September 2012: Business Building

Words: George Hedley

altBusiness Building

Several years ago, I made a resolution to take charge of my business life, put my priorities first and focus on building loyal customer relationships. I committed to work smarter, get organized and gain control, focus on the 20 percent that produces 80 percent of the results, delegate as much as possible to my employees, spend 33 percent of my time with customers, and get home at decent time.

When Monday morning rolled around, I was excited and got to work early. I made a list of all the things I had to do and prioritized them into three categories: must do, should do, and don’t have to do. Then guess what happened at 8:30 a.m.? I started to get calls and emails putting demands on my time. People were requesting I attend meetings, customers had immediate needs, superintendents were having problems with subcontractors, the concrete crew was sitting around waiting for concrete, and one of our trucks had broken down. So I did what I always do: I went out and attempted to fix everyone else’s problems for them.

When I finally got back to the office at 4 p.m., I realized I had missed lunch and my desk was piled with at least 25 new requests, notes, invoices, voicemails, and files requiring my immediate attention. So much for getting to my priorities!

Then my best customer called and asked me to play golf with him at his private country club the next morning. He wanted to introduce me to his banker and talk about his next project. How could I play golf? I didn’t have enough time in the day. I had to fix everyone’s problems and put out all these fires.

Top 2 business priorities

Decide to be bold. Do what you know you have to do. What are your top priorities? Are they in your calendar? Are you going to do something about them? In order to stay focused on what will make the biggest difference in your business, step back and take a hard look.

In my opinion, business is simple. The two most important priorities are to find customers, and then keep customers. Finding customers involves everything that keeps profitable revenue coming in the door. Finding customers includes sales, marketing, estimating, presenting proposals, customer appreciation, schmoozing, networking, and what you do to build loyal customer relationships. This area often is overlooked in construction businesses. Most construction company owners focus on bidding work and then getting it done. As a top priority, finding customers cannot be delegated easily. Customers want to know with whom they are doing business.

Keeping customers is all about doing a good job, and meeting your customer’s expectations and contractual requirements. This top priority is an outcome of a well-organized and systemized operation, led by a professional management team and well-trained employees. This area of your company can be managed by a professional management team that implements your business mission, philosophy, organizational systems and procedures. But, without great systems in place, delegating operational tasks is impossible.

Hire pros to grow

The fastest way to get your company organized and focus on keeping customers is to hire the best and give them the task of getting the work done. Great people do cost more money, but they take less time to manage than do the weaker ones. Plus, you’ll never be able to get your business to grow beyond the capacity of your top people. Why haven’t you hired management professionals to help grow your business? Where do you need the most help (accounting, operations, estimator, superintendent, project manager, office manager)? I know you can’t afford it, but when will you? Professionals will make you money. You can’t continue to do it all yourself. Sell your truck or backhoe, lease a used one, take the money and hire a professional to help you.

George Hedley is a licensed, professional business coach, popular professional speaker and best-selling author of “Get Your Business to Work!” and “The Business Success Blueprint For Contractors,” available at his online bookstore. He works with business owners to build profitable growing companies. Email to request your free copy of “Winning Ways To Win More Work!” or sign up for his free monthly e-newsletter. To hire George to speak, be part of his ongoing BIZCOACH program, or join one of his ongoing Roundtable Peer BIZGROUPS, call 800-851-8553 or visit George Hedley, HARDHAT Presentations Return to Table of Contents
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