Choosing contractors; 7 things to consider

Choosing Contractors can be hard! (But it does not have to be!)

How to do it, why it matters and where do you start when choosing contractors!

When you are thinking about improving some part of your home like, flooring, roofing, painting, cabinets, countertops, or anything else…it is easy to decide what you want to do, but often it is harder to find the right person to carry out the job for you.

Close up of two young colleagues shaking hands in an office

It doesn’t have to be a difficult task! You just need to know what you look for and where to look for it.

 

#1 First things first, decide exactly what you want them to do for you. When choosing contractors, you are hiring a project manager for your project. They need to know what you vision is and your expectations. Too often the objectives are unclear and it’s very hard to deliver on something that is invisible. Providing a clear and concise directive to your contractor will automatically improve your odds of success dramatically, no matter who the contractor is.

Handyman varnishing pine wooden planks in patio outside the new house

#2 Ask around and do research – When choosing contractors, do not make this decision hastily. Allow yourself enough time to talk to your friends and family, see if anyone has a recommended contractor they can link you up with. Check online for reviews of their business. If you are fortunate to live in a city with a Builder’s Backbone Synergy Center, visit the member’s list and choose a contractor who has good reviews and attractive photos of past work. Best of all any “Backbone” contractor comes pre-screened by Builder’s Backbone to ensure you can trust them.

#3 Paperwork and licenses matter. – If budget is a big factor when choosing contractors, you will likely run into candidates who are independent, and not licesnsed. It is advised that you go with a certified, licensed contractor. This will ensure that you have a professional who knows how to see your project through from start to finish. If they took the time to acquire all the proper paperwork, they will take the time to do your work the right way also.

#4 Look at past work –  Most contractors will be able to show you their past work. Do not hire a contractor who cannot show you that they have done the kind of work you are wanting them to do for you. It just is not worth the potential problems you could face. Let them practice on someone else who doesn’t mind paying less for inexperience.

Construction engineer and architect’s desk with house projects, laptop, tools and wood swatches top view, male hands using a digital tablet

#5 How soon, how long, how much? – Find out when they can start for you and when they think it will be complete. A good contractor will have answers for all three questions. Expect to wait for a good contractor, as they are good for a reason and therefore in high demand. If they cannot tell you how long it will take, they are either inexperienced or they are not good project managers. Either is bad for you and you should avoid them. All costs should be written out in advance. You may want to ask if they offer financing options or warranties during this phase of your research.

 

#6 Materials matter – When choosing contractors, it is nice to know where they will get the materials for your job? Can you supply your own? Builder’s Backbone contractors get their supplies from within the Backbone community, this means you know they are the highest quality for the best possible price.

#7 Design work – Often times a job will require a design to be completed prior to the job starting. How will this be provided? Backbone members have access to industry leading design services that are timely and affordable. All designs are done in collaboration with the contractor and the materials supplier to ensure everything is going to be on time for your job.

 

Choosing contractors can be intimidating, and even a lot of work, but it will be worth your time when the job is done right!

 

 

 

“From Tragedy to Triumph” – The BM Custom Cabinetry story

Fire.

Smoke alarms.

Fire trucks. Smoke.

Embers.

Tears and uncertainty washed over everyone as they looked at the burnt, damaged wood and smoldering structure that was the BM Customer Cabinetry Manufacturing shop just hours before. The place where so many employees worked tirelessly day in and day out to make the best product possible was now irreversibly destroyed.

The word spread quickly, but those who had not yet heard showed up to work like any other day, to discover the sad situation they were now faced with.

Questions began to swirl and gossip began… What does this mean? Where will we work? Can we rebuild? Was there insurance?

In that moment it seemed to everyone that all hope was lost; Rebuilding would be a task too large and too costly to even consider realistic.

In the days following the fire, the workers wanted to pull together and help somehow. The night of the fire, they had large orders pending that were scheduled for delivery in the near future. They knew that in that moment they may not have a shop or inventory, but they had something more valuable and more powerful than either one….desire and paying customers.

In all the years leading up to this moment, BM had never missed a single deadline, they were proud of the fact when other cabinet makers would frequently miss target deadlines (blaming various areas of the supply chain) BM had always been on time and accurate. Collectively, the employees and the owner of BM decided that the fire would not stop them from achieving their goals.

