With the construction industry booming over the last few years, I’m sure there are a lot of contractors facing this dilemma. Every contractor wants the feeling of job security, to have there calendar booked months in advance. The problem arises when the clients start to become impatient and do not want to wait months before their project is started, unless they really like your work and are willing to wait.
In most cases, when a client calls and asks for a bid on their project, they are ready to move forward with the work once the contractor is chosen. This could take a couple of days or a couple of weeks before they decide on the right contractor. So, if your phone rings and the client tells you that they have decided to give you the job, the next words out of their mouth will be,”So, when can you start?” The next words out of your mouth can either make or break the job and are just as important as the price you put on the quote. If you only have a couple weeks worth of work, they will more than happy to wait. If you have months of work scheduled, there may be a hesitation in their response and could even decide to go with there second-choice contractor. On some rare occasions the potential client may ask about your schedule before you even come out to bid on the job, this could mean a waste of a phone call if your schedule is too packed.
I understand this all too well. As the company has grown over the years, so has the increase in phone call volume. We try to place a bid on every call we receive and by doing so, our schedule fills up pretty fast. Once our schedule is filled up for the upcoming months, every time my phone rings I’m faced with the dilemma of letting the potential client know how far out we are booked and losing them all together, or take the time to meet the client, quote the job, and then potentially lose it due to our schedule.
Some may say that hiring more help would be the answer, but that comes with its own disadvantages. Right now construction is booming, but there is a severe labor shortage of qualified workers. Also, hiring more help may allow you to get the jobs done faster, but can cause your company’s overhead to rise. When your company’s overhead starts to rise, so will your bids. The rise in your overall bids may cause the work to not come in as fast, or at all, putting you in a position to have to lay-off some employees and run low on work, possibly run out completely.
Now comes the panic. You have no work to perform and pay your bills, your employees are laid-off, and potentially looking for another job. When your phone rings now, you may have the availability to do the work right away, and at a good price-point for the client, but do you have the help to get the job done? If not, the job may take longer than the client expected, causing the client to become frustrated, and will not look good for you and your company overall.
As you can read from this article, being a reputable company comes with a lot of ups and downs. Ups, you control your own job security. Downs, job security is taken one job at a time.