5 Mistakes of General Contractors

As part of my business coaching for builders, I am in the fortunate position of seeing what successful builders do versus those who have some improvements to make. One thing I think we can all agree on, running a business in the construction space is not easy. The work is physically hard, it’s often quite complex, it often comes with emotionally charged clients and margins are often too slim. There is limited space to make errors, either technical or in running your business. 

I can’t help you become a better builder, from a technical perspective, but I can help you reduce errors in the running of your business. So what are the main errors I see by builders finding and running their own jobs, ie the general contractor? There are many, but here is my top 5 to work on first…

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5 Elements of Effective Leadership

Becoming a leader isn’t easy because it takes a conscious commitment and consistent effort to develop one’s leadership skills. It is focusing on doing the right thing first, rather than focusing on doing things right. That’s what a good manager does. But on the positive side, anyone who is willing to make the effort can become a good leader. And because good leadership is critical to business success, your efforts to improve your leadership skills will be amply rewarded. By working on these five keys of leadership, you can become the leader your small business needs.

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The Great Resignation

One of the main frustrations of business owners at this time is the difficulty in finding qualified staff to grow their teams. A strong construction market, coupled with a close to zero immigration flow, is resulting in the demand for workers increasing while at the same time the supply is shrinking.

Now, according to a recent report in the NZ Herald, employers are also facing a growing trend in team members actively looking at quitting their current jobs and finding something new. It is a phenomenon that has been noted overseas over the past 12-18 months and it looks like it is coming here. In the US it is being referred to as The Great Resignation. The widespread trend of a significant number of workers leaving their jobs during the pandemic. Many are leaving the cities and looking for jobs in smaller centres, or looking for less stressful roles. Some are using the opportunity to better themselves and go for a higher paying position. 

What should you do about it?

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Operate Above The Line

Is your team (and you) operating above the line?

I was meeting a builder client of mine today and we got on to the topic of incentives versus fines for staff performance. Also how some team members seemed to constantly come up short and be quick with an excuse. My client said he regularly talks to other builders and they often compare stories of what excuses their staff come up with as to why they failed at a task, forgot to do something or generally screwed up. While they laugh about the excuses, there is a river of frustration running below. These team members are choosing to be “below the line”.
What does that mean and what can you do about it?

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Personal Resilience and How to Improve It

In challenging times it can be tough running a business. While people are far more aware of the mental health aspects of business ownership, you can’t hide from the tough decisions needed also. This video post gives you a simple process to follow that will help you improve your personal resilience to stressful situations, be they in business or life generally.
It was shot in mid 2020, but still is relevant to today. And the future for that matter.

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Act Like The All Blacks

One of the main foundation stones I help my clients develop is a written set of core values, the company culture. I believe it is a vital element of a successful company and one that is often left to chance, or ignored altogether. Get it wrong and it can help to drive away your best customers and your best team members. You may have had one of these situation in the past:

A team member with a bad attitude who constantly complained about your company and its managers. 
You been part of a team with a person who didn’t work as hard as the rest
You worked for a company in which one old-timer is not required to follow the rules or learn new systems and technology
Any sound familiar? These people drag down the atmosphere to their level and make it unpleasant to be around them. To develop a happy, productive and positive company, everyone has to work together, follow the same rules and maintain positive attitudes.

Taking some lessons from top sports teams can be the best place to learn. Read on….

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The Hidden Cost of the Minimum Wage Increases

Minimum wage is increasing to $20 per hour with effect from 1 April 2021 which represents another 5.8% increase, or a 31.1% increase over the last 5 years.  Unfortunately, this is about 3 times the rate of inflation over the same period, and this rate of increase is liable to continue until such time as the Minimum wage and the Living Wage are in alignment.  Or, in other words, someone who was on minimum wage in April 2016 of $15.25, would now be being paid $16.42 if they had received CPI increases each year. 

Whatever your political view-point on this, there are 2 key issues for employers:Minimum wage is increasing to $20 per hour with effect from 1 April 2021 which represents another 5.8% increase, or a 31.1% increase over the last 5 years.  Unfortunately, this is about 3 times the rate of inflation over the same period, and this rate of increase is liable to continue until such time as the Minimum wage and the Living Wage are in alignment.  Or, in other words, someone who was on minimum wage in April 2016 of $15.25, would now be being paid $16.42 if they had received CPI increases each year. 

Whatever your political view-point on this, there are 2 key issues for employers: Read on….

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The Success Triange

While the occasional person is “lucky” and achieves success by accident, the vast majority of successful people get there through focused hard work. Conversely, not everyone who works hard becomes successful. Hard work by itself is not enough. It needs to be focused in the right direction and aligned with a long term goal in mind. How do you get the blend right and maximise the chances of success. I have a model you can use. Read on….

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Jump In Puddles

With a recession typically comes a reduction in consumer confidence and a trend to delay or cancel big-ticket spend items. Building projects are the biggest ticket of them all. To combat this you should be looking at increasing your marketing. If you have been using “word-of-mouth” as your only marketing strategy over recent years, it’s time to review your activities in this space and put together a more comprehensive plan.

The first place I suggest you start in putting a marketing plan together is picking a market segment or two in which to focus your energies. Segmentation is the most fundamental of marketing concepts. To quote marketing guru Theodore Levitt, “If you’re not talking segments, you’re not talking marketing”. Furthermore, there has never been a greater need for effective segmentation, due to several factors:

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10 Steps to Reversing Horrifying Negative Online Reviews

Have a few unhappy customers who made it their business to burn you through website or social media complaints? Here’s how you can turn around your online reputation. Guest post by Kate Zabriskie

“The worst customer service experience ever! The plumber arrived an hour late for the appointment and was surly. Stay away!!!”

“If you are offered a job at this place, run! Do not walk to the nearest exit. This company is an asylum. I have never worked with a more dysfunctional group of people in my life.”

Ouch! Those hurt.

And there it is, in black and white for anyone and everyone to see: what someone thinks of your product, your service, or your organization. Bad reviews can bite, wound and sting. Worst of all, a mountain of them can appear in a matter of seconds. Social media: It’s a wonderful thing, until it turns against you.
So, what’s a person to do when his or her online reputation is suffering at the hands of others? Plenty.

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