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The Profit Builder

What Really Drives Profits

Running a business is never easy. Just thinking about all the necessary elements of a successful company can become overwhelming. That said, becoming a profitable business shouldn’t be an overly complex or stressful experience. In the contracting industry, far too many companies make a critical mistake which only perpetuates this stress. When it comes to truly becoming profitable as a contractor, there is no substitute for the value of understanding the critical elements of your business. In my book, The Profit Bleed, I make it my goal to help contractors understand a handful of key numbers which can make or break their business. If you are tired of being perpetually exhausted and spend day after day stressing over a lack of adequate cash flow or organizational tension, numbers may be the solution.

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Controlling Cash Flow – 2 numbers you need to know

The one report I see most business owners don’t look at very often, if ever, is their business is the Balance Sheet. It’s not because they’re lazy or don’t care. Mostly it’s because they don’t know what exactly the numbers mean, or how to use the information in a useful way.

Can you relate?

Your Balance Sheet is a powerful management tool if you know how to read and interpret what the numbers are telling you.  In fact – two key numbers.  Just like having the right tools when working on a project can help you produce better results, the same is true of your company’s financial reports.

What kind of results? Sufficient cash in the bank when you need and want it.  Cash reserves on hand when unexpected events occur – like a pandemic or downturn in the economy. While no one could have predicted a pandemic, the clients I work with who have cash reserves did and will continue to fair much better during this time than those who didn’t.

In this week’s video, I walk you through how to read and use your Balance Sheet as a powerful management tool.  I show you the 2 most important numbers to look at that will let you keep your finger on the pulse of your company’s financial health.  In the process, you’ll learn what targets successful contractors use in their business to manage these numbers.

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Stop Project Profit Leaks

Let’s face it, every contractor strives to attain profitability. You want financial stability, success, and freedom. There’s absolutely no shame in that. When we own a business, we focus on providing great service, building a remarkable reputation, which in turn, should lead to a strong client base, and a highly profitable company, at least in theory.

Yet, time and time again, contractors run into walls. Despite the best of intentions and all that hard work, their income is barely covering overhead costs.

In hopes of reaching a higher profit, they end up taking on more work, chasing after anything they can get their hands on, which leads them into a vicious cycle. Seemingly overnight, they’re giving up weekends; abandoning their own health, relationships, and happiness in exchange for endless coffee sipping and yet another late night at the office.

Sound familiar? read more…

How to Nail Profits in the Bid Stage

Contractors live and die by gross profit margin.  And if you don’t learn how to control that one element in the bidding stage, you will always be chasing after profits.

The contractors I know who have learned to manage gross margin when bidding, nail project profits right from the start, and the result is a construction business that produces a consistent profit.

Gross profit dollars vs. gross profit margin:

Gross profit dollars are the difference between your bid price and your project costs. Often I see that contractors only look at that number before a bid goes out.

The gross profit margin is your rate of return and is measured as a percentage.  It’s that percentage that you want to learn to manage in the bidding stage in order to make a more consistent profit in your business.

So how do you manage gross profit margin? In the video and the post below I show you how.

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Knowing this ONE number can increase your profits

In over 25 years of working with contractors, there is one number that a lot of folks I meet don’t understand – and getting that one number wrong is killing their profits!

What sparked this post was a recent call with Joe – a remodeling contractor. We were barely on the phone for two minutes, when Joe launched into a rant about how he felt he’d been doing all the right things in his business, and yet, his bottom line and bank account were not showing the return for all his hard work!

Maybe you’ve been there too at some point?  It’s super frustrating.

Making a profit begins with the markups in your bid

When I asked Joe his strategy for marking up his costs in bidding he replied – “I mark up what I think I can get. I mark up according to what I hear other contractors in my area are marking up, like 10% and 5%, or 15% and 10% on some projects.”

This was part of Joe’s problem.  I explained to Joe that unless you have a large company, your overhead percentage is never that low.  I know this because in the past 25 years I’ve worked with hundreds of small to mid-sized contractors, and I see their numbers.

I could see the irritated look on Joe’s face as I spoke.  “Well, then how the hell do people who only mark up that much on their bids make any money? And how am I supposed to compete against those guys?”

As I asked Joe more questions, I could see he was not clear on the one number I knew was a factor in how he priced his work, and ultimately in the profits, he was or was not making.

Watch today’s video and learn what Joe and I figured out in his business that allowed him to start being more strategic in his bidding, and let him start adding more profits to his bottom line.  You can also read more below.

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Systems for Increased Profits

It was 2005, the economy was booming, and my appointment calendar was full nearly every day.  I was grateful for the abundance of work, but at the same time, I was weary.  I’d been working non-stop for two years and longed to work fewer hours. “Teach a course!” my business coach suggested cheerily.  “That way you can work with “one-on-many” vs. just “one-on-one”, then you could cut down on your hours.”

