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More stories about Business

  • Track Your Business With a Dashboard

    Even companies with good systems can get into trouble if they don’t manage their growth. To avoid this fate, Jim Kabel created a “dashboard” — a set of fundamental numbers that shows the monthly trends in their sales and production pipeline: leads, close rates, job profits, and customer...

  • Surviving the Recession

    We’re in the midst of unprecedented uncertainty in the financial markets, and consumer confidence is the lowest it’s been in a long time. It seems that no one really knows what’s going to happen.

  • Defining Your Niche Can Help in Downtimes

    I specialize in custom decks. I switched to this niche last winter, when my backlog of general remodeling work dried up and I had no jobs on the horizon. The suburbs of New York City — where my business is located — were hit hard by the economic downturn; many GCs I knew were going out of business.

  • Sandler Sales Training: Is It Worth the Cost?

    For small contractors in today’s competitive market, sales skills can make the difference between struggling and prospering. Yet many contractors turn up their noses at formal sales training, viewing it as a waste of time and money. Are they right? Or is enrolling in a training program an effective...

  • Using Checklists to Eliminate the Punch List

    In 2001 my Atlanta remodeling company, SawHorse, launched a “zero punch” program, which sought to eliminate the final punch list on all jobs. Since we had five or six project managers on the payroll at any given time, as well as working relationships with a couple of dozen subcontractors, the...

  • Working the High-Rise Niche

    Our company has provided remodeling and handyman services to Chicago homeowners for the past 10 years. We started out working in single-family homes, but early on an architect hired us for a large job in a high-rise apartment building. Today, high-rise work accounts for half our volume. We work in...

  • Lessons From the Corporate World

    Imagine two builders. Builder No. 1 is an experienced project manager who decides to start his own business. His technical skills are finely honed, he knows how to manage a crew and schedule, and he builds homes that customers love. But a few years after hanging out his shingle he is still...

  • Getting Paid for Your Time

    If you and your project manager spend 13 hours preparing an estimate for a remodeling job, how much money have you invested in the project? Would you have been better off spending those 13 hours getting things done on one of your current projects?

  • Quality, Schedule, Price: Pick Two

    All clients come to the table with a set of unspoken expectations, some of which they may not even be aware of. Because these assumptions will inform every decision they make, it's important to bring them into the open and prioritize them early on. This will help you decide whether you and the...

  • Putting a Purchase-Order System in Place

    As a financial consultant to small construction companies, I've seen lots of cases where a builder finished a job and the bookkeeper closed the books on it — only to have a late subcontractor bill for that job show up months later.