Yesterday the the financial world and economy took a big hit. On top of recent oil, gas, electric and cost of living increases it is hard to escape the negativity all around us. On www.ContractorTalk.com I see many comments from contractors regarding the difficulties of securing any business. Many are saying they are just hanging on. Most have never experienced a downturn in residential work like we saw in the early nineties. Work has been so plentiful up until a couple of years ago. Just returning the phone call or showing up on time with a smile and clean truck ,you were hired.
So what can a residential contractor do to keep afloat when there is so little work to sustain everyone?
In my practice, I see some companies doing well in spite of these trying times. Albeit, they are not as busy as last year but they are not worried about closing their doors like many others. So what is the difference between those barely making it and those doing ok?
The answer is those who are succeeding have goals, business plans, systems and adhere to best practices. These companies model themselves after others who are successful doing what they want to do. They don't reinvent the wheel when tried and proven methods work. They are students of the game and they are always practicing, studying, and adapting their strategies to line up with their goals. They understand that they must be willing to delegate the many tasks required to run a successful business. They ask for help and don't claim to have all the answers. They attend trade shows like the recent Remodeling Show in Baltimore to learn more and sharpen their saw.
Contractors are a proud bunch and many times are not comfortable admitting that they may be having trouble running a business they weren't trained for. Time will tell if they will survive the current downturn in work. However it doesn't need to be this way. I saw so much genuine help available for contractors in Baltimore that any contractor who wants help can find it by aligning themselves with professional organizations like NARI, NAHMBR or they can obtain great information from contractor forums. They also can hire a contractor coach who knows their world.
What would you suggest to help a contractor friend who is just making it?