Construction has picked up in Ashland, Ore., where I live. For the last year or so contractors have been struggling to deal with the demand for their services. I walk a lot and tend to adjust my route to fit where the active sites are. I am still a construction junkie and likely always will be.

One new home project has some eight-foot high forming almost done and ready to receive the concrete. The forming is plywood with snap-ties and whalers, quite a substantial and simple system that is very good when done right. And the workers have done a good job, taking the time needed to make sure the pour will go well.

Seeing this made me think of how many contractors focus more forethought and effort in making it so there projects go well than they put into figuring out what their businesses would look like if they were going well.  What is the equivalent of having done really good forming for your business?

“Good forming” for your business would include:

  • A businessplan: It should address the following: knowing the type of person we want to be working for; the locales in whcih these people can be found; the work we are skilled at and is wanted or needed by the people we want to be working for.

  • A budget for the upcomingyear: Do you do most of your projects after having prepared an estimate?  Why not do the same for your business?

  • An organization chart: With the forming there is a necessary hierarchy about what happens first and what comes next. In your company is there a clear line of authority so that every person knows who their direct reports are and who he or she reports to?

  • A marketing plan and budget: How can you have the desired amount of business without figuring out what that is, what activities you need to engage in to get the leads needed, and how much doing all that will cost?  How is it that the concrete forming on the site I saw is “correct” unless the workers are referencing the plans?

We are coming up on 2013. There is still plenty of time to get some or all of what is mentioned above in place.  The question you have to ask yourself is, "What do you want the stripped concrete [your business’ performance] to look like as of the end of December 2013?" If you don’t want to have to use a jackhammer to shape it after the fact then get busy on the forming right now! —Paul Winans, a veteran remodeler, now  works as a facilitator forRemodelers Advantage, and as a consultant to remodeling business owners. Contact him