Storage units were rented and the basic tools and machines needed for production were sourced. There was no way that they would let this set them back or cause them to miss a deadline. For several weeks that summer they worked out of 3 storage units that did not have any air conditioning to deliver. Many long days and nights were endured to catch up on lost work and the orders were filled as promised. The customer none the wiser.

Knowing that this was not a long term solution for the business, the search was underway for a space that would work.

Later in 2013, after the promised orders were filled, BM and its employees decided to partner up with a new Houston company, Builder’s Backbone,  who was positioning themselves as a support platform for businesses in construction and the adjacent industries who need more resources in order to grow but cannot afford the large investment up front.

BM Custom Cabinetry moved out of the rented storage units and into the large space occupied by Builders Backbone and a partnership was formed. Builder’s Backbone would provide BM with the support it needed to get back to where they were before the fire and in turn, BM would not have to give up any equity, but rather simply pay a monthly rate that was proportionate to the amount of resources they used on a month to month basis.

Quickly BM was back up and running better than ever before, because this time they had an arsenal of tools and resources at their fingertips which they could choose to utilize or deploy. No longer were they restricted to their options based on the size of their company.  The partnership formed with Builder’s Backbone had made it unbelievably easy to do what they do best because they were able to rely on the Backbone community to help them pick up the slack.

Today BM is a successful company, now making in excess of 4million per year, with continued growth and unprecedented potential all thanks to Builder’s Backbone.

How to grow your construction businesses social media presence online

How to grow your construction businesses social media presence online

First of all, get started! There is no better advice that I can deliver in the space of this blog post that will have a greater impact on your social media presence than starting. It is literally the difference between “Yes, I am on social media” and “No, I am not on social media”.  So get started.

But how?

Okay, a fair question I suppose. The first step is to create an account on the platforms you wish to use. If you have no idea what platform you want to use, then I recommend Facebook and Instagram. In 2017 these are the most likely to yield the results you are wanting with as little work as is possible. (Don’t get me wrong, this is not about making it easy, it’s going to be work, but these will allow you to leverage your industry knowledge best.)

For businesses, you want to create a FACEBOOK PAGE, next pick the right “type” of account. Choose  “company or local business place” account. (If you are a brick and mortar that has walk in customers choose “local business place”, otherwise choose “company”.  Fill out your accounts totally and completely. Add images to Facebook, including profile pictures and header images. Look around at the competition, do something similar to the one you like. Don’t steal, just draw inspiration.

NOTE* Images are property that belongs to the owner. You cannot use any image you like. Search for “free use stock images” on Google or take a photo yourself. Ensure all images you use are “free to use”.

Describe your business in detail. More people will read this and decide their opinion of you than anything else. It’s your time to shine and tell everyone why they’d be nuts to go with anyone else other than you.

Instagram is a little easier to set up. Just get your account set up, if it is a business, select business account. Fill in your profile info and get started!

But How?

Okay, another fair question.

Instagram is photo based. You MUST post an image at the same time or you cannot complete your post.  Start taking a lot of pictures.

  • before and after of jobs you do
  • Finished product
  • interesting steps along the way
  • weird situations you encounter while working
  • using tools on the job
  • pictures of you working
  • pictures of the materials you use.

Both Facebook and Instagram will allow you to post as long a description as you like.  I recommend that you tell people what they are looking at in the image.  Whenever possible tell a story!

Use hastags.

Make a list of the 30 most relevant terms to your business. Take each one, ad the “#” immediately before each one with no space and paste that list of “hastags” to every single post (this next step is important) as a comment.  Hashtags help people find what they are looking for on social media. If you are a pool builder, someone looking for pool pictures will use the #pool hashtag and your posts will show up among others in the results. The more hashtags you have that match the search, the higher up your result will be for the person searching.  (Note, you can only use 30 hashtags per post, going over will result in the text being removed, so count carefully.)

Facebook is great for sharing all things with your followers. You can post a link to a blog or article you liked somewhere else online and Facebook will retrieve the link and make it look nice for you. Than all you have to do is make a comment in relation to that post and hit send! Tada!

Follow the same idea list from Instagram for your photos .

