Baby Steps To Business Improvement - General Discussion - Contractor Talk

Baby Steps To Business Improvement

 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 11-01-2014, 06:38 PM   #1
Pro
 
CarpenterSFO's Avatar
 
Trade: GC
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: CA
Posts: 7,076
Rewards Points: 2,044

Baby Steps To Business Improvement


Sometimes when I think about improving my business, it seems like a daunting task - there's a lot I could do better, but I'm not going to manage a complete reinvention of myself. Around me here in my market, and here on C.T., I can see guys who have their acts completely together, and it seems like too much to try to make that transformation. I may not be the only person in that boat.

So in many cases I just look for baby steps:
  • Personal presentation: I'm a casual guy, maybe too much in the past. My baby step is to keep a clean shirt in my truck, for unexpected customer or prospective customer meetings.
  • Perfect estimates: I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to estimates, but that can lead to lost opportunities. My baby step: Even for complex jobs, I'll send a rough estimate quickly, even if it's incomplete. I'm better off keeping the conversation active.
  • Trade knowledge: My baby step is to ask one newbie question per day, of another contractor or a supplier.
  • Accounting: The baby step is just to do today's accounting, every day. That's not hard, is it?

Some guys have a complete plan, and are executing on the whole thing, every day. It's more realistic for me to work on it one piece at a time. Eventually, the baby steps add up to something, is the idea.
__________________
- Bob
CarpenterSFO is offline  
The Following 12 Users Say Thank You to CarpenterSFO For This Useful Post:
BlueRidgeGreen (11-02-2014), Calidecks (11-01-2014), donerightwyo (11-01-2014), EthanB (11-01-2014), overanalyze (11-02-2014), Railman (11-02-2014), Rio (11-02-2014), Sabagley (11-01-2014), Spencer (11-02-2014), tenon0774 (11-01-2014), Texas Wax (11-01-2014), Xtrememtnbiker (11-01-2014)

Warning: The topics covered on this site include activities in which there exists the potential for serious injury or death. ContractorTalk.com DOES NOT guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information contained on this site. Always use proper safety precaution and reference reliable outside sources before attempting any construction or remodeling task!

   

Advertisement

 

Old 11-01-2014, 06:50 PM   #2
Wormdrive Operator
 
heavy_d's Avatar
 
Trade: Contractor
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Durham Region, Ontario
Posts: 3,316
Rewards Points: 6,884

Re: Baby Steps To Business Improvement


Great post. My business is very new, and when I think about what I can do to improve my business, which is pretty much everything since I'm so new, it's overwhelming.

As time goes on, realizing the small things you can improve change the big picture as you go.

Advertisement

heavy_d is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to heavy_d For This Useful Post:
CarpenterSFO (11-01-2014)
Old 11-01-2014, 09:23 PM   #3
Pro
 
HardWorks's Avatar
 
Trade: concrete, deco concrete, site work and masonry
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 111
Rewards Points: 230

Re: Baby Steps To Business Improvement


Good insite and post. Little and often make much.
HardWorks is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 11-01-2014, 09:43 PM   #4
The Sheriff

 
Jaws's Avatar
 
Trade: GC
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 24,069
Rewards Points: 12,080

Re: Baby Steps To Business Improvement


Subscribed
__________________
"The sound of the saftey clicking off is the only warning your gonna get......., so cover your ears" Northeast Wyoming 2016

John
Jaws is online now  
Old 11-01-2014, 09:50 PM   #5
Pro
 
tenon0774's Avatar
 
Trade: Remodeling Carpenter
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 2,138
Rewards Points: 2,270

Re: Baby Steps To Business Improvement


Tried to have this general conversation with my partner last weekend.

To no avail.

Needless to say, we have parted ways and this theme keeps running through my head going forward.

Thanks Bob,
__________________
-Scott
tenon0774 is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to tenon0774 For This Useful Post:
CarpenterSFO (11-02-2014)
Old 11-01-2014, 09:55 PM   #6
Pro
 
Texas Wax's Avatar
 
Trade: Executor of special operations
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: DFW
Posts: 3,950
Rewards Points: 1,886

Re: Baby Steps To Business Improvement


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaws View Post
Subscribed

Me too.

Think Bob just described many of "us" here. Here's my thoughts, for what they might worth...

Been told and trying (failing miserably) to initiate a default schedule, daily, weekly to develop habits for accounting type tasks. Make them automatic like tieing your shoes before you walk in them.... Habit.

I have uniform shirts, so I don't feel awkard showing up a little dusty and generally look professional. I still am very hands on, helps sell that point.

Don't think I can break the perfect estimate thang, really. My goal to speed that up is a price list-sgtructure that can be put together in 10 minutes or less covering those anal retentive dance of "just right" pricing. Do the long thinking up front for short turn around, like before ending a sales call.

