If you’re in the construction industry for some time, you might have probably heard the maxim “time is money,” and that phrase can’t resonate stronger than among concrete contractors. Since contractors bid on jobs competitively and with enthusiasm, profit margins, in general, tend to be very low. With this, general contractors and subcontractors alike look for other ways in which they can boost their revenue, which makes on-site and workplace productivity a major force to success.
Productivity in construction, against popular belief, is not defined by dollars as it is by its hours, which places efficiency at the top of the priority list in managing construction. If your team can complete particular job hours— maybe even days— ahead of what was previously projected, it translates to more money back when all is said and done. However, it is still vital not to compromise quality just for the sake of finishing ahead of the projected timeline.
Now, it brings us to the question: how can concrete contractors boost their profits and business outcomes in an industry where low-margin profits are the norm?
Read on below to learn more.
1. Abolish Rework With Improved Collaboration
A streamlined, automated workflow is ideal for concrete contractors, but it’s not always what happens most of the time. Rework, for example, is commonplace because of the lack of communication and collaboration among general contractors, subcontractors, and sometimes trade contractors. Some research estimates state that construction rework costs can add up to 5% of the total contract price on a project.
Minimizing— or eliminating— rework will significantly help concrete contractors make more profit. Even for the rework that may not occur, communication still needs to be clear, concise, and practical. Up and coming construction technology and tools that can help streamline collaboration to minimize the impact of expensive rework:
a. Project Management Software
It’s common for stakeholders of a construction project to go back and forth and make unexpected changes in the plans. When these communications and scheduling are paper-based or rely on outdated platforms like Excel and email, manual mistakes and missing data and information are likely to occur.
In our current times, concrete contractors need project management support for construction platforms to help streamline these changes, update documents, and adjust team schedules. Connected construction tools are also ideal when requesting information, or RFIs, as you can access them anytime, anywhere. The greatest value of making sure that these tools are mobile-friendly is that they allow the team members to make their respective markups and changes accordingly from the field on their phones or tablets. This will enable quick alterations and keeps construction teams abreast of the latest project status changes in real-time.
b. Construction Crew Management
To improve revenue, rework communication needs to be done efficiently and effectively. That’s where construction crew management software that provides a central space to collaborate can come in handy.
Whether it’s the office, trailer, or the job site, these emerging construction tools can benefit general contractors, concrete contractors, subcontractor teams, and all other vital stakeholders the ability to be on one page and manage the project. When software tools provide a single digital location to collaborate, it reduces the risk of tying concrete work to outdated specifications and the significant amount of time spent on ineffective correspondences.
2. Enhance Productivity With Transparency
One of the significant infamous factors on concrete jobs is lost time. It often involves a lack of information, missing files and documents, waiting for answers from site engineers or concrete workers are being shifted. The waiting game in construction translates to lost productivity, with tasks being put behind the target schedule.
The answer is this: Motivate field workers to access detailed plans and documents, which leads to better decision-making and less time spent waiting on other people. Emerging construction tools can help facilitate teams better when partnered transparency. Such platforms allow contractors to document key pour locations, foundation plans, and sequencing details by simply uploading vital photos and marking up plans.
One standard tool that can pay big dividends in construction is Building Information Modeling aka BIM). Such modeling strategy helps enhance productivity by increasing the ability to prepare accurate construction drawings. Specifically, rather than the foreman and site engineers manually making these drawings, a BIM technician can easily divide tasks management into smaller parts, making it more convenient for the rest of the team to focus on their assigned roles.
3. Hope For The Best, But Expect The Worst
There’s always a high likelihood for unexpected weather conditions to throw a concrete job. As we are all aware, concrete is a building material highly affected by natural elements like heat, cold, and climate. Even the littlest weather abnormality can put a concrete job behind schedule while field workers wait out for the right time and working conditions.
While it’s critical to pay close attention to the weather forecast so you have a general idea of the on-site conditions that will be unsuitable for a specific work (and plan accordingly, which may involve buffering in extra job time), it’s also essential to have a backup plan you can refer to.
Another significant benefit of construction scheduling software is that concrete contractors can adjust on the fly to accommodate schedule changes for the intangibles, like the weather. With the right scheduling software, you don’t have to worry about drawing a new concrete pouring schedule, as the dates can be easily adjusted in the software whenever and wherever.
4. Invest On Your Current And Future Crew
Losses and profits in concrete contracting are made in the field. What is the key to performing this and delivering in the field? It is none other than the workers themselves.
With that said, to increase your profits on concrete projects, you will need to work with a high-quality team. Working with cement is complicated enough— way more than it seems, and adding more problems for the company is not the way to move forward.
That’s why hiring— and retaining— competitive workers is essential in cement construction. And once you hire them, it’s vital to continue investing in their holistic growth so that it’s a mutually beneficial professional relationship. Invest in your employees’ happiness and development, always be in the know with the latest technologies that can make work better and more enjoyable, and provide opportunities for training and seminars. We highly encourage you to keep an open-door policy with your team, as you can heighten productivity through transparency, too— just as we have mentioned in a few sections earlier.
Furthermore, consider technology to be a long-term investment to aid your company. It’s good that your workers know exactly what you expect for them, on both a per-project basis and on a daily basis. Construction management technology allows staff to do more tasks with less time and can keep field teams up to date with the offsite situation and make unexpected real-time changes seamlessly. It will also enable the entire team to view standardized reports simultaneously, thereby allowing for a more detailed understanding of factors like standards, performance, KPIs, and other elements that need to be addressed as the company grows as well.
5. Incorporate Inventory Tracking
Do you know precisely when and where you’re receiving building materials? Inventory management can be essential to the success of a concrete project, and the absence of proper tracking is a common frustration among cement professionals. This is especially true if laydown space is short, as poorly tracked deliveries can lead to significant headaches if there is no room to safely and adequately store the building materials.
To improve inventory tracking in concrete construction, one solution to consider is attaching sensors connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) into the construction operations. Data gathered from these sensors have the potential to track deliveries, concrete supplier trucks so that you have an accurate idea of when the inventory items are set to arrive and can plan accordingly, hence reducing profit-killing downtime. Inventory management software can also help document the dates, items, and quantities that the company owns for their peace of mind.
Proper planning is even more vital if pre-cast concrete is being used on a project. That’s because pre-cast concrete needs extensive pre-planning so that deliveries and installation are appropriately timed. If there’s confusion when this delivery is coming, the overall timing can be thrown off entirely, bringing the job profitability down with it.
6. Stay In With The Current Concrete Trends
Finally, concrete contractors should always be in about current and fresh information about the cement field of work trends. With the rate at which construction technology is changing, cement contractors should always put the finger on the pulse of the industry.
Like said before, revenue margins for concrete contractors are traditionally slim. That’s why it’s essential to carefully consider and practices and technology that can help increase productivity, and at the same time, profitability.
When time equals money, you and your team can’t afford to be wasting it.