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3 Financial Strategies for a More Scalable Construction Business

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

3 Financial Strategies for a More Scalable Construction Business

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

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


Scale up Revenue while Scaling Down Costs and Expenses

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

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

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

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


Maintain Efficiency through Automation

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

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


Keep Costs and Expenses Down with Outsourcing

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

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


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

7 Ways to Use Mobile Technology for Construction

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Nov 30,2016 @ 05:00 AM

7 Ways to Use Mobile Technology for Construction

Comobile technology for contractorsContractors tend to have a practical approach to their work, and in a competitive market with many moving pieces and complicated projects, investing in the latest technology can help good contractors do their work better. In fact, 75 percent of small to mid-sized construction firms in North America have used a mobile device for work. Like any good tool, using mobile technology can make construction more efficient, accurate and cost-effective. Here’s how:

1. Attract More Clients

Building Information Modeling (BIM) has revolutionized the planning phase of construction, drawing in more clients because owners can understand the design better. This technology is quickly rising in prominence, and with it comes the client’s expectation that the outcome of a construction project will be clear to them from the very beginning. With programs like BIM 360 Glue, contractors and clients with a tablet can see a model come to life before their eyes exactly where they stand in the building.

2. Tracking Workers

Say goodbye to messy timecards, spreadsheets and wondering where your employees are when they say they’re working. With GPS-enabled mobile technology like ClockShark, construction workers can clock in remotely via a smartphone app. Location and hours are logged automatically, and administrators can save time spent managing payroll by at least 50 percent.

Contractors using mobile technology to track equipment3. Tracking Equipment

Rather than digging through piles of equipment or replacing lost items, construction companies around the world now use RFID tags to find misplaced or stolen equipment. High value assets can be tracked remotely, and managers can see in real time where each piece of equipment or tool is located.

4. Increasing Productivity

Mobile technology gives construction professionals the ability to track orders, make phone calls, read emails and solve problems from anywhere. Workers can view client contracts, share blueprints or submit maintenance requests from a tablet. Managers can respond to needs as they arise, saving time and moving the project ahead at a faster rate.

5. Improving Communication

Mobile phones and tablets can be used for photo sharing and video conferencing with clients. Use an app to schedule meetings and sync your mobile calendar with your desktop calendar. Push notifications out to all of your workers when you’re on the job instead of wasting time returning to the office. The new Apple iPhone 7 is equipped with a 12MP wide-angle camera for top-notch photo and video quality and is both water and dust resistant, which can come in handy on a construction site.

6. Lowering Costs

Calculator and reports-WR.jpgStreamline processes with mobile apps and automatic notifications. Virtually eliminate data entry with mobile time clocks and job write ups. Use BIM software or a simple photo sharing strategy to ensure that your work is approved by the client at all times. This improved communication process will result in less reworks, which saves both time and money. That way you can save the company’s bottom line for the really important stuff: getting the job done right.

7. Capture Real-Time Analytics

If equipment, inventory, job progress and workers’ time are all being tracked with a mobile device, then it’s possible to obtain real-time analysis of how all of those moving parts relate to each other. Being able to respond to real-time analytics means that you can achieve great efficiency and more profits that much faster than your competition.

Topics: Technology for Remodelers, Business Management, Earning More Money

How to Make Your Construction Business Wildly Successful Online

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Jul 26,2016 @ 05:30 AM

Online marketing for contractors

Construction is a large umbrella ranging from handyman projects to large, multi-funded developments. Some contractors are all tools and skill while others are masters of management and leverage. Fitting all of this under the single category of e-commerce is futile. To truly create a web presence, you need to know your marketing voice and develop your site around the things that drive your audience.

Expert Driven Design

Some people are selling themselves as experts in their industry. For this central marketing message, a blog may be the best. Blogs tend to be written in first or second person, using “me” and “you,” which automatically develops a bond between the writer and the audience. They are usually descriptive, telling the reader how and why something should be done. Take a look at the Amway blog as a good example of a business blog concentrating on industry expertise. Inc Magazine has some good tips for creating content for a great business blog as well.

