The UK construction sector is one of those industries. However, there are some cycles that are reasonably predictable in construction – such as demand for new offices as the economy goes through boom and bust, and the clear correlation between new build numbers and house prices.
For many small construction companies, it’s a challenge to find the time and funds to plan ahead and prepare for these industry cycles – and the precise nature of their effect is almost impossible to predict. Nonetheless, it remains possible to futureproof your construction company in other ways, helping you improve its resilience to market changes and shocks.
#1 Don’t sit still
Past success doesn’t guarantee future success – just because your business is running smoothly now, it doesn’t mean you can count on the same income for years to come. Always be on the lookout for industry changes and trends that might damage your income - or provide growth opportunities. Keep an eye on your competitors and periodically check on their marketing strategies and which parts of the business they’ve invested in. By having this information at hand, you can better make decisions on the future direction of your company.
#2 Invest in employees (and subcontractors)
The current construction skills shortage is taking its toll on the sector, but even with the current government push to boost the number of apprentices and encourage young people to enter the industry, any positive impact from these moves will take years to emerge. If you can’t afford to train your current staff, think of other ways to keep them engaged. Engaged employees remain motivated and will work harder for your business, and will be more likely to stay on board if things take a turn for the worse.
Additionally, in the midst of rising labour costs, keep your subcontractors onside by paying them promptly and reliably. They may even accept below market rates from you in the future if they know you’ll treat them well and pay on time.
#3 Know your brand values
An effective way to set your business apart from competitors is to define your brand values and shout about them. Choose three words that showcase what your business is about and what you stand for. This will help you steer your marketing strategy and keep the heart of your business intact as it grows and evolves.
If your construction company specialises in a certain type of work and it accounts for the bulk of your revenue, consider taking steps to diversify your business. If your primary source of income takes a huge hit (due to an external shock), don’t let that spell the end for your business.
#5 Don’t allow nostalgia and inertia to interfere
It takes less time and energy to keep business processes the same than it does to change and improve them. Instead of letting inertia dictate the terms of your business, evaluate the costs and benefits of process changes in the long term as well the short term. Any immediate disruption caused by a new accounting system or office may easily be offset by the long term benefits.
If upgrading your construction software is a task that you’ve been putting off for a while, read our seven step guide to the upgrade process – and give us a call if you’d like to start futureproofing your company with a new software package that can evolve alongside your needs.