CALL

There’s a safety problem in American construction. It’s mental health.

A recent study concluded that 83% of construction workers have experienced a mental health issue. The construction industry has the 2nd highest suicide rate of any industry in America.

It’s time to DO YOUR PART to spread awareness and improve mental health in construction. Join our expert guests Randy Thompson and Michelle Walker as they share industry mental health insights and tips on how to build a safe environment and a caring culture in your business.

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN:

  • The factors that contribute mental health concerns in the construction industry
  • The warning signs to look for when someone may be experiencing a mental health event
  • How to build a culture of mental health safety and support
  • What resources are available and where to find them

Michelle Walker 00:04

And, and so, you know, it’s definitely it’s an issue in the industry. And you know, we’re such a safety focused industry. And yet, you know, when we kind of looked at the numbers and realize that probably about five times more construction workers were dying by suicide than were dying by physical on the job, causes that we all spend so much time, effort, energy money, investing in, it just really, you know, kind of shook me to my core and said, you know, this is it, this is a workforce that we say we care so much about, and that we’re so dependent on, we need to take better care of them from this aspect of mental health as well. And so that’s kind of how I got involved. And, and the rest is history. But, you know, the, the, the needle is moving in the industry, and so just thankful for more opportunities like this to continue to, you know, continue the conversation.

Scott Peper 00:58

Don’t miss Michelle, there’s stats and are really alarming. And I know there’s a focus in construction. But can you talk a little bit more in depth on why is it construction? More? Is it you talked about, you know, construction? is a male, heavily male industry? Is it just that or is there something about the industry itself that is really driving?

Michelle Walker

Yeah, there’s a lot about the industry. So kind of one of the soap boxes that I can get on is, when you talk to anybody in the industry, and you ask them, what’s your biggest challenge, they say, workforce, you know, trying to get get enough people to do the work. And so trying to take a step back from that and go, Well, why is there such a workforce problem, and part of it is the image of the industry. And when you kind of start lining up some of those image issues with some of these risk factors, it really shows how, you know, the industry really does have some work to do, to make it a safer place to be. So part of it is really just the people here doing the work. So men definitely higher risk, much higher risk for suicide than women. And obviously, construction has a very high male population. And then it’s the just the type of people that they are. So it’s the same thing that make the industry great. And make me love and admire every single person that’s on my crew that doing work every day. They’re tough. Perseverance, grit, determination, stick to it, all of that, all of those great traits that help get the job done. And you know, just make them admirable people can also be huge risk factors when, when you enter in a personal crisis, and addiction issue of mental health concern, all of those things, they’re not going to, they don’t want to ask for help, they’re gonna figure it out themselves, they don’t want to appear weak, they don’t want to let anybody down, they’re gonna just figure it out at all costs. And so that just really creates this kind of perfect storm for somebody to not seek help not be open to having a conversation about it. And then can lead to, you know, issues like self medicating and different substance abuse issues. So it can really kind of spiral out of control. And it has a lot to do with just that that population, again, all amazing, great characteristics until until they need to get help.

And then you just look at some of the other elements like the chronic pain associated from, you know, years of hard work or potential, you know, workplace injuries that weren’t properly treated, just schedules. So you know, very erratic scheduling, long hours, you know, that kind of those, those things don’t, aren’t really helpful for somebody who’s living with a mental illness and don’t really provide stability that they might need to be getting the treatment and help that they need to be seeking, time away from home. So remote work, so you know, away from support structures, possibly in environments that aren’t positive, you know, for healthy behaviors, you know, kind of some cyclical elements of the industry, you know, right now, obviously, everybody’s has more work to do than they, and they can, but there are periods of layoffs, which creates some financial instability, alcohol and substance abuse. So it’s kind of part of the culture pretty accepting of, you know, drinking being kind of part of a normal after work activity. And like we talked about before, if they’re not seeking help for things and you’re self medicating to get through them, the pressure of the industry, you know, there’s not a lot of room for screwing up. And if you do, it can be really catastrophic. And when you couple that with, you know, possible management gaps, so leadership gaps in knowing how to positively handle performance issues, corrections that can kind of exacerbate the feelings of letting people down if it’s not properly handled. So, again, you know, really a broad, a broad array, but they’re all

05:00

All things that we absolutely can manage better and do better and improve the industry in many ways, you know, kind of by addressing these things from the focus of mental health.

Scott Peper 05:12

This question, Randy, I go directly to you. Do you? Is there things that you feel I’m the there’s obviously Michelle done a great job of pointing out the gaps? And some of the macro issues, I would say, are there things that the industry employers are doing that actually make it worse? Or? Or is it they’re just not as are the things that they just need to do a better job of because of those macro factors? I guess my question really is, are you making it worse in any way?

Randy Thompson 05:41

Sure. It’s a great question. If we could just go back to slide five. Michelle, and I’ll answer your question, Scott. But I just wanted to highlight the fact that, you know, suicide is not simply a construction issue, there’s always a risk in identifying high risk groups, and focusing solely on why suicide behavior is so high.

06:04

Suicide is really a societal issue. It’s not just in construction, when we look at the data, year, over a year, there’s approximately 50,000 deaths annually suicide in the US. And I always compare that to, you know, if you think about a ball field, like like Fenway Park,

06:22

or where, you know, you have 50,000 seats, just think of the capacity of that park being full. And every year, that number of people die by suicide, not just in the construction industry, it’s over 14 over 14 people, for every 100,000, and about 132 suicides per day. So very impactful when we think about not just the actual suicides, but the attempts, the average is over 25 attempts, you know, per suicide, so it’s not the first time that that individual is actually attempted. So when you think about those numbers, and the deaths annually, it kind of gives you an idea of the impact that suicide has, is in the US.

07:09

And for every suicide, the data shows us that there’s approximately 100 or 110 people that are affected by that suicide, I’ll be the person’s family, the workforce, etc. So you can understand the ripple effect that suicide has on a community, let alone, you know, specifically in the construction industry. So I just wanted to highlight some of that, that data, it’s not specific to construction, there are higher risk groups, but suicide affects everyone. And even though organizations may not have had a suicide, it doesn’t mean that suicide is not an issue for them. Yeah, that’s a great point. And expanding,

07:49

expanding the topic out even farther from from, from suicide.

Autumn Sullivan 07:54

I think there’s something like 45 or 50 million Americans diagnosed with some form of a mental illness right now. So, you know, there’s definitely someone in your organization who is dealing with this on some level or another.

08:11

And I think it helps to know those numbers, right, because it can feel like it’s a lonely, that you’re alone in it, but it’s it’s incredibly common in our in our Well, you got you’re in Canada, but

08:24

I don’t know your numbers, but I know in America, it’s it’s it’s it’s prevalent. It’s very, very common. My Go ahead.

Randy Thompson

It is on you’re absolutely right. It is no different in Canada than it is in the US when we look at the numbers. For years, we’ve been reporting that one in four people will have a mental health crisis throughout their lifetime. And that number hasn’t changed in a long time. And it’s and that is a global statistic. So again, you may not have had a significant event with in your workplace. But I assure you that there are issues that people are dealing with that needs to be addressed, that are below, you know, below the surface that you may not even hear about. So having a focus on mental health is critically important, particularly for high risk groups. But even if you don’t fall within that category, doesn’t mean you’re not dealing with mental health issues, or that your staff aren’t dealing with mental health issues. So Scott, to attend to your question, I don’t think employers are making things worse. I think you’re there’s a risk of not doing anything. So to not recognize mental health as an issue is a problem. And not to not recognize suicide as an issue and construction is an even bigger problem. So there are some great things that employers are doing to address mental health but the number one the foundation of it for me is recognize that it’s an issue so that your your your employees and your staff feel safe to be able to talk about mental health, that it isn’t just that it’s recognized by the organization and that you’re actually providing supports for your for your employees.

09:58

be confidential.

10:00

or not to help them deal with some of these issues and mental health issues that they couldn’t be dealing with because there are a lot of them. You know, anything from financial distress, depression doesn’t have to be, you know, a clinical diagnosis for someone to need help. Right. So, employee assistance programs are often helpful. But you know, that’s just kind of the tip of the iceberg. What I talked organizations about is looking at what’s driving your cost when it comes to absenteeism, when it comes to drug cost, right, you have all that data available to you through your, through your insurance company, through your benefits provider, look at the data, what’s driving your costs, and then start building wellness or mental health programs around that in a very thoughtful way to simply check a box to have any PII is not good enough. And also, Michelle will tell you, when we talk about the construction industry, there is so much focus on physical health and training, organizations need to see mental health just as important. And if you actually take the same steps you take to address your physical health issues or physical health for your employees, and the trainings that you provide certain thinking that in terms of mental health, there are a lot of organizations out there that are able to help, you don’t have to be an expert in it. There is expertise out there. So don’t be afraid to reach out, you have you know, health and safety committees, you have HR support resources I can reach out to to find that help. So don’t be afraid to ask, but the first step is to actually admit that it is an issue and recognize it, and then looking at your data, what’s driving it and come up with some objectives in terms of so what do we want to do? What do we want to achieve? How can we best support our employees to keep them safe and productive at work?