The Supply Chain Site

Attracting remodeling clients onlineIn manufacturing, the supply chain is extremely important. The supply chain is the total process from inception to customer care, including suppliers, marketers and the title company that assists in closing. In construction, this is project management and some e-commerce sites use its unique issues as the driving message. An e-commerce supply chain site will be broken down into specific topics of project management. One section may have a supplier and a shopping cart for these items. Another section would have human resource information and your services listed. The idea is that the website will guide a user through the entire breadth of project development.

Product as the Traditional E-Commerce Website

When most people think of e-commerce, they think of Amazon with its departments and lists of item after item. If you are selling products, the traditional e-commerce rules apply. Your site needs to have an easily identifiable navigation bar and solid search functions. The images need to be clear and sharp, being part of a good preview system. Your descriptions should be both poetic and specific, enumerating the product specs in bulleted form. As part of a larger marketing plan, the site and every individual item needs to be easily shareable on social media.

Social Motivated Websites

Where some contractors are focused on their expertise, others are social and friendly, providing a marketing message centered on trust. In the construction industry, this is huge. A trusted contractor is worth his weight in gold. Like the expert site, the social site is content driven but here it is a dialogue instead of a monologue. It should revolve around active social media feeds that allow for a conversation format. A question and answer section will keep people on your site longer and keep them coming back, both being keys to successful e-commerce sales.

The Mix

The gut reaction is to try and do everything, but the reality is that you do not have experience in every facet of the construction industry. Your specialization should be reflected on your website. As your e-commerce site is developed, some things will be added while others will be discarded. A shopping cart is only useful for selling products but generally not for services. Just make certain the website can be shared on social media since it is a good source of marketing.



Topics: Technology for Remodelers, Differentiating your Business, Marketing, Web Site Related, Social Media for Contractors

8 Unique Ways Mobile Technology Helps Contractors on the Job

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, May 24,2016 @ 08:33 AM

technology options for contractors

Contractors are joining the ranks of workers who bring their own devices to the workplace. A Texas A&M survey found that 72 percent of professional contractors now use smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge at work, while 53.9 percent use laptops and 50.1 percent use tablets.

Mobile devices are assisting contractors in virtually every phase of construction, from finding clients and managing projects to making estimates and bookkeeping. Here are some of the top ways mobile technology is helping contractors on the job.

Customer Relationship Management

Any construction job starts with a client, and customer relationship management tools such as Improveit 360 make it easier to find and manage clients. The Improveit 360 app is especially designed with the needs of contractors, remodelers and home pros in mind. It includes tools for:

  • Phone and email marketing
  • Centralizing your incoming lead database
  • Tracking and managing leads
  • Preventing duplicate leads
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Sales


Invitations to Bid

apps for contractorsThe bidding process is a big part of landing clients, and bid invitation apps like SmartBidNet are designed to make it easier for you to win projects. SmartBidNet provides a communications dashboard, where you can send, receive and monitor your invitations to bid. The app includes templates to help you:

  • Formulate and start the draft bid process
  • Customize subcontractor access options
  • Share calendars to manage bid deadlines



Estimating is one of the most important and time-consuming parts of the bidding process. Construction calculator apps like BuildCalc make estimating easier by providing a spreadsheet-style layout, where you can enter and calculate bid data. BuildCalc comes with design layouts for different parts of a building to help you develop details of your estimate, material estimation tools and quick conversion tools for distance, area, volume, weight and angles.


Building Information Modeling

With today's technology, digital building information modeling is the most efficient and least expensive way to plan projects. The Autodesk app allows you to do BIM from your mobile device. The app also helps you build more efficiently and cost-effectively by letting you create 3-D models of your building projects that you can rotate and even animate.


