Help is a click away

Help.

There's a lot of it available out there... for you... and much of it is free. Help with your marketing, business management, and ways to stay competitive, cash flow positive, and ahead of the pack.

And in this economy, why not take advantage of it ! 

1. Network organizations

Business after hours, Chamber of Commerce meetings, BNI or similar business networks. Rotary, Jaycees, and other service organizations. Trade organizations like NARI, NAHB, CHBA (for you Canadians). Get involved, and get the word out on your business. Associate with those that are going through similar experiences, and brainstorm with them. Many of these folks are willing to share their advice and help you out. Hey, you may just shake hands with your next customer.

2. SCORE big time

I came across SCORE the other day (Service Corps of Retired Executives http://www.score.org/). Here's what they say about themselves:

SCORE "Counselors to America's Small Business" is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide. SCORE is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

SCORE is headquartered in Herndon, VA and Washington, DC and has 370 chapters throughout the United States and its territories, with 11,200 volunteers nationwide. Both working and retired executives and business owners donate time and expertise as business counselors. SCORE was founded in 1964.

We are America's premier source of free and confidential small business advice for entrepreneurs.

Wow, I'd take them up on that one in a heartbeat. Just look at all the business templates that are available for your small but growing business:

http://www.score.org/template_gallery.html

3. Small Business Administration

The Small Business Adminstration (http://www.sba.gov/), or SBA, helps Americans start, build and grow businesses. Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States.

Not only can they provide you with business planning, services, financing, marketing and a host of other tools, they can also help you find local State resources.

4. Economic Development Administration

Each State has one, and they all want YOUR business. They want you to succeed in their State. And they provide the tools to help you: access to capital, technical assistance, educational programs, peer groups and referrals to others in your situation who may be able to help out. Find your State's EDA here:

http://www.eda.gov/Resources/StateLinks.xml

5. Free Software Productivity Tools 

There are some great applications out there to make your job, and life, easier. Some of it will also raise you up a few notches in professionalism.

6. Free Website

If you don't have one already, get one. Many free "template" websites exist.

If you subscribe to BuildIT, we'll give you one, and even help you get it set up.

You need a web presence. Your customers want to see what you're made of. And you'll fare much better if you give them a business card with yourname@yourbiz.com on it as opposed to a Gmail, Hotmail, or AOL email address (save those for your personal email - for business, spend a few dollars and get a proper email address that brands your business).

We can help you get a domain (www.yourbiz.com) and an email address yourname@yourbiz.com pretty quick, and for just a few bucks. Call us.

7. BuildIT

OK, time for the shameless self promotion :-)

But seriously, BuildIT is mission critical for many construction businesses that are weathering this financial crisis. This is a productivity tool that keeps you organized, on top of your scheduling, and gives key people visibility into what's happened, and what needs to happen next. Use it right, it will put more time back into your life, and more $$ in your jeans.

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So there you have it, just a sampling of tools and ideas geared to help you achieve more in your business.

Here's to your success !

 Scott Hutchinson
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1

Truth in Advertising!?

Oxymoron is defined as a figure of speech that combines two normally contradictory terms.

Truth. Advertising.

Contradictory?!

Can't say that I'm finding much truth in the advertising I'm coming across lately, maybe I'm just skeptical.

Or, it could be that we talk to 1000's of contractors across the planet, and we hear "the other side".

Flipping through the pages of the most recent Construction Executive magazine (March 2009 Issue), I was drawn, obviously, to the construction software ads. I'm always amused by the claims, and the cut throat competition out there is getting nasty.

I wouldn't say any of these are our competitors. We are a niche software product, for small to mid sized contractors, with a particular focus on construction scheduling, file management (organization) and communications.

But the "big guys" are out for blood.

For instance...

Software A

  • states they're so far ahead of their competition, it's not even fair
  • claims they are the leader in construction management software since the early 80's (was there even software back then?! can't remember, perhaps the VIC-20 or Commodore 64)

Software B

  • warns you to "beware of imposters" - those that offer integrated construction solutions... but apparently don't in B's humble opinion 
  • claims if you use other software besides theirs, you'll be left dead in the water (ouch, this is serious business)

Software C

  • claims to be America's #1 construction accounting software (sorry Canada, and the rest of the world, we're only talking America here)
  • has a pretty picture of the CEO on practically every ad (still trying to figure that one out - I guess he's the guy that's writing huge checks for ad space... with your money!!)

