For most residential contracting firms in the U.S., March 31 marks the end of the first quarter of the 2015 fiscal year. This means that, sometime in April, you’re likely to review the company budget and compare actual results with what you had forecast. And that’s when you might discover that you made two big mistakes several months before.

Typically most prevalent among younger companies, this mistake centers on unrealistic or dangerous assumptions. Unrealistic increases in volume combined with unrealistic decreases in job costs produce great numbers on paper, but are difficult to put into practice without specific, measurable tactics implemented by seasoned management. Such...

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