Project Management

Once you start a construction project, use your smartphone to manage it through an app like Fieldwire, which is designed to assist construction managers and workers in the field. Fieldwire enables you to:

  • Pull up blueprints
  • Share files with your crew
  • Create and assign tasks
  • Track issues using photos from the field
  • Receive notifications when tasks are updated



osha_logo-wr.jpgSafety comes first on any project. From a technology standpoint, the Safety Meeting app makes it easier for contractors to comply with OSHA safety meeting regulations. Safety Meeting allows you to:

  • Schedule meetings
  • Pull up safety meeting topics
  • Document meetings
  • Receive incident and near miss reports


Field Data Collection

The success of any construction project depends on accurate data collection, and field data apps like Canvas make it easier for you to collect the information you need. In addition, Canvas lets you:

  • Create and fill out forms
  • Capture photos
  • Obtain GPS coordinates
  • Perform calculations
  • Send emails and files to crew members



QuickBooks for contractorsBookkeeping is a necessary chore for any contractor, and accounting apps like QuickBooks Online take much of the labor out of bookkeeping by letting you automate the most repetitive and tedious bookkeeping tasks. Use your mobile device and let QuickBooks Online:

  • Manage your cash flow
  • Send invoices
  • Accept payments
  • Scan receipts
  • Make and record deposits
  • Pay bills and expenses
  • Create monthly statements
  • Print or email reports
  • Export data into tax preparation software


Topics: Technology for Remodelers, Business Management, Customer Relations

Software Expert's Advice For Owners Seeking Contractor Business Software

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Dec 18,2014 @ 06:00 AM

Software Expert Offers Advice For Owners Seeking Contractor Business Software

Software for contractors


I recently did an interview with Forrest Burnson, the research expert at Software Advice, a company that reviews remodeling software and connect buyers with software vendors.  Here are my questions and Forest’s answers.   I hope you find them helpful.


Question #1:

Lots of contractors I work with and others I speak to are looking for an all-in-one solution for their residential remodeling businesses.   So far they and I have not found one that is really “All-in-one”.   Are there any true “All-in-one” systems out there for the $2M and less remodeling contractor?  If not, why not and what can business owners do?
It's true that traditionally, there haven't been many "all-in-one" systems targeted toward small home building/remodeling firms. However in recent years we have seen a number of offerings pop up for this industry segment, and the older legacy vendors are also starting to target smaller firms. Now, the issue is whether these newer, cheaper offerings will have longevity in the market. There's always the chance of acquisition or the vendor going under, which might be a good argument to stick with systems that offer subscription pricing as opposed to a significant upfront investment.

Question #2:

Can you offer some advice and guidance to business owners who want to look into and qualify the appropriateness of software for their business needs?  Maybe offer a best way to get started?

Purposes for construction business software

Well, I do have to plug our service here at Software Advice—we offer free phone consultations to prospective software buyers to help them find the best system for their needs. Always, always, always demo a system before making the commitment—and get people on your team to demo it too, if they're going to be working with it.

Question #3:

Many old school business owners are hesitant to consider cloud based programs, citing their concerns for access and security.   Can you offer some pro/con advice for business owners trying to decide between using desktop and cloud applications?


Contractor preferences for construction software
While both offer their advantages and disadvantages, the trend is definitely toward the cloud. In the construction industry especially, there are so many benefits to the cloud—mobile access, more streamlined collaborative processes, typically better document control, etc. I do think there is a misconception that the cloud is not as secure—if the proper procedures are being followed, it's no more risky than a traditional on-premise system. That said, it can take more diligence to ensure that a cloud system is as close to 100 percent secure as possible (no system will ever be 100 percent secure). Lastly, in terms of cost, cloud systems will generally be cheaper in the long-run as you will have to invest less in hardware. 


Choosing the Right Tools and Technology for Your Construction Company


Question #4:

My experience shows that almost every remodeling business owner reinvents the wheel of doing business; therefore every one of them has a different business model to support.  This can make it difficult to find a software to support how they already do business.  Plus, setting up the software to support the business can be challenging because most owners of smaller businesses couldn’t explain in a logical order how they do business, it just happens.  Can you offer your thoughts on this reality as it relates to choosing software and getting help setting it up so it is actually ready to use?
The way you describe how small businesses operate is pretty spot-on—there's going to be a certain 'method to their madness' as they grow, with ad-hoc solutions becoming their modus operandi. So there is a little give-and-take; no matter what, you will have to conform some of your business processes to jive with the software system you've deployed. That said, some of the more complex systems can be quite flexible, and the vendor will typically work with the client to customize the system to fit their needs. Those systems tend to be costlier, so again, it's a give-and-take situation.