Michelle Walker 11:55

Well, and when we talk about safety, I mean, we, you know, behaving, you know, behavior based safety programs. If somebody’s dealing with either a mental illness, or just a personal crisis, you know, they had, you know, a fight with their spouse last night, and they don’t know, the next time they’re going to see their kids or they’re dealing with a financial issue, their mind is not going to be on the task at hand. And so that’s, you know, you talk about safety incidents, that’s when they happen is when you know, the focus isn’t there. And, you know, I was talking to somebody the other day on the podcast about this, and like he said, if you have a equipment operator that’s going to be out there, you know, moving, you know, equipment, overhead loads over people, if they walk up and tell somebody that they’re physically sick, or that they, you know, had a rough night, the night before, or something like that, due to some like kind of physical thing, they’re not going to put them on that, you know excavator and put them in that high risk. So we need to create the environment where people feel safe to say, I’m not in a mentally safe space today to do this, to, you know, keep people physically safe as well. So it’s also interrelated and connected, and you almost you really can’t talk about safety anymore in a true, comprehensive, caring way, without including the element of mental health along with it.

13:20

And it’s a delicate balance to think I think,

Scott Peper 13:23

you have to be able to provide the tools, but you also can’t force people into them to come, you know, and so you can create all the tools you can create the atmosphere. My personal belief is that if you create the atmosphere, as a leader, or as an employer, you also have to step into and lead the way into the meaning to I think you, you know, it starts at the top. And I think you just abdicate the authority to start to have the meaning. But the very top of the leadership doesn’t step in and be vulnerable to share a story. How can anyone else feel comfortable to do that? Because the truth is, not everyone may have had suicidal thoughts, but everyone’s had a bad day. And everyone’s had a really uncomfortable moment where maybe you didn’t think about committing suicide, but half of those thoughts that you just had, would have triggered someone else to. And so it’s the awareness of that, I think is personally more important than even just the awareness of mental health. I think people need to realize there’s parameters. Everybody’s has the same thoughts. It’s just everybody reacts a little differently to them. I don’t think there’s a lot of people walking around and adulthood that haven’t had some bad issues that made them feel pretty shitty, you know, and just what you go about doing about it is the key. So do you guys focus on that for leadership?

Randy Thompson 14:50

Yes, gotta you’re absolutely right. I haven’t met an organization that’s really being effective in managing mental health without executive leadership championing

15:00

In that cause, and often that’s where it starts. And that’s where it should start to be the leader to be vulnerable and show that vulnerability to make it okay to talk about the power that leadership has in in, in supporting these initiatives is super critical. And often, that’s where I tell, you know, talk to organizations and consult with them on where you need to start, you need to show it, you know, that started at head office, we have large organizations that are decentralized, they often struggle with, well, how do we do this? Right? How do we ensure that everyone is is is, is getting the same types of supports

15:43

across the board, and I often, you know, talk about starting small and start just started head office, right, show the way tested out, and then be able to communicate all the time and cascade, you know, that out to people in the regions so that that support is available, and they know that Geez, you know, if actually asked for help, it’s not going to cost me my job. And actually, it’s actually feels good that someone within the organization, particularly leadership cares about me and my family.

Scott Peper 16:15

Yeah, I think that’s key, because it’s everyone. The other thing is, you can’t make someone talk they’re gonna find out on there, they’re gonna come on their own timeline.

16:25

But knowing the atmosphere, if you remove the barriers to the atmosphere of finally speaking, or finally stepping out of uncomfortableness, you’re more likely to have someone raise their hand and say, Hey, I need help. Or if everyone else knows that, at any given time, your the whole company is going to err on the side of hey, are you okay? Like, they’re all going to err on the Hey, it’s okay to be asked. Okay. And it’s okay to look back and say no, you know, like, if that was just the two things that I think everyone did, like, create the atmosphere leader steps into it. And by the way, this, this whole company is going to have a philosophy of, are you okay? And then the answer can be No, I’m not. Like if that if that was it, you probably find a lot more people more comfortable to speak about it, because

Michelle Walker 17:12

I think the lack of community and family and that being alone is what is a big trigger for this. And if you can do contrary to that, which is create and fill a group of people that can go find that people are going to go find their group, you know, and if you don’t create one to walk into, they’re going to go find the one that’s going to actually pour gas on the problem.

Scott Peper 17:36

Absolutely. That leads me to my next question, which I had, which is related to like social media and the factors of social media out there, kind of leading what I was just talking about, I, I feel as though everyone can go find their group now, you know, and good and bad. And so if you’re having bad thoughts, and you start to live in a social media driven world, you’re gonna find a group that might help you, but you’re more likely going to find a group that won’t, is that that’s my personal feeling. What is that? Do you guys find that as well in the social media world, and how that plays into this?

Randy Thompson 18:17

Michelle, do you want to go.

Michelle Walker 18:21

I mean, I just want to spin off quickly on what you were just talking about before, because I think it’s those it’s those creating those safe spaces for people and hoping that then that’s what they’re going to versus the unsafe spaces, like on social media.

18:34

So, you know, my personal kind of mission statement, how I set up my work in this is compelling contractors to create caring cultures. So creating those cultures where people do feel safe to ask either for help for themselves or for others. And so, you know, as Randy and I were talking, I’m prepping for this session with him, you know, it might not be that everybody on the team is willing to have that conversation with somebody, but if they know, to watch out for things, and then who to talk to so here in our company, people will come talk to me and say, Hey, I’m really worried about so and so this is what’s going on with them.

19:08

And so then I can kind of approach them and watch out for them. But creating those cultures where people are watching out for each other is is such a big important component of it because the person themselves right might not be willing to speak up or, or ask for help, but if they know that other people are watching out for them, that that creates that safe space, that’s so important.

19:29

And then yeah, as far as the social media, I mean, I guess the pluses of it are, you know, it’s a way to share positive information if they you know, if you can get it to people and, and resources and help and, and things like that. So to help them know, they’re not alone. There’s nothing, you know, wrong with them for needing help for accessing care, kind of pointing them to directions. But so I guess as an employer, how you encourage that is sharing out those resources and hopefully, people are going to be kind of following and engaging with those so that they can

20:00

Another avenue for help, if and when needed.

Randy Thompson 20:04

So, oh three Oh, sorry, Randy, go ahead, I was just gonna say, I totally agree, Michelle, and then there’s always a risk with social media, cuz you’re gonna find the good and the bad. My own personal experience going through a critical illness as I’ve used social media for the good and kind of purge the bad because it because it can be there. I think for organizations,

20:30

that makes it even more critical to provide safe spaces for your free employees, whether that be you know, a training program, whether you know, whether that be

20:42

mental health support, whatever that is, but ensuring that the employees know how to access those resources, where to access, you know, when to access them, that makes it super important, because you can have the greatest resources available to stop it, if they don’t, if they can access it, or they struggle with it. Because often it is confidential, then there’s, they’re less apt to use those resources that you’ve, you know, that you invested in, and that you have confidence in and start finding other ways to Scott’s point, you know, to get the support that they need. And sometimes it’s not, it’s not, it’s not what they need. So it’s not just having programs, you know, mental health support available, it’s ensuring that your people are aware on how to access it and what it can do for them. The other thing we talked about, just quickly in suicide prevention and living works, is building not just suicide prevention support within the organization, but the key the critical piece in building it in their communities, right, because that construction worker leaves work everyday goes home to an environment has a family has stresses, anxieties, right. And often people when they when they do kill themselves, it isn’t it is at home. So we talked about building communities of safety, not just having suicide awareness and support within the organization, but at home with their families, or where the where they may go pray, right and having it where that individual may also participate or engage in sports or activities, that kind of thing. There’s a lot, there’s less opportunity for them to go elsewhere to try and find support when it’s just surrounding them. So we kind of look at a talk about a public health approach to suicide prevention, that’s really what we encourage is not just focusing them, you know, that individual at work, but ensuring that there’s support, and that there’s awareness, wherever they work, live, play, eat, you know, within their communities. Sorry, autumn, I can

Autumn Sullivan

No, no, no, no worries. That was a, that was an important point. And it leads into my question, actually, because all three of you have talked about creating safe spaces and communities of caring and communities of safety. And I’m thinking of all the construction business owners I’ve known throughout my life. And it sounds like a very tall order for some of them. Like, I can just see some of them saying I’m not equipped to do this. Like, I also am the big tough guy and stoic and I also don’t so. So what what can what can a construction business owner do just to start creating that that work culture?

Randy Thompson 23:29

Yeah, great, great question. And I’ll refer back to a comment I made around just recognizing that it is an issue, that mental health is an issue within the organization.

23:42

And, and that kind of starts everything.

23:46

Ensuring that there’s support, you know, we talk about upstream, midstream and downstream, right, and that’s really what, what we encourage is ensuring that there’s support, wherever that individual is right, it could be at the beginning of an issue, where you know, we’re able to kind of catch it early and provide that upstream support. Or maybe they’re down, you know, they’re at that suicidal ideation level. And, you know, we need to provide some downstream support as well. So ensuring that you have each level covered, I think is important.

24:16

And reach out there’s, there’s a lot of organizations and Michelle will talk about CISSP and the work we do on the board, but in living works as well as an organization that can support to come and talk to us, right be open to getting help, like we tell people you know, be open to getting help. We have to say that to organizations and leaders as bo we open to the help as well. We know you’re not experts in this field, but there are experts out there who can help consult with you and help build a plan. A mental health plan whether it be that or suicide prevention plan that’s tied to it to ensure that you’re you’re supporting your your your employees and their families at each at each level. Whether it’s upstream, midstream, or down and Michelle, you talk much better to this

Michelle Walker 25:00

Slide can I do so? Please? Well, I think the first thing is just recognizing you don’t have to be the expert, you don’t have to know about this. And, and you don’t have to be the person who ultimately helps the person through their issues, you have to have the resources available and know how to connect people to that, but it’s really being that connector to care, not necessarily becoming the caregiver. And I think that’s a really important distinction, because there’s a lot of concern among employers, well, I don’t want to get that kind of entrenched in people’s personal things. And plus, I’m just not equipped to help them through all these issues. And so it’s really recognizing you don’t have to be the one that’s actually doing the, the fixing, you have to know how to, you have to have the resources available and be willing to connect them to those resources, is the important part along with being you know, caring and following up and all those things, but but you don’t have to be the actual, you know, doer of the plan.

