Still managing all your expenses manually? You’re wasting time and energy and perhaps even missing areas of over-spending.
You’re used to building complex things, but how can you build more time into your life to grow your business and enjoy family, friends, and after-work hobbies and passions?
So many factors control your time as a construction contractor:
Availability of resources and labor
Client requests and changes
Legal and zoning requirements and approvals
Fast-paced projects with tight deadlines
The needs of suppliers and other subcontractors
What CAN you control? And how can you minimize those hours to free-up time for important business and life activities?
1. Analyze Your Days
The first step in time-management is to get a handle on how you’re currently spending it. Whether you use a simple handwritten journal or an automated system, breaking your hours down by activity can be a real eye-opener.
You may have a clear sense of which tasks are important each day, but only by looking at how you spend every minute of a “typical” week can you start to gain insights into the activities and interruptions that consume your time.
2. Pinpoint the Interrupters and Time-Suckers
Construction contractors are dependent on many other people to get their work done. We all know that some of the people we work with perform at a different pace than we do. Others raise issues constantly, detract from projects with endless conversation, or don’t pay attention or make critical mistakes, leaving co-workers to pick up the slack.
Third parties like suppliers and other contractors will sometimes take as much of your time as you let them. It’s important in situations like this to set the expectation for them to only involve you as necessary or when it’s urgent. A good example is to only get involved when it will directly affect aspects of the project such as schedule, safety, quality, or productivity. Usually, third parties will respect and honor this request because while they may not have realized it at first, you will actually be saving them time as well.
Be honest with yourself about the factors in your business that may be slowing you down. Have direct conversations with those people who may be costing you time (and, as a result, money). Of course, rushing projects can result in mistakes, so you need to balance the need for speed and efficiency with the need to deliver high-quality work.
Translate lost time into lost revenue. Use that as a way to explain to team members why using time efficiently needs to be a priority for your business. Offer incentives for people to complete tasks on (or ahead of) schedule.
If necessary, make tough decisions regarding employees and suppliers. Although finding replacements means investing in time, that work will pay-off in the long run.
3. Plan Better
Those two words sound super-simple, right? We all know that crafting realistic and aggressive project plans that allow for contingencies can be a time-consuming and complex activity.
But spending the time mapping out each project in detail, including responsibilities, dependencies, costs, and “what if” scenarios will save you hours, days, and even weeks in the long-run.
Make sure that everyone on your project team buys into the goals you’ve set and create a safe environment in which people can express concerns about aggressive or unachievable deadlines.
As important as initial planning is the ability to re-plan and re-forecast, as unexpected things occur. You may not be able to stop that hurricane from rolling into town, but you can be proactive in estimating and scheduling its impact and communicating new dates and budgets when the sun comes out.
You should always spend more time looking forward than looking backward, but when a project does run off-schedule, analyze what happened and bring that learning to your next project, involving your team in the discussion and problem-solving for the future.
4. Build a Culture of Punctuality and Attendance
Your construction labor accounts for approximately 20-40% of your total cost. When your team is tardy or absent, these delays will be reflected in your profit margin. Waiting for the team to meet at the work site can burn-up time and energy.
For example, if team members repeatedly saunter in 15 minutes late, then over time these 15 minute stints can add up to hours of wasted time and push out your end dates. Not only will you lose money on labor, but you are going to damage your client relationships.
Set clear guidelines for attendance to ensure your goals are clear and concise. If team members are tardy or have multiple unexcused absences, address it immediately to ensure it does not become a pattern.
Here are additional ideas on how you can create an atmosphere of presenteeism and reduce your labor cost.
5. Automate, Automate, Automate
Did we say automate? Although we’re listing it last, it may be the best way to save time and money. Not only can bringing technology into your operations save time, it will save money in the long-run and free-up your team members to do more enjoyable tasks.
The types of technology that have changed the game for contractors include:
Time-tracking software enables you to make decisions about responsibilities and staffing and provide more accurate data to clients, especially when charging by the hour or day for certain activities. And, as noted above, it can help you understand how you’re spending your own time.
Project Planning Automation Tools
From renderings to timelines, you can use technology-driven solutions to map out every aspect of a project, show clients the final project, and track and report on measures like sustainability (which has become increasingly important in today’s environment).
As we know, everything can be found online these days. When you’re looking for new sources of supply, combine word-of-mouth with online searches. It can open up a whole new range of ideas and partners.
Hiring and People Management
You can’t always control people, but you can control the systems you use to find, compensate, and manage them. Human resources today is tech-powered. When you’re seeking a specific skill set or just looking for ways to communicate with and reward employees, you’ll discover a myriad of apps that can streamline the process.
Still managing all your expenses manually? You’re wasting time and energy and perhaps even missing areas of over-spending. Accounting paperwork can be tedious. You may be spending more than you need to on people to track, manage, and report on project expenses. Automating your accounting systems not only saves hours each week, it leads to greater accuracy. That, in turn, can also build better morale within your company because people are spending less time reporting and more time doing their project-related jobs.
Saving time in the long-run takes time, but if you start looking at how you’re spending every day, engaging your team in building a more efficient organization, and automating some of the tedious time-consuming job tasks, you will wind up with free hours or even days!
Start hacking your hours starting NOW. Learn how to save time with Vendrix.