So which of these software companies are telling the truth? And how on earth are you and I going to test any of their claims?

Personally, I have never knowingly spoken to any contractor that has used, or is using any of the aforementioned programs, so I'm not here throwing mud. But I do want to raise the issue of whether you and I are getting the truth in any of these ads (or any others we come across). Because, if we buy something based on a claim that ends up being untrue, well, how would you feel?!

A wise colleage said to me years ago... "The truth is good enough." He followed up with another maxim that "it's only true when it's true for you."

So now for the "truth" about BuildIT.

  • We're web based - nothing to install, nothing to maintain, no software headaches - period.
  • We're small - you call us, you'll speak to one of the owners of the company
  • We have extremely low overhead - your subscription goes to pay us - to build a better product - for you
  • We've been around since 2000, so in "Internet" years, we're old
  • We have never advertised in Construction Executive magazine
  • We generally don't do print advertising - most of our leads (including you most likely) come through the Internet from search
  • We're inexpensive, so you should see a return on investment within the first 30 - 60 days if you get lift off with the program

BuildIT has a great system that has helped many contractors over the years get control of their scheduling. It has helped them get more organized, and thus has been responsible for gaining efficiencies, building profits and avoiding costly mistakes, that if all added up... who knows what that number is. But I'll bet it's a big number collectively.

Recall the sage advice - if you think BuildIT is the best fit, test your claim, and see if it's true for you. Try BuildIT on a monthly basis, and if you don't see massive ROI in the short term, cut it loose... and you haven't sunk $1000's into some bloated software product that promised the world, and made some rather clever, if not misleading, claims.

Keep in mind, according to a recent article in Construction Executive, it's highly unlikely you'll use even 50% of a software product's capabilities... so why pay for the excess!? Determine what you need, what you're highest priorities (must-have's) are, and if they have anything to do with scheduling, file management, or improving communications within your team (and with those outside your organization), then there may be a good fit here with us.

(By the way, notice anything wrong with the compass graphic above!? - remember, "truth in advertising").

See you on the inside!

 Scott Hutchinson
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1

Essential Services

At the present time, we are in the midst of economic turmoil.

Record job losses.

GM on the brink of bankruptcy.

Housing starts are at a crawl, and forclosure auctioneers have never been busier. 

Some very telling trends are underway as well:

  • grocery store "house" brands are in demand (lower prices rule) 
  • garage sale advertisements on "Craigs List" are up 100% over this time last year
  • more folks are buying frozen dinners in leiu of going out to restaurants
  • "free" is in, whether it's clipping coupons, or using complimentary Internet access at public libraries
  • Netflix memberships are growing rapidly (cheaper to rent movies than go to the theatre)

 

In these times, we are compelled to take stock of our "out-go" as our "in-come" is reduced or threatened in some way.

That means cutting back on the things that were nice to have... but not essential.

So what are essential services, when it comes to contracting busineses?

Anything that keeps you IN business, AND, keeps you PROFITABLE - that would be a good place to start.

Construction software systems are the backbone to many solid businesses out there that are weathering the storm. But not all construction software is "essential". Some of it is "bloated", and some is just plain too expensive.

We're getting reports back from the field, customers of brand "X" software, who say they "can't afford it" anymore. They may like some of the features of brand "X" but the monthly, per project, or annual maintenance costs are causing them to hemorrhage financially. 

Of course, these companies admit they still need something to manage their job scheduling, stay organized, and keep their people (employees, subcontractors, clients) in the loop. Some of these folks are seeing savings of $2K or more just by switching over to BuildIT.

We have the right combination of features - the "essential" ones - those that keep you organized and in control. Knowing where you are, what you need to do next, and have your key folks not "miss a beat" on the jobs you have running concurrently - that will keep the ball rolling in the right direction. Fewer mistakes happen. Margins are protected (you're not dipping into them to fix problems caused by the #1 issue in construction - miscommunication). Profits happen.

BuildIT also has a cost structure that can't be beat in the marketplace.

It means these customers get the job done, create income with much less "out-go", and enjoy the profits they worked hard to earn.

This could be your story !

BuildIT - the "essential service" for contractors.

Take it out for a spin, and see what the buzz is all about.

 Scott Hutchinson
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1