Becoming a general contractor is a perfect career step for many people. Do you enjoy creating things and working with your hands? What about working in a team environment? Do you like working outdoors and in varied environments? A general contractor gets to do all of those things while leading a team to build amazing things for their clients.
Most general contractors start out doing another type of work first. They may be architects, electricians, or drywall specialists who decide to start their own contracting business. If you are thinking of going in this direction, you should do everything you can to be successful. Here are some veteran tips for upcoming general contractors to help you find success.
Get Yourself Licensed
You may have thought that you’d never have to study again after graduating. Unfortunately, that’s not the case since it’s always a good idea to get a contractor’s license to start your own business. It requires passing an exam to show that you have the requisite skills and knowledge to get the job done properly.
A license will also make you more trustworthy to clients. If you are licensed, it shows them that you have proven that you are responsible and reliable and have the knowledge and skills to do the best job for them possible. It also shows that they have some recourse if you treat them unfairly or do an unacceptable or unprofessional job.
Study Your Regulations
More studying is involved, but the “test” is your day-to-day job. If you started as an electrician, you probably know all of the current regulations and codes that apply to that industry. As a general contractor, you will need to know about the regulations and codes for all trades related to building. Do your homework to have informed discussions with your team on job sites and in the planning stages. If you fail to understand codes and regulations, a job to be torn down upon inspection, and your clients will not like that.
Be Diligent About Safety
Safety should be your top priority. You should rank it higher than even workmanship and profit. You need to keep your employees, clients, and the general public safe. Not only is it the ethical approach to take, but there is also a benefit to your business, too.
If employees are getting hurt, it will affect your productivity and efficiency on jobs. You will have to wait to replace them, or the rest of the team will have to pick up the slack. You will also find it hard to recruit talent if you get a reputation for having lax safety standards. You also don’t want to hurt your clients since they won’t tell their friends and family to hire you when they need contracting work done. Your best option is to make sure that you are up to date with any applicable OSHA certifications and go above and beyond their recommendations.
Even if you run the safest company in the world, there is always a chance of something happening. Construction comes with a very specific set of risks, and there are more hazards than most other industries. So while you certainly should do everything you can to prevent injuries and accidents, you also need protection from the financial fallout from them.
General contractor insurance will provide you with compensation for any of the risks that your business might face. This includes lawsuits from injuries to clients and the public, property damage, and professional errors. You also need coverage for any commercial vehicles your business might own or use and personal property for your business. Having insurance also shows that you are a responsible business owner who cares about the community’s safety.
Hire a Great Team
As a general contractor, you will be relying heavily on your employees and subcontractors. The work they do will directly reflect on you in the eyes of your clients, so you need to make the right hiring choices. You need a team that provides quality workmanship and the right personalities that fit with you.
Working on a construction site requires a lot of cooperation and teamwork, and if nobody is getting along, then the work will suffer, and you will even miss deadlines. Make sure that you build and develop a cohesive team that will share ideas and respect one another. It can be hard sometimes, but be picky. You will be better off in the long run if you make extra sure about your hiring choices.
Be Selective About Projects
Just like with your employees, you should be selective about the projects that you take on. When you are starting out, your first instinct might be to take on as many jobs as possible to bring in as much revenue as you can. Upcoming general contractors might think that they can accept the jobs and worry about the staffing, equipment, and other logistical challenges as they go. This is unfortunately not the case. If you stretch yourself too thin, your work will suffer, and your timelines will collapse. Your employees will get burnt out and frustrated, and you will too.
When this happens, your clients will be unhappy. They will see that you’re not prioritizing their project and will feel neglected. Plus, if the workmanship has suffered, they will be disappointed with the results. Then you will have to spend even more time fixing the mistakes. Being selective means that you can focus on the jobs that you can manage. You will have more satisfied customers who will recommend you to others and help you build your reputation.
If you implement these tips when building your general contracting business, you will go a long way to finding the success you are looking for. Being great with tools is not enough. You need to plan and prepare and have the right team around you to build your business and keep creating amazing projects.
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