26:02

And then it’s, it’s starting that conversation. So again, we you know, we’ve talked about that bold leadership support that vocal leadership support for things, and then, you know, making this be something that people start getting a little bit comfortable talking about. So I’m not going to say, become totally comfortable, because it’s, it’s not a totally comfortable topic for for many people to talk about. And especially not in construction company, in the workplace, with your co workers, things like that. So start the conversation. So include it in, you know, company meetings, if you have a newsletter that covers wellness things, you know, including information on mental wellness as part of that, having, you know, in your resources, making sure that information on, you know, suicide prevention, lifeline, crisis support, you know, those types of things are included in the conversation, hanging up posters, so we’ll hopefully at the end, go out to the CISSP website, and you can show you kind of some of the things that are there, but we have posters that you can hang up on your job site, poster boards, you know, just right along with your, you know, OSHA postings and all that

27:06

toolbox talks so that you can talk about it in, you know, as a safety topic. So the one thing that constructions got going for it, and why I think we’ve made the strides that we have in the short period of time versus some other industries that have tried to kind of adopt this at an industry wide level is that we are so safety focused, and this really fits right in with that safety culture, if you if you will be willing to build it in. And so, you know, having it be a part of your toolbox talks, you know, our tha, you know, our morning tests, hazard analysis. JJ, we added on that, you know, Are you mentally ready to work today? So, you’re breathing in that conversation of, it’s more than just, you know, are you physically able? Or do you have a sore back and you shouldn’t be lifting today? things? But are you physically Are you mentally ready and able to be able to work and perform today? And so, you know, it’s just, it’s, it’s starting that and just getting people comfortable with it. And I can tell you, it’s not, it’s not easy when you start because the first you know, safety meeting that you’re at, and you say, we’re going to talk about suicide, and you get, you know, a roomful of blank stares kind of staring at you, like you have two heads, and why on earth are you talking to me about this, but over the years, it starts getting easier, and people don’t look at you, like you’re crazy anymore. And they start being willing to talk and share and things like that, and then just building it up to other business practices that are normal. So, you know, a great opportunity is during group health enrollment time, so you know, open are, you know, here, our company open enrollment was in May, our plan renews June 1. And so typically the open enrollment meeting, you go over benefits and you talk about, you know, go to the urgent care instead of the ER because your copay is going to be lower. And if you go to this doctor, it’s this not talk about behavioral health benefits, talk about, you know, if you need to seek behavioral health, this is the directory, this is how to access it, it’s the same copay, as you know, your primary care physician, you know, whatever it is, talk about it as part of the benefits as part of the that that overall wellness thing, that your mental wellness is a part of your overall wellness and, and tried to stop separating that physical and mental wellness component, but really just build it into we care about all of you. And that includes, you know, from head to toe, not just kind of neck down.

Scott Peper 29:27

Do you guys share I would call it success stories, but stories of people who have been in a great environment one that we’re all trying to would like to create that can say, oh, because of this, this, these are things that happen. But because of this environment, I was able to recognize that I felt comfortable raise my hand and I avoided suicide because of XY and Z. Is there a Is there a place to share those stories and are they being shared now?

Michelle Walker 29:58

Well, we would love to have those stories.

30:00

As they aren’t readily shared, just because it is still a pretty sensitive personal topic that people are just kind of getting to the place where they’re willing to share. I personally have some, and I would love to share one here and I, you know, but a young man work for us, kind of off and on for a couple of years. And one day, his manager called me

30:25

again, after me talking about this for several years and, and doing training on warning signs and things. I was actually at home for the day, but he called me and said, Something’s wrong with him. Like he’s, he’s, he’s not, he’s identified, like, he’s just not acting, right. He’s not. He’s not well, he’s, and so I called him into my office, and I asked him, Are you okay? And he just broke down and started crying. And he says, I don’t think that he’s safe. I don’t think he’s safe to go out to work today. I don’t know what to do. I said, keep them there. And I’m on my way. And I came in, and I met with a young man and talk to him. And I had to ask him, and it was the first time that I had to, you know, put the living works training into practice. And I had to say, you know, are you thinking about killing yourself? And he said, I’m not right now. But I have. And I said, Okay, thank you. Thank you for being open. Thank you for sharing that with me. And can I please help get Can I please help you get help? And he said, Yes. And so, you know, we I contact, you know, he was young and single, but he allowed me to call his mom and we talked to his mom together and assured like she, she was meeting up with him so that he wouldn’t be alone. And he would go stay with her. And then, you know, got him connected to help through our behavioral health benefits. And he, he ended up leaving the company a few months later to go on to another opportunity that he was ultimately working for, but he’ll still call every, you know, four or five months or so. And just say, I know, I was there at that moment for a reason, because you, sorry,

31:54

you these, these things are real. And so that’s just one story. That just happened in our little company here. And so I have to believe that, you know, dozens of those stories are happening every day. And if we can get people to share them, I think hopefully, that’s what’s going to compel a lot of people to start taking this action in their organizations. Yeah, you know, hearing that story. And this is why I love the stories to be told because it they relate everybody can relate to a story more than a newspaper or slide presentation.

Scott Peper 32:28

And I think what you what I’ve heard from, specifically from you, Michelle, and the organization that you’re operating in, is you have a culture that has been created in the company, not just for mental health, but your overall culture, I bet your overall culture is pretty positive, I bet you people that come to work there feel like they’re being poured into versus poured out of, they probably don’t feel like they’re a conduit to, to an outcome of success for the business owner only, they probably feel like they’re part of a team, you know, and if you are part of a team, people are going to be more comfortable to help their teammate, if you’re just a cog in the wheel, for the benefit of the few. No one likes that. And so I think that’s where it really starts. And if you then put a mental health meaning into that culture, you’re probably going to find great success. And so it’s no surprise that you do have that story. Because

33:25

it was, it’s probably in front of every company every day, or at least in some fashion over the course of a couple of years. If you’re there long enough, even if you have a small company only, you know, a handful of people.

33:37

This stats are the stats. So you just happen to create an environment where someone could feel comfortable, raise their hand and think about those three or four steps in that story. You created the company, you you educated to it, it was another person who had who had to act, then recognize then create an action actually call you you had to listen and act yourself. And there’s a lot of steps there. And if that wasn’t because you had a mental health meeting and a poster, it was way before that. I think that’s the thing. I’d want anyone listening and paying attention to this, particularly leaders to really pay attention to smile. That’s my thought on that. Yeah, no 100%, right. You can’t think you say this has to be baked in it can’t be bolted on. So you can’t be a company where people are scared to bring up issues or talk or you know, that they’re gonna get in trouble. If they’re walking on eggshells, and suddenly you say, Hey, we care about your mental health and we want to watch out for you. They’re going to have as much trust and reliance in that as you know, there’s not and so, you know, it really has to be part something that’s really baked in and it’s part of a caring culture is absolutely where it starts. Yeah. And when it comes when it comes to suicide prevention in particular, there’s no like there’s no ownership specifically up that right

35:00

within an organization and in fact, the reality is anyone can be a helper, we truly believe that it’s not specifically your manager, you know, or the president or the executive that are responsible for it. When it comes to suicide prevention,

35:16

the organization really needs to own it and understand that anyone can be a helper, it’s the question of what type of helper that person wants to be, some of them are prepared to engage the way Michelle did, right and have that conversation and be able to work a safety plan with that individual. Some people, you know, it’s just too much, it’s overwhelming, because we’re asking them to have conversations that are not natural, right, we don’t often ask someone if they’re thinking of killing themselves, let alone you know, even at home. So it’s important to recognize that it’s, we all own the issue within the organization, from the, you know, labor right to the President. And it’s important to be able to offer some, we talked about support and training for people, because there is a training, important training component, too, it’s not just natural for people to have these conversations, and be able to have safe conversations and build a safety plan with that individuals. So to make it available to everyone is important. So they all feel like they can be a part of it. We’ll talk a little bit maybe later on around

Randy Thompson 36:27

company called Mates in Construction, that is specifically suicide prevention in the construction industry. And it’s about organizations owning their program. It’s not living works. It’s not, you know, sec underground, it’s, it’s that organization who owns it, and everyone within the organization has a role to play in suicide prevention and supporting their mates. So I just want to mention that it’s not, it’s not just leadership that, you know, that should be trained on how to support, it’s Everyone that owns that, and that kind of helps create that caring culture. Yeah.

Autumn Sullivan 37:04

Yeah, I think that’s so important. Because a lot of times, you don’t want to go to your leader, even if you you know, even if you have a good caring culture, in your company, you might, you might have a hesitation to go directly to your boss and tell them that you’re having a mental health crisis, because it because there’s the risk of it having a financial effect on your family, right, like, oh, I won’t be able to work. If I don’t work, I don’t make money. And if I don’t make money, my kids don’t eat. So you just bury it, but you tell your friend, right. And so your friend on the job also needs to know, also has to have some tools and support on how to help you through that moment, and how to get you into the into a plan for safety. Right, they also need to be empowered, so that they can feel like they can handle that moment.

