If you’re a construction contractor, chances are you didn’t get into the business because you like sitting behind a desk. Contractors are doers by nature. They want to get out in the field and make things happen. But as your contracting business grows, you may find yourself spending more and more time in the office. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Contractors can escape the office if they follow a few simple steps.
Don’t Try to Do it Alone
Being a construction contractor means that you are a skilled worker and a business professional. Of course, even though you are skilled at your craft, you hire subcontractors. You can’t be a plumber, electrician, mason, and every other kind of specialist. The same is true of the business side of your operation. Too many contractors think they can do it all themselves. But you’re not an accountant, an HR director, a supply chain manager, and an office administrator. Depending on the size of your business, it may make sense to bring on one or more employees for the “white collar” aspects of your contracting business.
If your business is still small, one of the first specialists to hire is an accountant. You don’t need to take on a full-time employee. There are many accountants who can work part-time. If your needs are limited, you can even get a bookkeeper who comes in only once a week or so just to keep everything orderly. This is a good place to start because it is the easiest place to get tripped up doing it yourself. Bookkeeping is also one of the most time-consuming parts of your back office duties, so it pays to get help.
If your business is growing and you are taking on multiple projects simultaneously, it might make sense to bring in an office administrator or manager. This is someone who can oversee the day-to-day operations of your office, from taking phone calls and answering emails to fielding requests from clients, subcontractors, vendors, and others. They may also help you interface with any other part-time employees, like your accountant or bookkeeper.
Pay More for Experience
You wouldn’t trust just any mason with a client’s fine stonework. And when you hire an electrician, you probably want to make sure they have references and a work history to prove their qualifications. The same should be true of any office staff you hire. It might be cheaper to hire your buddy’s high school student to answer some emails or do some data entry, but you will get what you pay for. If your goal is to spend less time in the office, then you need employees you can rely on.
When hiring office workers, make sure that they have a good resume and solid references. It may seem cheaper to go with an inexperienced office worker, but you will pay in the long run. If an inexperienced worker makes an error, you will be left to clean it up. That can cost you unnecessary time and money. Instead, leave your office in the hands of skilled professionals whom you can trust. A good bookkeeper will require minimum input from you. That frees you to spend more time on the job site, at home, or with family and friends.
Organization is one of the most significant features of an efficient office. And the more efficient you are, the less time you will be spending in the office. A little bit of disorganization can quickly snowball into a giant mess that takes many hours or even days to untangle. That’s wasted time that you could spend doing something better outside the office.
One important place to stay organized is with your payment streams. If you are working on more than one project, it is crucial that you keep your finances separate for your projects. If you are getting paid for material and labor by multiple clients, but all that money goes into a single pool, you are setting yourself up for potential disaster. As long as everyone is paying you on time, things should run smoothly. The client pays you, you pay the laborers and vendors, and everyone is happy. But if one client is late on payments or there is some other financial snafu, you will quickly start to regret not keeping things separate.
If a client can’t make a payment on their job, the result should be that you stop paying the laborers and vendors on that job and they stop providing their services and materials. The job is placed on hold until more money comes through. But if you are paying for labor and materials for all of your jobs out of a single pool, you may find that instead of putting one job on hold you start running out of money to pay everyone . Now you have a project for which the client is making all the necessary payments but for which you can’t pay. That’s one heck of a mess to untangle, and it will end up costing you dearly.
Use Construction Management Software
If you want to spend less time in the office, you will need to find a way to take care of a lot of your office tasks on the go. Luckily, the advancements in technology in recent years have made it possible to take much of your work out to the work site. One of the biggest things you can do to keep you out of the office is to start using construction management software. This software can help you keep track of clients, subcontractors, and vendors, all in one central place. Best of all, almost all of this can be done from the “cloud”. In other words, you can be anywhere and have access to all of your information.
Because this information is accessible from the internet, your clients and subcontractors can log in and get the information they need, too. For subcontractors, they can access schedules and update the status of their work. That’s one less piece of data for you to keep track of. Clients can also log in to get the status of their job. That means that the client has one less reason to contact you, saving everyone plenty of time.
When it comes to invoicing, construction management software is a real boon. You can easily take all of the information from your job and produce a clean, elegant, professional invoice for your clients. Most of the data for the invoice will already be in the system. That saves you the time of compiling and duplicating all of that information. And when you are ready to bid on your next project, you have all of the information from past projects to help you make a realistic and reasonable bid on your next one.
Needo is Here to Help
Needo makes one of the best construction management suites out there. That’s because we believe in working with our customers to fit their needs first. We are continually growing and evolving to match our customers’ real-life requirements. So if you’re ready to be more efficient and spend less time in your office, contact Needo today. We’re happy to work with you to find the best solution for all of your construction management needs.