We’ve told you how to build a million dollar construction business. We’ve given you ideas on the types of construction businesses you could start. But once you’ve built your core construction business, where do you go? In this article we discuss how to scale your construction company – and how to do so efficiently.
Plan For It
If you’re in the early stages of your construction business, we know you’ve created a business plan. You can actually start planning for how you will scale your construction business during the startup phase. This offers the most efficiency because everything you do will prime the pump for scaling up. If you’re already in business, you’ll want to create a plan for scaling up your business.
Grow or Scale
Growing your construction business is not the same as scaling your construction business. What’s the difference? The amount of resources used to generate new revenue and the pace at which that new revenue is generated.
Growing Your Business
When you grow your construction business, you add people, equipment, office space, etc. You’ll make more money, but you need to invest quite a bit of cash to make it happen. It’s linear thinking. And there’s nothing wrong with it. But how do you exponentially increase revenue with little or no investment?
Scaling Your Business
Scaling your construction business means finding ways to make a lot more money with less effort and less money. An example of scaling is email marketing. It does not cost much more to send 10 people an email as it does to send that same email to 10 thousand people. Scaling your business means opening up new markets and activating new clients in ways that involve little or no investment. Achieve this and you can realize exponential growth.
Scaling is Hard to Do
According to a 2016 article in Fortune magazine, most of the companies on Inc. magazine’s list of 5,000 fastest-growing companies either failed, shrunk in size, or were bought out in a fire sale five to eight years after they made the list. Okay, you may be thinking, so if growing my construction company is not sufficient, and scaling for hypergrowth fails 66% of the time, what are you suggesting I do? What we here at E&C propose is a hybrid solution: scalable growth.
Efficiently scaling your company means building systems that are both predictable and repeatable. Growing the business requires careful planning and judicious investment. Therefore scalable growth of your construction business means identifying ways to scale your business systems to increase the pace of growth using the lowest investment possible. Sounds great, but how is it done?
Areas of Scalability
In part, scalable growth is identifying functions and processes within the company that are truly scalable.
There are several potential areas of scalability, including:
Digitizing Paper Processes
These days, no one should have to physically hold a piece of paper. Paper processes that could be digitized include:
- Electronic signatures
Even if you have to physically submit, say, the response to an RFP, you want the data to be accessible electronically. This information is valuable in your data analysis.
There are several project management software programs available. Scalable aspects of project management include:
- Change Management
- Client Communications
- Budget Estimating and Tracking
Change management involves client and project team communications, scheduling, and budget estimating and tracking. With project management software a client can request a change, the appropriate team members can be alerted and make comments and suggestions, you can estimate the cost and impact to the schedule, get signoff from the client, and update the project schedule. This kind of scalable process saves time and money. Better yet, client expectations are managed more effectively. A happy client is more likely to work with you on future projects and refer your construction business to others.
There is software available to streamline the bidding process. Some bidding software includes an evaluation function that can help you determine which projects are worth your bidding on at all. Scalable bidding processes include:
- Document management
- Job costing
- Bid Evaluation
To learn more about bidding, check out our video How to Bid on Construction Projects Like a Pro.
Monitoring cash flow is critical to the success of your business. We know, like duh. But too many construction companies are still doing all or some of these functions manually. Areas of scalability include:
- Accounts Receivable
- Inventory Management
An example of a process improvement is just contacting clients to pay. This can be as simple as having your assistant call on outstanding invoices each week. Just offering easier ways to pay online can increase your cashflow. Online payment is a great example of scalability.
Marketing is rife with opportunities to scale up.
- Lead management
- Marketing campaigns
- Data analysis
There are several avenues for growing your business. Some you can plan for. Some opportunities happen organically. For example, you may do kitchen remodels and find that clients ask for assistance in designing other rooms in the house. Perhaps several clients talk to you about adding outdoor kitchens in addition to the kitchen remodel. Instead of saying you don’t do that kind of work, find ways to offer these new services. Other growth opportunities include:
When you automate and streamline processes, it increases your chances for repeat business. But the one thing many construction businesses fail to do is ask for the business. Part of your marketing effort should include staying connected with your current clients. Send out helpful articles on topics related to your business. Email or text occasionally and ask how things are going. Do they have any other projects coming up that you can help with?
Some of the work you do may have related products that you are not actively selling to the client. For example, if you do landscaping services, you may notice that the client is trying to grow vegetables. Why not sell dirt, raised beds, and tools? Think about related products that you can upsell.