Randy Thompson

Yeah, absolutely. And they need to know who they can go to. Right. So we have to be it creates an openness, right culture of openness, which is important as well. And that has great ripple effect, just in terms of people’s mental health, right, they know, they are safe in that organization in that environment, a lot of construction work, you know, they they go off site, they work remotely for weeks and weeks, right? Where they don’t have immediate access to family are supports. So even more important in those in those locations, that that there’s that there’s support within that site, that they know that they can talk to someone and it’s often not their boss, autumn. So

Autumn Sullivan 38:32

yeah, training needs to be, I think, available for everyone. So let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about the resources that are available. We have about 15 minutes left, and I want to talk about where where people can go to find resources, what the warning signs are people should be looking for, and then open it up for any questions. So I know you guys have a slide of resources, right? Yeah. Sure. You want to? Did we hit the read the warning signs? I think we had a slide on that, too. I don’t think we’ve gone through them yet. Whichever one you guys want to take first. I just want to make sure we get to both of those. Sure. Yeah. And then we can be and I think the warning signs are, are fairly, some of them are fairly obvious. Some of them are not, but they’re fairly consistent. And there’s a list here, and we often ask, you know, what would you look for in someone but the to me the core is

Randy Thompson 39:22

it what you’re looking for is a change in behavior with that individual, right? Someone might be moody all the time. So having mood swings is no surprise, right? Because Dave’s always like that. But, but Bob isn’t and all of a sudden, you know, Bob who used to be really excited. You know, he was always very engaged as all of a sudden withdrawing from activities. We don’t see Bob very much. So there are different signs that you can look for, you know, you know, someone comes to work disheveled or they’re appearing sad. Clearly there’s something going on there. They’re or they’re depressed. You know, we often see an increase in alcohol or drug use

40:00

with someone who might be dealing with some crisis, but at the, at the end of the day, the core of it to me is, is it’s a change in behavior that you’ve noticed over time.

40:10

And that’s something that could could actually

40:14

click that there’s, there’s something going on there. And that’s where it gets back to that element of community and culture is if you if you have a workplace where those kind of communities are built, and people have enough of a relationship with each other to notice the changes, that’s kind of step one, because it’s hard to recognize changes in somebody if you’re kind of working with a different group every day, and you don’t have any of those established relationships. And then the other element of work of kind of warning signs is again, changes in behavior, but really ones that are tied directly to

Michelle Walker 40:48

their performance at work. So really, you know, decrease problem solving, self confidence, productivity, and then an increase in tardiness, absenteeism, so suddenly, they’re, you know, every Monday they’re off, or they’re coming in late every day with kind of No, no reason, no explanations, increase in conflict increase, you know, we talked before about the safety element increase in your hits, injuries, incidents. So it’s those performance issues. And the really key thing as an employer to recognize as being aware of this and approaching things from the standpoint of instead of instantly addressing it with corrective action, asking why is there this change? Why is this employee who was never late is suddenly late three days a week. And so instead of addressing it instantly, with disciplinary action, asking the question, hey, we’ve noticed this change, is there something going on, that we can help you with that’s creating this and opening up that conversation and allowing them to share, as opposed to if if the first, if the first way that you’re addressing this is, here’s your write up and your final warning, and if you’re late again, you’re fired. Probably that person’s not going to show up the next day. And now you’ve lost any capacity to help that person and probably have X exacerbated what you know, whatever issue they were dealing with. So really taking that

42:05

kind of caring about the person approach and trying to find and understand the underlying issues and root causes versus just dealing with the performance from a disciplinary approach. And there’s we talked about resources, and often come from the world of EPs, and most EPS at their core does offer training, particularly for managers to be able to have those conversations to train them on, what are the signs and symptoms to look for? What are you looking for? What are the performance issues, and how to have a conversation with an employee that shows that you know that you’ve recognized that there’s an issue that you care about them, and that you’re able to lead them to resources, regardless of what it is because you don’t want your managers being the therapist, but you want to ensure that you have the right resources available to that individual to recommend so that they follow up.

Michelle Walker 43:00

So that’s a great lead into resources. So Randy, would you be okay, if I navigated out to the website? Absolutely. Okay.

43:08

Let’s see if I can.

43:14

Okay, can you see the website now? Yes. Okay, great. So we’ll go through a few more other resources after but this is the construction industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention, that I mentioned that Randy and I are both a part of the leadership of, and we have a ton of resources on here, that are all available at no charge to anybody who wants to access them. So they’re here. And so you really don’t have to invent anything, create anything, you can come here and take everything and get a really great start. Um, so here under the get involved.

43:54

Tab is sorry, get informed.

43:59

They just recently redid the website, and I clearly am not as familiar with it. So under here, there’s all of these different items. So building awareness, integrating things, the toolbox talks that I mentioned, are here available to download the training. So first of all, I’ll just go to the Integration tab real quick here. And this just talks a lot about that element that we talked about of how do you how do you really start a program in the workplace. So this needs analysis and an integration checklist. This is a live PDF document that has links in it. So it kind of asks you questions about things you may or may not be doing and then gives you suggestions to address them if you’re if you need to work on those areas, with links to resources kind of on our website off our website, all of our so that’s a really great document. And then there’s some videos here. So you know, what we’ve talked about today is kind of spurred some questions and you want to learn a little bit more. You want some videos to share with your teams. This is a six part video series that we put together that kind of breaks down some of the elements and it’s good to share. So there’s one specifically on warnings

45:00

So that’s a great one to kind of pop into a safety meeting or something kind of really practical.

45:06

You know, here’s the warning signs and what to, you know, kind of super quick overview of what to do about it. And so those are there. Also the training as a bonus, you actually get Michelle, who actually did those videos as your presenter, so you can’t go wrong. That’s not the selling point, right? Yes.

45:28

Click off of that, I’m not going to that. And so on our website also is the link to the living works training. So this is the organization that Randy is a part of. And that to the serious P is partnering with as a training provider. And so we have underwriting available to be able to offer training to part of your team at no cost through this. And so there’s just a link here that you click, you fill out the form, and then we can send you licenses. You can also work directly with Randy, if you want to kind of set up a more robust training program. But it’s it’s a 60 to 90 minute, it’s really closer to 90 minutes, if you do it properly. It’s called start, but it’s totally online based. And so it’s a great tool to kind of be able to equip people to have those conversations to recognize warning signs. And again, they might not, you know, they might go through this and they still I’m still not comfortable to have that conversation. But they’re going to have a lot more awareness to and know what to do and how to kind of connect people with help a lot better after that. So it’s a really great tool that I’d recommend definitely leaders, but you know, we had all of our field leader, so any crew, leader foreman, that type of those frontline managers, this is a great tool for them, because ultimately, they’re the ones that know the employees have those relationships can recognize the signs, that kind of thing. So this is, I would definitely recommend that level for them.

46:50

Another thing that’s on here, is

46:57

the screening tool. And it’s another great way to if you have you know a wellness program, and you’re doing biometric screenings and things to encourage people to be physically healthy, this is a great way to kind of weave mental health into that is encouraging, taking a mental health screening. So this is another one of our partners mind wise, and you click on this link, and it just takes you out. And it’s totally anonymous. But you can go through some different screening tools for mental health, and there’s just kind of a broad general one. But what it does is and why I encourage all of our employees to do it is even if you’re not struggling with something, it’s a really great tool to build that awareness and that mental health literacy, to be able to recognize some things because by the questions that it’s asking, you go, Oh, I didn’t know that that was something that could you know, be be an issue for somebody. So it really is a key part of kind of building that literacy. And then the last thing I’ll point out real quick here is just to take the pledge. So this is, you know, like I said, everything on the site is free, no cost totally available. But we we we want to build kind of momentum and, and presence in the industry for these efforts. And so we love to have companies sign on to say that they’re going to stand up for suicide prevention. And so it’s just a, it’s a pledge that just saying that you’re going to address this in your workplace, it doesn’t commit you to anything, it doesn’t do anything, but stand. And you’ve seen it on some of the slides, but Stan stands for safe. So creating those safe environments that we’ve talked about training. So the training element is, is that important. It’s part of our, you know, slogan for our

48:36

organization. So you know, you’ve got to get people trained, so that they have the information to be able to approach this awareness, making people aware that this is even an issue, normalizing the topic. So getting people comfortable talking about it, making them know that they’re, you know, they can talk about it, there’s they’re not alone, if they’re dealing with these issues, and then decreasing obviously, with the ultimate goal of decreasing suicide in our industry. So that’s on here. It’s just like I said, a quick,

49:04

quick click, and we would love to have people sign on. It also then gets you onto our mailing lists and things like that to continue to receive information. And there’s somebody making a commitment, right? When you say pledge a low, you’re not tied to anything, you’re not bound to anything, but the mental

Randy Thompson 49:21

power of making a commitment to doing something will actually incite behavior and likelihood that you’ll actually do something about it. So taking the pledge we think as important

Scott Peper 49:33

that is great. And these all these resources are right here on this website. So there’s an easy way to get started and easy way to implement it. And most importantly, just start having conversations to help create again, well we talked about an atmosphere where it’s comfortable for someone to talk about it you we don’t need to you’re not soliciting. Here. You’re just making sure the environment is is proper and the people in it are

50:00

We’re also aware, so that when and if this does happen, someone can help prevent it. Yeah. And I’ll make sure that

Autumn Sullivan 50:08

all of these resources are in the description in our YouTube replay as well so that people can, people can access them easily. We only have about three minutes left, we have no questions at the moment, which I’m kind of surprised by.

