Applying Historical Principles to Grow Your Construction Company

In these tough economic times, we see construction companies surviving and growing and those failing or just fading away. Interestingly enough, the Bible reveals some time-tested principles that we should all heed and apply in our daily lives.

As a Trusted Advisor to the industry, I have observed one interesting phenomenon regarding companies that fail.  Events and management decisions that cause or contribute to a business failure take place during the company’s profitable years.

Companies engage me to “turn them around” and immediately I hear their stories about horrid market forces, labor issues, operational problems, and financial losses they are experiencing. To look for causes within bad years when they are losing money is to study the results of past decisions. One can be easily misled if they focus and study the bad years since losing operations can generate unusual events and bad management decisions which lead to unintended consequences. Furthermore, many times the owners may be unaware of the gravity of the impending losses.

Statistics show that when construction companies fail, the causes for the losses usually take place during one to three profitable years prior to the first year of just breaking even or of a loss. If sound change is not implemented, these companies continue to struggle for a few more years before failure.

So you’re thinking – “The Bible – Really – How so”???  Well, throughout the Bible, we find instructions regarding planting and harvesting. Yes, it’s really basic stuff, and several thousand years old, but I can assure you that if you have been applying these principles to your life and business, you are not only surviving, but you are prospering.

So let’s go through a few:

Plant the Seed You have to give to get. Invest in your business, your employees, your industry, your family and your community. You have to have a strategic business plan to provide clear direction, and you have to invest to market your company and services. You also have to have a clear strategic plan for your life including clear goals on how you are going to plant and how you intent to share your harvest with your community.

Plant what you desire to harvest Want corn? Then plant corn, right? This is so elementary that many business owners overlook the principle. Do you have a strategic marketing plan to guide you on what and where to plant? Where is the fertile soil? Where are the projects and customers you need to reach? Are you marketing to them? Want good will and respect in the marketplace? Then be 100 percent certain you say what you are and deliver what you say.

Results are directly proportional to the quantity you plant – Want a little? Then plant a little. Want a lot? Then plant a lot. Do you clearly communicate what you want to your employees and the marketplace?  Do you invest in ample quality “seed” to plant? The things you invest in today will determine the harvest in the future.

Plant in fertile soil – Here again we need to fall back on your strategic business and marketing plan. Identify fertile soil. Are you investing 80 percent of your resources in activities that produce 20 percent of your profits? Are you investing 80 percent of your time managing 20 percent of your employees?  Do 20 percent of your clients consume 80 percent of your time but deliver only 20 percent of your profits. Get the message? Identify and plant in fertile soil.

Acknowledge the waiting period – There is always a period of growth between planting and harvesting. You can’t sow and reap the next day. You can’t believe how many companies I have worked with think the marketing and business development functions should produce immediate results. Or, they hire new employees and expect them to just “grow” overnight into the seasoned pro without investing in the employee.

Maintain your crops – Just as a farmer must fertilize, water, weed, and thin his crops, so must a savvy business owner. In good times, we can get lazy and self-righteous and the weeds can take over. In tough times, we may find ourselves in complete denial of what is actually happening in our company that we cannot bring ourselves to jump in and weed even though the survival of the company depends on this process. I have sat with more than one business owner who described the process as “not only did I not reduce my workforce and overhead fast enough – I did not cut deep enough.”

Harvest responsibly – Assuming you have followed the time-tested principles of the harvest, you should have an abundant one. Here, however, is the dilemma. You’ve worked long and hard for the successful “crop.”   Even though you desire to enjoy some of the fruits, it is extremely important to remember to save the first seeds of the harvest for future use. Perpetual financial success depends on your replanting a portion of each harvest.

Here is where the “Golden Goose” is most vulnerable. Before you buy yourself that new boat, house or whatever – have you taken care of the Goose? Did you reinvest in your company, your employees and your equipment? Did you pay off any debts and save for taxes? Do you have a financial plan, a succession plan?

Personally, I think the most important question, but the hardest for some to understand, is, “What did I give back to my community and what did I do to help my Brothers and Sisters in need?”

To assist you in further evaluating your company, please download the attached pdf titled, “Basic Survival Questions for Today’s Challenging Construction Marketplace.”

I encourage you to spend some quiet time and review the questions as you plan for your harvest. As always, reach out to us anytime we can be of assistance to you or your clients.

To Success in Your Business and Abundance in Your Life,

Kent

 Kent Leighton        kent@flatrockgroup.com       830-201-0678

 WWW.FLATROCKGROUP.COM

© 2015 The FlatRock Group All Rights Reserved

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About the author

Kent Leighton, Founder of The Flat Rock Group, has more than 40 years of experience in the Construction and Development Industry. Having owned a successful midsize General Contracting firm he understands the opportunities and trials of running a successful business enterprise. His passion is sharing his victories and his scars with leaders and managers to help them grow and prosper.