Jeff Hunt, President, EHC Inc.
During the recent recession, a number of industry professionals moved markets or left the industry altogether. Therefore, there is a reduced supply of highly skilled talent, and the cost of that talent is increasing as the market improves. So how do you manage a growing company in a growing market with a limited supply of talent?
Deconstruct your business
First, deconstruct your business into consistent tasks and codify. Determine the essential, consistent tasks of running a successful business and how they fit together. Once tasks are defined, set up systems and procedures to ensure the completion of each task. Outline what you need and the staff needs to accomplish it.
As your company encounters obstacles and develops solutions, document best practices and standardize your processes and procedures for those scenarios or similar scenarios. Proven processes and procedures allow you to be more structured, effective, and productive, ultimately saving resources and money.
Business is constantly evolving, so be prepared to constantly evolve as well. And although procedures are necessary for handling various situations, flexibility is also an important aspect for managing growth—so it is a balancing act.
Know your business and find the most effective way to gather, enter and extract useful information. Determine the key metrics in all phases of your business and develop processes to consolidate them. The data can assist you in evaluating not only current programs and outcomes, but also future purchases, hires, areas for improvement, trends and so much more.
Above all, the data has to mean something. Who is going to see the metrics, and what are they going to do with them? Determine what you want to get out of the data and how often you are going to review it.
Hire the talent you need and establish a culture of teamwork
Once you have deconstructed your business, narrow down tasks that are manageable for specific parties according to their unique skills. Only assign team members tasks they can effectively handle. Empower your employees to make decisions for their control areas, and cross-train them in order to provide advancement opportunities.
Those who succeed in the building industry have drive, talent and the ability to find creative solutions. We like to say they also have "patient ambition." They can see the path for advancement, but understand they may need to be patient in their ascent. They understand that the surest and quickest path to advancement is to use their creativity to advance and grow the whole company.
To ramp up new hires, foster a team environment with regular meetings, correspondence and feedback. Recognize each employee's strengths, reward them fairly based on performance and provide mentoring and training opportunities. Support continuous improvement through education. Formalize a training process and encourage the involvement of your senior management.
When you have the right people on board, drive the company through effective communication. With guidance, inspiration, regular meetings and correspondence, your workforce will quickly become an experienced and reliable team.
Technological systems can sort, sift and consolidate data, but we must feed the system with the right information; otherwise, garbage in, garbage out.
During the deconstruction process, management determines what processes, procedures and tasks are necessary for success and then moves on to finding the technology to fit the company's needs.
Off-the-shelf programs often don't fit a company's needs. While many appear to have just about every bell and whistle out there, others are too simplistic and can't track the tasks and metrics determined in the deconstruction process. A mix of customized off-the-shelf software and self-generated programs often works best to ensure seamlessness. Don't chase the latest and greatest to say you have it—it has to advance your capabilities.
Properly applied technology can assist in bridging the gap between training and experience. With new systems and equipment, the building industry can attract additional talent and decrease training time.
Streamlining processes, hiring new talent and utilizing technology are things you should be doing anyway—but leveraging these simple steps can have an enormous impact on your growth in this new economic atmosphere. Make sure your business isn't getting left behind by others in the building industry who are taking advantage of these growth opportunities.
About the Author
As a 37 year veteran of the construction industry, Jeff Hunt provides strategic leadership as the President of EHC, Inc. in Naples, FL. For more information on Hunt and EHC, Inc., visit www.ehcconstruction.com.