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BuildMapper Blog

Avoid These Business Mistakes in 2023

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Growing a subcontracting business is a difficult undertaking, regardless of whether you're a plumber, painter, or anything in between. By evaluating what has and hasn't worked for your company, you can make sure that you are prepared for success in 2023. Here is a list of common mistakes subcontractors make, and how to avoid them while growing your company for future success.

WORKING “IN” THE BUSINESS AND NOT “ON” THE BUSINESS

This is the first and most crucial step in growing your company. If you are currently heavily involved in the day-to-day work of your business, you may find yourself saying something along the lines of "I have to be on-site for the job to get done properly" or "My employees aren't good enough to do that job themselves." If this is the case, you aren't allocating enough time to focus on the rest of the items on this list. It is essential to give up some of that control and trust your employees to step up so that you can focus more time on creating the business you want.

NOT HAVING A LEAD GENERATION SYSTEM

Most small companies stop looking for new projects when they have a few jobs lined up already. When they have a few jobs lined up already, many small businesses stop looking for new projects. You might not think there's anything wrong with that, but this thinking prevents businesses from progressing. A full pipeline of new projects is essential even during busy times. Many owners don’t realize that there is an enormous difference between just taking the jobs that are available and choosing which ones you’d like to accept. Both situations may seem the same, but the big difference is the quality of the jobs will improve if your pipeline is overflowing. Take a look at BuildMapper.com for help with lead generation.

NOT TRACKING YOUR NUMBERS

Tracking the metrics for every job is very important in increasing your profits. For each project, you should be able to understand your profit margins clearly. It is essential to have a very accurate measure of what your costs will be and what profit you want to make from the job. Costs include employee wages, materials, and equipment use. An accurate estimate of costs and time for each job will help you price projects properly. Profit margin is the most important number to track and analyze for your business.

IGNORING BRANDING AND ADVERTISING

Some companies give up on creating a brand and advertising because they feel it doesn’t work. A reason that the results aren’t showing may be because the ads aren’t targeting the right individuals, or they aren’t reaching enough people. Online ad tools can give you the capability to precisely target specific people and track the success of your ad campaigns. Always keep a monthly budget for advertising in print, online directories, and through social media. Results will show if you focus on consistently and adequately targeting the ads. Remember, no single piece of advertising will be your savior. Builders and homeowners need to be reached multiple times through various channels before you see results.

WASTING TIME ON UNQUALIFIED LEADS

In construction, creating detailed estimates is a required yet very time-consuming job. Specific jobs require subcontractors to meet builders on-site to discuss the job details. When doing this, it is imperative to qualify the builder over the phone before going to the site. What this means is exchanging information to determine if you're the right fit for that job. You can discuss price ranges, required start dates, and general expectations. Qualifying jobs before driving out to the site will save you hours in estimating.

NOT HAVING AN EMPLOYEE TRAINING PROTOCOL

Training employees properly is vital to not only the quality of the work but also the happiness of the employee. A business owner's job is to allow their team to perform at full potential with confidence. A lack of training often occurs because owners may feel that employees should learn on the job. The problem with this is that without a clear training plan, a lot of essential processes get missed. It is your responsibility to provide all the resources needed for your team to feel confident in their work.

PAYING GOOD EMPLOYEES LOW WAGES

The construction industry has a high turnover rate when it comes to hiring. Low-quality workers are everywhere, but good employees are tough to find. When you find someone, who has the potential to run your crew, pay him or her well. It may result in fewer profits for you immediately, but in the long term, it will give you the ability to focus on crafting the next level of your company.

SETTING YOUR PRICES TOO LOW

Competing on price is not always the best business decision because this strategy promotes a race to the bottom. Although this works for some companies, low margins require very high volume and can lead to difficulties in growth. Even if you think you need to win the contract, lowering your price is not a great option. Cheap trades will always attract cheap builders, and you'll end up wasting a lot of time just scraping by. Focus on competing on quality and customer service instead.

Additional ReadDon't Lower Your Prices - A Message to Subcontractors

NOT HAVING A CLEAR CONTRACT WITH BUILDERS

A clearly defined contract before the job starts is important to ensure both parties know the job details and payment structure. Doing a job based on a conversation with the builder is never a good idea. Problems can arise if builders don’t want to pay on time or at all. Even in situations where you know the builder well, it is still a good practice to have a clearly defined contract.

Although these are not all the mistakes you will make when becoming a successful subcontractor, it is a good starting point to reflect on. Certain things may not seem important to your business at the current time, but building a solid foundation is vital when it’s time to expand. Having the right systems and processes set up will ensure that you are ready to grow.

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