#WiseUpWednesday: What’s The Future For Your Business?

The Past Does Not Equal The Future

I love that phrase because it inspired me to take certain action about 30 years ago, and it changed my life. But, I would like you to think about what that phrase might mean for you and your business.

On the one hand, if things have been going well over the last few years, it should encourage you to think about the good routines or practices that helped you to succeed, and how you can embed them within your business.

On the other hand, many Specialist Contractors are still finding it tough to make a profit, and the construction industry, still tops the insolvency figures, with thousands of companies lost to insolvency every year.

So maybe you need to change things now before it’s too late, because most of those insolvencies have been Specialist Contractors or smaller construction firms!

The Year Ahead Isn’t Set To Be Easy Either

No-one truly knows what is round the corner, and the election and Brexit are creating uncertainty for just about everyone.

One thing we do know is that those of us who are well prepared will weather whatever storm affects us. And that is so true in Specialist Contracting, whatever your size or specialisation.

That’s why the suggestions below will ensure you are well prepared for any eventuality in business:

Ask Questions and You Will Get Answers

Don’t be afraid to ask others for help and advice. There are plenty of people you can ask, from the seasoned pros at StreetwisesSubbie to our forum and LinkedIn group, it’s brimming with over 2,100 members discussing business issues, industry topics, advice and personal experiences.

If you would like to join even if you are not on LinkedIn yet, just drop us a line at info@streetwisesubbie.com and we will set it all up for you. There is no cost involved.

And you can find our group on Facebook too. Just search for StreetwiseSubbie.com.

Healthy Profit

If you are not making a healthy profit from your jobs, it is time to question why this is so. It could be due to the accuracy of your estimating, lack of control at site level, or assumptions that weren’t well thought out. Be sure you take an objective view and look for the improvements that can be implemented.

Problems Will Occur

It is inevitable that at some point during your business’s lifespan problems of some scale will occur, and so you need to be prepared for this eventuality. For example, if you were taken ill do you have a team who you know you could trust and rely on to keep everything running smoothly without you?

Do you have the right professional support at your fingertips? If not, it might be time to put a plan in place.

Be Flexible and Ready For Change

The construction industry may look like its been stuck in its ways for many years, but it has been evolving. Contracts in particular are becoming more and more onerous and some Contractors are extremely aggressive to work for.

You need to know how to protect your interests, as well as looking at other areas and niches in which your company could operate more profitably.

What Do You Know?

You’re good at what you do but what else do you need to learn in order to make your business more profitable and secure? Do you have plenty of construction industry knowledge but feel like you struggle with some aspects of running the company?

You aren’t alone there, so why not give our friendly team a call on 01773 712116 or drop us a line at info@streetwisesubbie.com?

Its Not Just What You Know, But Who You Know

Network with people from other industries. If you create mutually beneficial relationships you could become one of the companies they turn to when in need of added value.

A Little Help From Your Friends

Not everyone in the construction industry is in direct competition with each other. In fact when we work together we can earn more money and get complex jobs done a whole lot faster when a variety of skilled construction professionals in all areas who are willing to team up.

Our groups are a great place to build relationships.

Don’t Cut Marketing, Improve It

When money gets a little tight, many people first begin reducing their sales and marketing spend, but this is false economy, and could seriously damage your long term revenue.

Instead make your marketing budget deliver better results by working smarter.

And Yes it Can All Be Stressful

 

Construction is a contentious business, so it’s no surprise that problems can arise, even if you haven’t done anything wrong.

 

Keeping on top of everything can be stressful and have a negative impact on you and your business.

 

We have Consultants who have decades of experience in everything we have talked about above and more. You can access no-nonsense, practical advice that won’t blind you with jargon, and it isn’t expensive.

Please don’t hesitate to email us at info@streetwisesubbie.com, or pick up the phone and give our friendly team a call on 01773 712116.

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#WiseUpWednesday: Aggressive QS?

Our Wise Up Wednesday Guides are sometimes quirky, sometimes hard hitting, but always guaranteed to make you think and take no more than 2 minutes to read.

Last week’s was “Don’t Fall Foul Of Poor QS’s”. This week I want to share a few thoughts about what to do when faced with an Aggressive QS.

Construction Enquirer recently reported that there is now a super-aggressive quantity surveyor employed by Contractors for the specific purpose of saving them money no matter what.