50:24

So I’ll just open up the room. If you Oh, I did want to say one thing when you were talking about

50:31

talking about telling, telling stories, Scott, and I was thinking to myself about the Deer Park campaign, the department in which we started a mobilization funding, which was our way of helping to

50:44

move the needle on some of the challenges in construction, including mental health and you know, greater transparency and communication between all partners, and,

50:54

and a bunch of other issues. But one of the things I was thinking was, I talk very openly on my LinkedIn about my issues with anxiety and my struggle with anxiety and depression, I’m, I’m just that kind of person, I’m happy to share my stories in the hopes that it makes someone feel less alone.

51:09

And I think that one thing that we could do, and I’ve seen it in on LinkedIn, I’m very

51:16

heartened by by the stories I see on LinkedIn, that’s one thing we can do if you are in a space where you can tell your story, tell your story on a platform, where where multiple people can see it, because it normalizes the conversation. It removes the stigma, when you say, Oh, my boss told story about having depression, or you know, my coworker shared her story of having, you know, crippling anxiety, whatever, whatever your story is, you’re not alone in it. And when you share it, you feel less alone, and someone else feels less alone. And you make social media that replace your bank, your bank,

Randy Thompson

I’ll just chime in here because I to use social media for my journeys. You know, I’ve been struggling with stage four cancer, gone through just a whole bunch of terrible things in the last couple of years with the onset of the pandemic. And I’ve used social media as a means to share my story. And what it’s done is it’s engaged a whole ton of people, most of who I didn’t know before in the conversation, and sharing those stories is so critical. And the interesting thing about LinkedIn is, you know, I use it a lot for professionally as well. And when I share a story or an article or something, I may get a couple of 100 hits, when I share a personal story about my journey I’ve had sometimes over 10,000, which just gives tells you the importance and the impact that sharing real stories, and being vulnerable and open to support can have on you. So I told him, I’m with you autumn on that. Thank you. Yeah, and those of us I’m sure, Randy are positive, there’s people pouring into, you know, time buying them, you know, bashing down? Absolutely. It’s all about resources, support resiliency, hope, right, I call it my bright lights. And Scott, not one negative response or comment, have I seen over the last two years since I’ve been going through this. So

Scott Peper 53:14

likewise, I can say the same for our experience on LinkedIn, in my mind, personally, I had an enormous amount of people pour into us more than anyone tried to pour out or hurt or damage or be negative.

Scott Peper 53:31

And it’s not even I mean, I don’t even think about it as a negative thing at all, because it very rarely happens if at all. And actually the time that this couple times I can think of somebody said something negative. There was such an overwhelming response from everyone else. Yeah. Me to be responding to it that I never even went and talked about it. I didn’t even address it. So yeah, it’s a good way to it’s good place to use. But you know what your intent is pure. And that’s what’s important. You know, when you have good intent, and you truly are trying to help people realize that they understand it, they can feel it, they can sense it even on social media. And so I think that’s really the most beneficial and better back home. Absolutely. I think what both of you guys are doing

54:25

is I just want to say your time and your energy and what you guys have put into it all, and especially coming on and sharing your loss.

Randy Thompson 54:34

My pleasure. Yes.

Autumn Sullivan

Thank you so much for giving us your time today. And thank you everyone for joining us. I will send out a replay link in an email and I will also post it to Scott’s LinkedIn. So if you are joining us on LinkedIn live, there will be a replay available there. All of our replays are available on our YouTube channel and on our website. And then I’ll make sure all of the resources that Randy and Michelle talked about are also included in the video.

Scott Peper

Yes, please go on and connect with both Randy and Michelle. They have great resources not only that they’ve shared here but also on their own personal LinkedIn. And it’s just good information. And I hope this helped everybody and hope everyone gets a chance. And beware, there’s a lot of people out there just ask somebody if they’re okay. It’s alright. If you get a gut feeling to say, are you alright? Just ask. Okay. No one’s no one’s gonna yell at you for asking them if they’re okay. I promise. Absolutely. Absolutely. Thank you guys. Have a good rest of your day, everybody. Thank you.

Your business credit can dramatically impact your company’s cash flow. Specifically, the stronger your business credit is the more options you have to improve and grow your company’s cash flow. Jonathan Fodera, President of Integrated Business Financing, joined us for this special event to discuss the relationship between business credit and cash flow and strategies to build business credit.

TRANSCRIPT

SCOTT PEPER 00:59

we’ll let everybody get a minute or two just, I see people coming in now and participants and on the LinkedIn live. So I’m Scott peeper, the CEO and co founder mobilization funding. I got a great guest here with me today, Jonathan Pradera. He’s a good friend. He owns a business called Integrated Financial, he’s going to talk about business credit, and a little bit more about what he does. And of course, I always have my co host here with me autumn Sullivan. And she is in process of making sure this all works perfectly. So while everybody’s still logging in, we are going to just let her do her thing.

AUTUMN SULLIVAN 01:36

We are good. We are live on LinkedIn, we have participants rolling in. So if you guys want to go ahead and get started, I will be monitoring your LinkedIn live. So if there are any questions, I’ll go ahead and pop back up and relay those to you. You can also ask questions. If you’re here on Zoom, you can ask questions in the chat or in the q&a. And I’ll be monitoring both of those. Otherwise, I’m gonna go ahead and turn my camera off and let you guys have a great conversation.

SCOTT PEPER 01:59

Awesome. Thanks. Awesome. Thank you, everyone, join us now integrated business financing. Jonathan Fodera is the founder and CEO. He is with me today as a guest we’re going to talk about business credit, why it’s important what how you can impact it, what it does for you what it can do to hurt you, and all the different things ways you can get this fixed, repaired or maintain it and things you can check out. Jonathan, I know you’re traveling and thank you for joining us. I appreciate it. How you doing?

JONATHAN FODERA 02:28

I’m doing great, trying to get us a nice view in the background as we’re going through this. So guys, thanks. Thanks for bearing with me. And hopefully I don’t come in choppy. I wanted to kind of help and educate everyone a little bit about business credit, right. So everyone understands that you have your personal credit score, right? And that drives almost every thing that you do. Okay, including getting an SBA loan, a line of credit, buying a car buying a house, well, your business also has a credit score, okay, and it works the same way. But it’s different than your personal credit. All right. So when you’re going and maybe applying for larger jobs with a municipality, when you’re trying to get a piece of equipment, or even get a large loan or an SBA loan, your business credit comes into play. So it’s very important that when you’re doing this, you understand that you have you know, you work on your business credit, and you work on your personal credit. All right now, Scott, if if anyone has any questions, because I can’t see their comments, or if you think

SCOTT PEPER 03:39

the question I usually get and I think it’ll be good for you to touch on this would be just what is business credit Exactly? Like how does how do I get like, like I own a business, but how do I how does my business get a credit score and where do I see it or find it? That’s not something I typically hear? That’s the common most common question I get from our clients or other folks out there.

JONATHAN FODERA 03:59

Got it. So the easiest way to say hey, where can you check your business credit? Dun and Bradstreet, Dun and Bradstreet and Experian are probably two of the more reputable business credit bureaus. All right, and we’ll go into how to establish business credit. Next, right so as soon as you start your company, you get your federal tax ID. Once you have that federal tax ID you can go and apply for your DUNS number with Dun and Bradstreet number. Right. And that’s basically the start of you getting an establishing your business credit. Now, the reason why business credit is important besides for financing, it allows you to separate your business and your personal to an extent not completely separate but to an extent. And what that does is now you can go out and get trade lines from vendors which also helps with your cash flow. Right. So if you can get net 15 or net 30 terms from your vendors Okay, instead of putting that on a line of credit or a credit card, that’s going to help smooth out your cash flow and ultimately allow you to grow the business a little bit faster. Right? So, I want to go over five things that people usually get wrong. Okay, when you establish your business credit, and this will really help. Okay, they’re called the Five fungibility factors. One, you need a business phone number that’s an it can’t be a Google Voice number, it has to be listed to the business. The next one is a business email. So many people have, you know, Scott peeper. Mobilization funding at Gmail, right? How many times have you seen that when someone applies? Or at Yahoo. Okay, it needs to be, you know, Jonathan, at integrated business, finances, super easy to set that up. Just go to Google, and you get a business account, it’s G Suite, and it costs you like $9 a month. So if you’re listening, and you haven’t done that, please make sure you have all this stuff done. Okay. Next is a business address. Okay, and the business address cannot be a Pio box. Now, a lot of people say, Well, hey, John, I’m home based. That’s fine. You can put your home address there. Okay. But you have to have a business address. Okay.

SCOTT PEPER 06:22

Because your business address have to be your mailing address, Jonathan,

JONATHAN FODERA 06:25

it does not have to be the mailing address. Okay. Okay. But it absolutely shouldn’t be a Pio box. You know, we both know being in the industry, we’re in Pio boxes usually indicate. Usually, there’s some level that can be some level of fraud. Having a Pio box, nothing’s verifiable, right, you’re literally just sending your mail to one location. So make sure you have a business dress. Now. Here’s where it’s super simple to tie in. All of those three things need to be on a business website. Okay, this website can be one page. It can be a simple one page website. All right, but not having is going to have you fail out of those five fungibility factors. All right, and the next and the most obvious, having a business bank account. Okay, have a business bank account. So if you have all those things, then what I would tell you to do is go to Dun and Bradstreet and make sure all those things are listed anywhere that your business is online, any web presence you have, should have all those things and they should all match. All right, when when something is pulled, and there’s conflicting information, it can actually hurt your business credit and hurt anything that you’re doing in the lending process. Does that make sense?

