Since our “bubble” collapsed in 2008 the Construction market has become more volatile, especially the housing market. If we look at just 2014 so far, June housing starts dropped more than 9% from May while building permits were down 4.2%. Along comes July and housing starts shot up 22.9% with applications for building permits increasing 8.1%! August rolls in with starts down more than 14% from July.
Now, overall it continues to get better but with this type of fluctuation, how do Construction Businesses plan for the future?
Technology can help in this case. No matter which way the market goes, good Takeoff Software can be a huge part of your Business Survival Plan. Look at the needs – if the market is slow, you need to be able to do a good, accurate takeoff as quickly as possible in order to get more bids out and win a better percentage of those bids. You will be competing against companies, large and small, that are Survivors. You can’t afford to take an extra day to get the bid done because that starts the backlog – and in a month you find that you have done 10 takeoffs where you could have done 20. The other 10 went without you submitting a bid or, worse, with the submission of a “Guesstimate” assembled at the last moment that loses you money. Accuracy becomes more of a factor here too – under or overbidding in a tight market is going to lose money either from lack of contracts or underestimated material and time expenditures.
If the market improves for a month, you will want to accelerate the number of bids you output in order to take advantage of the increased revenue while it is available. The software does the same thing as it does in a slow market, but for vastly different reasons. You need to use your time as wisely as possible since now you are faced with more work, hiring extra people, coordinating the increase in material deliveries and still getting more takeoffs done. In a fast-paced environment accuracy must be maintained and good takeoff software will help you do just that. You should be able to arrange your takeoffs in a way that makes ordering and delivery easier, have your cut logic ready and printed out and not have to enter new items from scratch every time you turn around.
One last thing – I cringe (yes, actually cringe) when I hear “I’m too busy to learn something new right now”. Seriously? Not only does this not bode well for a profession where codes, methodology and materials can change frequently, but it is also a bit short sighted. Why not take advantage of technology that can actually help take some of the load off of you? Computers, software, digitizers, digitized plans and the like are not only here to stay, but they create an elevated playing field that you really, really need to move up to. A good look at the learning curve in PrebuiltML, for instance, will show that the initial investment in doing the supplied walkthrough will be about 2 hours. At the end of that time the basics are in place and even the Sales Guy can do a 38×38 foundation plan including pony walls, pier pads, LVL beams, Joists and Hangers in 21 minutes. This includes ship lists, cut logic an export to Excel and a Framing Layout.
written by: Lonnie Keplar
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