by George Hedley
Think back when you first started in the construction business. Your company was smaller and things were a lot simpler. All you had to do to be successful was 'bid it' then 'build it' and finally 'bill it!" To grow your company, you just worked a little harder. To make more money, you just worked a little longer. To get some more work, you just bid a few more jobs. To keep your customers happy, you met them on the jobsite and worked things out. To get paid, you called and asked your customer when you could pick up a check. Simple!
Then things got more and more complicated as you started to get more referrals and your company grew. You hired a few people to help you get it all done. You had a few more jobs going at the same time. Different customers had different demands and they all wanted your full attention. You began to struggle with the everyday tasks of running a business plus running all the jobs. Your job description changed from superintendent and project manager to bookkeeper - office manager - customer service - salesman - bill collector - accountant - purchasing agent - referee.
Think about what it takes to grow and maintain a successful construction business. What are the most important aspects to building a profitable company - doing the work or managing the business? I'm sure you agree it takes both to be successful. Doing work to get your jobs finished takes precedence as phone calls, problems and challenges continually occur on the jobsite. Plus you've got to keep all of your crews working efficiently or you'll lose money. But to grow a business, it takes more than getting the work done.
What plays should I call first?
Football coaches need a playbook, coaches to train their players and players to execute the plays. The head coach develops a strategy is to win the game and calls the plays. In order to improve and win the game of business, you must create a game plan and then identify what plays you want to call. I hold boot camps open to construction company owners who want to get their businesses to work for them. Attendees come overwhelmed and frustrated with so many challenges, problems and stresses they can't think straight. They have failed trying to fix everything themselves all at once. The first thing they say is: "Help! What should I do first?"
Take the "Business Success Test"
Answer YES or NO to the following statements:
___ Our business vision is understood by all employees.
___ We have written business goals and targets for:
___ We have a written marketing & sales plan.
___ We have an organizational chart and structure.
___ We have organizational systems to guarantee results.
___ Our financial reporting system is timely & accurate.
___ We have employee incentive & recognition programs.
___ We have an excellent management team.
___ We do excellent and on-time work.
___ We sell more than low price.
___ Our business is organized & in control.
___ My company works!
Are you the coach or a player?
Imagine you are a head coach of a major college football team. What would you concentrate your time and energy doing to build a winning team? I attended the University of Southern California from 1967 through 1972. We had great football teams, won the Rose Bowl often and were rated number one several times. Coach John McKay led USC to victory during those years and was followed by another winning coach John Robinson. Both coaches went on to the NFL as head coaches. After they left, our football program went downhill and we were unable to put a winning team on the field. Not until a few years ago, Pete Carroll was hired as head coach. USC then started to win again and was rated number one. Why?
Like in football, to be a winner in business you have to have all areas working efficiently and at the highest level. Plus surround yourself with the best management team possible. Winning teams are lead by coaches who identify their team's needs, hire assistant coaches who are the best at what they do, and recruit and train their players how to implement excellence. The coach is the key. The coach doesn't do the work. The coach's job is to identify the plan of attack and then coach the team members to get it done according to plan. Unlike successful football coaches, entrepreneurs often try to run their companies without a playbook or assistant coaches on the sideline.
Which position describes you?
As an entrepreneur or business owner, you can't get it all done no matter how hard you try. Why? You're trying to be and do four different business skills simultaneously. To grow your business and get it to work, you need strong leaders responsible for and managing the four parts of your business. The skills and roles required are:
- Visionary leader
The visionary leader is the creator of the business vision, dreamer, has lots of energy, is imaginative, the coach and lives for the future. They love change and have a deep need to be in control of everything. The visionary leader has lots of ideas, makes quick decisions but doesn't always follow-up or stay focused on organizational tasks and systems.
The manager is organized, systemized and in-control. They like to make lists and always follow-up on tasks needed to be completed. They make people accountable and responsible for their actions and meet their schedules and budgets.
The accountant keeps track of past performances, finances, achievement and progress. They like to make and present reports to the leaders of their company. They like detail and always sweat the small stuff!
The worker does excellent work in some area of the company. It can be in sales, estimating, project management, field supervision, production, customer relations, quality control or other work area.
Growing businesses struggle most when the owner continually tries to be all four of these people at the same time. Eventually he or she gets out of control. And many parts of the business actually get worse as the owner's work load increases. Plus owner's often attempt to handle areas they're not talented in. In other words, the owner fails as he or she doesn't let go of areas they shouldn't be in charge of in the first place!