SCOTT PEPER 07:50

Does. So those are the five main things that like a Dun and Bradstreet or Experian are gonna look at as sort of the like, what I would call the you didn’t say this, but I’m calling them like prerequisites to be able to have business credit. And once you meet those five basic things, you can, you’re now eligible to have a business credit score, or more importantly, you’re gonna get a business credit score, no matter what you want to make sure you have one that’s going to be positive. And if you have one that’s negative, because you don’t even have it set up. That’s going to be a problem. So I guess my next question to you is, then, how does Dun and Bradstreet decide on what my business’s credit score should

JONATHAN FODERA 08:29

be? Well, that’s a great question. So the challenge that most people have with establishing and building business credit, besides what we prereqs we just went over is that business credit, only, only 7% of companies actually report. Okay? So you want to make sure that you’re using companies that are reporting and you’re opening up trade lines, okay, don’t buy trade lines, you’re opening up trade lines that your company is using, so I’ll give you some real easy ones every single business can use staples can use best can use UI, okay, when you go and apply these places you want to apply using your DUNS number. All right, because then it’s going to report to Dun and Bradstreet and just like a credit card when you go there, use the business credit okay, they might start your off super low, you use the business credit and then you pay it off at the end.

Continuously open up trade lines. So if you have a vendor, see if they can give you terms and they can report all right. So if you know you need the same materials Job and Job out, okay, and you always go Don’t use one supply house, try to get terms from them and see if they report when this matters because some municipalities, okay, and some of the larger jobs you can bid on. If you don’t, if you don’t have a certain business credit score, they might not let you get the government work or the municipality work. On the on the other side, if you go and you try to get equipment financing, let’s say you need a backhoe, okay, but you have no business credit. getting that approved is going to be tough, I just had a friend of mine. Try to buy a lot of trucks and a lot of trailers, but she didn’t have anything recent on her business credit. So we it was, it’s been a much harder process than if she had established business credit that she was actively using. And she does have a good credit score. So this stuff matters, especially when you’re trying to grow and scale your business.

SCOTT PEPER 10:56

Please do so I guess one of the questions is, can you get your supplier or your trade partner to actually report like, for example, if you have subcontractors that you’re using labor, that you’re hiring subcontract labor? Or you’re ordering from the supply house? And it maybe they’re not a large class? Or maybe they are due? Can you ask them all the report? Or do they already I guess too much? Do they already report standard? And if not, can you require ask them to is that something that can be done, you don’t want to wait to know if they’re reporting is to actually pull it. So we can pull this credit integrated. Most people are not reporting. That’s just the fact most people are reporting the ones I gave you. You know you on Best Buy staples, they should report. But those are smaller trade lines just to get an establishing going now, what I go

JONATHAN FODERA 12:02

alright, typically, if we build somebody’s credit, right, their business credit, we can build $50,000 and trade lines within six months, that’ll normally take, you know, 12 to 18 months. Alright. But it is important because as you go on, and as you try to scale your business, take on bigger jobs, and you need to buy equipment, or maybe an SBA loan, you really want that established. So you can ask anybody to report. And hopefully they do, I don’t think you can require it. But if you have open business relationships, and you’re working with, you know, like, let’s say you’re working with my team, we can see if we can have that self report, which would add to that trailer,

SCOTT PEPER 12:41

when you said when you said it’s really expensive. Are you talking specifically about the DUNS program that they try to sell? Are you saying it’s just expensive to have business credit in general?

JONATHAN FODERA 12:51

It’s not expensive to have business credit. But DUNS does have a done for you service. Okay, that is expensive. So you

13:00

don’t need that necessarily.

13:02

You do not need that.

SCOTT PEPER 13:03

Alright, so if I’m a business owner, I want to have established business credit, I see the value in it. I have a business I meet the five fungibility fungibility criteria that I need. I do buy from Staples or Uline. So I have some small credit there, I might even have a credit card that I’m using in the business that isn’t the business name that can be paid for. But I still don’t have a lot of business credit. How do I build that up? What can I do? You want to just open more trade lines, trade lines. So what does Dun and Bradstreet do that as a service? Or do you offer as a service in order to help build those trade lines up to where I can have 50,000 helped my business credit shows I’m worthy of a $50,000 credit limit or 100? Or more or whatever?

JONATHAN FODERA 13:55

Yeah, so what we do is we have a team that specializes in it. So you would, you know, inquire about that first. We don’t we don’t offer that to anybody, unless we’ve actually pulled their business credit first. Because if they already have established business credit that’s really strong. We don’t want to pay for something that we’re really not going to help. So what we would do is we’d have a review, we would do a review with you. And then if we think that we can really help and add value, we would connect you with our team, they would they would literally direct you who to apply how to use it. You know when to go on to that next level, that next vendor, because what happens is a lot of these companies change who reports and who does, right so it’s we our team stays on top of who’s reporting how they’re reporting and what bureaus they’re reporting to. So let’s say somebody only reports to Experian and we need them to report to Dun and Bradstreet, we can actually go in there and self report so that that’s really how the service works now. If you are in construction In one manufacturing or anything like that, the other way, use your business credit, right? So let’s say your business credit is established, and you need to get a $40,000 piece of equipment. Well, you should be financing that equipment, because that will absolutely report, we can help you finance that equipment, it’ll absolutely report to your business credit. And as you build your what you’re doing is you’re putting comparable debt on your business credit. So let’s say this time we got your $40,000 piece of equipment, maybe in six months from now, business is growing, you want to get an $80,000 piece of equipment? Well, you have comparable debt on your business credit profile, which makes it an easier transaction to get done.

SCOTT PEPER 15:45

Does that usually does that usually result in like lower interest rates on equipment or better, better terms?

JONATHAN FODERA 15:53

It can. Absolutely.

SCOTT PEPER 15:58

So all right, so let me change gears on you for a second on that. So let’s say I have a business, it’s been well established. It’s it’s five, six years old, I have some business credit. But then I had a bad project or a bad job. And my credit gets hurt both couldn’t be personally but definitely in the business credit gets hurt or dinged. What can I do to repair that? Or fix it or make it better?

JONATHAN FODERA 16:24

It depends on what was damaged there. Right, like personal credit would work a little bit differently personal credit is your your 30 days behind on a car payment, right? Business credit. It’s going to depend on what trade line it is, how big was that trade line? And you know, How late are you if you pay it and bring it current that’s going to help you. Also if you have a few established other trade lines that are strong and larger, that’s going to help you like credit is oh, wait on one, are you making all your payments on time to how many trade lines are how many? How many people have issued your credit? And three? What is your utilization? Right? So anytime that happens, it’s alright, you want to you got to bring it current, and then use it the right way. Okay, and then ultimately, if you can open up more tradelines and use them and make sure their current that’s always going to show a positive pay history. Gotcha. So,

SCOTT PEPER 17:28

again, going back to construction, or manufacturing, because that’s a lot of our clients and our audience, in the business credit world outside of equipment financing, and maybe an SBA loan. And frankly, a lot of the SBA loans that I’ve seen given to a client, it relies so little on the business credit side to help them get it necessarily as much as it does like the financials and the cash flows and the tax return the general business itself. Where what priority should we be putting our business credit in when it comes to trying to get a loan on the business?

JONATHAN FODERA 18:03

Oh, equipment financing is really where it’s going to come into play. Okay. And then I would say bidding on municipality work or government work comes into play SBA, like you said, sometimes it does make a difference, right. But for the most part, like or a very, very large transaction. Like I know, a couple FinTech companies that if the business credit is not strong, and you’re trying to get more than let’s say 200,000 300,000, that will, that will absolutely factor. Okay. But an SBA loan, like you said, it’s primarily going to be what’s, what’s the financials? how profitable were you? What is your personal credit? What collateral Do you have, you know, to support and backup the money that you’re trying to borrow?

SCOTT PEPER 18:51

Okay. You know, one of the questions, does it help business credit if your financials are done by a CPA versus internally prepared? Or if you get reviewed or audited financials? Will that help business credit?

JONATHAN FODERA 19:06

No, that that really doesn’t come into play. There’s business grade, that’s kind of like, personal credit to right. So it just it’s always reporting is who’s offered you credit? How have you paid them back? And what did you utilization?

SCOTT PEPER 19:22

Okay. So for everyone that’s listening online, a couple things I want to point out first, if you have any questions, go ahead and put them right in the q&a box. And I’ll be able to answer the ask these straight directly. In the meantime, I’ll keep tick fire off the questions that I’ve gotten in advance that people have provided to me. So hopefully, I’m doing a good job and getting those questions out and anything I normally hear. So I’ll switch gears, we’ll go ahead and do that in the q&a box now, if you’d like and I’ll pull those up.

JONATHAN FODERA 19:49

And hey, and anyone that’s listening, if you guys want to know where your business credit is, just reach out. I’ll try to get a link in there to schedule a time to speak, if you guys need help with anything, or you could just reach out and message me, I am traveling, I’ll be back in the office tomorrow. So please bear with me, if I don’t get back to you until tomorrow.

SCOTT PEPER 20:12

For everyone that’s on, we’ll put Jonathan’s contact information, his website, on the LinkedIn post when we recycle this back out, and we’ll make sure that it’s attached and in a spot where you guys can grab all that. Um, so Jonathan, going back to, outside of business credit, let’s talk a little bit about the lending side of it. And as it relates to business credit, so let’s say, you know, my business credit I’ve not paid attention to, I don’t really need to buy equipment, I do want to make sure I have, I don’t want it to hurt me, it leaves maybe can’t help me, but I don’t want to hurt me. What are some other things that I can do to make sure that I get any equipment now? But what about I don’t have business credit, what are some things I can do to make sure I can qualify for the equipment or the vehicles that I want? Or if I am thinking about getting an SBA loan or some other type of business loan, what are things that I can do now that I should be paying attention to, in addition to business credit?

