How to Scale Your Small Contracting Business
Most businesses are looking for growth. They want to keep bringing in new revenue so that the owner’s bank account is happy and that funds can be reinvested into the business. If you aren’t growing your business, then it will stay stagnant and potentially die. However, as you grow, there will come a time when you will have to decide whether you want to scale up your contracting business.
Scaling up is a natural expansion of growth. For example, let’s say your contracting business handles a certain number of projects a month. You may have built a following of clients and found success operating within that number of projects, but your growth has stagnated. To move forward, you will have to significantly invest in your business and find more clients and more diverse projects to take on. It’s not a matter of bringing on a staff member, it’s a matter of evolving the way you do business to manage a larger workload.
There are several challenges to scaling up which loom even larger for companies that are not prepared. For one, there is a worldwide labor shortage across many industries, and construction is one of them. That means that finding the right talent to grow your team to match your scaling efforts will be difficult. The last thing you want is to start taking on extra projects and then have to cancel or delay them because you don’t have the manpower.
Another challenge is that many construction companies still operate the same way they did 20 years ago. That is they use a lot of paperwork and store files and data in a central physical location. This makes a business less efficient than it should be and hinders scaling. Every new project will only bring more paperwork that has to be managed. These types of business processes also lead to data silos where one department may not know what the other is doing. Advances in construction applications and technology have created cloud-based solutions that can help with this.
The other main challenge is that many construction companies do not have the correct procedures and processes in place to assist with scaling up. They are not consistent, and therefore there are no repeatable operational standards that make it easy to continue growing and scaling.
Despite these challenges, you can still make the scaling work. You just have to undertake some strategies to ensure that your company is prepared to handle the changes. Here are some of the top tips for scaling your small contracting business.
You need your workflows to be repeatable and efficient to be able to properly scale your business. Your forms should all be a standard template, and everyone should know how to submit and file them. Ideally, you will have software to handle your paperwork for you, but you must have standard processes and forms regardless. This is the most efficient way to operate and will allow for your employees to handle a larger workload as you bring on more projects.
When you are working on a project, there may be many different companies and parties involved. This includes that you may have several teams yourself working on it. With so many entities involved, there can be huge communication gaps. Everyone might be using a different communication system or method, and many people involved may not be on the same page.
If you want to bring on more projects, you need to have a communication and delegation tool on hand that will manage all of your information and makes sure that it gets to every party involved in a project. It will help you achieve cohesion in your messaging, and if it can integrate with other systems then you will be able to work more cooperatively with them. Scaling means working with more and more entities on more and more projects, and you will need the communication infrastructure to do it right.
One of the major difficulties of scaling up is that you need the funds to do so. You will need manpower, ramped-up marketing, and possibly new equipment, for example. If you don’t already have the revenue to cover those costs, then you will have to find funding elsewhere.
You could look for a business loan to give you the cash injection you need. If you can provide lenders with a realistic view of how much you will benefit from scaling, then they will take a chance on you. You can also use crowdfunding if you are comfortable doing so. Often with crowdfunding, you need a “hook” of some kind. You might need to offer prizes or free services to get people to donate to your effort. Plus, they can also make a percentage of your profits. One of the other benefits of crowdfunding is that it also helps get your brand out there as people share your crowdfunding posts.
If you want to scale, you can no longer operate just like a small business. The bigger you get, the more attention will be put on you, and the more risk you will have. You should have small business coverage for a general contractor which will provide you with protection for the common risks your business could face. You may need to make changes to your policy before you scale to reflect the changes you are looking to make. Make sure this is done before you ramp up because something bad could happen at any time.
Make sure that the information on your website is up to date to reflect the scaling you are looking to do. For example, if you are operating as a subcontractor and are switching up to a general contractor, then that needs to be highlighted on your website. Your SEO efforts should include keywords that search engines will relate to general contracting, as well. Otherwise, you will lose out on organic traffic from users who are searching for general contractors. You might see yourself ranking well with your previous keywords and search terms, but you won’t be getting that extra traffic that you need.
Scaling up is an exciting prospect. It can mean more revenue and new types of projects and challenges. However, as exciting as it stands, you need to be prepared so that your scaling efforts are successful. Use these tips to get your small contracting business ready to scale so you can reach new levels of success.