The Jazz Guide to Putting Swing into Your Construction Business
Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and a slew of other artists have recorded the iconic jazz hit “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got that Swing.)”
“When Duke Ellington’s ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got that Swing)’ was released on the Brunswick Records label on February 2, 1932, it was not the beginning of the Swing Era - Jazz fans would not see that for another three years. What the song did do was introduce the word ‘swing’ into the popular lexicon, although Ellington was not really trying to do that. He said that ‘swing’ was simply ‘Harlem for rhythm.’” Found on the website Songfacts.
Offset the Tension of Deadlines with Rhythm
Quieting the storm of multiple deadlines in the world of construction contracting is the soothing power of rhythm. It means you and each member of your team know what needs to be done and when so that your construction business can run smoothly.
Rhythms help create a system for success. They reinforce good habits, provide balance, increase stability, and furnish a predictable structure for decision-making.
On the other hand, clarity concerning when or how often things must happen is lost when processes are out of rhythm. Remember that rhythmic systems run well-functioning construction businesses, and people run systems.
Establishing rhythmic systems for yourself and your employees can offset the tension of deadlines.
Keep the Band on Beat
If one system or person is offbeat, it throws off efficiency, productivity, quality, and potentially the success of your construction business.
One way to establish how important rhythm is in your business is to set the schedule for in-house meetings. Let your employees know that rhythm is part of your culture. Plus, setting the schedule is an example of one way to go about creating rhythm.
Think in terms of how frequently each type of meeting must take place.
Establishing a cadence in your meetings allows everyone to be on the same page, at the same time, and playing the same tune.
Use Deadlines to Inform Rhythm
Another way to establish rhythm is to start with the end in mind. When does this project, task, or assignment have to be completed? Again, think in terms of frequency. Some things, like a building project, have only one deadline. Other duties must be accomplished on a regular (rhythmic) schedule.
Perhaps the most straightforward example of a deadline informing the rhythm is the day the feds want their piece of the action. Filing your taxes can be a nightmare or simply the last step in the rhythm established in your business.
Weekly – refresh and update financial data; review and reconcile transactions; record and categorize expenses; record payments received; invoice clients; review employee timesheets
Monthly – pay vendors; if not using cloud-based accounting software, back up financial data; bank and credit card reconciliation reports; review WIP reports
Quarterly – prepare and file quarterly payroll taxes; prepare and file sales taxes (in most states); prepare and review quarterly reports; review items such as insurance, retirement plans, and employee compensation; update inventory accounts
Annually – prepare year-end financial statements; complete tax returns
Note: In the above example, we take many of these items off the plate of our clients, work with them to review others, and free up their time to accomplish the other necessary tasks. For example, while we do prepare year-end financial statements, we leave the task of preparing tax returns to others.
Rhythm as a Tool
When your team knows what they need to provide, by when, and what qualities or details must be included, they are like a well-rehearsed band ready to perform.
Putting rhythm in place:
Provides sufficient oversight and control of complex processes
Allows regular tasks to be delivered consistently
Contributes order and structure
Brings an opportunity for contingency planning
Assures customers, clients, or GCs
You’ve gained a powerful tool when you know all the aspects of your construction business will be rhythmically carried out daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually.
Getting in the Swing
Putting all your systems and processes into play with the power of rhythm makes it easier for you, your team, and others.
Example one: When your vendors or subs know they must provide invoices by a specific date (or wait until next month to be paid,) they are assured they will be paid on time.
Example two: Your service providers can better complete their tasks when they receive requested information on a rhythmic and timely basis.
Example three: Your clients, customers, and GCs are more satisfied with what you provide when they realize your ability to perform tasks reliably within a structured cadence.
Putting the tool of rhythm to use in your construction business requires the use of other essential tools. They are:
Constant improvement mindset
Answering the Question – an example
Recently a general contractor asked an important question. His dismay was apparent when he said, “The subs I’m hiring ask for money constantly while ignoring the contract, even wanting to be paid in full before the final walk-through with the customer.” He admitted that he often pays the subs, then ends up doing the work himself to satisfy his customer. He said, “It is really frustrating.”
Tonya, the owner of The Profit Constructors, responded to him with this answer, “At our accounting firm, our tagine is We Help You Run With the Big Dogs. And a huge piece of that for the GCs we work with is helping them establish and maintain good trade relations through well-established and well-running cash flow and strict rhythms and cycles. Meaning we tell trades exactly when their invoices are due (NO exceptions,) and then we consistently pay on time every time. A little bit of that and trades love you because they know you are managing the business well, and they will never not get paid. But it takes enforcement of the cycles and not making exceptions.”
Reflection: Which necessary process used in your construction business lacks rhythm? What action will you take to implement rhythm in that process?
Ambitious Construction Contractors look to The Profit Constructors to provide advocacy in dealing with:
Clients and customers
Employees and subcontractors
Vendors and service providers
Working with The Profit Constructors gives Construction Contractors the means to organize their operations in ways that help them:
Ready for action? Or want to know more? Get in touch today to schedule a complimentary discovery call. 866-629-7735