Chapter Corner

Lead a 'Best in Class' Construction Biz

Posted in: September/October 2016

best-in-class.gifStan is the owner of CompassContractors, specializing in electrical work on office building projects. They primarily work for general contractors as a subcontractor. Stan struggles finding enough time to get everything done and keeping multiple commitments to demanding customers. He finds himself juggling his time between working on bids, estimating, ordering materials, scheduling 25 field workers, making sure the right equipment is on job sites when needed, constant phone calls with foremen asking for advice, and daily job site visits to meet with his foremen and project superintendents. To make matters worse, customers demand he cut prices to win work, cash-flow is tight, his bookkeeper doesn’t get him job cost reports until months after projects are finished, he works over 65 hours per week, and he isn’t making much more money than he pays his top foreman.


This sounds like a typical construction business owner who has reached the limit of what he can handle by himself. He wants to grow, make more money, and do better, but he’s stuck and doesn’t know what to do next. Think back to when you started your company or accepted your new position. You had a vision of what you wanted to achieve. Most business owners want to own an organized and systemized business that’s in control, run by a management team, has plenty of loyal customers, makes a lot of money, and allows for significant downtime and freedom. In order to make this dream become a reality, owners must step up to leadership and quit doing things that bog them down, like doing the work of getting projects built. Effective leaders delegate day to day roles and responsibilities to the right people who are in the right positions, make them accountable to hit the desired targets and results, and focus on growing their business and maximizing their bottom line.


To transition from doing work to leading a great company, you must start thinking like a winning head coach. You don’t see top coaches out on the field playing the game. They’re on the sidelines providing leadership and vision, strategizing with assistant coaches, calling plays, putting the right players in the game, providing motivation and discipline, and removing players when they aren’t performing. What else do great coaches do? They have a written game plan and play book they follow. They have excellent assistant coaches to delegate different parts of their responsibilities to. They hold regular meetings after every game to review the results, such as what worked and what didn’t. They develop a winning strategy for the next game. They meet with individual players to discuss their performance, good or bad. And they hold practice to teach their players techniques required to become the winning team on the field.


Winning coaches keep their jobs by putting the best teams on the field, winning more games than their competition, meeting their overall team goals, and are recognized as the leader of one of the best teams in the league. And in turn seats stay filled, customers are happy, the team achieves its financial targets, and the best available players want to play for a winner. As the head coach of your business, are you creating a winning team? Should you keep your job as the head coach of your company? 

What are CEOs of large public companies responsible and accountable for? RESULTS! Only the best survive the rigorous job of leading a large company. Average or mediocre results are not tolerated. CEOs are required to lead their companies and ensure they make very high net profits for their stockholders in order to keep them satisfied with their performance. No excuses! What other results must effective leaders achieve? GROWTH! The value, net worth, or equity of their companies must grow. Also the company’s revenue must grow every year or the CEO will be replaced.


A leader is 100% responsible for the results they are getting. If your company is achieving average or poor results, the leader is the reason or problem. Poor leaders accept poor results and poor performance from their team. Ineffective leaders don’t make tough decisions or do what they need to do with their priorities, time, people, or strategy to win. When you’re not winning the game of business, you have to change your game plan, call different plays, put in different players, change assistant coaches, and stop doing what you’ve always done. Why? Because the leadership is not elevating the company to become a ‘best in class’ business.


I hear too many contractors complain about cheap competition, or they can’t find enough good help, or they don’t get paid fast enough, or customers shop prices, or every other excuse in the book. CEOs don’t whine. They take responsibility, change their business plan, and make results happen, regardless of the economy, customers, or their competition. To grow top and bottom lines, leaders do things they have to do to achieve winning results. 

Not enough sales? Make it a priority to implement a sales and marketing plan to find better customers who value what you do and pay what you’re worth. Too much competition? Stop going after projects with too many bidders where low price is the only reason they hire contractors. Not enough time to get it all done? Commit to hiring professional, experienced managers and supervisors you can make accountable to get your projects built without your daily involvement. Don’t track your job costs or know your numbers? Hire an experienced construction accounting manager and upgrade your software to give you what you need to run your business like a CEO. Can’t find enough trained help? Delegate recruiting to your office manager and constantly run ads, develop an employee referral program, and seek better employees for you or your managers to hire. Never have enough time to get organized? Start a company systems committee to be responsible to create standardized procedures for everyone to follow.

The only reason a company requires constant hands-on micromanagement or is not making ‘best in class’ profits is because an ineffective leader won’t make the tough decisions required to improve results and become the best contractor in the area. Head coaches who don’t make good, quick, or right decisions get booed and eventually lose their jobs. What do you need to do different to become a winning leader instead of the head worker? Who or what should you hire, fire, buy, sell, change, do different, or eliminate?


Stan of Compass Contractors had reached the point where he couldn’t accept the poor results he was achieving for all the energy and effort he was expending, so he scheduled a two-day business coaching session. During the session, Stan developed a blueprint, which outlined his five-year vision for what he wants to accomplish and his company’s core values and principles. His business plan details what he needs to fix or improve and lays out his new organizational chart with a management team, job accountabilities, his priorities, what he must delegate, and who he needs to hire now to achieve his goals. The plan also includes a bid tracking system, a new customer target list, marketing plan, financial targets and goals, scorecard tracking system for job cost and monthly results, a list of systems he needs to create to get organized, a weekly and monthly meeting schedule to help him regularly stay in touch with managers and supervisors, and a commitment to stop working too many hours.

By taking responsibility for the success of his company, realizing what he was currently doing wasn’t building a winning company, and making a goal to become a ‘best in class’ business, Stan is now on the track to become an effective leader. What leadership decisions and steps do you need to make to become the best company in your marketplace and be known as a winning business owner? 

George Hedley works with contractors to build profitable growing companies. He is a professional construction business coach, popular speaker and best-selling author of “Get Your Construction Business to Always Make a Profit!” available at his online bookstore at To sign-up for his free e-newsletter, be part of a BIZCOACH program, or get a discount coupon for online classes at, e-mail