Spend the Off Season Wisely

    By Frank Gandora, President of Creative Hardscape Company

    For those of us who have had our nose to the grindstone all year, we now find ourselves with the season winding down. The phone is probably not ringing as much, and I am sure you’re ready for a little relaxation and a break from gulping down fast food in your truck while speeding from one project to the next.

    Even if you’re lucky enough to work year-round, spend some time to perform the following operations during the off season per se’ to get the edge on next year’s season.

    Here is a quick check list that I believe is critical to next year’s success!

    Start by comparing last year’s revenue to this year. Review your financials and how they relate to your job costs. Seriously, until and unless this is done you really won’t have a clue about what specific items need attention.

    Look at your individual job costs and compare to similar projects from last year. How were your revenues and expenses compared to the previous year’s?

    Studying this information is also good for your early tax planning for 2020. It’s always good to meet with your CPA a few months before the end of the year and create a tax strategy. Knowing what you need to do for those last couple months could make a big difference between a profitable year vs a mediocre year.

    If you take away anything remember this: there are two sets of profits you’re looking at, job profits and company profits. Were your job profits big enough to support your company overhead and indirect costs? Once you have a handle on job costs you can sit down with your jobsite foreman, estimators, salespersons, etc. or maybe take a hard look at yourself in the mirror if you handle those operations.

    Sit down with your people and ask them what worked and what didn’t work. I bet they know more than you think. Your field people will probably blame your sales and estimating people, and I am sure that your estimators will push any blame on the field guys. When actually it could have been any other number of things, such as crews waiting for deliveries or projects short on materials, or lack of equipment, or equipment breakdowns. Perhaps your suppliers didn’t really give you those discounts they promised? Or, maybe you just need to raise your hourly labor rate and material mark ups to handle those costs that you can’t control.

    These meetings will give you some ideas and solutions, including ideas for what is needed as far as training for those skills that your team could use some help with.

    Now is the time to meet with your banker because you’re probably flush with cash or a high Accounts Receivables. These things put you in a good position to ask for that line of credit or loan. It’s much easier to get pre-approved when you have money than in the spring when you need it most.

    Review your overall business plan. What? You don’t have a written and documented plan to share with your team? Well, now is the time to pull out a pen and a napkin and write down what you need to do for next year!