By Rieva Lesonsky, CEO GrowBiz Media & SmallBizDaily.com
It’s a familiar scenario in family-owned construction businesses: The younger generation is itching to take the lead in the business, but the older generation is reluctant to let go of the reins.
The older generation wants to stick with “the way we’ve always done it,” but the younger generation wants to prove their worth. And when both groups dig in their heels, nothing gets done. When two or three generations are involved in a family business, as often happens in the construction industry, it can be difficult to modernize the business.
Unless you change with the times, however, your family construction business will become less and less competitive. So here are six steps to help your company ease into the 21st century.
1. Take time to listen
Younger generations are bursting with ideas for improving the family construction business, and that can make older generations feel their opinions don’t matter anymore. Put aside familial roles to listen to what another person is saying as it applies to their role within the business.
Can you listen to your adult son, the project manager, without picturing him at age 6? Can you talk to your mother, the front-office manager, about your ideas for a new computer system without arguing like a teen trying to stay out past curfew?
2. Simplify your systems
All generations can work together to identify systems, processes, and tools that are slowing the business down. For example, old-fashioned time cards waste time for construction workers who have to clock in before heading to the job site. They’re also prone to error. Replace outdated, clunky systems with modern technology like time tracking apps your construction workers can use on their smartphones.
Accounting, invoicing, estimating, mapping, and project management are other areas where going digital can save you tons of time. Look for apps that play well together, like time tracking software that integrates with your accounting tools.
For more of the best apps for the construction industry, check out the top 10 best construction apps for 2017.
3. Digitize your data
If you’re still storing documents in file cabinets that crowd your office, it’s time to get with the program. Choose cloud-based file storage and sharing apps such as Box, Dropbox, or Microsoft 365. Scan your paper documents and store them in the cloud instead.
You’ll save time searching for information, and you’ll know that your records are accessible whenever you need them. Plus, people who prefer paper can still print things out.
4. Modernize your marketing methods
Word-of-mouth is the top way to land new construction business. But today, word-of-mouth marketing has taken on a whole new meaning. Reassess your marketing and advertising strategies to take advantage of online marketing. Create an appealing website, use search engine optimization to attract prospective clients, and invest in social media outreach.
5. Ask for outside input
If your family members can’t agree on changes to the construction business, sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can help. Consider bringing in an impartial, outside advisor or consultant who specializes in family-owned businesses. If that sounds too pricey, a SCORE mentor can provide business advice absolutely free.*
6. Focus on the future
Most family-owned construction companies have the same end goal: keep the business healthy enough to hand to the next generation. When you and your family disagree, remember you’re all working for the same result. This focus alone can help you put aside your disagreements and establish a future for your business.
*SCORE is a client of my business.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.