Not a day goes by I don't learn something new. LOL Got over being an expert many many years ago. Just let my natural desire and curiosity to learn about construction and such run free. Same drive I had back in my early teens. Been reading JLC since it came out for example.

Last edited by Texas Wax; 11-01-2014 at 10:08 PM.
Texas Wax is online now  
Old 11-01-2014, 10:01 PM   #7
Talking Head
 
EthanB's Avatar
 
Trade: Poking Things With Sticks
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 5,343
Rewards Points: 344

Re: Baby Steps To Business Improvement


Good list Bob. Mine is a lot longer but that's probably a bad thing.

Number 1 seems easy but it's so tempting to use that as a backup shirt when something happens to the one you're wearing. I solved this by buying a dozen grey polo shirts when I spotted a sale this spring. Now there are 4 in my truck at all times so I always have one and I can dole them out to my helper if we need to clean up our crew image in a pinch. I usually have at least one extra pair of pants and socks in there too. Keeping some boot covers in the truck door has earned me a couple compliments. I slip them on when I walk in.


Number 2 was a really big improvement for me this year. I started actively ballparking numbers with customers and it really helped me qualify customers, focus our initial designs and get them thinking about the REAL cost of their project. I had a couple where the ballpark fell short and it added a hurdle but I adjusted my ballparks to cover a pretty big range and that seems to have helped.

Number 4 is my big job. My accounting sucks and I have no real excuse. I've done it in the past, for much larger businesses, and I know how important it is. It's just something that I'm able to procrastinate without anyone calling me out on it. I've debated about hiring a bookkeeper to do it weekly just so I could have it done and maybe be motivated to actually do it rather than have to eat the expense.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaws View Post
Planer.....
EthanB is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to EthanB For This Useful Post:
Railman (11-02-2014)
Old 11-01-2014, 10:09 PM   #8
.
 
Sabagley's Avatar
 
Trade: General contractor
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Wa. State
Posts: 632
Rewards Points: 880

Re: Baby Steps To Business Improvement


You sound like a Dave Ramsey fan, me too.

My baby step would be to learn my quick books in depth and stay on top of it.
__________________
Bills and behavior always come due.
Sabagley is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to Sabagley For This Useful Post:
HardWorks (11-02-2014)
Old 11-01-2014, 10:18 PM   #9
Pro
 
Okiecontractor's Avatar
 
Trade: General Contractor
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Southeast Oklahoma
Posts: 1,274
Rewards Points: 2,002

Re: Baby Steps To Business Improvement


I learned a tricks about getting into the habit of stuff I don't really want to do.

I used it to start going to the gym. Every morning I get up and get dressed for the gym. I drive to the gym. I scan my access card. If I dont feel like working out I go home shower and get ready for the day. 95% of the time I think well... I'm already here. Might as well work out.

Same way with bookkeeping. 2 days a week I get out receipts etc etc and if I don't feel like doing it I dont. Usually I'll knock that out too though.

Its usually not an exact science and may not work for everyone or everything but it'll help. I hope that it helps someone. Eventually you'll get in the habit of doing it though. Just have to train ourselves.
__________________
Yeah I can do that... I learned how from the DIY channel.


DJ
Okiecontractor is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to Okiecontractor For This Useful Post:
donerightwyo (11-01-2014)
Old 11-01-2014, 10:18 PM   #10
Pro
 
Okiecontractor's Avatar
 
Trade: General Contractor
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Southeast Oklahoma
Posts: 1,274
Rewards Points: 2,002

Re: Baby Steps To Business Improvement


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabagley View Post
You sound like a Dave Ramsey fan, me too.

My baby step would be to learn my quick books in depth and stay on top of it.
I love dave ramsey... smart man.
__________________
Yeah I can do that... I learned how from the DIY channel.


DJ
Okiecontractor is offline  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Okiecontractor For This Useful Post:
Sabagley (11-01-2014), Spencer (11-02-2014)
Old 11-01-2014, 10:33 PM   #11
Pro
 
tenon0774's Avatar
 
Trade: Remodeling Carpenter
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 2,138
Rewards Points: 2,270

Re: Baby Steps To Business Improvement


Was in a Tim Fallor "review".

...company shirts weren't discussed.

Management was discussed.

Lead Carpenter was discussed.

...

Management is crucial to the small business.

...above and beyond t-shirts.
__________________
-Scott
tenon0774 is offline  
Old 11-01-2014, 10:41 PM   #12
The Sheriff

 
Jaws's Avatar
 
Trade: GC
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 24,069
Rewards Points: 12,080

Re: Baby Steps To Business Improvement


Quote:
Originally Posted by Okiecontractor View Post
I learned a tricks about getting into the habit of stuff I don't really want to do.