Forrest-wrResearcher Bio: Forrest Burnson is a Market Research Associate at Software Advice, where he covers the construction, inventory management and supply chain markets. He graduated in 2011 from the University of the South with a degree in political science and French studies. In 2013, he graduated from the University of Texas with a master’s degree in journalism. During his second year of graduate school, Forrest was a fellow for News21.
Prior to joining Software Advice, he was a writer and researcher for Global Water Intelligence. He has also written for a number of other outlets, including the Texas Tribune, the Austin Business Journal, Market News International and the Austin American-Statesman.


Topics: Technology for Remodelers, Software Related

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.




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

Choosing the Right Tools and Technology for Your Construction Company

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Mar 23,2014 @ 06:00 AM

Fleet Cars, Company Mobile Phones & PCs: Choosing the Right Tools for Your Construction Company

Phones for contractors




As a business owner, it's important to have your company and employees set up with the proper machinery and technology needed for success.

Here are a few things to consider as you seek out the right tools for your business.



Selecting Fleet Vehicles

When choosing a company truck, you have to make tough decisions about which employees will be driving the vehicles and how they will be used. Consider these three things: the primary cost of the vehicle, the secondary cost, and what kind of image you want to project.

work truck for contractorsPrimary costs include the monthly car payment or leasing fee. Secondary costs include insurance, fuel, and maintenance costs. By leasing a vehicle, you can typically avoid maintenance costs, but you may face mileage overage charges or other fees. Crunch the numbers before buying or leasing to ensure that you're getting the best deal possible.

Think about the message your vehicle will send to potential customers. If your company is environmentally-conscious, consider a hybrid vehicle to stress those values. Consider the time you and your employees will be spending on the road, and consider vehicles that have your company name, logo, and contact information. Keep your vehicles clean and properly maintained to project an organized, professional company.


Selecting the Right Phones

If your employees are expected to check email and take calls regularly, equip them with smartphones like the iPhone 5s, which will allow them access to apps that could make them more efficient. Look for unlimited data as well so your team can receive documents, edit them, and perform other critical tasks on the go. Stress your company guidelines for phone usage and expectations, and enforce those rules.

Consider these apps for construction companies:

  • The Aconex Mobile app lets users capture photos, videos and audio on site. It also allows access to project documents, with view and edit features.
  • The iBlueprint app allows users to create and export custom floor plans. It’s handy for contractors and real estate agents who want to access blueprints on job sites.
  • Procore puts construction management at your fingertips, allowing users to create and manage punch-list items, access contacts, share and store project photos and log timecard entries.


Selecting Laptops or Tablets

Laptop for contractorsWhen choosing laptops for your team, consider both cost and functionality. If your team can exist exclusively in the cloud, desktop software may be redundant. Speak with your team about what tools and software they need to complete their jobs effectively. They'll be able to provide the best insight and recommendations, and will be aware of new programs and software that might make the company more efficient and productive.

Consider tablets for employees on-the-go, and have them pre-loaded with client-facing software that will project a professional image. The lightweight Windows 8 Lenovo IdeaPad Z500 Touch is a good option to consider for maximum storage. It's a good idea to invest in protective covers that will help extend the life of your tablet.


Guest Blogger: Marnie Smith is a freelance writer for a few San Diego publications, though she is based on the Los Angeles area.

Topics: Technology for Remodelers, Differentiating your Business, Guest Blogs

Will Drones Be Watching and Servicing Contractors In The Near Future?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Feb 04,2014 @ 06:00 AM

Will Drones Be Watching and Servicing Contractors In The Near Future?