JONATHAN FODERA 21:14

Well, a couple of things is one anytime you take financing or apply financing, you should know where where you stack up, where you stand. So how’s your personal credit? How’s your business credit? You know, very, very rarely, do you see what we call a corporate only business transaction. And that’s just somebody that is solely using their business credit, to get a piece of equipment. And for that, you have to have outstanding business credit. And typically, I believe, either five years in business or seven years in business, and have a lot of comparable debt. Okay? Now, for the average business owner. Okay, what you can do is you can check on Dun and Bradstreet, make sure your business credit is one established and two looks alright. And your personal credit, right, because equipment financing, those are, those are going to be two of the bigger factors that weigh in one if you get approved or not. And two, how much you get approved for. And the other thing they like seeing is on the right is want to see comparable debt. All that means is if you’re a logistics company, you know, you’ve financed trucks and trailers in the past, or if you’re in construction, you know, you finance a couple bobcats, you finance a couple of combat shoes, whatever, whatever it is that heavy equipment that you use it, okay, so having that comparable debt on there is very helpful. And if you don’t have comparable debt, because you’re younger company, my suggestion is make sure that you have strong personal credit, strong business credit, you keep a decent amount of cash in the bank, and then I can help you get, you know, those first couple pieces financed, then they get seasoned or aged and then they’re on your business credit profile. And then it’s easier if you go back and let’s say six months or 12 months to get another piece financed.

SCOTT PEPER 23:08

So one question from on, we just got from Russell, what type of financials? Let me open that up. What type of financials like what kind of revenue position? Business Owner FICO scores yours in business collateral would a subcontract or typically need to establish a line of credit with like a commercial bank or credit union? What do you see as the minimums to establish with a line of credit with a bank? So I guess the question, if I were summarizing here, this credit is given what are some of the minimum expectations that a bank, in your opinion is trying to see if they want to get a traditional line of credit? And I get, let’s just say, for this not articulating here, let’s just say it’s an appropriate size line of credit for whatever you need for the business that says,

JONATHAN FODERA 23:55

Yeah, happy to help, I can only answer to what my programs would look like. Mine are pretty traditional. So for a line of credit, you’re going to want to see two years in business, at least $30,000 a month in revenue, eight, eight plus deposits, okay. So you want more deposits going into the bank, you want steady cash flow, when I say steady cash flow. You don’t want to see any negative days. You want to keep rule of thumb between five and 10% of whatever your top line sales are, as an average daily balance. So let’s say you’re doing $50,000 a month. Ideally, we’d like you to have $5,000 average debt average daily balances on the low end of the credit spectrum 650. Anything above 650 is a plus. So those that’s where I would say your bare minimum or that’s where the credentials would be. So two years in business A 650 credit, at least $30,000 a month in revenue and good cash flow.

SCOTT PEPER 25:08

I can add to that question too. I just attended a conference two weeks ago where some of the larger banks and some of the smaller regional size banks, but six different banks were there. And they talked about their criteria, there was a few things that I took away from that one was they all care about personal credit, for sure. Even though it’s on your business, they absolutely care about that. The minimums ranged exactly from as low as 570. But that was specific to a micro loan product by one credit union only here that happened to be local, and those loans only went up to 15 grand. But the minimum threshold was really that 640 or above, for significant lines of credit, they wanted to see 680 and even over 700. And then that was just personal credit, the business needed to be able to show that it could cashflow, typically one and a half times the debt service to be able to handle a traditional loan like an SBA loan, if it was a line of credit. They didn’t give specific criteria on set, well, they gave a criteria on the credit. But from a business perspective, they want to see that it’s appropriately sized, they are going to have specific uses for that line of credit, they want to see it used and paid down, almost nearly used and paid down on a monthly basis. Even if you were to use it, pay it down and immediately redraw the next day, they want to be able to see that you’re using that line of credit as not alone, but more as a use of free cash to handle differences between payment terms that you may have with a supplier or payroll bridging gap bridging the gap between when you’re paying not and they want to see the financial discipline on being able to do that hard to do when you don’t have a line of credit. And in some of the industries. They were just just completely agnostic to the fact that if you were in construction, for example, some banks just weren’t going to do that at all. So I would say aside from other things you can do in personal credit, do not make the assumption that all banks are the same. Find your smaller community size banks where you can have a relationship with a specific banker and get in now, before you ever need or want a line of credit, you’re going to need to build a long term relationship with them face to face, somebody that can work and advocate on your behalf. That was the biggest takeaway I took from them, they made that point clear. So get in, build a relationship with them. Make sure you have some deposit accounts, let your face be seen. Show them a business plan, show them where you’re going what you’re trying to establish, let them know you don’t need them right now. But you really are going to look forward to them on as you execute, give them that give that banker the information that you can submit to and start building that rapport. Are there any other questions in there? At the moment? Jonathan, I have a question for you. What are some of the tip? What’s a typical question or two that you are typically asked, but no one’s asked, or I haven’t asked you yet today?

JONATHAN FODERA 28:20

about business credit, or just in general?

SCOTT PEPER 28:22

I’d say business credit for sure. But if there’s some other nugget in there, yeah, definitely. But any other questions on business credit or repairing?

JONATHAN FODERA 28:30

Or I think I think the biggest thing is people ask when should I do? Right? That’s not that’s one of the things that everyone wants to know. And the truth of the matter is, it’s like planting a tree. The best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago, the next best time is today. All right. So the thing is, with business credit, it does take time. Okay, it takes time to build. So you want to start today. Okay, anytime you want to apply for financing, think about it. Scott, we see We help business owners all the time get financing to grow their business. However, how many times does somebody wait to wait or wait till they absolutely need the financing to reach out instead of contacting us prior to when they need it? planning it out? And understanding you know, that you want to be in a good position like the best time to apply for financing is when you don’t need it. Why? Because your credits probably strong, your cash flows probably strong. We’re going to be able to get your line of credit. We’re going to be able to get your project project funding, we’re going to be able to help you right you don’t want to wait until there’s been a severe need the cash flows banged up. You started you know leveraging your personal credit cards to float things and now your personal credit is is struggling. So with business credit. The best time to start is when you start your business, okay, but if you’ve never focused on it. It’s something you should look into today. And if you need help reach out, I’m happy to do it. All right, that’s something all type of financing you want to apply when you don’t need it.

SCOTT PEPER 30:14

I would add one thing. It’s funny, you said that that I also took from that conference was you. There’s three folks you need to get on early before you ever need them. And that’s your CPA, your banker and your attorney. And so I think you just hit the nail on the head right there you want you want to put those folks on your team in your corner and be communicating with them way before you ever need them or ever crisis. Those are going to be your best friends and business outside of outside of your current immediate team, of course. Absolutely. Does anyone else have any other questions? You do? Put them in the chat. Jonathan, is there anything you want to we’re coming up on our time here? And I want to make sure I’m appreciative of everyone’s time. But is there anything that you want to add? Talk about that we haven’t touched on? I don’t see any other questions popping up in the chat?

JONATHAN FODERA 31:07

Nope, I appreciate you, brother. Thank you. This was a, we made this happen. I’m super happy we we could get this done. And I appreciate you. And it was we’re both here to help anybody that’s watching. So you know, you’re you’re in good hands.

SCOTT PEPER 31:22

And I will make sure I get on the comments and LinkedIn. Jonathan’s information where you can reach him at I’ll also, it’ll also, of course, be on our website and the replay of this where you can always access on our YouTube channel, on my LinkedIn, you’ll be able to see this, but it’ll be also a link to our website. And we’ll make sure we have all the info there. So between our YouTube or website and the LinkedIn, there’ll be three places you can find that as well as Jonathan’s website directly. Awesome.

AUTUMN SULLIVAN 31:52

Wonderful. All right. Thank you guys. Thanks for great conversation. Thank you, everyone, for joining us. And yes, I will make sure that all the links are in the YouTube description and in the replay email if you registered via zoom. Excellent.

SCOTT PEPER 32:04

Thank you all for joining us. We really appreciate it. Have a great rest of your day and enjoy the rest of your week. Bye bye

Is college REALLY the only path to a stable income and rewarding career? Is construction REALLY a “dead-end” job?

Of course not. But many Americans believe them to be true.

It’s important for those of us in construction to change the narrative, raise awareness, and offer a new perspective for the industry.

This was a panel conversation featuring leaders from the skilled trades and higher education. We focused on the pros and cons of going to college or going into the trades, the myths versus the reality for both, and how the best solution for people might not be an “either/or” mentality, but a path that can encompass both.

Autumn Sullivan 01:40

So we have we have people joining, and we have a lot to talk about. So let’s go ahead and get started. Thank you, everyone for joining us today. With me, as always is my co host and the CEO of mobilization funding. Scott Cooper. Hi, Scott.

Scott Peper 01:56

Welcome. Thank you. Welcome, everybody.

Autumn Sullivan 02:00

And our guests today are we have a Selye Mubarak, who is an author and keynote speaker in the construction industry. We have Natasha Sherwood, who is the Executive Director for independent electric Electrical Contractors Association of is it West Florida or

Natasha Sherwood 02:16

Florida, Florida, west coast, but it’s it’s everywhere except for four counties.

Autumn Sullivan 02:22

And we have Matt Vetter, who is the president of Shaffer construction. Thank you all so much for being here with us.

Matt Vetter 02:28

Thank you. Thank you.

Saleh Mubarak 02:29

Thanks for having us.