“Subbies under attack from new breed of aggressive QS”

Here’s a snippet from that article;

Subbies are coming under pressure on site from a new breed of “super aggressive” quantity surveyors employed by main contractors.

“We’ve had QS’s say things like ‘it’s only 50 grand.’. That’s easy to say when you work for a major contractor and it’s not your money.”

“Some firms are worse than others and a lot of suppliers are refusing to work with those with the worst reputation.”

How To Beat The Aggressive QS

Back in the day quantity surveyors made sure that the works were valued both fairly and objectively.

Most QS’s back then would be RICS qualified, and being a QS was a very respected profession. Now, even some of the RICS qualified QS’s employed by Main Contractors ignore the RICS rules of professionalism.

Nowadays, the role of a Contactor’s QS is often to get away with paying as little as possible, as late as possible and to look for any reason to set off or counterclaim whether valid or not.

Over the years, here at Streetwisesubbie and in my work at Ashmore Consulting, we have seen far too many spurious and made up claims, and  some have sadly resulted in the insolvency of the sub-contractor. So please, don’t be a guaranteed meal ticket and bonus for the Main Contractor’s QS.

What Can You Do About It?

Firstly, recognise that it’s happening. This might sound over simplistic, but you would be surprised how many subcontractors fall for the QS’s “I’m smarter than you” BS…

Secondly, in last week’s Wise Up Wednesday I talked about getting the paperwork right, and making sure all the important details are properly incorporated in the contract. So, now it’s time to refer to those documents;

1. Don’t get angry, frustrated or any other emotional response. Stay calm.

2. Don’t rush or jump at the first figure offered.

3. Don’t fall for the “it’s this or we won’t pay another penny” routine.

4. Don’t agree to anything you don’t understand and if you need to, don’t be shy about taking time out to get advice.

5. Make sure you follow the procedures set out in the contract – and make sure your view of the valuation is realistic and properly evidenced.

6. If your account is being undervalued escalate the problem to a higher level

7. Don’t waste time trying to persuade someone who doesn’t want to understand

8. Recognise when it’s time to change your approach – don’t just wait for things to change on their own – they won’t

And if you aren’t sure please call us for advice on 01773 712116 or email info@streetwisesubbie.com or checkout our web site.

It’s A Stressful Situation

 

Construction is a contentious business, so it’s no surprise that problems can arise, even if you haven’t done anything wrong.

 

This can be stressful and have a negative impact on you and your business.

 

So,if you find yourself in a sticky situation, the best advice is to act quickly and to take appropriate advice. We have decades of experience in contractual and commercial matters and will give you no-nonsense, practical advice that won’t blind you with legal jargon.

Please don’t hesitate to email us at info@streetwisesubbie.com, or pick up the phone and give our friendly team a call on 01773 712116.

#WiseUpWednesday: Don’t Fall Foul Of Poor QS’s

“…alarm over quality of new QS’s”

This is a recent headline from Construction Enquirer which caught my eye, because it’s bemoaning the poor quality of new entry QS’s in the industry.

Now I can remember a time when being a QS was a very respected profession and attracted high calibre entrants. Unfortunately, things have been on the slide for a good many years. And this is bound to impact on the QS’s employed by Main Contractors.

How Does This Affect You?

You might think that if the Contractor’s QS isn’t very good it will make life easier for you. But, you would be wrong.

The fact of the matter is that a poor QS will make your life much more difficult and here’s why;

  • they prepare poor quality contract documents – rarely to your benefit
  • they can’t make decisions – this causes delay
  • they make bad decisions – and cover them up / pay with your money
  • they hide their incompetence behind arrogance – causing frustration
  • they don’t have a clue about fairness and objectivity – you suffer

What Can You Do About It?

Many disagreements and disputes can be avoided by getting the paperwork right in the first place. So making sure that everyone has a common understanding of what is expected of them is key..

Adopting the following approach can help:

 

1. Record all pre-contract negotiations and confirm everything in writing and/or email;

2. Make sure all the important details are properly incorporated in the contract and that it exactly reflects what has been agreed;

3. Agree on any standard terms and conditions to be used and negotiate out any onerous clauses;

 

4. Don’t agree to anything you don’t understand and if you need to, don’t be shy about getting advice on your contract documentation.

