contractor break

Tips For Contractors To Maximize Downtime

For many with a contractor business, downtime means less work and a loss of income. The ebbs and flows that come with this type of work often mean very busy times followed by much less work. Season changes and other aspects that are out of our control, can cause work to slow down. Yet, on the bright side, this downtime can be a great opportunity for those with a contractor business to get ahead of the competition. Here are a few ways to make the most of any downtime and come back even stronger.

Use the Downtime to Take Care of Your Equipment & Vehicle

Those with a contractor business know that their equipment and vehicle are the foundation of their work. But when the day is filled with multiple jobs week after week, you may find that you are harder on your vehicle and equipment than you care to be. Use the downtime to conduct a variety of inspections on your vehicle and equipment. You can perform any needed repairs and maintenance, so you are ready when business picks up again. The downtime is also a good time to consider if you need new equipment or more equipment. You may find that it is time to get a new vehicle. Evaluating your tools and fleet can help grow your business in the long run. A few questions to ask are: Are my tools slowing my work down? Would newer ones help me do my job better and more efficiently? Is my vehicle safe? Do I need a bigger one with more features to help me run my contractor business from my vehicle more efficiently? Start thinking about these questions and then use this time to work on the best solutions.

Update Your Licenses, Certifications, and/or Registration During the Downtime

If you have a contractor business, you know you need the proper license(s) to do your job legally. You should always keep your certifications, licenses, and registrations in a safe place, so they are easily accessible, and you know exactly where to find them when needed. Take a look at your documents and be certain they are all up to date. If they are, will they need to be updated soon? You might as well use this time to do these errands before getting busy again. Proper construction registration and licensing is not only required by law, but it is also offers a significant competitive advantage. As a Fairmarket Contractor, you are required to have valid licenses, certifications, and registrations. We thoroughly check during your two-week vetting period. This builds credibility with your clients and trust so you can win over more business. The more certifications you have, the less downtime you’ll have – even during the “slow season” because you will have an in-demand contractor business.

Review Your Contractor Business Insurance Coverage

The nature of your contractor business means that you may typically require several types of insurance. These are both advisable and often required by law. For example, depending on the size of your contractor business, you may require workers compensation insurance, general liability insurance, umbrella liability insurance, and of course insurance for your vehicle. Professional liability insurance is also a good idea to have. Use the downtime to contact your insurance agent to discuss your options. Conducting a review of your coverage can determine if you have the right insurance packages for you. If you foresee any changes in the immediate future to your contractor business, discuss those with your insurance agent. Give thorough details about your business so you get the best policy for you and make adjustments if necessary. Your goal should be to have the right coverage while also having the best prices. Depending on the amount of downtime you have, you may want to use this time to do some comparison shopping.

Do a Safety Check of Your Contractor Business

Speaking of insurance, you can never be too safe. Sure, you have workers compensation and accident coverage, but avoiding the opportunity to need them in the first place will keep your premiums low. Use the downtime to conduct a safety check of all your equipment and do extra safety training if needed. Create a checklist for you and your team to perform on their equipment and vehicles. You could do a Zoom or Skype call with your employees to discuss safety procedures and answer any of their questions. Often those with a contractor business don’t do a safety check far enough. They may do it at the beginning of their business and then years pass before they do another. Additionally, they may assume their employees know the correct safety procedures, when they actually don’t. If you’ve added new equipment, tools, machinery or vehicles, it could definitely be time for a refresher course. Take this downtime when everyone is working less hours to truly ensure that everyone is on the same page with their safety.

You should be meeting all Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements to keep everyone safe – including yourself. Remember to go over task specific training and on-site training needed. The on-site training can be done online or make a note of it and go over the training when you can schedule everyone to meet on-site. Be sure you are sticking to the strict OSHA guidelines and meeting the safety regulations for your industry.

Expand Your Skills During the Downtime

Do you typically work on landscaping or various types of indoor and outdoor flooring?  Perhaps you are a plumber or roofer? Whatever contractor business you have, there’s always an opportunity to expand your skills. Use this downtime to learn a new trade, brush up on new advances in the industry or renew your license with continuing education. This is the perfect time to complete the requirements for gaining credits for continuing education. It’s also a fantastic time to develop new skills and discover new talents. Downtime can be an exceptional opportunity to try something you haven’t done before so you can add new options to your contractor business.

If you manage a team in your contractor business, then use this downtime to make sure everyone else under you has renewed their licenses as well. The more qualified your team, the greater opportunities for jobs. The Associated General Contractors of America offers a plethora of online training courses including everything from project management to supervisory training. You may find these helpful as your business grows.  

Optimize the Downtime to Review Your Hiring Needs

Owning a contractor business means you’re only as strong as your team. Use the downtime to forecast sales for the upcoming months. Based on the information, you can decide if you need to do more hiring and training. Perhaps you need more back office help to handle paperwork and training needs. An ongoing shortage of contractors exists so if you think you need to add to your team, now is a great time to do that. Start by creating job descriptions and networking to find the best possible choices for your team. Take the opportunity now and utilize the downtime to do online searches on LinkedIn, trade schools, community colleges, local economic development agencies, and apprenticeship organizations. All of those outlets should help you find potential resources for discovering top workers.

Plan for the Future of Your Contractor Business

Now is the time to set some goals. If you haven’t done that recently, think about what you want to accomplish in the next few months or by the end of the year. These goals should be specific and measurable to help your business grow. Remember to keep the bigger picture in mind despite the slow downtime now. By taking advantage of this free time to consider your goals, you can do some vital long-term thinking – for you and your team, to create a positive and strategic plan for the future.

Assess Your Technology Needs

Fairmarket offers the most unique technology and virtual measurements available. These are important for your contractor business and can give you a competitive edge. But as an individual business owner, you’ll want to think about your own technology needs to help make your business run as efficiently as possible. Perhaps you need a better smartphone? A new computer? Newer tools or apps to help you improve your job. Maybe you need to put systems such as Slack or Trello to have seamless communication with your team. Improving communication between the job site and office can keep your projects on track. Much of this can be done on the Fairmarket dashboard, but if you want to keep records of your own, these apps can be additionally beneficial. Perhaps you need to keep track of billing with software such as Quickbooks? Now is the time to assess what you need to make your job easier and to make you more valuable to your clients.

Take a Look at Your Numbers

Busy contractors often forget to consider their numbers. They get distracted with the actual jobs that need to be performed and forget to consider vital factors. Take a look at how your business has done in the last year. Make sure you are correctly estimating your profits and markets. Look to see that your jobs are not running over their bids. Review all monthly schedules, contracts, and job report costs. Consider a second look at all financial statements to ensure and measure the ultimate success. If you see any recurring issues and challenges such as non-paying or slow-paying customers, create a plan to overcome that.

Consider Applying for Contractor Business Credit

If the downtime is stretched out too far you may need to keep funds flowing in a new way. The downtime may be time to explore business financing options such as with business credit. Don’t wait until you’re stretched then to fund new tools and equipment or pay your employees. When you aren’t struggling, you will be more attractive to a potential lender. Seeking credit before you need it can enable you to get better terms with a higher limit. There are numerous business credits out there to help you fund your contractor business. Many can put money into your back account as soon as the next day. Several offer options for when you have to pay the loan back.

Fairmarket is a great place to find new jobs – even during a slow season or downtime. There are hundreds of opportunities for work in your area as people are consistently seeking qualified contractors like you. Check out the site today and get started working now!

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