would have been ready for it and the actual impact wouldn’t have been as dramatic on their businesses.  Knowing what you now know, use the lessons learned to better predict and deal with the next recession.  Also, start thinking about where you want you and your business to be in the future.  Be proactive and create a plan, don't wait to see what happens and where you end up.  Rather than do it on your own consider finding a mentor with a track record of success, someone who can help you and will invest the time required to understand you and your business and will invest in you. 

This should be an on-going commitment.  Don’t get started with a mentor unless you are willing to really embrace making changes and commit to the time it will take.  Establish a consistent schedule to interact with your mentor and stick to it.  You may be lucky enough to find someone who will do it at no cost.   If not, expect to invest at least an hour or more of your time a week to interact and at least $5000.00 over the course of one year to pay this person.  It is better to predict and control your future than to be subject to whatever happens.  The right mentor will have already successfully gone down the same path you are looking to get started on.

Check out this article about working with a coach or a mentor


#2, Improve your sales skills:

Consider this.  Contractors earn profits when they sell, they earn wages when they wear a tool belt.  If you want to make a lot more money you should learn how to improve your sales skills.

Selling isn’t what it used to be.  Memorized responses to prospects’ objections won’t cut it anymore and emailing your proposal is not selling; it makes you an order taker.  Find a sales training coach or program that will help you understand and take advantage of the psychology of sales and selling.  I took three years of sales training on a weekly basis during the early years of my business.  Sticking with the training and having a coach to guide me helped me “own” a sales system.  That system became second nature to me and dramatically improve not only my ability to sell at higher margins, but also allowed me to become more selective about who I would ultimately choose as my customers. 

Benefits of a sales system for contractors

If you join a training program expect to invest about two hours a week in the class and about $5-7,000 a year for the training.  If you have multiple salespeople consider doing in-house training and working with a remodeling specific sales coach and assume you will invest at least $7000.  If you choose the right trainer and embrace what you learn, it will be an investment, not an expense.


Topics: Success Strategies, Business Growth, Sales Considerations, Mentoring/Coaching, Sage Advice

Should You Work With a Construction Business Coach or With a Mentor?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Apr 06,2014 @ 06:00 AM

Should You Work With a Business Coach or With a Mentor?

Remodeling business coach



I'd like to offer you something to think about if you are considering a business coach to help you with your business.  It’s something I learned by trying out several coaches when I owned my remodeling business. What I learned was that there are completely different reasons and purposes for working with a business coach versus a mentor.   

I definitely wish I knew this before I hired my first coach!

A few considerations about choosing a coach for your construction business

How to choose a construction business coachMany coaches can help a variety of business types in different industries. For example I worked with a business coach many years back who had never owned or worked in a remodeling business, but that guy sure knew how to help me assess and improve my marketing.  With his help we accomplished my goal of changing my business’ customer and job types so I could increase my margins.   On the other hand I worked with another coach to help me with improving my business’ financial system.  He was a smart guy, and knew his accounting, but I eventually figured out he had no exposure or experience with how a small construction business needs to do accurate job costing.   After a lot of lost time and money I found a new coach to work with who had remodeling industry experience and the difference was night and day.

One more consideration when choosing a coach is his or her past experience and level of success.   Unfortunately there are many coaches who became coaches after their own businesses failed or after they got let go by the business they worked for due to their poor performance.  Some of them may have learned from their mistakes and can still be good coaches.  However I suggest that someone who had a successful business and or a successful business leadership history is already a proven entity.  

Maybe what you actually need is a mentor

If you want help with your business systems and performance a coach is probably your best solution.  The right coach will be supportive and motivational.  However if it is you, the person, who needs help, a mentor might be a better option to work with.  
First, a mentor should be someone who has already done and was successful at what you are trying to do with your business.  Because the mentor has already personally experienced similar challenges and rose above them, the mentor already knows what you are and will be going through.  A mentor understands and knows how to anticipate the real emotional impacts the business owner will experience.   Having been a contractor as well, a construction industry mentor will probably have the exact experiences needed to help you.

