You’re a new residential construction business. You have the manpower, the expertise and some prospective clients, but you need to win contracts. What you’re looking for are the tools and services that could give you an edge in the market, and help your business succeed.
Luckily for you, there is a wealth of options available to new construction companies, many of which will be alien to your more entrenched competitors. By being open to new ideas and ways of working, you can adopt these tools successfully, and benefit from the efficiencies they provide.
1. Sustainability forecasting
One area in which your business can overtake others is the adoption of sustainable practices. While sustainability has been a tenet of new builds for some time, the focus is often on the building itself, and not on the process of building it. With action against climate change, pollution and other environmental damage accelerating, many clients are likely to seek assurances about the impact of your projects, and the carbon footprints they accrue.
With so many different aspects of a project to assess – including tools, labour, materials and transport – this can be an intensive and time-consuming endeavour. Yet without doing it, you will increasingly be missing out on business, and increase your own costs. The increasing urgency of climate change is likely to see a rise in audits for things like waste transfer, which could lead to expensive penalties.
Thankfully, tech companies are beginning to step into the breach, and provide all-in-one solutions for sustainability forecasting. Apps such as Qflow allow you to automate the environmental data collection process, and predict how your actions on site may affect your environmental impact. As well as telling you what’s wrong, it also advises you on how to fix it, helping engineers to implement improvements.
Using both an app and browser interface, Qflow gives you a holistic view of the sustainability of your project. While the data is being analysed on desktops, operatives on site can use the app to log information, and ensure that they comply with building and safety regulations. Other apps such as Fieldwire show promise in offering simple digitisation of worksites, and address the more fundamental issues of management and communication.
- Online estimating
One of the biggest timesinks for new residential construction businesses – and one of the easiest ways to slip up – is planning your costs and build times. These aspects of construction are critical in order for you to deliver results on time for your clients, and not lose money in the process, or be caught short through a lack of resources. This planning isn’t for everyone, though, and can easily become muddled as a project develops.
The other aspect of estimating and planning a build is communication with the client. You want to deliver on time for them, but you also want them to be involved in the process, and to maintain full transparency about what you’re planning and what you build. This can be difficult to manage in the middle of a project, and presents a logistical and administrative burden, as you try to marry what happens on site with what happens in your offices.
For residential construction businesses looking to outsource this process, online estimating may be the best option. Services such as ProQuant Estimating combine expertise with in-house software to deliver precise estimates, costing everything from materials to plant and labour. Each quote is timed and priced using regional rates, which are constantly updated to give you the best value for money.
Such online estimating tools are extremely valuable for reducing your costs, allowing you to invest in other areas and grow more quickly. They will also increase the trust between you and your clients, and drive repeat business. The ability to accurately cost a project, provide a more competitive price and give an accurate completion date are all aspects that will improve your product, and help your business get a leg up on others.
- Safety training
As much as you may want to get out there and get stuck in, modern construction gives you a lot of hoops to jump through. One of these is health & safety, and making sure that all operatives on site are kept safe, along with anyone else in proximity to the site. This means not only meeting the minimum standards for training (e.g. through the CSCS Green Card), but also instilling a positive safety culture in your organisation.
Operatives on your site will likely have completed some site safety training as a basic prerequisite, but this is something you need to be mindful of when hiring. Taking safety seriously will also start your business off on the right foot, and ensure you have a safety culture at the heart of your business, which grows and adapts along with you. This is something you can then evidence to clients, and turn into a key part of your tenders.
Safety training may not be at the top of many construction companies’ priorities, particularly given the lingering fears about the coronavirus. However, the training industry has gone to great strides to increase accessibility, and make training available remotely. In many cases, this has lowered the cost of delivering courses – making this a great time to improve your safety practices, and protect your business and your employees.
Course providers including NEBOSH, IOSH, the CITB and Qualsafe have all made courses available for remote learning, which often takes place over Zoom calls. These are delivered live by qualified trainers, with materials emailed or physically sent out to accompany them, depending on the complexity of the course. In some cases, you can also then take the test or tests online, allowing your employees to qualify entirely from home.
Bolstering your employees’ safety credentials has several benefits. By helping them spot risks and deal appropriately with hazards, you’ll improve your reporting and avoid any costly fines or injuries. You’ll also provide peace of mind to operatives, and a sense that you care about their personal development. Some may even take particularly well to safety, and seek to progress their careers as supervisors within your business – something that’s bound to appeal to prospective new hires.
It may feel like a difficult time to start a residential construction business, and the road is likely to be bumpy. As we’ve shown, however, there are a range of services and tools which construction businesses can take advantage of, many of which are not yet being utilised by larger firms. By being agile and incorporating new ideas, you can start off on the best possible footing, and make your construction business a success.