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Getting the Systems Right: What I’ve Learned About What Works for Contractors—and What Doesn’t.

Getting the right systems in place can turn a chaotic and inefficient work environment into a thriving business that runs like a well-oiled machine. 

Early on when your operation is small, it’s tempting to think you and your staff can handle everything informally. But as soon as your business begins to grow, things can get unwieldy fast. On the other hand, some business owners are tempted to test every new piece of automation software under the sun, which can end up wasting more time and money than it saves.

Where’s the balance? Here is what I’ve learned from our business.

It Takes a Village to Raise a Home Performance Industry

Home performance is a difficult business for many reasons. As a general contractor, there is a pretty well-defined path to follow to get to an end product. Yes, there are variations, but there is enough consistency that with experienced sub-contractors the process can be handed down from one generation to the next. Home performance is much less defined, as is often the case with emerging industries.

7 Ways Contractors Can Reduce Materials Costs

Earning more money by adding services and growing your company can be fun and impressive. But growth usually comes at a cost. To get more volume for your business, you'll probably need to spend more money on things like advertising, new equipment or more materials. Adding staff brings additional costs and administrative requirements like insurance.

Reducing expenses, on the other hand, is usually less exciting than focusing on growth. But when a business saves money by cutting waste and inefficiency, those savings go straight to the bottom line.

8 Tips about Insurance for Contractors

If you are like most contractors, insurance is something you think about once a year at renewal time. That's what I did for years until I had a rude awakening. After a workers compensation audit, I was left with a $140,000 bill because we had a stronger year than forecasted.

Why had I not seen it coming? Why didn't my insurance broker warn me of the possibility? When I asked my broker, she was apologetic but offered a lot of too-little-too-late advice. I started looking for a new insurance broker.

7 Services to Add to Your Home Performance Toolkit

We started as an insulation company and then added HVAC. Once we got those services down, we slowly added new measures to our home performance toolkit to help increase job size and smooth out seasonality. Here are some of the ones that worked for us, and some of the ones that we struggled with.

1. Solar PV 

Solar is one of the easiest measures to add to your home performance offerings. Unlike home performance, selling and installing solar PV is much more straightforward. 

Six Keys to Selling Energy Efficiency

I hear a lot of passion in our industry for building performance and doing good work. Most people get into this industry with a construction background rather than a business background. I came into it from the opposite direction, with a passion for the cause and a lot of business experience, but no construction experience. So what I think I can provide are my thoughts on the business side of running a construction company.

Specifically, I’m going to share some insights into our sales process. Whether you are a one-man shop or a larger operation, I think giving ample attention to the sales process is critical to the success and growth of any company.