We all have different phone numbers that we have memorized or saved under the Favorites sections of our cell phones.
So aside from the pizza delivery guy (because who doesn’t love pizza right ?), who are the most important people that a construction professional needs to have readily available ?
Your probably thinking that this is going to be your lumber salesperson because faster lumber deliveries will mean less delays and thus you get done quicker and are more profitable
OR how about that Architect who provides you with quality leads on a regular basis
OR perhaps the sales rep for that cool new plumbing fixture that has just come out –the one with the music playing toilet where the lid changes color to the beat of the music- that one is sure to wow potential new customers and put your construction business over the top and help you to achieve all of your goals in no time.
Well, that is not quite what I had in mind for today.
Let’s start at the top.
#1 – Your Significant Other
Why is this at the top? This has nothing to do with the bottom line of my company or how top notch the quality of my finished product turns out you might ask. The answer is that it has everything to do with both of those things and so much more.
Your life away from the office & jobsite is the main reason WHY you lace up the bootstraps every morning and give your all towards this wonderfully crazy industry that we love so much. Sure, if you are in the middle of the building industry in any capacity, you are bound to have a passion for building and a matching skillset that comes along with it. However, providing for your family and having quality time with them is all a part of a solid work-life balance.
Your ability and your passion for producing high quality work is what fuels you throughout the day, but having others to love and having them rely on you is what fuels you to jump out of bed at 5 am in the morning to hit the jobsite day after day.
So, do yourself and those around you a favor and make sure to keep that work-life balance and put your family at the top of your list. Not only will they be better off, but you yourself, your business, your customers, and your finished product will all have a better end result because you are not burning yourself out.
(Me and my beautiful wife of 8-1/2 years)
Numbers 2 thru 5 follow a common theme are in no particular order, but they are all of equal importance.
#2 – Your Banker
This one should be obvious right? A profitable construction company needs to have solid banking relationships. The reason is a simple one: the bank has money and construction companies MUST have money flowing in & out at all times to remain in operation and ultimately to thrive. Establish a relationship with a bank lender and/or vice president early on in your business.
As I’m sure you have learned, there will always be ups and downs in the construction industry. Whether you are a seasoned vet needing a loan to expand your business or you are new to the game and want to break ground on a speculative building project or you have fallen on a hard winter month and the cash isn’t flowing just right thru your company, a rock solid relationship with a bank cannot be beat.
This is true not only for the money aspect, but a quality business relationship with a bank representative will allow them to get to know you and build trust. That trust will ultimately help your business succeed because they will be willing and able to help you with your financial planning on a regular basis. Because they know you on a more personal level, they can give you advice that is not available anywhere else and is tailored directly to you and your business.
Just imagine the great advice you can receive from someone who knows the financial industry in depth as well as knows you well enough to combine that financial advice on a personal level – nothing else like it! Your money is literally in their hands, and they want you to succeed just as much as you do yourself.
So, if you don’t have a banking connection started already, ask others whom you trust for a referral, pick up the phone and go grab a coffee or buy a lunch and start that relationship ASAP.
#3 – Your Accountant
While a bank relationship is helping to keep you supplied with a steady cash-flow and financial backdrop for your business, an accountant will help you to ensure that you keep as much of that hard-earned profit in your company as possible. Reducing tax liabilities, performing company audits for growth opportunities, and when to purchase new equipment are all questions an accountant who is familiar with you and familiar with your books can advise you own.
Sure, to be running a profitable operation and making wise decisions, we all need to know our own numbers and be well aware of our Financial Statements and Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable, but we need to be focusing more on the hundreds of other items that require our attention instead of trying to keep up with the ever-changing tax laws and doing our own audits.
So, don’t just let your accountant be someone that you force yourself to talk to once a year or once every quarter. Build a rapport with one and see how it can positively impact your business.
Just like the relationship with a banker, once an accountant knows you and your business on a personal & trusting level, they can provide insight into portions of your company that are invaluable to you and your growth opportunities.
#4 – Your Lawyer
I know most of you reading here are more than likely writing and looking over your own contracts and have been performing start to finish construction projects of all types and sizes without having to refer to legal counsel every time you have a new project. But what about those who are just getting started or what happens when you run into a new and unique contract situation – who will you turn to?
Be building that trusting relationship (see Banker & Accountant above) before you are in a bind and have a ready-made connection to be able to turn to for advice. If you are just getting into the business or perhaps are just starting to use contracts for your projects, good construction legal counsel will advise you on the different types of contracts that are commonly used.
They can give you the ins and outs of each one as well as the pros and cons and how they specifically relate to you and your company. Need to know if you should use a Cost Plus contract vs a Fixed Cost contract, a lawyer can provide you with solid advice on the matter. Having a lawyer provide you with legal advice, doesn’t mean it has to cost you an arm and a leg.
Sure, sometimes matters are such that you will need more in depth and detailed legal counsel but for general legal advice on every day matters that affect the success of your business, a quick in office meeting or conversation over lunch can provide all the legal info you need.
#5 – Your Insurance Agent
I hear it all the time. “I can’t afford it, it is too expensive”, “Nobody else makes me carry it so why should I”. Insurance. You can’t afford not to have it, you should be insured and therefore you need to have a good connection with an insurance agent.
A good agent will know you and your business (See above) and will able to provide advice on things that will protect your business. Everyone reading this has worked too hard to establish their business and produce high quality products on the jobsite to have it all come crashing down because they “couldn’t afford” insurance.
As good as everyone is at their particular trade and focus of their business, life happens, and sometimes bad things happen on jobsites. Injuries occur, plumbing leaks on the 3rd floor of a very custom house, etc.
You do what you can with the advice of your insurance agent to avoid these items on the front end like toolbox meetings and vetting out qualified tradespeople but that doesn’t always stop the inevitable.
Having solid advice from your insurance agent and staying in constant contact with them regarding different scenarios you are facing on a regular basis will enable them to make sure that you are properly protected and your business can continue to flourish.
Punch List Tip of the Day – For any of the professionals listed above, don’t be afraid of trading some free construction advice for some of their time. I don’t mean that you have to go and build their houses for free but every now and then they are going to need some advice. It is a great way save a little money on your end while also adding to that trusting relationship that you are attempting to build with them.
Punch List Tip of the Day #2 – I mentioned lots of lunches and coffees above. I bet the potential dollar signs were floating in your eyes. Be sure to plan these type meetings into your yearly financial overhead planning on the front end. You know you’ll need to have them, they will not be a surprise. Plan for them.