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No More Excuses for Poor Results!

George Hedley 95X149

Construction business owners and managers continue to blame poor or unfavorable results on the economy, competitors, customers, location or employees. Do you blame poor results on any of these common excuses and problems?

  • Profit fade during the job
  • Final job cost higher than estimate
  • Low profit margins
  • Too much competition
  • Customers only buy low price
  • Can’t find any good help
  • Job closeout too slow
  • Too many callbacks

When you add too much water to concrete, you find out it won’t meet the required strength and then don’t make the same mistake again. When your construction business continues to have the same problems over and over, month after month, and year after year, what do you do to stop and fix the problem?

No A/R Leadership!

When managers don’t want to face reality or are too busy to find real solutions to their problems, poor results continue. The tendency is to blame others, not accept responsibility and hope problems stop happening. I call this “No A/R”–not accepting accountability and responsibility for results. An example is continuing to bid cheap work against too many competitors and hoping you’ll make more money by bidding more low-priced work. Or wondering why your job costs come in higher than your bid when you don’t track, verify or update your costs until projects are finished.

When companies don’t get the results they want, it's not the competition, economy, customers or people. It’s usually the No A/R leader who tolerates poor performers and isn’t willing to try new ideas, systems, methods, people, markets, strategies or customers.

The Problem Starts at the Top of the Chart!

Company owners are 100 percent responsible for everything in their company. Responsibility and accountability starts at the top. No A/R leaders blame poor results on others and circumstances beyond their control. Weak leaders sit and wait for something to happen, all while not doing anything different to make results happen on their own. Successful business owners have to be proactive to achieve great results if they want to get to the next level, make more money and grow.

Do Nothing Different to get Nothing Different!

Recently, the parking lot of a well-located Sears department store was empty, while the rest of the shopping center was jammed full. Sears can blame its decline on Wal-Mart, Target or the Internet. But in reality, the leaders of Sears were stuck in the past and made decisions to do nothing, and not change their business model, customers, image, products, services and pricing. Rather than trying innovative products or unique concepts, they kept offering the same tired things. They got eaten alive and continue to scramble to keep up with the competition. Are you willing to take responsibility for better results?

Change Starts at the Top!

Getting great results is the number one indicator of the business owner’s vision and leadership. Real leaders make quick, decisive decisions to stay ahead of changing business requirements and customer needs. When there are too many competitors offering low prices, you have to change how you do business and revamp your business model. When your field productivity takes more crew hours than in your estimates, you have to dedicate time and money to a job cost update tracking software program to generate weekly cost updates.

No A/R leaders wait for something to happen and complain about everything except their own performance. Business owners rarely come into the office and say, "I've made a decision I need to change how I manage and lead, and the direction of our company.” Poor leaders walk into the office and say, “Crews are too slow and aren’t making it happen. Customers want lower prices and don’t pay us fast enough. Competitors are too cheap and willing to work for next to nothing. We can’t make enough profit. Therefore, everyone will have to work harder and we have to cut costs.”

Effective leaders realize they must change themselves before anyone will follow their lead. Over 90 percent of employees rate their company leadership well below excellent. Employees don’t see business owners taking charge and doing what they need to do.

Doing Something is Better than Doing Nothing!

I work as a business coach with lots of contractors. The common challenges are finding more help, getting more organized, building a management team, growing and making a large profit. This only starts when the owner has dynamic vision employees get excited about. Leaders who really lead, stand up and say: "Here's where we're going, the changes we need to make and how we’ll make it happen." Instead of: "Work harder and we'll see how it works out; and if we do well, maybe we'll be able to survive." This No A/R attitude doesn't make people excited about coming to work and improving the bottom line.

What’s your Future?

Accountable, responsible leaders have an exciting vision and connect it to specific, measurable, great results. An example of an exciting vision: Be the market leader in innovative construction solutions for difficult, complex projects that require technical expertise and intense engineering by providing loyal customers a value-enhanced project delivered significantly faster than expected. Ask everyone at your company: “What's the exciting vision of our company? What are we trying to accomplish? What specific targets are we shooting for?” You'll get 37 different answers if you have 37 people in your company. To get bottom-line results, get everyone on the same page from top to bottom.

What’s your Goal?

After defining your exciting vision, specific results must be targeted to quantify your goals. If your vision is to be the best contractor in your market, determine what specific measurable results enhance your bottom line. Some specific measurable targets can include: a referral from every customer, no installation errors, or 98 percent on-time completion. What specific targets and numbers can you shoot for to realize your vision and get the results you want?

George Hedley, CSP, CPBC, helps contractors grow and profit as a professional business coach, popular speaker and peer group leader. He is the author of “Get Your Construction Business to Always Make a Profit!” and “Hardhat BIZSCHOOL Online University” available on his website. Visit for more information.