There comes a point in many construction business journeys when it’s time to start thinking about growth. How are you going to take on new projects and clients while maintaining the strong foundation you’ve built?
While scaling may not be right for every construction business, it’s important to be prepared for future growth with a solid foundation to set you up for success at scale, should you choose to pursue it. Whether you’re a small or large construction firm, we’ll share a few key strategies for preparing to scale—or, at the very least, how to scale efficiencies across your organization to keep your business strong.
3 Challenges to Scaling Your Construction Business
Just as establishing the fundamentals of a construction business can come with any number of hurdles, there are various potential challenges to scaling an organization. From labor shortages to data silos and a lack of consistency, here’s a look at the difficulties that may arise when embarking on your construction business’ scaling journey.
1. Labor Challenges
The ongoing labor shortage has been a challenge for the construction industry for many years, especially when it comes to specialty contractors. This shortage has remained a pressing concern, even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a recent AGC survey finding that, despite significant construction project delays and cancellations, a majority of firms (52%) reported encountering difficulties in hiring hourly craft workers. With such limited resources, it can be difficult for firms to take on new construction projects and expand their businesses.
2. Manual Processes & Silos
Regardless of the myriad advancements in construction technology over the years, many firms still use manual processes and paper to conduct day-to-day business operations. This of course increases the time it takes to carry out daily business functions, but it can also open construction businesses up to more risk, with the potential for mistakes presenting the possibility of serious delays and loss of client trust, among other concerns.
Moreover, manual processes can create data silos, which can hinder scaling initiatives with disconnected data, information, and teams. Such silos produce a number of challenges to improving efficiency and operations.
3. Lack of Consistency
Another challenge to scaling a construction business is inconsistency when it comes to project and business operations. Many firms suffer from a lack of internal standards, processes, and templates, making it difficult to create repeatable and scalable operational best practices.
How to Scale Your Construction Business: 6 Keys to Success
Despite the myriad challenges presented by labor shortages, manual processes, and a lack of consistency, there are many tools construction firms can use to scale their businesses. Read on for the six keys to scaling your construction business, and start your growth journey with confidence and a strategic approach.
1. Remove Data and Communication Disconnects
Scaling your construction business starts with removing disconnects across your teams, partners, and processes to optimize collaboration and efficiency. On any given construction project, there can be 50+ companies coming together to collaborate. Having disparate systems among these project partners can create any number of problems, which is why the goal is to have everyone on the same page when it comes to project documents and processes. Simply put, everyone should know what they’re trying to accomplish to ensure they are building the right things.
Achieving this kind of data and communication connectivity requires a digital platform and strategy for centralizing as much project information and communication as possible. When construction firms can digitize and manage their data collectively and efficiently, all in one place, with consistency and cohesion they can start to scale their businesses while adding value to their end clients.
Employing connected construction software—e.g., a platform that allows you to connect data and teams across project phases—is an essential solution for removing disconnects in project data and communication.
2. Connect Workflows and Automate
Another benefit of a connected construction platform is that it connects workflows among all team members on a project.
Connected workflows are important to clients due to the fact that many current construction industry workflows exist in silos, causing the aforementioned problems of inefficiency and loss of trust. The construction technology landscape has an abundance of different workflow solutions, but few end up being integrated to communicate with each other.
On any construction project, there’s a lot of work to be done across various teams and different organizations. In order to deliver the end product—to build the building—all of these teams and organizations must be able to work together.
Connected workflows drive better outcomes on construction projects in the way they share data across different project units in a highly efficient manner—much more so than manual processes. This matters a lot to construction businesses trying to scale, as efficiency is vital when you are in a highly competitive situation looking to grow your organization. In order to be competitive and meet all of the expectations of existing and new clients, you can’t afford to operate in an environment where your workers are disconnected.
For this reason, connected systems that truly connect workflows are a necessity to scaling a construction business. Many times, automation plays an important role in connected workflows, as automated processes with a central system will reduce manual work and enable you to meet project demands—and future demands—better and faster.
Additionally, a connected construction software that integrates with other critical project and business systems will help remove silos and improve workflow connectivity.
Want to learn more about creating connected workflows? Check out this blog.
3. Standardize Processes
If you want to scale your construction business, repeatable processes and workflows are a must.
Take, for example, the practice of submitting RFIs in several different formats. It’s highly likely that information will be lost. Conversely, using a template for the RFI process helps mitigate the pain points of identifying and submitting requested data, and offers improved consistency and transparency for answering future RFIs. This is especially true when you employ reliable connected construction software that offers numerous ways to standardize your forms and processes, ultimately improving your organization’s speed and efficiency.
4. Enhance Flexibility and Customization
In addition to standardized templates, you’ll also want flexibility and customization when it comes to connected construction software.
Flexibility allows your team and projects to remain agile—able to embrace change, if needed, and expand or decrease workloads where it’s necessary.
You will also want business systems that work for your unique needs, not those you’ll have to adapt to in order to make things work. That’s why it’s crucial to look at the level of customization available in your connected construction software. When attempting to figure out if the software will meet your exact needs, you might want to connect with your sales or or support representatives. Quality technology partners will have a dedicated support team to help you find the solutions that are best suited to your growing construction business’ needs.
5. Build Trust
Perhaps an often overlooked quality of construction businesses attempting to scale is industry reputation. Are you known as an honest, reliable organization? Trust is critical to improving your standing with partners and clients, which can ultimately lead to winning more new and repeat business.
Construction industry research backs this up, finding that construction companies with the highest levels of trust have more repeat business, driving gross margins 2% to 7% higher than those of organizations without high trust. What’s more, at firms where trust is very high, the majority (57%) of one recent survey’s respondents reported that more than four out of five of their projects are repeat business.
6. Enhance Data Insights
Insights and analytics will shed light for your construction business on potential risk areas and opportunities for future growth. Solutions using predictive analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are well positioned to drive major changes regarding how engineering and construction firms bid on and execute projects, according to McKinsey & Company.
In particular, predictive analytics can help construction firms decide whether they should bid on a project, and if they do, how much. These tools are also able to help determine if subcontractor bids are reasonable, break down the costs and profitability of prior jobs, and alert you to whether a construction project is likely to run into problems.
Scaling Your Construction Business Starts with a Solid Foundation
Whether you’re ready to scale your construction firm, or you still see scaling as a future endeavor, setting a solid foundation is always a smart business decision. You can establish this foundation and better position yourself to scale by removing data and communication disconnects with connected construction solutions, connect workflows and automate, standardize processes, enhance flexibility and customization, build trust, and optimize data insights. These key initiatives will allow you to overcome common growth hurdles and scale your construction business to reach new heights.