5. Make sure you follow the procedures set out in the contract – don’t ignore them…

6. If your account is being undervalued escalate the problem to a higher level

7. Don’t waste time trying to persuade someone who doesn’t want to understand

8. Recognise when it’s time to change your approach – don’t just wait for things to change on their own – they won’t

And if you aren’t sure please call us for advice on 01773 712116 or email info@streetwisesubbie.com or checkout our web site.

Strength In Numbers

There is a lot of truth in the old adage about “strength in numbers”. Specialist Contractors need to stick together, so please share this email with every other Subbie you know, and come and join our LinkedIn group of over 2,000 Specialist Contractors. Even if you are not on LinkedIn we can set it up for you for free and it’s a great place to share knowledge and information.

Just email us on info@streetwisesubbie.com.

 

What If Problems Arise?

 

Construction is a contentious business, so it’s no surprise that problems can arise, even if you haven’t done anything wrong.

 

This can be stressful and have a negative impact on your business.

 

So,if you find yourself in a sticky situation, the best advice is to act quickly and to take appropriate advice. We have decades of experience in contractual and commercial matters and will give you no-nonsense, practical advice that won’t blind you with legal jargon.

#WiseUpWednesday: The Enemy Within…

Our Wise Up Wednesday Guides are here to give Specialist Contractors a quick burst of useful information that will help you succeed in your business life, irrespective of your size or specialisation.

 

Sometimes quirky, sometimes hard hitting, but always guaranteed to make you think and take no more than 2 minutes to read.

So this one is both quirky and hard hitting!

So why raise this now?

Three reasons;

Firstly, I know from current first hand experience that it’s not always apparent when someone, even someone close to us, is hurting inside. Whatever the cause of that mental turmoil they might look absolutely fine on the outside. And construction can be a very macho “get on with it-stop being a wimp” kind of place.

Secondly these things don’t get much publicity, albeit that the Health In Construction Leadership Group’s “Mates In Mind” campaign is seeking to raise awareness, particularly about research suggesting that in the construction sector people could be 10 times more likely to die by suicide than in an accident on site!

Thirdly, it’s current, because you may have seen on the news today that Everton winger Aaron Lennon has been detained under the Mental Health Act by police over concerns for his welfare. The club has said that he is now “receiving care and treatment for a stress related illness”.

The message – it can happen to anyone, young or old, rich or poor, famous or unknown, successful or struggling.

Aaron Lennon’s case, and sports men and women generally, will probably get a lot more publicity than those who work in construction.

So Why “The Enemy Within”?

Recent events reminded me of a passage from “The Art of Happiness” by non other than H H Dalai Lama and Howard C Cutler. A bit out there, but very interesting nonetheless.

“This is very different from an ordinary enemy… This internal enemy, this inner enemy, has no other function than causing us harm. It is our true enemy, our ultimate enemy. It has no other function than simply destroying us, both in the immediate term and in the long term.”

Whilst the Dalai Lama was talking about the inner enemy within ones own mind, it got me thinking about the “inner enemies” within our own businesses. Because, day after day in my work resolving problems for Specialist Contractors I have a unique and objective view of their inner enemies, their very own “Enemies Within”.

The Specialist Contractors Top Ten Enemies Within

These “enemies within” manifest themselves in all sorts of different ways, lack of knowledge, the wrong people, wrong thinking etc. Or a combination of these and other factors, but however they occur, and in the words of the Dalai Lama; they have no other function than simply destroying us, both in the immediate term and in the long term.

So here they are;

1) Not understanding the contract

2) Not agreeing the basics of the contract properly

3) Ignoring contractual obligations

4) Failing to get written instructions

5) Failing to agree additional costs at the appropriate time

6) Not issuing proper notices when being delayed

7) Failing to understand and comply with the payment process

8) Failing to take remedial action when things are going wrong

9) Reluctance to escalate problems to the senior decision maker

10) Not taking appropriate advice sooner rather than later

And these enemies within our business can all too easily lead to enemies within our ourselves.

 

Destroying The Enemy Within

Whilst it may never be possible to completely destroy the enemies within, we can take steps to minimise their impact on us as individuals, and the success of our business. After all if we don’t take action they will destroy us and our business!

Maybe not today, maybe not next week or next month, but they are busy working away, and they have no other purpose…

And please take a moment to consider anyone who might need your help to overcome their own enemies within.

Here; a link to more information about “Mates In Mind”