Starting your own construction business is no easy task. Even if you master a trade, get the proper certifications, and build the confidence to go out on your own, you’re still at the beginning.
You have to come up with a business plan, handle state and local registration, and develop a solid marketing strategy. Then there’s the long-term effort of building your reputation and establishing yourself as the person or team who gets the job done right.
Still, it’s worth it. Construction is one of the most valuable industries in the world. Beyond simply being satisfying work, this industry generates enormous revenue – around 7% of all US GDP. Despite the twists, turns, and uncertainty that have become the norm in 2020, many still expect growth in both home improvement and commercial construction.
Our mission is to empower construction, home maintenance, and outdoor services providers like you. We’re proud to be one of the most trusted invoicing apps in your industry. We’re excited to share inspiring stories from Invoice2go subscribers that offer useful takeaways you can take and apply to your own business.
Meet Jason Ramsey – a flooring expert and long-time Invoice2go subscriber. We’ve been lucky enough to watch his business become a leader in Orange County – an area known for Disneyland, sunny beaches, and some of the most beautiful California homes. He’s also established an impressive online presence. His YouTube channel has more than 100k subscribers.
We met up with Jason in early 2020 and chatted on the phone with him again post-quarantine. During our discussions, he shared 6 key takeaways that help his business stand out. Read on to learn from his expertise:
Here it is — six things successful construction companies do differently from Jason’s company to yours. Learn how he built his flooring business from the ground up.
1) They develop a specialty
“It’s paramount to specialize in something.”
For Jason, a California native, small business runs in the family. His father ran a company, and for Jason, going out on his own was a natural step.
As a teen, Jason began learning his trade. He started working for various contractors but quickly decided he wanted to become his own boss. By the age of 20, Jason had established his own flooring company with a couple of other people.
Now, decades later, Jason is the go-to flooring contractor in one of California’s most sought-after areas. Still, he’s by no means complacent. Although undoubtedly an expert, Jason continues with product knowledge courses and continuing education so he can stay up to date on all the current installation products and industry standards.
Jason emphasized that one of the best ways to stand out from the competition is to specialize early on. For him and his company, that means hardwood, tile, and carpet, showers, and countertops.
His advice is supported by research in the construction industry. Being a jack-of-all-trades is usually not the best approach to build a successful business. Companies that specialize tend to be more organized and get paid more because of their perceived expertise.
The key takeaway: If your company hasn’t chosen a specialty, it may be time to consider one. It may feel like you’re losing work opportunities if you narrow the types of jobs you do. Still, finding a construction niche can lead you to greater prosperity.
2) They master how to run a small business
“You also need to develop a wide variety of skills, from accounting to marketing to advertising.”
Like virtually all small business owners, Jason’s early days came with their share of challenges. In our discussion, he reflected on the difficulties of making sure his truck payment, rent, and other bills were paid on time.
He recalled, “It’s an enormous challenge to live paycheck to paycheck while trying to keep your business alive and make a name for yourself.”
He also shared that, “When you start out, you think you think you know what you’re doing, but there are so many unknown things.” He explains that even if you’re already highly skilled at your trade, there are still many essential business skills to learn.
New business owners might not realize they also need to develop a wide variety of skills. They need to become adept at managing cash flow, customer service, marketing, and advertising to stay competitive.
Jason shared an example of a strategy he uses to win more business. When he goes to a customer’s house, they usually ask him how fast he can send an estimate. Jason then goes back to his truck and immediately populates the document using Invoice2go, a Bill.com company. He says that being first to submit an estimate to a potential client often wins him the job.
Key takeaway: It’s not enough to just be great at your trade. Building a solid reputation requires continuous work in the development of business skills and strategy. Creating a system to stay organized with accounting, marketing, and customer service will help you tower above the competition.
To learn more about ways your Invoice2go app can help simplify your accounting.
3) They create a professional online image and emphasize personalized customer care
“That’s one of the proudest moments in my business. . .”
Jason, no doubt, pours a tremendous amount of effort into customer care. From the moment you log onto his website, you see friendly, professional messaging. The opening sentences read, “You’re probably thinking to yourself, ugh, I have to look for a flooring contractor. Sounds like fun right? Haha, well hey I feel ya.”
His Yelp page is also impressive, with virtually all 5-star reviews and customers raving about his work. Beyond the glowing testimonials, you can see that Jason responds to each of them personally and thoughtfully. Similarly, if you visit Jason’s YouTube channel, it’s also immediately apparent how passionate he is about his work.
