We all face challenges in our chosen field, and contracting work is no different. If anything, contractors face exceptional challenges compared to many other types of work. Contractors have to take on the challenges of running a small business, meet deadlines for clients, hire out important work from subcontractors, adapt to changing technology, provide safe work environments on project sites that can be inherently dangerous…the list goes on. Let’s talk about a few common challenges contractors face and how to best handle them.
1) Finding quality labor
It’s a good thing for a contractor when business is booming. But with more projects on your plate and bigger projects that require more time and labor, comes one problem: finding the right workers you need to get good work done. Unfortunately for the construction industry, a severe labor shortage will continue to plague the construction industry through 2021. Oftentimes, adding to your team means pooling from a labor force that is increasingly young, and therefore might lack the years of experience it takes to hone a construction skill and excel at it. That means taking on the time-consuming and expensive process of training workers, plus, taking on the costly risk of employing less skilled laborers and leaving yourself open to mistakes that delay projects, or even worse, create safety issues on the job site. The good news though: due to the proliferation of digital technology in the last 20 years, young workers are quick to adapt to and use new technologies. As the construction business becomes an increasingly technological space, these young workers will excel and help your business grow. By encouraging and fostering a digital mindset, you'll be able to address your biggest problems today, keep pace with evolving challenges, and maintain a competitive edge.
2) Finding quality partners
Whether it’s finding a subcontractor you enjoy working with, or a supplier you can trust to meet your needs, finding quality partners is a key component to maintaining a successful contracting business. It’s also a difficult challenge faced by many. In this business, you have a reputation to maintain, and using the wrong subcontractor to help complete a project can leave you open to the liability of creating sub-standard work that doesn’t reflect well on your reputation. Similarly, not having good vendors or material suppliers can lead to wasted money and lower quality work. The key to overcoming this challenge is to use one good relationship to create more good relationships. While the internet provides us with more information than ever in regards to reviews of potential partners, don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth. If you find one good partner, like a materials supplier whom you trust, check with them for recommendations on subcontractors who they’re willing to vouch for. Chances are, one good partner will be able to put you in touch with another.
3) Poor communication
Lastly, poor communication is an all too common challenge that can have far-reaching effects when it comes to the growth and management of your contracting business. We’ve all come out the other side of a difficult project, rife with problems, thinking, “all of this could have been avoided if we’d just communicated!” Luckily, technology can help. Construction software like Trimble WorksOS allows you to manage projects and stay in touch with your team. Even real-time cut, fill, volume, and compaction data can go a long way in keeping everybody working on your team in the loop. Having real-time field data can maximize overall project efficiency and accurately predict if the job will finish on time and on budget.