Videos:

Get comfortable shooting video with your Smartphone. We all walk around with HD cameras in our pocket.  You cannot post too many videos of yourself working and explaining things. It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it shouldn’t be perfect, people are skeptical of things that look “too finished”. Their advertisement meter goes off immediately and they tune out. So if you stutter or whatever, don’t stop. Just keep going and try to get to a point where you are able to talk to the camera like your own friend.

Note* You can also set up a Youtube account and post these videos there as well.

BLOGS:

Social media is great, but blogs last forever. You can post something on social media and it will no longer be visible in your followers feed within minutes to hours. But blogs stay put and last forever. People usually find blogs by searching on Google. Think about all the times you have looked for info online about something and someone had written an article explaining how to do  the thing you wanted to do. Helpful right? You want to give people answers to the questions that they are asking as well as answers to the questions that they should be asking too.

  • how to buy ___________
  • 3 things to know before you buy _______________
  • why you should always say no to _________ when buying __________________
  • The difference between _____________ and __________________
  • How to make your ______________ last longer
  • Show your work off. Take before and after images, as well as images showing the process along the way.

Be sure to share the link to your blog on your social media accounts. This will help bring customers to your blog and vice versa.

In summary:

If you will start doing these things you will be farther ahead than 95% of the people in your industry.  Your first posts and videos and photos will not be great, but you will get better and that is okay!  There is no substitute for experience in this situation.

Remember, this is not about advertising your business so much as it is about delivering value to the user. If you give them information, entertainment and confidence, they will regard you as the authority and when they need what you sell, they will come to you because they already know you, they already trust you and they have already seen your work and know you are the man for the job. So do not try to advertise your business as much as you try to educate. It is acceptable for you to say the name of your company and your website at the end of beginning of the video so people know who you are.

Good luck! All you have to do is get started and you’ll see that not only is it possible for ANYONE to do, but it is possible for you to be great at it!

If you are in Houston and need help with your social media presence, visit www.buildersbackbone.com and look into becoming a member. We help our members to connect with other members of the construction community more easily and created trusted relationships that will have a real benefit to their company. We’d love to help you grow your social media influence and your network!

 

 

 

Being a LONE WOLF in construction will get you killed.

Don’t be  a lone wolf:

 

Many of us got into the construction because we felt we were really good at providing a specific skill. We started a business based on that skill with huge ambitions that it would be our ticket to financial freedom. But quickly you discover that running a business can be tons of work and you are not making the kind of money you planned on making.

You know that if you had more help you could get ahead. You know that if you had more money,  you could purchase resources that would help you to get ahead. But, neither of those are realistic options.

Most people in this situation will continue to keep doing the same thing that they have been doing because they feel like they are treading water and they cannot manage to get ahead.

STOP DOING THE SAME THING IF IT IS NOT WORKING!

Step one

Ask yourself, why do I do what I do? Have lost your way and gotten distracted from your original purpose? If so, readjust and refocus on the thing you do best.

 

Step two

Interact with your community. The best way to get referrals and business, in general, is to build relationships with people. Customers want to do business with the people that they trust and that they know. Does your city have a community or Builder’s Group? In Houston, you can team up with Builder’s Backbone. Once you are accepted into their community (acceptance is easy, and contingent only upon doing good, honest business) you can start to promote yourself to other people who have the influence you need to sell more jobs.

Step Three

Build up partnerships and alliances. Contractors are frequently asked if they know someone who does ____________ well. If you have partnered up with several other professionals you can send them business and they, in turn, will send you business as well.

 

Step Four,

Appearances matter. Think about the times you have looked to hire someone for any reason. You are forced to judge the book by its cover when you do not know the person. In the modern world, we live in this means, Facebook, website and even your physical address. Each one needs to indicate that you are Trustworthy, Skilled and Easy to do business with.

That is all great advice, but how do I get started making it happen?

Get out and talk to people. It may feel weird, it may be way outside of your comfort zone, but it is necessary. They best way to network in a meaningful way is to go to events where you are surrounded by like-minded people. They will be there doing the same thing you are (most are even nervous to be there too!) Be sure to take business cards with you and collect business cards from people you want to work with.

REMEMBER: People are not typically looking for what they can do for you, so you must find out how you can help add value to them first. Once they see you as a valued partner, they will be more interested in finding ways to help you.