Mentor for remodeling companySecond, the right mentor will be empathetic, not sympathetic.  By that I mean the mentor will not take on your problems for you, rather he or she will help you wrap your head around what you need to think about and do so you can solve them yourself.  And, the right mentor will help you anticipate the emotional and personal challenges you might experience making the changes.  One example might be helping you figure out how to appropriately tell a long term employee you have to let him go for poor performance, without hurting his feelings more than needed and or triggering a law suit.   Another might be how to diplomatically deal with an irate client after your roofing sub’s tarp blew off in a thunderstorm last night and ruined every ceiling in the house (happened to me).  Essentially, it’s the mentor’s role is to socialize the mentee into his or her role and help avoid learning from the lumberyard school of hard knocks.  

If you’re looking for help from an expert I suggest you consider which would work better for you and your business, a coach or a mentor, before you decide on how to go forward.


Finding a remodeling business mentorOne last thought: Maybe you want both in one person

Also, consider that there are some out there who can serve both purposes, at the same time.  I recommend you consider a coach who also has real life and successful experience as a construction business owner.  A mentor can warn you in advance about what it will be like to live through and implement the changes you want to make, while at the same time help you with actually creating and implementing new ways of doing business.  By working with one person who can help you in both areas, the odds for success are much higher, the results will likely happen faster, and you can avoid a lot of sleepless nights worrying about what is happening and how you feel about things. 
Hope that helps!


Topics: Success Strategies, Business Growth, Mentoring/Coaching, Business Planning

3 Objections Your Boss May Have About Hiring an Industry Expert

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Feb 06,2014 @ 06:00 AM

We Can't Do That -3 Objections Your Boss May Have About Hiring a Construction or Remodeling Industry Expert

Remodeling Industry Expert

As an employee often times I bet you see challenges and opportunities at the business where you work that you believe your boss doesn't.    It’s not necessarily that you might be smarter than your boss, although that sometimes is the case.  It’s typically because you are involved in the business in a different way than your boss. If you are a Lead Carpenter perhaps that involvement exposes you to the day to day realities in the field while your boss is working on other things.  Or maybe as the production manager you're the one who has to manage the projects and build from the information provided by your boss; but you can't.  You have to constantly call him to get answers and or details. 

Often times I find that employees can be the eyes and ears their bosses are missing in certain areas.  If you are a dedicated and conscientious employee you may want to share what you see and offer solutions to help your boss.   One solution can be to hire a construction industry expert to come in and help right the ship.  This suggestion might probably be a good one.  However, if your boss objects to it, what can you do or say?  

Here are a few suggestions you can consider depending on the objection.


Objection #1: It cost too much.  

Remodeling company improvementsHiring a construction or remodeling industry expert certainly can be expensive.  Depending on the nature of the problems to be addressed the fees can add up quickly.   However, compared to the money lost over time by not correcting or improving things that slow you down or increase project costs, years perhaps, the lost revenue and compromised profitability can far exceed the initial cost to fix the problem.  Perhaps you could help your boss see the cost as an investment.  To do this consider using a simple analogy from your world as an example to help get your intended point across.  Maybe consider using the example of having a table saw.  Sure you could do your job without one, but it sure would go a lot faster and come out a lot better, and at a much lower labor cost, if he made the investment in a good one sooner than later.   And by doing so the labor savings alone would quickly cover the cost of buying the table saw.  


Objection #2: Don't have the money right now, so we would have to wait for a profitable job to pay for it.  

Improving profits at a construction companyIf you hear that objection it may be the truth.  But you know what they say about the definition of insanity.  Depending on your relationship with your boss perhaps you could ask what he has already done or will do different to get that profitable job.  The positive news is that often times the business is actually already in pretty good condition.  I find many construction businesses might only need a few tweaks and or new processes to make significant improvements.  If the expert helps start with low hanging fruit the initial changes can often generate the additional money needed to finance additional changes.