I used it to start going to the gym. Every morning I get up and get dressed for the gym. I drive to the gym. I scan my access card. If I dont feel like working out I go home shower and get ready for the day. 95% of the time I think well... I'm already here. Might as well work out.

Same way with bookkeeping. 2 days a week I get out receipts etc etc and if I don't feel like doing it I dont. Usually I'll knock that out too though.

Its usually not an exact science and may not work for everyone or everything but it'll help. I hope that it helps someone. Eventually you'll get in the habit of doing it though. Just have to train ourselves.
Thats a great way to get things done.

I do one thing everyday that doesnt have to be done that day.

I do one thing everyday I dont want to do that needs to be done.

One accomplished task, especially when your down, provides motivation to do another task.

Things I work on daily:

Not to be defensive or block criticism or new ideas

Prioritize better. I end up doing a lot of things myself that I should delegate to people who are capable of doing those things, so I can move on to other tasks.

Communication with the office and my partners. We seem to get where everyone is doing their jobs and not utilizing each others abilities. A lot of times I make a decision based on how I see it and one of them will say did you think about handling it this way? Thats a good idea. Vice versa

What I think I do well is organize people and tasks, and not putting myself in a box, I do whatever is necessary and is in the best interest of the company no matter what it is: whether bid a job at midnight or dig a sump pump hole. The problem is I dont always prioritize the task im doing well

Its very easy to convince myself I need to be punching out a frame or helping the guys finish trimming a project instead of getting stuff together for the next thing.
__________________
"The sound of the saftey clicking off is the only warning your gonna get......., so cover your ears" Northeast Wyoming 2016

John

Last edited by Jaws; 11-01-2014 at 10:48 PM.
Jaws is online now  
The Following User Says Thank You to Jaws For This Useful Post:
Railman (11-02-2014)
Old 11-01-2014, 10:43 PM   #13
Pro
 
brickhook's Avatar
 
Trade: masonry
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Claudville Va
Posts: 3,600
Rewards Points: 7,586

Re: Baby Steps To Business Improvement


I like Dave Ramsey also, but the frustrating thing about motivational speakers like him is , they always say stuff like "YOU SHOULD NEVER EVER BORROW MONEY!"

Well, of coarse people like him never have to borrow money.....they're rich....

Almost like his 'reality' and everybody elses' 'reality' is certainly different.
brickhook is offline  
The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to brickhook For This Useful Post:
blacktop (11-01-2014), Sabagley (11-02-2014), Spencer (11-02-2014), tedanderson (11-02-2014)
Old 11-01-2014, 10:49 PM   #14
GC/carpenter
 
Calidecks's Avatar
 
Trade: Decking, Railing, Carpenter/General Contractor
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Anaheim Hills, California (OC)
Posts: 37,818
Rewards Points: 684

Re: Baby Steps To Business Improvement


I've learned that consistency is the answer, I make small adjustments to how I do things across the board. It's probably a little easier when you are doing a main operation like decks. For example I've found exactly the best approach to the sit down at the kitchen table. I've found exactly the amount of Info I put in a proposal. I keep constant watch on things that seem to work on multiple occasions and adopt them as SOP.

I always purposely keep my proposals short. It more often then not gets them asking more questions. I can almost guess the questions when they call too. I would say if they call me after I send them a proposal I will more then likely close the sale.

Customers can smell an unconfident contractor. They will pay more if they get a better feeling about you vs. Even the cheaper guy.
Calidecks is online now  
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Calidecks For This Useful Post:
HardWorks (11-02-2014), hdavis (11-02-2014), Railman (11-02-2014)
Old 11-01-2014, 10:50 PM   #15
The Sheriff

 
Jaws's Avatar
 
Trade: GC
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 24,069
Rewards Points: 12,080

Re: Baby Steps To Business Improvement


Quote:
Originally Posted by brickhook View Post
I like Dave Ramsey also, but the frustrating thing about motivational speakers like him is , they always say stuff like "YOU SHOULD NEVER EVER BORROW MONEY!"

Well, of coarse people like him never have to borrow money.....they're rich....

Almost like his 'reality' and everybody elses' 'reality' is certainly different.
His point is to do without until you gain financial independence, then enjoy it.

I have read his stuff. I dont practice it, but I have my own plan that is along those lines but not nearly as strict.
__________________
"The sound of the saftey clicking off is the only warning your gonna get......., so cover your ears" Northeast Wyoming 2016

John
Jaws is online now  
The Following User Says Thank You to Jaws For This Useful Post:
brickhook (11-01-2014)
Old 11-01-2014, 10:50 PM   #16
Pro
 
brickhook's Avatar
 
Trade: masonry
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Claudville Va
Posts: 3,600
Rewards Points: 7,586

Re: Baby Steps To Business Improvement


Jaws, I've never had the chance to tell you, but I have to say in the two years I've been a member of CT, I've learned more about business and better ways of doing things from you than anyone else while I've been in business.

