Are You Planning for Growth?
In many areas, construction is experiencing growth. Chances are there will be work for builders for years to come to accommodate population growth. So planning to grow your building business is probably a good idea. Or if you are not yet in business, starting a building company could be smart.
But to grow your building business securely you really need to focus on growing several other things.
1 Grow yourself first
Businesses don’t grow themselves. As much as it might seem so in good times, they don’t have a life of their own. It’s the people who run them that determine their shape, size and stability.
On the one hand a small business can look successful, and then suddenly be placed in receivership – often because of some action(s) taken by the owner(s). Maybe they accepted a larger-than-normal building contract and didn’t understand the impact the payment terms would have on their company’s cash-flow. Or, maybe they didn’t know how to cross-check the labour component of a job, and ran way over budget. Or maybe they diversified into a new market without really mastering the distinctions in that market. Maybe the business outgrew the owner(s).
On the other hand a small business that doesn’t look like much can make rapid growth. In rare occasions this “just happens” but normally it’s because there is a growing business owner. Look behind the glamour of the companies highlighted at the Deloitte’s fastest growing companies awards and you will see leaders who are growing!
So, look for an area in which your business needs development, and decide to grow as a leader in that area. e.g If your business needs to recruit better staff, then ask yourself the question, “What do I need to do to become a better recruiter?” Maybe you could check out the advertising and interviewing processes that more successful companies use and test them in your company.
Whatever you do, focus on growing yourself first. A growing company needs a growing leader.
2 Grow your staff – in knowledge and skills
Every business owner knows that a growing business needs to recruit staff.
Astute business owners know that in addition, it’s important to recruit the right staff – people who are a good fit for the company.
Experienced and astute business owners know (often from personal experience) that even the right people can become the wrong people if they stop growing. Just as a tree is never static – it’s either growing or dying – so staff members need to be keeping up and learning. If not, they become less and less effective until one day they become deadweight.
Now helping your staff grow and develop need not be an expensive exercise. Simply running an occasional training hour where new products, procedures and tools are discussed and/or tried is a great start. Or asking them to brainstorm ideas for improving productivity and then implementing and testing these. Or offering them new responsibilities that requires learning – a new operations manual to study, or a course that better prepares them for promotion in your company.
You see, if you can build staff growth and development into your company, so that promotions are filled from within, then you grow your company by adding new people at the bottom, which is way less risky than adding them at the top where failure has more impact. E.g. If an apprentice flops, it doesn’t have too much impact, but if a newly hired sales or project manager or GM doesn’t really fit, it has a huge impact on the company.
So grow your staff.
3 Grow your interests – with purpose
A friend of mine is a keen “motorhomer.” He recently posted on a motorhome facebook page photos of the great new look achieved in removing, sandblasting and repainting the wheels on his motorhome. In passing he mentioned that he had also re-gassed the tyres with nitrogen. Now, you expect great posts to get comments – and this one did. But not one comment was about the new look! They were all about the nitrogen gas in the tyres!
My friend was surprised, but as a marketer, attentive. Might he have stumbled upon an interest that would capture “motorhomers” attention – even in passing? Could he use this interest to gain more traction in future facebook posts?
You see, it’s what interests them, that captures their attention.
So, to grow your company securely, you need to gain the attention of your people like your best customers. What interests do they have? What words or images will cause them to give your company’s signage and advertising a second look? What will cause them to notice you – so you will not be just another builder?
It’s even better when your client’s interests match your own. A builder I work has a client enthusiastic about car rallying. So since he also has an interest in motorsports he took two weeks “holiday” to join his client at a particular car rallying event. His goal was to meet and network with his client’s friends. Not surprisingly, many became his friends and several expressed interest in building in the next year or so. New leads gained while enjoying a common interest!
So, think about what it is that interests your best clients and then consider how you can connect with those interests.
Preparing your business for growth is these area will give you a much more secure foundation from which expand.
How do you prepare for growth? What strategies have you found beneficial?