The thought of developing a course when I was already working so many hours sounded daunting and exhausting.  For several months I kept objecting and explaining all the reasons why it wouldn’t work.  But she didn’t give up and each time I complained about working too many hours, she would remind me that I had other options.

In late 2005, tired of hearing myself complain, I relented and agreed to build the course. In the 1st quarter of 2006, the first Business Boot Camp course was launched.  A course designed to help contractors create better systems for increased profits. As I wrote each new lesson plan it made me stop and think through what I do with clients when working one-on-one.  As I wrote and then taught each session, the most amazing thing happened in my business…

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Control Your Business So It Doesn’t Control You

During this time, many contractors are feeling a lack of control over their business.  Being forced to stop working and shelter in place can feel like someone else is driving your destiny.

I get it. And while this can be super frustrating, there IS something you can do to have more control.

The one thing that always gives us more control is information. Information give us..

Clarity so we can have…
Confidences, so we can take…
Powerful Actions

Today’s video is an interview I did with Devon Tilly, host of the podcast, Art of Construction.  In this interview Devon starts out bay asking me…

How do you see contractors are being controlled by their business?

As you watch and listen, here are a few questions to ask yourself…

What DO I know and how can I get more clarity?
How CAN I plan for the unknown?
What choices do I have now?

Want to hear what other contractors are doing right now to improve their businesses?  Join me next Wednesday 4/15 as I interview 6 contractors who are using this time to make their companies better.

Wishing you good health, well-being and success!

Warmest,

 

Vicki Suiter helps people see their businesses differently, then gives them the tools to do things differently.  Since beginning her business in 1990, Vicki has helped hundreds of contractors achieve the kind of success they never dreamed possible. Today, in addition to consulting, Vicki is an in-demand speaker at industry conferences nationally and internationally. Vicki’s articles and opinions have been widely shared in print and across the web. She is also the author of the book “The Profit Bleed” How managing margin can save your contracting business.

Building Teams That Produce Consistent Profits

Have you ever lost money on a project and thought it was primarily caused by your team’s lack of performance?

Do you ever feel like it’s hard to get your team to produce consistent results?

You know that when you’re building a house, you start with a solid foundation. You can’t build the first floor without a solid concrete slab in place.

And yet, many business owners get tripped up in the pitfalls that come from not having a solid foundation in place with their teams.

In today’s video, Randall Soules, David Hawke, and I talk about building solid foundations with teams that produce consistent profits.  This episode was originally aired on their Remodeling Business Blueprint Podcast.

When you watch, you’ll discover a few things you can do to start making more profits on projects and get more consistent results from your team. You’ll also find out how to become the kind of company people are begging to work for, even in today’s competitive job market.

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Employee Training That Works!

Do you yearn for a time when your team will produce more consistent results?

And do you ever get tired of the revenue rollercoaster that comes from inconsistent results?

One way to achieve consistency is by putting systems and processes in place with your team.  I talked about this in my last post Creating a Culture Where Great People Want to Work.

The other important way is what we’re going to talk about today – training people to develop their skills and advance in the ranks so both they and the company are more successful.

But if you’ve never created a training program before, it can be hard to know where to begin.

In a time like we are in now, where there is a limited talent pool out there, the burden is on us as managers and leaders to develop our teams and make them great. Not only that but investing in training your people can actually add dollars to your bottom line because they’re better equipped to do their job efficiently with fewer mistakes.

Today in my interview with Todd Liles of Service Excellence Training and host of The Service Contractor podcast, he explains how to create a training plan so you can feel confident developing your team.

Todd and I will talk about:

  • The 3 keys to a successful training program
  • How to structure training
  • What to cover so that you can teach your team your way to get the job done right.

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Creating a Culture Where Great People Want to Work

When we think about work culture, some people think of mission statements and vision. Other people think it means touchy-feely stuff. Still others think it’s about rounds of beers. But I believe it’s about the environment you create that sets up a structure for consistent, excellent results, and creating an environment where great people want to work.

Many people in the building and remodeling industry started their businesses as one-man operations, or just a few people. They didn’t start out wanting to manage a team or even learn how to be a great leader.  They just wanted to do good work, make great money, and have control over their own destiny. Then as they grew, they added people, and now find they spend a lot of their time managing, and not as much time doing what they love, and often, not making the money they want.

Truth is, managing people can be hard work. Yet building great teams is so important to the success of your business, it’s critical we talk about how you can do it well by shifting some of your management practices.

In today’s video I talk with Kyle Hunt, host of the Remodelers on the Rise , about how you can transform your company culture and build the kind of business great people want to work for with just a few changes.

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