Drones watching contracors



Drones may soon become part of everyday life for contractors.  Depending on their purpose, drones could be a contractor’s helpful friend or his worst nightmare.   If your business has something to hide there could be danger from up above.  If you need a quick delivery a drone may soon be the method of choice.  Either way, you might want to make sure you have your hardhat on, both to protect yourself from falling items and to avoid an OSHA violation.


If you think my imagination has run wild check out the video below.   For about $1200 bucks you can get a pretty easy to use drone that will communicate with your IPhone.   I watched it and it got me to thinking about how contractors and others may use drones in the near future.   I encourage you to watch it and imagine ways you could use one for your business.  After you watch it check out my short list of likely uses for contractors, the government and even the vendors you do business with.  



Here are a few ideas that came to me after watching the video

Ways contractors might use drones

  • Measuring the roof without pulling out a ladder.
  • Check the condition of the chimney flashing.
  • Jobsite fly around replaces the walk around to see how things are going.
  • Create bird’s eye view before, during and after videos or photos of your projects to use for marketing on your website.


Ways vendors might use drones

  • Will contractors use dronesFast delivery of that one joist hanger you’re missing so you can put the floor sheathing down and get the wall framing going
  • The local print shop delivers the three copies of the plan set you need to apply for that building permit this afternoon.
  • Your exterior products supplier sends a drone over your job site to measure the roof and then gets the materials ready for first delivery in the morning.


Here are a few ways the government might use drones to keep an eye on contractors.

  • OSHA inspector uses it at a large development project to scan the entire site for violations.  Site conditions are all recorded on video and individual clips of each offense in action are included as part of the violation notice the GC receives.
  • EPA can do RRP inspections at will.  The camera software in the drone has the ability to recognize ladders and the drone is programmed to only fly by homes built prior to 1978.
  • Your State DEP sets up their drones to fly by all DEP sites to make sure all water management requirements are in place and any land clearing work completed doesn’t exceed what was approved.


Predicting the future or pure fantasy?

how contractors will use drones in the futureI first came across this topic in a discussion posted to LinkedIn by Alec Caldwell.  One commenter said Caldwell was "fear mongering" and suggested he get a grip on his imagination.  I disagree and think the uses for drones will only be limited by our imagination or government regulation.   We’ll have to see which one wins out. 

Here is one example where the government used drones to help convict a North Dakota farmer, claimed to be the first case of its kind.  

How about you?  Is this science fiction or can you imagine other uses for drones that would help and or hinder contractors?



Topics: Technology for Remodelers, Fun Stuff, Future of the Remodeling Industry, Government Regulations, Shawn's Predictions

Is Your In-Home Presentation Boring and Costing You Sales?

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

Robert Ritsema of The iPitch


Guest Blogger: Robert Ritsema is the owner/creator of The iPitch, providing iPad based solutions to the building materials industry.  Reach him at or 719.314.5608  (iPad® is a registered trademark of the Apple Corporation)


Is Your In-Home Presentation Boring and Costing You Sales?

ipad presentation for contractors


Death by PowerPoint” and “Powerpoint Hell” are common criticisms of slide-based presentations.  Largely due in part to their creating a state of boredom and fatigue induced by information overload.  Excessive use of text, bullet points and transitions are all leading factors.  Retired Marine Colonel Thomas X. Hammes calls this effect  “hypnotizing chickens”.

Today, flip-book & slide based presentations remain very popular, especially within the home improvement industry. Desire has always been to provide our sales reps with accurate information as well as a structured flow to the presentation; it’s been a key premise/belief for creating sales but it may be costing you sales in the end.

Homeowners today crave information.

Information that leads to confidence and trust with whom they’ve ultimately chosen to complete their project. Yet, they also expect that information to be informative, fun, motivating and maybe even a little addicting as well. 

Contractor pitchbooksYour sales team is no different.  They also desire and expect to interact with content that makes presenting fun and interactive.  Veteran reps (the good ones) make the necessary adjustments within their presentation to do just that.  Largely  in part because flipping through binders and PowerPoint slides may not be enough for many today; and by their very nature, create ineffective presenters, lost sales and revenue.