I'm a better brick mason than I am a business man. But I've picked up on several things that you do that helps me.

brickhook is offline  
The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to brickhook For This Useful Post:
blacktop (11-01-2014), donerightwyo (11-01-2014), Jaws (11-01-2014), WBailey1041 (11-02-2014)
Old 11-01-2014, 10:54 PM   #17
Pro
 
Okiecontractor's Avatar
 
Trade: General Contractor
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Southeast Oklahoma
Posts: 1,274
Rewards Points: 2,002

Re: Baby Steps To Business Improvement


Quote:
Originally Posted by brickhook View Post
Jaws, I've never had the chance to tell you, but I have to say in the two years I've been a member of CT, I've learned more about business and better ways of doing things from you than anyone else while I've been in business.

I'm a better brick mason than I am a business man. But I've picked up on several things that you do that helps me.

I agree with him. You always have some helpful advice and insight. Keep up the good work!

And you dont come across as trying to tell people how to do stuff... just trying to be helpful.
__________________
Yeah I can do that... I learned how from the DIY channel.


DJ
Okiecontractor is offline  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Okiecontractor For This Useful Post:
brickhook (11-01-2014), Jaws (11-01-2014)
Old 11-01-2014, 10:55 PM   #18
Drywall Slave
 
blacktop's Avatar
 
Trade: drywall contractor
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: VA.
Posts: 9,401
Rewards Points: 244

Re: Baby Steps To Business Improvement


Quote:
Originally Posted by Okiecontractor View Post
I learned a tricks about getting into the habit of stuff I don't really want to do.

I used it to start going to the gym. Every morning I get up and get dressed for the gym. I drive to the gym. I scan my access card. If I dont feel like working out I go home shower and get ready for the day.
You really ? I got a work out for ya! Meet up with me in the morning .
__________________
"Always listen to your heart . Always listen to your dog ." Quote. Gauge key .
blacktop is offline  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to blacktop For This Useful Post:
hdavis (11-02-2014), Spencer (11-02-2014)
Old 11-01-2014, 11:00 PM   #19
Pro
 
Okiecontractor's Avatar
 
Trade: General Contractor
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Southeast Oklahoma
Posts: 1,274
Rewards Points: 2,002

Re: Baby Steps To Business Improvement


Are we hanging 5/8s?
__________________
Yeah I can do that... I learned how from the DIY channel.


DJ
Okiecontractor is offline  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Okiecontractor For This Useful Post:
donerightwyo (11-01-2014), hdavis (11-02-2014)
Old 11-01-2014, 11:01 PM   #20
The Sheriff

 
Jaws's Avatar
 
Trade: GC
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 24,069
Rewards Points: 12,080

Re: Baby Steps To Business Improvement


Quote:
Originally Posted by brickhook View Post
Jaws, I've never had the chance to tell you, but I have to say in the two years I've been a member of CT, I've learned more about business and better ways of doing things from you than anyone else while I've been in business.

I'm a better brick mason than I am a business man. But I've picked up on several things that you do that helps me.

I appreciate the compliment, but there are far better businessman and contractors on this site than I am.

I just am very open on here to what little bit I know. I have a lot of good mentors, and great one that goes out of his way to teach me everything he knows about everything, everyday.

I honestly have probably learned a couple things or looked at something in a new light from every active member on here. I have seriously taken notes more than once

Advertisement

__________________
"The sound of the saftey clicking off is the only warning your gonna get......., so cover your ears" Northeast Wyoming 2016

John
Jaws is online now  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Jaws For This Useful Post:
brickhook (11-02-2014), overanalyze (11-02-2014)


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Constantly getting under bid...Am I expecting more that I should? BrothersHI Business 156 03-01-2015 02:48 AM
22 Marketing Ideas For Small Businesses With Limited Budgets AmeliaP Marketing & Sales 3 10-07-2014 09:54 PM
Getting Home Improvement License but no business. Maryland Tquentin Contractor Licensing 1 03-06-2012 11:58 AM

Join Now... It's Fast and FREE!

I am a professional contractor
I am a DIY Homeowner
Drywall Talk is for
PROFESSIONAL CONTRACTORS ONLY!

At DrywallTalk.com we cater exlusivly to professional contractors who make their living as a contractor. Knowing that many homeowners and DIYers are looking for a community to call home, we've created www.DIYChatroom.com DIY Chatroom is full of helpful advices and perfect for DIY homeowners.

Redirecing in 10 seconds
No Thanks
terms of service

Already Have an Account?