• Dave Webb

Top 10 Signs of a Successful Construction Contractor

1. Have a Vision for the Company

The number one sign is the need to have a vision for the future of the company. It’s extremely important that the owner has some clarity about what type of construction company they want to be and where they see their position in the market.

2. Have a Vision for Their Leadership

It is also vital for the owner of a contracting business to have a vision for their own leadership. Simply, how do they want to lead and be respected? They must also decide the type of work culture they want to create.

3. Provide On-going Education & Training for Workers

There must be a continuous effort to train whenever they can. For the seasonal contractor, this might mean bringing their workers in a few days to a few weeks earlier than “opening day” and taking them through a series of training topics. Every contractor should be ready for those rainy days when grabbing an extra few hours on some education would benefit the crews.

4. Cross-Train to Build “Bench Strength”

The greater diversity that your workers can handle the easier time of scheduling you will experience. Having more than one worker who can competently handle a paver, sealcoat machine, roller or backhoe, for example, the better chance your productivity will stay strong and profitable.

5. Communicate Daily the Direction & Goals

There is simply no excuse for not holding daily meetings with your crews. Call them “crew huddles” or “tailgate meetings” but do them…daily! And set goals for the project, the day, or the week -- whatever makes the most sense for your company and workers -- but setting targets always comes back to inspire and refocus your workers.

6. Create a Work Culture that Enjoys & Laughs

Sound crazy? Trust me, the most successful contractors, of any size, that I’ve witnessed up close and personal were all construction companies that enjoyed people, celebrated successes and laughed a lot. The people at these organizations, from the owner to the lowest-paid laborer, were just plain fun to hang out with. You could see the good-natured ribbing the workers would dish out to their foreman and especially to the owner. You can keep people a long time with you if they enjoy you, the company culture, and are allowed to laugh a little.

7. Develop Strong and Wise Field Leaders

As a contractor grows in size they realize that they can’t be all things to all people or be everywhere they need to be at the same time. Therefore, having the best leaders leading the daily charge in the field is crucial for a successful contractor. The sooner a contractor realizes that “it’s not about them anymore” and develops good field leaders, the sooner they’ll begin to see greater sales, performance and profits.

8. Create a Sense of Urgency…Not Emergency

Urgency in your company actually inspires and energizes workers. Creating a sense of urgency begins with the owner communicating their expectations and sharing the highs and lows of the company with their workers. It is also helpful to inform workers as to what their customers want and expect from their performance.

9. Institute a Meaningful Incentive Plan

Money is important, and the contractor who can creatively reward performance with good pay and some form of bonus money will keep better workers around longer. There are numerous incentive-based compensation approaches and they can be overly simple to more complicated. Whatever path you follow, just be sure that your employees understand what it takes to make that extra dollar. One idea is to base a performance bonus for “gains” made above what was set as a goal.

10. Encourage Participation in Planning and Execution

This last sign leans a bit to the culture you have. Once employees understand their roles and what is expected of them, and have the technical skills to operate equipment or handle tools, their input to actually fulfilling work can be invaluable. If you have trained and educated your workers on how you want to accomplish work, why wouldn’t you engage them more on how to accomplish future work? You can’t grow your business if you’re holding too tight to the reins.


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