Objection #3: This isn't a good time, we are straight out right now.

Again, this may be completely true.  And again I'm not sure how you would do or say this depending on your boss, so be careful and be respectful.   Come up with a safe way to remind him that it's been pretty much like that every day and all the time for quite a while now since the company started running more than one or two jobs at the same time.  If true, also remind your boss that things were going really well on the jobs when the company only did one or two jobs at a time. Point out that maybe some additional preconstruction activities and or introducing a Lead Carpenter system might be the answer.  To help really make your suggestion practical you could also share your willingness and desire to take on additional responsibility provided you get the right training and tools to do so.


Last thoughts

Hiring a construction business expertMost construction business owners are thoughtful and kind people.  They are also typically very busy and put in a lot of hours to help keep the business going and keep the employees working.  If you see things that your boss doesn't, keep these considerations in mind.   Choose a good time to share your opinions and offer your suggestions.  Most importantly, do it with good intention and respect.  I hope you have a boss who is willing to listen and will hear your suggestions.  

If you give any of these suggestions a try let me know how you made out by posting a comment.  If you’re afraid to say anything I hope you'll share that here as well.  If you're afraid your boss will react negatively to a posted comment, email me your comment and I will post it anonymously for you.


Topics: Success Strategies, Employee Advancement, Business Growth, Mentoring/Coaching, Sage Advice

10 Steps To Building A Successful Construction Company

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Jul 16,2013 @ 06:00 AM

10 Steps To Building A Successful Construction Company In The New Economy

For the last five years or so many construction business owners were operating their businesses in survival mode. With the economy improving and residential construction activity picking up many contractors will be looking to grow their businesses again.  If you are looking to grow your business here is my list of 10 steps contractors should take to make the switch from surviving to thriving. 

10 Steps to successfully growing your construction business


10 Steps to successfully growing your business

  1. You can't do it all; no matter how much you try.  Find the right people with the right skills and personalities to be part of your team.
  2. Employee training for contractorsHire and properly train employees before you already need them and their required skills up and running.  
  3. You are not the Energizer Bunny!  Make sure you have a plan for recharging your batteries and keeping up the motivation you will need to make your dream business happen.
  4. Work on your leadership skills and make sure you understand the difference between leadership and management.   Good employees want to be lead, not supervised.
  5. Be careful about and watch your overhead expenses.   Many construction businesses failed during the recession because they could not cover the cost of the overhead they were committed to.
  6. Know the costs of doing more business before you do more business so you can use the right markup to price your jobs profitably.
  7. Business overhead for contractorsBefore you actually increase your overhead costs test the marketplace you plan to work in to make sure you can sell at the increased pricing you'll need and can sell enough work at that price.   Consider if you are in the right market to do business but also if you have the right marketing and sales skills in place.
  8. Be sure to price your work for the actual costs you will incur at the time you produce it.   Labor and many material costs are expected to go up dramatically before the end of the year.   If you like the idea of an extended backlog of work find a way to protect your planned profits from escalating costs.
  9. Know your limits.  Do what you can yourself but get the professional help you need to do things right; to avoid costly mistakes, increase the likelihood of success and maximize the results for your all your efforts.
  10. Revisit number one above.   Share your plan and your measurables with someone who can and you will allow to hold you accountable to following your plan and achieving your goals.  Make them part of your team.


One more thing; Make sure you are thinking about retirement

retirement for contractors


A recent study by the National Institute on Retirement Security found that the median retirement savings of households nearing retirement is just $12,000.   What would you think of a business owner, ready to retire, who only had $12K saved for retirementIf you sell your work and services on price, consider that you are contributing to your customers' retirement funds at the expense of your own!

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Topics: Success Strategies, Team Building, Business Growth, Mentoring/Coaching, Business Planning, Leadership, Sage Advice