How to grow a construction business

How to grow a construction business

Grow a construction business

Growing a construction business is an opportunity to increase your capabilities and your profits. The sky’s the limit when you grow with scale, but getting started can be the hardest part.

Before we share tips on how to grow a construction business, let’s define what it means to grow and scale. 

It is easy to confuse scaling with growth. While scaling includes growth, growth doesn’t always include scaling.

  • Growth: Expanded revenue that goes hand in hand with expanded resources.
  • Scale: Expanded revenue without expanded resources.

A business showing growth may be bringing in more money but it is also spending more. For example, you may take on an extra project but the costs involved mean you’re not able to take any extra money home. 

A scaled business is generating revenue at a greater rate than costs and getting returns on every investment. For instance, paying $1,000 for software that helps to bring in $10,000 dollars of revenue means you are scaling your construction business.

What does an unscaled construction business look like?

In an unscaled construction business, the owner tends to be very hands-on. He or she is often on-site and active in getting the job done.

After the owner is paid for their time and all other expenses are covered, the profits in an unscaled business tend to be enough to make a decent living (they should be anyway). 

It’s not that an unscaled business is unsustainable. It simply means that if the owner is away for any period of time, it will be difficult for it to operate. 

How about a scaled construction business?

In a scaled business, the boss is more likely to oversee several jobs at once. Project managers and site supervisors take over the day to day and the owner will spend more time looking for ways to generate revenue. By letting others deal with on-site tasks, the owner is free to bring in new work. 

The real benefit of scaling is that as the owner, if you have a day off, work carries on without you and you are still generating revenue. 

It is important to note that a business’s failure to scale doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of its work. What’s more, a scaled business can still run into financial difficulties if costs aren’t controlled. 

The difference of a scaled business is that you are creating an asset which has value and can potentially be sold one day. As the owner, you also have the potential to take a lot more money home for yourself after you have paid your team, your suppliers and your taxes. 

How to scale your construction business

Create systems

In the book Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business Gino Wickman presents a system for organisational health and growth. The third component of his model is around processes.

Once you have more enquiries than you can handle, the first step to scale and grow a construction business is to add systems and protocols so that people who are stepping up to help manage the business know what to do.

In a well-systemised business, staff know what they are doing on any given day and they will not need constant supervision or guidance to get their work done.

This means documenting all of your key processes and making sure they are followed by all!

With the right systems and protocols in place, you won’t need to be on site as much. Your workers will be building and working hard and you will be free to travel between jobs, talk to clients, organise quotes, or even take the day off.

When you have systems, productivity is maximised and so too are profits. 

Staff

Another component of Traction is staffing. This is the next step to scale and grow a construction business. Do you have the right people in the right seats?

The right people – does your staff share your business’s core values. This may not sound important but it’s crucial in scaling a business. If your staff don’t share your values, they’ll never be fully committed to your business’s success and they’ll hold you back.

The right seat means that each of your employees is operating within his or her area of greatest skill and passion inside your organisation. What does this look like practically? As a new business owner, you probably wear all the hats. You:

  • Source new work,
  • Estimate,
  • Do the contract administration,
  • Bookkeeping, etc.

As your business grows, you need to work out what your team’s and your area of greatest skill and passion is and make sure you’re only doing those things. This way you’re maximising the productivity of your entire business.

Outsource bookkeeping and admin

You may not always be able to hire full time employees but another step you can take to scale a construction business is to start outsourcing roles. Bookkeeping and administration are good examples of roles better done by someone other than a construction business owner. 

Too many business owners try to keep track of all their books and admin themselves, especially when starting out. Even if you are good at these jobs, is this really your area of greatest skill and passion? Your time is valuable. You shouldn’t be spending half a day per week or time on the weekend trying to catch up with financial management.

By hand-balling these tasks to professionals, you will give yourself much more time. This is what frees you up to start thinking about growing your business. 

Advertise

When you’re a small team, most jobs come through word of mouth. This is fine if you’re not looking to scale.

However, when you do decide to expand, you probably need more work. This is why it is time to start thinking about a marketing strategy that will generate a steady influx of enquiries. 

Like bookkeeping and accounting, it may make sense to create a budget and outsource the task. Experts will help you get value for money and save you from trying to figure out which platforms and strategies to use. 

Quality advertising and marketing has the potential to pay for itself many times over. It will also help you to find more of the clients who you really want to work with. 

Stay flexible

Scaling is a massive learning experience for every business owner and it comes with plenty of challenges and setbacks. You may want to work with a business coach or join a program which will help you avoid the common pitfalls. 

As you scale, make sure you regularly review your business’s performances and make changes when they’re needed. Keep a close eye on revenue and encourage your staff to be proactive when pointing out issues and ways to improve the business. 

Ready to scale and grow a construction business? Work with a bookkeeper to organise your finances so you have more time to focus on growing your business. The team at Trendsight are the construction industry specialists.

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