IPad pitchbook for contractors

 Since it’s launch in 2009, the iPad has been seen as a highly innovative and “game changing” piece of technology for consumers, businesses and educators alike. Its revolutionary operating system allows for the creation of an unmatched user experience.

The “user experience”, however, doesn’t have to mean gimmicky.  Simply presenting information in a way that is “unique and surprising” can be as simple as capitalizing on the iPads native and intuitive gestures. 


Gestures like:

  • Tapping to reveal content - Keep your prospect involved by creating “interactive portals”.  Revealing additional , hidden or more in-depth content.
  • Pinching open for video/photos – Capitalize on your media collateral by embedding them into your presentation for a novel and engaging user experience.
  • Swiping – Move seamlessly throughout your presentation via a navigate-able, customer driven sales rep controlled menu system, a more responsive and interactive way to present.

Thomas Malone, a young Xerox reacher concluded many years ago that “when people actively participate in the learning process, they retain more.”  So creating new ways for your sales reps to engage and interact with your prospects allows for a more unique consumer experience; further enhancing their ability to execute the presentation as well as your consumers ability to internalize and take ownership of your company and products.


A Well Executed Plan.

Capitalizing on the iPad requires more than just showing your presentation, pictures and video.  Take time to consider exactly how and what would change to your sales presentation, communication systems and training programs.


Consider these helpful tips:

1. IPad sales presentations for contractorsTeam Engagement -  Engage all of your department’s leaders. 

2. Create a “Pilot” Program -  For best results, do not consider piloting or testing more than 4 apps at a time.

3. Have a “Launch Event” - Create a fun and informative event; involving the entire organization goes along way to insuring your “changes” are accepted positively.

The iPad has an opportunity to revolutionize the way in which in-home presentations are delivered and business is won.  Your well constructed and executed plan will play a crucial role in its overall success.


Topics: Sales, Technology for Remodelers, Success Strategies, Sales Considerations, Differentiating your Business, Guest Blogs

Don’t Underestimate Your Estimating System’s Potential

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, May 17,2012 @ 01:03 PM

Don’t Underestimate Your Estimating System’s Potential

Estimating for remodelers and design buildersKnowing what to charge clients for the work you do is often the difference between long term success and eventual failure for the business. Many contractors look at estimating simply as a way to determine the cost of a project. In the traditional design-bid model of project delivery, this simplistic approach may work, assuming your sell price generates enough gross profit to cover your overhead and profit requirements. However, if you’re doing design/build, and your current estimating system is limited to only producing the number you charge clients for a project, you may be missing out on many other possible benefits.


Your Estimating System Should Support Your Business in Several Ways

Estimating for remodelersIf you think of Design/Build as a way of doing business, your estimating system must become a tool that facilitates how you do business, not just a way to get to the price.   Here are several ways a Design/Builder or a remodeler can maximize the potential of the method and system used to do estimating:

  • A design/builder’s estimating system should be fast and easy to use.
  • A computerized system should be used that allows the estimator to concentrate on estimating, not adding up numbers.
  • All estimating cost assumptions for labor must be accurate in terms of time per task.
  • The system used for estimating should have the ability to use your company’s actual burdened labor cost per hour to determine total labor cost per task.
  • The system should also allow for on the spot “what-if” adjustments to quickly estimate the effects of any changes or suggested alternatives to the project during design.
  • To increase accuracy, estimating should be done so it is comparable to the company’s job costing system and job costing categories.
  • Information within the estimate, and job costing, should be broken down to a level of detail that allows the insight you need to make future estimating adjustments.
  • The estimate should also help you or your lead carpenter produce an accurate materials list, not just a materials cost allowance.

Below is screen shot of a simple estimating spreadsheet template used to estimate a deck project. 

Request a free working copy of the template for your own use.


Remodeler's Excel Estimating Template


Read more about the potential benefits of your estimating system

Topics: Labor Costs, Technology for Remodelers, Sales Considerations, Production Considerations, Estimating Considerations