Fill your gaps!
My personal talent and gifts are in marketing and estimating. In other words I can get lots of work at the right price. But my weakness is managing people and making them accountable for results. In order to grow my business I had to make it a priority to balance my weakness with leaders who are better than me at managing people, projects and keeping track. What area of your business do you need to improve? Where are you weak? To grow, look at your false responses to the "Business Success Test" and determine which gaps to fill.
Identify what business area you're best suited to lead and manage. And like a head football coach, let go of other areas you aren't talented in or don't want to handle yourself. This action will allow your business to grow and eventually work the way you want it to. Determine where you're weak and replace yourself with great people responsible for those activities.
Look at Microsoft. Bill Gates is the visionary and creator, but Steve Balmer is the manager and responsible to get the work done. This partnership works. My recommendation to most struggling construction company entrepreneurs is to hire strong managers in their weakest area to help them grow their business. I know they can't afford it. That's because they can't make enough money with them doing work they shouldn't be doing! With good people around you, your business will grow and make more money. Without good people, you'll continue to struggle and never make the money you should.
Chart your perfect playbook!
As you design your company to grow profitably, look objectively at how you run your business. List below who is currently accountable and responsible for every area of your company today. I'll bet you're responsible for most of the areas. As your business grows you won't be able to continually fill all the positions in your company. Decide who's best suited to take over for you in the future in all areas. If you don't have a person currently ready or qualified to accept more responsibility, leave that future area blank. Your goal is to design the perfect playbook, organizational chart and a game plan which will allow your company to grow. This exercise will help you map out and identify your future management team needs.
Visionary Leader : __________________ __________________
Field & Production: _________________ __________________
Project Management: __________________ __________________
Sales: __________________ __________________
Marketing: __________________ __________________
Estimating: __________________ __________________
Pre-Construction: __________________ __________________
Administration: __________________ __________________
Finance: __________________ __________________
Accounting: __________________ __________________
Call your next play!
Now for the hard part. Do you start working on one of your weak areas identified in "The Business Success Test"? Or do you start looking for a senior management team member to accept some responsibility for making your company work? Your first tendency is to work harder and take on more of the work yourself. This is a natural reaction for entrepreneurs who are used to and want to control everything while not spending any of their hard earned cash. Look at other successful competitors who do well. Do they hire people to do more or do they take on more themselves and do less?
Winning coaches make bold calls!
Coaches who win national championships are confident in their team's ability to achieve goals. They're willing to risk the entire game on a single call. Are you willing to take bold steps to promote or and hire key managers to fill in your organizational gaps before you can afford to? The time is never right. But unless you're willing to invest in your future, you won't make big plays and win the games. Are you willing to make a decision to make your company work or are you going to continue to try and work harder? Fill those key positions and then put people in charge of scoring points and getting results. This allows you to concentrate on areas where you're best suited and can make the biggest difference in your team's success.
With these positions filled, look at your weaker business areas and assign your new leaders to create solutions and systems to get your business working exactly the way you want it to. Give yourself three to six months to fill each slot needed. This will give you a slow and steady path you can accomplish. Don't try to fix it all today yourself. Make it your priority to find talented players you know you need. The future is your choice. What winning plays will you call?
George Hedley owns Hedley Construction and Hardhat Presentations. He is the author of the "The Business Success Blueprint Series" now available in 8-workbook & audio CD sets. He is available to speak at your organization on his proven system to build profits, people, customers and wealth. Construction company owners are invited to attend his 2-day 'Profit-Builder Circle' boot camp held regularly. E-mail him to receive a FREE copy of his book entitled "Everything Contractors Know About Making A Profit", signup for his FREE management e-newsletter, visit his online bookstore or receive more information. Call 800-851-8553, visit his website at www.hardhatpresentations.com, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3300 Irvine Avenue #135
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Phone (949) 852-2005
Fax (949) 852-3002
Email: email@example.com website: www.hardhatpresentations.com
George Hedley owns a $75 million construction and development company and
Hardhat Presentations. He speaks to companies on building profitable businesses,
leadership, and loyal customers. He holds 3-day in-depth "Profit-Builder
Circles" open to construction company owners in an interactive roundtable
format every 3 months. His "Profit-Builder System" includes proven
tools to always make a profit, build equity, create wealth, win profitable
jobs, motivate your people, and enjoy the benefits of owning a profitable company.