March 2016: Business Building

Words: George HedleyMarch 2016

How to Hire Right!

George-HedleyBy George Hedley

I’ve learned that most construction company owners have a common fear: the fear of hiring the wrong person. And to avoid making a hiring mistake, they usually postpone hiring for months, years or forever. When owners don’t fill positions they need to fill such as administrators, project managers, estimators or field supervisors, they themselves spend too much time on menial tasks that should be handled by employees. These simple tasks often include writing checks, getting material quotes, calling subcontractors to get shop drawings submitted, organizing monthly invoices, worrying about equipment maintenance, doing take-offs, job correspondence, or playing phone tag trying to schedule meetings. When business owners handle too many simple tasks and try to manage the business, they don’t have enough time to focus on important activities like sales, business development, meeting with potential customers or improving field productivity. These owners work too many hours on the wrong or urgent tasks that could be handled by employees. As a result, the business gets stuck at the size and level where the owner can barely stay in control of the tasks they can do in a day. Doing activities that can be delegated holds the business owner back from being effective and reaching long-term goals. And since most business owners don’t really like to hire people, they stay stuck forever and continue to complain they can’t find any good help! This becomes a downward spiral that leads to low profits and no growth.

Why Can’t You Let Go?

What activities can you let go of and turn over to another or new employee? Consider the following examples of business owners with this problem:
  • Dan owns a civil and concrete company. He spends an extra 20 hours per week paying bills, writing checks, doing payroll, balancing the checkbook and going to the bank. His best skill is selling and finding new customers, but he doesn’t have enough time to get out of the office. As a result, he is losing money and his field operations are not producing what he needs to make a profit.
  • Bill owns an electrical contracting company. To save money he eliminated the office manager/contract administrator and project manager a few years ago. Now he’s stuck doing all the secretarial and administrative duties required to keep his company going, plus manage his foreman, crews and jobs. His customers, suppliers and employees call him directly on his cell phone, which adds to working more than 80 hours per week. As a result, his sales and profits are dwindling and he doesn’t know what to do next.
  • Jered is part owner of a steel erection company and does all the take-offs and calls subcontractors and suppliers for bids and estimates. These demands have depleted the time he needs to spend out in the field to keep jobs moving. As a result, they are not winning enough new contracts and the field is not meeting the job budgets.

Mr. Do = Company Doesn’t!

Why don’t these business owners get some help? What are they afraid of? Letting go of tasks and delegating them to someone else is the only way your company will ever grow or make more money. As Mr. Do, when you do work, your company doesn’t work! The more you do, the less your company makes. When you handle $10- to $20-per-hour tasks, you can’t focus on important things that will make you money. As their business coach, my recommendations for these business owners were:
  • Dan should hire a part-time professional full-charge bookkeeper (or construction bookkeeping service) to come into his office two days per week. The cost for this service will be around $1,500 per month. With an extra 20 hours per week free, Dan can go out and sell an additional $50,000–75,000 of work every month.
  • Bill needs to hire a full-time construction project administrator and move one of his foremen into the office. He could delegate many everyday tasks so he can focus on customers and productivity. The investment of $100,000 per year will allow his company to grow by at least $1,500,000 in profitable sales if he spends his time networking and seeking new customers who need the value-added design-build services they perform.
  • Jered committed to hire a recent college construction management graduate to help him with take-offs, obtaining quotations, estimating and acting as an assistant project manager. This small investment of $50,000 will allow him to take his company to the next level.
What Position Do You Need Filled? Why have you procrastinated way too long? Are you afraid to hire and make a mistake? Make a list of everything you do and those you should let go of. Decide what type of new position would free up the most time for you to focus on what your company needs to grow and make more money. Then commit to go out and hire that person and make them accountable for the tasks you need accomplished. Remember, the alternative is to continue hoping things get better and doing nothing about it. So get over your fears and go for it. Now write a compelling ad, listing exactly what you need. For example:

Construction Administrator/Office Manager

Growing construction company seeks full-charge, responsible, energetic construction administrator and office manager to organize and handle multiple tasks, including: phones, submittals, contracts, correspondence, customer service, paperwork, graphic design, jobsite meetings, and billing. Construction knowledge, Microsoft Office and blueprint reading experience required. Email resume, references and salary history to xxxxx. Next, place the ad on one of the low-cost online employment websites. When you receive the resumes, sort them by experience, relevance, salary and longevity at their previous employers. Then email them to schedule a short phone interview. During the call, you can ask them detailed questions about their experience, knowledge, teamwork, responsibilities, strengths and weaknesses. Also ask them about their time commitment, salary requirements and the benefits they expect. If you like them, schedule a face-to-face interview. If you are married, have your spouse meet them sometime during the interview, as two heads are better than one in determining attitude, energy and whether they’ll fit into the company. Finally, if you are ready to hire them, offer a 30- or 90-day probation period to determine whether they’ll be the right long-term person to help your company get organized and grow.
As a professional construction BIZCOACH and popular industry speaker, George Hedley helps contractors increase profits, grow and get their companies to work! He is the best-selling author of “Get Your Construction Business to Grow & Profit!” available at his online bookstore at Email to sign up for his free e-newsletter, join a peer mastermind BIZGROUP, implement the BIZ-BUILDER BLUEPRINT, or get a discount for online courses at George Hedley HARDHAT Presentations, 800-851-8553
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