Tim Davis – The Builder’s Coach
We’ve all heard the cliché that says “Nothing is neutral, your business is either growing or it’s dying.” I believe this is absolutely true. The problem is the definition most of us use for growing. Growth isn’t just about building more houses and hiring more people. More importantly, growth is about doing what you do better than you did it before.
If you built twenty houses with five employees last year and this year you built twenty houses with only four employees and everything else remained the same then you have grown your business. It has become more efficient. You were able to produce the exact same results with twenty percent fewer employees.
If you built twenty houses with five employees last year and this year you built twenty houses with five employees but your net profit ratio increased by two percent then you were able to produce better results from the same effort. This is business growth! Even though your business didn’t get bigger, it got stronger.
We need to stop thinking about growth as getting bigger and start thinking about it as getting better. With the current economic downturn and the slow housing market, this is the perfect time to grow your business! Don’t miss this golden opportunity to work on your business, its processes, systems, and procedures, while things are slow. Once things pick up again, and they will sooner than you think, it will be too late to make many of those improvements; you’ll be too busy working in the business to have time to work on the business.
Here are five ideas to grow you business by making it stronger instead of bigger:
1. Create a simple business plan
Don’t let the idea of creating a business plan make you nervous. If you’ve never created one before it’s not difficult, although it does require a lot of thought. There are many great books on how to write a business plan as well as resources on the internet which can easily be found through a google search.
2. Overhaul your web site
Most builders have a web site but very few builders have an effective web site. Of the dozens of builder web sites I’ve reviewed I have yet to find one that didn’t need major improvement. I’m not talking about looking pretty. I’m talking about taking prospects and turning them into customers. If you don’t know how to do this then I suggest you study some books on internet marketing.
3. Document your procedures
Every business does the same things over and over. Whether it is processing invoices, starting a new job, or closing a sale, we go through the same motions in the same order every time. If you don’t have these procedures documented then shame on you. With everything you do ask yourself; “What is the likelihood that we would ever do this again?” The more likely you will do it again the more you need to have the procedure documented.
4. Create a procedures manual
Once you have a procedure documented add it to your procedures manual. Use MS Word or a similar program to create an indexed manual grouped by subjects such as Job start up, Job close out, Loan draw procedures, etc. Having it in this format makes it easy to edit and easy to access. When the economy picks up again and you have to hire employees to keep up with the demand, you will find your new procedures manual invaluable. The time and money you will save will be worth whatever effort you have to use to create it.
5. Implement new software
Having software that integrates all aspects of the company is invaluable. It’s difficult to operate a construction company with piece milled software that doesn’t communicate between components. The worst time to implement new software is when the market is booming and you suddenly realize the software you are using is inadequate for the task. There are few things harder in the building business than launching new software in the middle of a building boom. Ask me how I know. If you’re considering new software make the move now while things are slow and you have time to get it up and running and learn how to use it.
Growth can be about getting bigger but if you get bigger before you get better your business will likely end up dead or severely crippled. There hasn’t been a better time in years to fine tune your business.
About the Featured Author:
Tim Davis is the founder of The Builder’s Coach, a national coaching and consulting firm designed to assist small to mid sized builders with back-office management and marketing solutions. Tim is a published author, a speaker at the national level of the NAHB, has been a successful home builder for the past twenty years, and is also a licensed realtor. Visit The Builder’s Coach for more information and some free, but valuable downloads.