6 Tips to Recession-Proof Your Construction Company
The construction industry really took it on the chin during the Great Recession. The number of construction firms fell by nearly 150,000 between 2007 and 2013 and over 2.3 million jobs were lost due to layoffs, early retirement, and workers leaving for greener pastures. Federal Reserve Ch
airman, Jerome Powell, recently said we may already be in a recession due to the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Construction business owners should start looking at ways to recession-proof their construction business now. Even if another recession does not hit as hard as the next one, building a resilient business that can weather any hardship is always a smart move.
Whether it is a recession, a couple of unprofitable projects, subcontractor default, or some other business-ending catastrophe, here are some tips on how to ensure your company’s continued success.
Have Cash on Hand
Squirreling away enough cash to get your company through tough times is a good idea. You do not want to hinder your company’s growth by hoarding cash rather than putting it to work. If work gets scarce you want to have enough reserves to cover your operating expenses and overhead for a few months to supplement any shortfall.
Do not rely on Backlogs
During the last recession, many construction firms saw backlogs of nine to 12 months slowly disappear as projects were put on hold or canceled altogether because no one could get financing. Now is the time to start strategizing on how you will keep work coming in when things get tight; this could mean focusing on one or two niche areas or expanding your current offerings to offer more to your clients.
Keep Your Best People
Construction employment hit a 10-year high last month and has been inching ever closer to prepossession numbers. Despite that, the construction industry is still dealing with a skilled labor shortage. New workers coming into construction do not have the same experience and expertise as the veteran employees lost during the last recession.
If you want your business to survive another economic you are going to need your best workers to get you through. This means offering competitive wages or other incentives and winning enough work to keep them busy.
Know Your Costs
Rising material and labor costs combined with increased project complexity and shorter timelines has resulted in razor-thin profit margins for companies that do not understand their actual project costs, including job costs and overhead costs. Better knowledge and understanding of how much each job costs will lead to better estimates and higher profit margins.
Play to Your Strengths
What sets your company apart from your competition? Is it the quality of work, your ability to deliver projects on time and within budget, or expertise in a niche market? Are there certain types of projects or service areas that are more profitable for your company than others? If work starts to dry up, you’ll want to lean into the type of work that you excel at in order to weather the storm.
If your construction company is already having issues or struggling, a recession is only going to exacerbate those problems and force you to close up shop. Now is the time to work on things like tightening your cash flow, increasing your productivity on projects, and improving how efficiently your company runs.