When asked about when he feels happiest in his business, Jason recalled this story. A family was living on concrete for six months due to ongoing problems with prior flooring contractors. The wife was pregnant, and everyone in the family was frustrated with their bad luck.
Enter Jason and his team. They get the job done in just two weeks. After months of discomfort in their own home, the family could go back to living normally again.
Jason described the family’s reaction after his team finished the job. He could see the looks of deep appreciation on their faces. They were thrilled and energized by having comfort restored in their home. “That’s one of the proudest moments in my business that really stands out,” he explained.
The key takeaway: Excellence at your trade combined with genuine customer care is vital. If you can deliver quality work and establish rapport with your clients, you’ll stand out and build long-term relationships.
To read more about building great customer relationships, check out this blog.
4) They seek out mentors
“It’s super important to seek out mentors.”
When asked what’s been instrumental in his success, Jason answered with one word: mentors.
From his perspective, there are two ways that people learn. The first is to acquire knowledge from someone more experienced than you. You then apply this knowledge and avoid pitfalls on your path to success. The other way is the hard way. You make mistakes, go through frustrations and setbacks, then learn how to do it right after these hardships.
Jason offers this advice: “Find someone who’s already done what you want to do and ask them questions.” He explains that most successful people love to share their expertise. So many are afraid of inquiring with the proper authority, but he strongly believes they shouldn’t be. Successful people often enjoy explaining how they’ve achieved something.
But there’s more than just asking questions and listening – you have to apply what you learn. Jason explains, “Really pay attention and follow in their footsteps so that you don’t have to go through as many of the mistakes and difficult experiences.” There will always be challenges, but a mentor can save you from some hardship or financial loss.
Again, Jason isn’t alone. Leaders in the construction industry highlight the value of finding a mentor. Lessons learned from other successful people in the construction industry can be some of your most valuable education.
The key takeaway: if you don’t have a mentor, seek one out. While it may feel uncomfortable at first to reach out, many successful people love to share their knowledge and will gladly help you. Applying their advice can be one of the most effective ways to avoid mistakes and overcome roadblocks.
5) They never assume they’ve “made it”
“You have to have that humility, be thankful, and never give up.”
Jason shared his thoughts about success and how you have to accept that the future is always unknown. In his words, “The moment you felt you made your business is successful. Just when you think that – you get knocked down.”
Even when business is going well, it’s essential to stay focused and not let it get to your head. Jason explains, “You have to keep that humility, be thankful, and never give up.” There have been moments where he’s felt successful, but they’re all short-lived.
He also acknowledged there will also be hard times running your business when you’ll be ready to throw in the towel. But the human spirit and the drive to be your own boss continue propelling you forward.
Other experts agree that enthusiasm for the future, persistence despite challenges, and openness to change are critical factors in determining a small business’s success.
The key takeaway:
Ups and downs are inevitable in any business. It’s essential to take them in stride. When you have a moment of success, stay humble. When you’re down and feel like giving up, remember that situation can be temporary.
6) They focus intensely on quality in every aspect of their work
“Ultimately, my goal, plan, and challenge is figuring out how to clone myself.”
Jason explained that one of the main ways he’s earned his success is by being highly detail-oriented. He told us, “I want things done a certain way. I know from experience what works and what doesn’t.”
When asked about what he wants for the future, Jason told us that he wants to continue learning and possibly hire someone with his identical level of passion. He joked, “If I can clone myself, I can be more places at once. I can make sure my quality my standards are kept up.”
He explained that if he could find the right person to maintain his standards on-site, he’d like to shift his focus to advertising or marketing. However, that’s yet to happen.
Jason explained it like this, “I just take it day by day, keep the standards up, and treat every job as unique. I treat every customer like they’re the only customer. I keep rinsing and repeating until someday I can find someone.”
The key takeaway:
Few people are truly dedicated to excellence. If you can establish this habit, you will be rare, highly valued, and will naturally emerge as a leader.
For information about hiring the right employees, check out this blog.
At Invoice2go, we’re proud to support subscribers like Jason and are excited to see his company continue to grow. It is our passion to empower construction workers and simplify your administrative tasks so that you have more time to focus on what matters most. We hope you found Jason’s story inspiring and his advice useful.
If you’re interested in connecting with other construction professionals and learning more tips and tricks, consider joining our Facebook group, Advice2go for Construction Professionals USA.