Imagine that you own a construction company where everything is going as it should. The employees are happy and know what to do. Investors pay invoices and recommend you to their friends. Your cell phone doesn't ring hundreds of times a day with angry calls, money goes into your account and you have time for strategic things, your family and yourself.
It takes many years to get to this stage of business development, and unfortunately many entrepreneurs never get there. But if you commit to a strategic change, you will build a functioning company faster. According to builders, the winter season is ideal for such a step.
After establishing a trade or company, you do everything yourself. You find orders, transport materials for construction, mix mortar, arrange cooperation with other suppliers and issue invoices. You have an overview of absolutely everything.
Whatever business you are in, you are trying to survive in the first years. You have a few errands, a full diary and you handle everything over the phone. You often know the investors well, you know about every hammer or brick. Everything is under your control and it is only up to you if you do the job well.
"Builders are used to trust at this stage of the company's development. They agree on everything personally, and if they are useful, then the agreements apply. When they need some help from the outside, it's an accountant, carpenter, plumber or similar one-time specialist." explains Josef Beneš, owner of the construction company Stav-idea and founder of the Stavario application.
If you are successful, your business will grow. You will take orders, hire people and buy machines. You deal with a much broader agenda - attendance, work safety, accounting, service or advertising. There is a lot and you feel that you are gradually losing the perfect overview of what is happening in the company.
"You realize that you don't know what's going on in the construction sites. You spend days in the car, with the phone close to your ear, and you lose track of your suppliers as well. You're missing out on who's delivering what, what they're good at, and what to look out for.” describes Josef Beneš.
A lot of builders willy-nilly realize that they lack processes in their company and don't even have suitable tools to make their work easier. This is also confirmed by Tomáš Barták, the CEO of Zelené kolo, which designs and builds gardens.
“We had an attendance tool that worked on a fingerprint. But it only worked in the office. People are often in the field, so we then had to write down the data. And we had a similar mess in the photos from the buildings. At first they were stored on memory cards in different cameras, then we switched to mobile phones, but the photos were stored on the cloud. It was just chaos,” Tomáš Barták remembers the recent past.
The owner of the company also got into a similar situation JVVZ Jan Váňa, which deals with electrical installations. "For a long time, we have been using systems and applications in the company that facilitate our business. But there was a bit of chaos in the field. We didn't have an overview. For example, while cleaning the warehouse, we realized that something was missing. Or we found out that on one construction site the construction diary was lying in the office for 3 months and no one told anyone." explains Jan Váňa.
Owners of construction companies at this stage of development usually react by recruiting other people - for example, they hire a lady to help, whose task is to tidy up the paperwork. They try to:
But all this takes a lot of time and does not advance the company much. "It's a spontaneous growth phase. The owner convinces himself that it is still growing, that it is good. But realistically, he no longer knows if the money came into the account for a completed contract in Teplice, or if it is a deposit for material for a new project in Duchcov." Josef Beneš describes the pitfalls.
It's stress. You try to be everywhere but you are nowhere. You don't have an overview of income or expenses, the profit from the order is very difficult to climb above 10%, and you can only dream about substitutability. Let alone a vacation.
"As the company grows, you get bigger orders. But in such a situation, you have to employ more people and buy more material. This will increase the pressure on cash flow. And you can no longer count on it to work out somehow. You simply need to know the cost of wages, supplies or fuel. You have to watch for efficiency,” describes Jan Váňa.
The missing processes can be brought into the company by an outsider - but an experienced builder costs a lot of money. And once you find it, it's not easy to keep it. He quickly gets to grips with the economics of construction, learns what your margin is, and evaluates whether working with you is financially worthwhile, or whether he would rather start something of his own.
The recruitment of construction managers, preparers and other key people is a separate chapter altogether. "In 20 years of managing the company, I have found that the selection of quality people deserves the greatest care. If you make the wrong choice and hire someone who doesn't enjoy the job, it can be felt in the company and on the set. And the customer will recognize it as well," points out Tomáš Barták.
If you want to get things back under control, get back an overview of what's going on in the company and get rid of stress, it's up to you. As a business owner, you can handle it.
Winter brings an indisputable advantage - there is no need to deal with operational matters. "You still have question marks in your head, how to improve cashflow planning, how to set up communication between the construction manager, office and workers, how to increase the profitability of orders. But you'll never solve it in a flurry of operatives." Josef Beneš describes the situation.
That's why it's good if you use the freer calendar for strategic considerations. Systematization of the company is especially important:
Tomáš Barták emphasizes precisely the importance of vision. "It is enough if you clarify where you want to be in five years. Do you want to receive the same type of orders over and over again? Or will you start to specialize more and learn to reject requests that don't pay off and you don't enjoy? It is important not to keep your thoughts to yourself. Talk about plans with colleagues and customers. To hear their opinion and decide if this is the right direction.'
Once you are clear about the direction of your business, start looking for tools that will make your journey easier. Define what your requirements are. Here's a little inspiration:
"We realized that digitization is the right solution," Tomáš Barták summarizes his thinking. Jan Váňa also agrees with him: "A different path would seem strange to me these days. I'm a fan of electronic instruments. I'm losing my papers." Both entrepreneurs point out at the same time that digitization is not a panacea. It is merely a tool to accelerate the journey you set as a business owner.
Business owners are primarily interested in a better overview and a more restful sleep. Digitization will also improve your financial results - your net profit will increase to 25% of the contract price.
For Tomáš Barták, the financial level is important. But he also emphasizes the customer line in the digitization decision: "Communication is part of quality service. I want us to be at the same level technologically. In this way, the investor can see our party's concert in his garden, and if he wants to ask or see anything, he can solve it easily at night via the computer. It's elegant and enhances the overall impression.”
Although a handy tool for digitizing the construction industry won't cost you millions, it's a good idea to get your hands on the new technology first. Try out the possibilities, play with Stavario on mobile and on your computer. And check what you really need.
"You cannot implement new software in a company in a day. You have to teach people to work with it. It will take a while. But when you explain to them how the app will save them work, it works.” concludes Tomáš Barták.
Jan Váňa adds that he sees the use of technology as a generational issue. "The younger ones don't have a problem with it. You have to explain it to the elders. But when you, as a business owner, see that by using the application you save one person's office work, then you have a really strong reason to change."
When you return to full swing in January, think about the direction of your business. And if you go down the path of digitalization, we will be happy to help you with it. The demo version of Stavario is free. For example, try attendance and an online construction diary and see how much work it saves you.