Pass the torch

Depending on when and where you born the skill of your parents were passed down thru generations. Now we work hard to send our children off to college and often obtain a knowledge that is useful for others corporations instead of ours. Why not send them off to get the knowledge or link our business lacks if they’re not eager to continue the family tradition of becoming a painter, concrete finisher, mason, carpenter or builder. Technology has adopted “Junior” from going to the job-site at 14 and now that most gadgets are seemingly affordable it’s a losing battle to bring him back. A skill in such a trade opens doors for you all over the planet.

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Save yourself the headache, do your homework!

Home renovations are always fun exciting in the beginning yet can either stay the course or become expensive and dreadful. I strongly recommend that we put our home first. What do I mean? I say before you “work on your home” do your ” home work”. In doing research you’ll know what thrifty alternatives you can put into place when your in a budget bind just as you know what shortcuts and alternative routes can be utilized when caught in rush hour traffic.

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When do you invest in equipment and tools?

If you are in the business of home improvement or own a contracting business, you must know when to say when. There’s a time when renting equipment is chopping up profit and manual labor is too slow. A concrete company must know when to purchase a bobcat. Painters must eventually invest in a sprayer. I’ve seen many that look at tools as being too expensive yet when you have the proper tools for the job, everything is so much easier.

In my early days I dealt with a company that lived in the dinosaur days. We wore out our share of wheel barrels, sledge hammers, picks and shovels. Eventually the owner of the company seen the efficiency of having powered equipment and slowly made adjustments and investments. Some people take on side jobs feeling the entrepreneur zeal to stand on their own because they have the skill yet don’t have the equipment. ¬†Therefore the job takes twice as long as expected or twice as much and they leave with no profit and loose that spirit to do for self.

For homeowners it’s better to rent, borrow or hire people for work far beyond your scope. ¬†As for the contractor to become highly efficient and to keep your prices competitive investing in the proper tools and equipment isn’t an option.

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Adapting to change

Working with many that are 45-55 yrs of age has its benefits and also has drawbacks. The guys tend to be set in their ways, now if those ways are good you’re golden yet if they are bad they are there to stay. Being in the world of construction you can learn a great deal of tricks of the trade from this 25 plus years of experience group that probably has forgot more than one with 5-10 years of experience knows. As time goes on new ways are developed and a company that will not change with the times can easily be left behind. Today it’s about efficiency, about being green and that wave of technology is today and not so much in the midst of tomorrows. No disrespect to either or but it’s necessary to change with the times. I’ve seen some contractors pull up list of suppliers on a blackberry or ipad and find material cheaper, closer and in stock while another gets in his truck and burn this high dollar gas and his valuable deadline nearing time to come back empty handed. A concrete company who doesn’t wish to learn to work with stamps will not deliver much longer. One must always have knowledge of the past, knowledge on what’s current and also on what’s coming around the corner.

To know how is good yet to know what is great as well!

I must say there’s many that know how and plenty that just claim the fame but to know what is key. To know what is important and very crucial, especially if your the customer.
To know what you want done, what should you be paying, what are the time frames for such a project along with the processes. To answer the “what’s” will lead you to the “who’s” and hopefully away from the blues.
I strongly recommend that you write out what you want done first. Do the homework and research on what a project similar to yours usually cost. I was always told if you don’t know jewelry, you’re best friend should be a jeweler. I say that to say you should have some friends you can ask questions. The best question to ask those that give estimates is the one you already know the answer to. To know what you should be spending you can control what you will spend (in most cases). For example knowing what are you spending on and what can you cut back on will be helpful in devising a home project budget. As a contractor is responsible and liable for much you must know, what are these things that sits under their umbrella.
Do your research and learn from your mistakes.

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A good crew bring good news and a bad crew leave loose crews.

A good company must have many ingredients to survive. One being a good crew which will in turn creates good reputation and solid feedback. A good crew knows what they have to do, understand the companies mission, expectations and the promises that have been made to the customer. They come in, go to work and it’s like the chemistry that is seen when watching a championship team in action because everybody has a part to play and must work hard & smart at playing it. Now the bad employees or those who come to work halfway sober, halfway drunk , no tools and a ton of excuses can give a good company a bad name that will in turn loose future business. One must be careful when selecting employees because you can easily bring a cancer in your system that will kill your company before you notice the damage. Bad and good behaviors or habits are both contagious therefore management and leadership must always be on the same track as the owner. There’s a thin line between work relationships and friends therefore as they say “Don’t let friends drive drunk!”. Companies have been driven into the ground due to poor leadership and once it got away they couldn’t regain control. Everyday and every soul involved is a key that can lock and unlock the doors of tomorrow. Truthfully if you don’t have a plan to bring strength to the weak links than you must severe ties. Solid teams equal success.

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When who you know meets what you need.

Recently on a Saturday, hard at work trying to meet a Monday deadline I ran into a situation that made me say “Its truly all about who you know!”. It’s always said verbally yet sometimes it’s all laid out in your face for you to taste. The plumbers were wrapping up and the concrete crew was grading out a slab that had to be poured Monday for all to go as scheduled. Well, needless to say we ran short on stone, not good because if we don’t pour Monday the rain coming Tuesday (80% chance) will push us to Wednesday, maybe. No panic for me regardless I just react and go thru the mental rolodex. First I call the guy I deal with all week, all month, every job and all year. No good, no answer it’s a Saturday and he’s on the golf course enjoying the abundance of money that was falling out his pocket. Millionaire, his Dad gave him the company and he runs it nothing like his dad for his dad was a genuine gentleman with friends all over from California to New York, wouldn’t be surprised if some dwell in Canada and Mexico. So I do what I must, I mean I have to meet my deadline. I call up the “Ol’ man”. He answers we share a joke or two and he says “okay enough small talk what you need, where at, how much and when?”. Needless to say two hours later I got two truck-loads backing up and dumping. I was truly thankful and went to shake the drivers hand and slide a tip in the process just a sign of gratitude shared within the trade (at least with me it is). The driver refused to accept and his exact words we’re “What the Ol’ man wants, the Ol’ man gets”. I’ll never forget this situation as I strive to build such a network as this man because his net definitely works!

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