Rolled drawings with three construction workers in the background 1200x816
Rolled drawings with three construction workers in the background 1200x816

Scaling Successfully: How to Grow Your Construction Business

Is your construction firm struggling to keep up with your current workload? Are new opportunities opening up within your sector? Do you feel like your business has plateaued? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” it might be time for a new strategy.

Making the decision to scale your construction business can be both exciting and daunting. That’s why it’s important for executives looking to increase the capacity of operations to do so responsibly. Lack of planning and foresight can lead firms to grow too big, too quickly. The systems and strategies that work on a smaller scale may not be effective when applied across a larger organization. And this can cause inefficiencies to accumulate and eventually derail productivity.

With advanced planning and the right technology, however, construction firms can successfully grow their business while streamlining operations and increasing efficiency.

Recruiting & Retaining Talent

For the past few years, the North American construction industry has been experiencing a labor shortage. Economic changes, an aging workforce, and the decline of millennials entering construction jobs have all contributed to fewer available workers for construction projects. No one knows just how long this labor shortage will last, but the outlook doesn’t look good. According to a recent survey, 60% of construction firms are worried about their ability to find enough workers to complete their projects over the next year.

Firms can’t bid on new projects if they don’t have enough employees to complete the work. And growing your business requires bringing in new clients and sustaining a workload that will support growth. Because workers are scarce, firms that are looking to grow need to pay careful attention to their human resources. This means finding new and improved ways to recruit new talent and adopting ways of ensuring employee satisfaction and retention.

Construction firms looking to hire should explore other industries. Connect with veteran organizations or minority AEC groups to find potential candidates. You can also connect with a younger demographic by attending high school and college job fairs. To retain your current workforce, you might want to review your company policies and benefits and find ways to make your company more attractive to prospective employees.

Most importantly, pay attention to company culture. Make sure that employees are shown respect and that they’re recognized and appreciated for strong work. You can also keep employees fulfilled and engaged by implementing professional development programs. When companies show a commitment to helping employees advance and grow in their careers, it fosters a greater sense of loyalty.

Most importantly, keep the lines of communication open. Solicit feedback before new company protocols are established, discuss future goals and ask for ideas about where the organization can be approved. Starting a dialogue and listening to your employees is the best way to address any issues that could cause them to leave.

Investing in Technology

When a construction business grows, its operations must evolve along with it. Processes that work on a small scale may not work when applied to a larger number of projects and a greater number of employees, managers, and stakeholders. The inefficiencies of your current procedures may not be noticeable right now, but when your business grows these inefficiencies will grow too, becoming bigger and more problematic as they accumulate. It’s therefore important for construction companies to review their operational strategies as they grow – rather than waiting until they’ve increased their workload and are falling behind.

The most important part of analyzing your operations, systems, and processes is looking at the role that technology plays in your organization. You’ve probably heard the term digital transformation, which refers to a company adopting new technology and developing IT strategies that help them to adapt and change. Digital transformation is about more than implementing the latest technology or digitizing pen and paper systems. It’s about deep organizational change. It requires companies to look at how technology can enable automation, standardization, and greater efficiency.

Creating a new system that incorporates software and other technological tools requires a company culture that embraces innovation. Firms that use cutting-edge technology can capture and analyze more organizational data, communicate and collaborate easily, create greater financial transparency and eliminate waste redundancies.

Not only does technology help companies to develop more efficient procedures and gain greater insights into key organizational metrics, but it also provides a way for businesses to scale with significantly less risk.

SaaS and cloud computing have enabled companies to use subscription-based technology. Before, companies that wanted to increase data storage for document management, for example, had to invest in more servers. In addition to the initial investment, this also meant paying to house the servers and keep them running with regular maintenance and energy costs.

The extra expense associated with the servers is fine when a construction company is doing well, but when business declines, they’re stuck with a huge bill for IT infrastructure that’s not being used. With cloud storage, companies pay for only the storage they need and can easily increase or lower their storage as required.

Avoiding Fragmented Software

Scaling without proper planning or strategizing can be chaotic. Facing a storm of new challenges, executives are too busy putting out fires to find long-lasting solutions to their core organizational issues.

In this situation, construction leaders looking for quick solutions often buy subpar technology with limited functionality. For example, they may invest in a stand-alone project management app because this is their most pressing concern.

Unfortunately, adding individual software applications into a larger IT system creates a fragmented network. When individual apps are stitched together, they won’t share data with one another. This is problematic because construction projects must be managed holistically: for everything to go smoothly, data needs to flow freely between all departments within the company.

Accounting, project managers, and executives all need to be able to connect to a single data source when using their respective software applications. If the apps used by different departments aren’t sharing data, employees will have to request the data they need from other departments and manually enter into their apps. With more data entry, there are more opportunities for human error, which could cause inaccurate data.

Rather than hastily purchasing apps as short-term solutions, firms should do their research and find a total EPR solution. ERP software has a single database that creates a free-flow of data across the organization so that they can avoid fragmentation and keep all departments in the loop.