You’ve probably done this before—maybe leaping before you looked. Like winning the low bid and living to regret it. Or failing to consider that a construction site is on a hill and/or realizing after you submitted your bid that specialized equipment will be needed to complete the job.
If you’re like me, those “good ol’ days” have probably been on your mind this past year. I’m sure lots of wall and ceiling contractors who are usually busy doing primarily private work like tenant improvements, have found themselves bidding on public projects like schools, or municipality projects. With remote working, new safety protocols, and entire segments shut down, it’s not surprising that many contractors have had to quickly pivot, reevaluate, and keep moving forward.
While the construction industry outlook may be improving, looking backward to look forward isn’t always a bad thing. Maybe some of those crazy choices you made when you were just starting out helped you build a successful construction business. Whether some of these choices were driven by external forces like COVID-19 or other reasons, your success may have come down to your willingness to step outside your comfort zone during those early days.
Gut-Checking Your Decisions
If you’re like me, you probably know a lot about that feeling in your gut. It is part anticipation of the unknown and part fear, but it drives your success. Let’s face it, this is a huge reason why the construction industry around the globe is one of the most resilient around.
But what about the specialty contractor, who had a full schedule, and their main problem was finding labor and resources to get all their projects done in 2019? In 2021, they may be facing a whole new set of issues.
For example, consider the contractor who specialized and was very successful in tenant improvement projects. Those projects are almost nonexistent in comparison to a year and a half ago. How can you help your business navigate uncertain times?
Examining the Pros and Cons
When you find yourself in challenging times, you should take some time to review the pros and the cons of your situation. Your most obvious cons would be the loss of work that was signed or trying to hold onto an incredibly talented crew that took years to build. Cash flow, of course, is a major con.
Now let’s look at the pros. Perhaps your crew is very talented and could certainly move into other segments successfully. In fact, as you get pushed outside your comfort zone, you may find new opportunities. For example, your business could switch gears and become just as productive and successful working on multi-family projects. Sure, it will take some adjustments. But can you see yourself working in a new segment?
Making Tough Choices
It may be time to re-evaluate your company. Who are you? Where did you start in the beginning? How did you stretch your limits to get where you are? List all your strengths and areas you might be wary of in other segments. Can you overcome those? Do you have faith in your teams/crews?
If your answer is “yes,” you will need to be both careful and strategic. Moving into unfamiliar territory, you will need to make sure your takeoffs and estimates are more accurate than ever. Think of it as retooling your factory. You may need to shift some things around, work a little harder, and learn some new techniques and processes. Perhaps discussing the new opportunities with your teams/crews might be helpful, too. There may be untapped expertise there.
Some examples of how you can begin to focus on bidding new or different types of work. You might consider specializing in:
- Government jobs
- Hospitals and medical facilities
- Schools and universities
- Sustainable building
- Using Tech Tools
As always, one of the best ways to make sure you are bidding on the most profitable projects is to embrace construction technology. From getting matched with the most profitable projects to using bid management to estimating software, tech tools can help you save time and money. More to the point—they can make sure you look before you leap when trying to win new projects beyond your traditional range.