Autumn Sullivan 02:31

Um, to kick it off, I would like to ask each of you to share your story on how you got into the construction industry. And also, I want to know whether or not you went to college? Where do we start?

Natasha Sherwood 02:45

I’ll start. Like, I’ll just run with it. My name is Natasha shoreway. How did I get into the construction industry and my dad was a construction attorney. So that’s probably how I first got into it as a as a kid. But then am I was actually a K through 12 principal. And we started addressing education needs and found out that in Hillsborough County, and in Florida, we were importing more in construction labor than we had. And we were actually paying for DMS and I got on a task force that ended up finding can transfer me to this job with anything electrical contractors. And so then really just got in depth with our apprentice program and kind of took on a life of its own. So now run the Florida apprenticeship Association, as well, which runs all kinds of construction, and all kinds of it apprenticeship. So that’s how I landed here. And yes, I went to college for seven football seasons, and received a lot of degrees in that timeframe. None of which Am I using?

Saleh Mubarak 03:46

Likewise, which I share a similar story to that. So why do you want to go next door? Sure.

Saleh Mubarak 03:53

Well, going to college was was not an option. My mom was a school principal, very tough on us. The The thing is, I have a one brother older than me and one sister also older than me, both medical doctors, and another sister who’s a pharmacist. So there was pressure on me to go to the medical field and I kind of you know, registered and then this is back in my home country in Syria that time. And then I changed now I don’t want to be dissecting frogs. And so I changed to civil engineering, which I liked. And in my graduate school here in the US, I did my master’s degree in structures and mechanics. So I had work experience in structural design. And then I found that it’s dry subject. You know, you’re going to sit in by yourself in a cubicle, doing design and I’m, I’m very talkative. I’m, like, you know, I’m a people’s person. So I find aren’t that project management is my cup of tea and I switched I did my PhD at Clemson University. So as they say, my blood runs orange. And I love it. And this is new news. Nobody knows except for my wife. I signed a contract two days ago with why my publisher Whitey, for my third book on construction project management. That’s awesome. Good for you. Thank you. So you guys are my references if I need help, Matt, Scott and Natasha. And, of course, you know, if I need a question and construction management, you are my references, please?

Matt Vetter 05:44

Absolutely, anytime. So, with that, I’m Matt better. I’m the president of Shaffer construction. We are a commercial general contracting firm in southeastern Michigan, I got my start in construction. In my my late high school days, I started on a residential crew, basically carrying wood around the job sites and kind of a general labor. Through that I’ve, I’ve worked in and touched almost every type of construction, I switched into the commercial realm. And right around 2008, when everything was kind of falling apart, I’ve owned several companies. And now, you know, Shaffer construction is where I’m where I’m at, it’s my, it’s my burn the ships project, and we aren’t looking backwards. So we’re rapidly growing and having lots of fun doing it. I did go to college, I graduated from U of M, University of Michigan. I have a weird story about my past, we can get into that maybe later. But my degree is in psychology. And I would say I actually use it probably every day. And when I do.

Saleh Mubarak 06:56

Math, what kind of construction do you do?

Matt Vetter 06:59

So we build everything other than single family homes. We do a lot of light industrial, commercial work. We built office space back when people still use them. You name it, we do it. Vertical construction, not not horizontal, right.

Scott Peper 07:17

For those of you that don’t know, I got my start construction working for my dad he had it was commercial Glaser contract, man, contract laser, doing glass and aluminum. So I wouldn’t be on those job sites in high school and summers, certainly all through college. And like Matt, I just basically did whatever I was told I carried wood, I peel the stickers off of the class. Back when I was doing insulated glass, they actually used to take two panes of glass and a hot rubber gun and insulated themselves. I know that doesn’t exist anymore. But I had plenty of burns from that. As well as peeling all the little stickers off the glass and carrying it to the polisher and who knows what else working even on the cutting table. And that definitely helped me understand that I wanted to get into the construction was fascinating. And I liked it. But I also went to college, mostly because I wanted to play basketball when I left high school and I needed somewhere to continue that dream of mine. But I ended up getting a degree in marketing and business and food, hotel Hospitality Management. And candidly, I probably don’t use much of what I learned there. I’m sure I learned some structure. I learned how to make some friends, I learned how to get in trouble. And fortunately, I made my way out. And so that’s where I land now.

Autumn Sullivan 08:30

Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s a good segue into my next question, which is do you how do you use your, your college education? Now in your construction career? Like Matt, you were talking about that you got a psychology degree, but you feel like you kind of use that every day? So whoever wants to go first? Or if you don’t use it at all?

Natasha Sherwood 09:02

Matt, you’re gonna jump in with psychology? Yeah,

Matt Vetter 09:05

I can I can touch on that. So I, I do feel like I use it every day. You know, my role now is the owner and kind of the guy leading the ship. You know, I deal with everyone from the day laborers on job sites to C suite executives that we’re working for, and, you know, in in sales and marketing in general, learning the human psyche and how, how we all work, how we tick, you know, it’s proven to be very helpful. Now, I would be lying to you if I told you that when I was coming out of high school and going to school, going to college that that was my plan. Right? I mean, my my colleagues and my co workers that have degrees, they have construction management degrees or engineering degrees and you know, normal track education for what they do. So it’s part luck, I think and it’s part you know, the universe working for me but it is It started off really as a, as a field that interested me just on a personal level. And I’ve been able to kind of take that and spin it to help what I do now.

Natasha Sherwood 10:11

I would say I said, I didn’t use any of it, I have degrees in public relations, sports administration, mass communication, and political campaigning, I just thought I would like try to cover all the colleges at the University of Florida and see if I could get something from all of them. And I will be made, I would, again, be remiss to say I don’t use it, I do a lot of legislative and lobbying work, but I’m never running a campaign again in my life. And obviously, I’m sitting here on a webinar, so I use mass communication. But a lot of what I feel like I use from my experience in college is the things that I did outside of that I did while I was in college, but it truly was on the job training. So whether it was working in a legislators office, I work for the football team, and it is that structure it is that dealing with people it is the Getting Things Done. And I think that aspect is really transferred into being able to work well in the construction industry that we do, especially coming in from someone outside, when I came in the past few years is that anywhere I’ve gone, and I probably learned this again, working outside the classroom is learning all the aspects of it. So whether it’s the carrying the wood, or scraping the stickers off, you know, I was trying to learn. So I would go out to my contractors and try to figure out what they were doing. And I think working with people is the part that I probably learned the most of college if definitely wasn’t learning how to like, write the code to do a website back in 1992. Because none of that exists anymore. Right? So some of that coursework is not there. But I think it’s the part that I learned outside of the classroom in college that really transfers into what we’re doing now.

Saleh Mubarak 11:41

I have to interesting story about my using my background. You know, there’s there is a match now between my educational background and what I do, but what I did in the master’s degree was structured design. And I finished that in 1985. So it was a long time. In my work, brief work experience was in 8283 in instructional design. Now fast forward, maybe almost 30 years from now, If Natasha, you are in Tampa, right? Correct. Remember when we had the big hurricane? Was it Irma? Or was it thinking I was almost like 2006 ish timeframe? Like we had like,

oh, no, no, it was something was 2016 17. I don’t remember exactly. But it was a Michael, Michael. Michael. Yes, Michael. So it was funny that at that time I was with my mother who passed away later on. She lived with my brother and sister in Panama City, Florida. And my children, the you know, all the guys put they have an annual trip. They went outside the United States at that time and they left their wives and kids and we felt my wife and I sorry that the wives and we have one daughter and two daughters in law. They were without their their husbands. We have to go back to Tampa. So we drove back and we looked like crazy on the highway. Everyone was leaving Tampa when we were the only vehicle driving coming back to Tampa. A shock was when they decided that they wanted to go so they travel all of them all the you know, ladies with the children, they traveled to Atlanta, we have relatives in Atlanta and I told my wife, I’m not leaving Tampa. So I decided to with the limited means I had to board my glass doors and so on and I used my structural background, I told my wife, I said, failure happens because of deflections. And the deflections happened in the middle of the pain. You know, talking about glass, scotch. So I pulled some furniture, I got some two by fours I had and some boards. And I bought all my house and said I’m not leaving. And we got stuck on the TV waiting for the news. And then and we prepared and walk in closet to sleep in and then by 11 o’clock pm. I remember the good news that it’s not going to be as bad. Right?

Autumn Sullivan 14:25

Which is always one thing with hurricanes in the Tampa Bay. Well knock on wood so far that has been I think

Natasha Sherwood 14:33

it’s because there’s Jose Gasper is gold is buried in Tampa Bay and no hurricane get hit. According to my dad, I get structural engineering forget anything else. The whole thing is in causes gold is down there somehow helping us. Yeah, and I

Scott Peper 14:46

have heard that many times myself.

14:49

cavalier about it? Yeah.

Autumn Sullivan 14:52

I think you guys all touched on a really interesting point. And it’s one of the things I want to focus on in this webinar, too is is the whole fact that it’s Learning like college is a way to learn. And we’ve also talked about, you know, we all have probably, I guess, by our ages and slay you are nice enough to announce how long you’ve been Where you’ve been working. But it’s it’s your education over time. It’s not just one way one method and college can be that. But it doesn’t have to be that immediately after high school, I can tell you personally, I would have benefited much better learning in college, if I went in four or five years later, I can also tell you that I’ve learned more from the books that I’ve read than I ever did in college, cumulatively. And even even candidly, from even some of the experience of certain work experiences I’ve had, I probably learned more from books, I certainly today in my everyday life, implement, use, and actively apply the things I’ve learned from a book in my everyday life that I that I couldn’t even draw a line to, and anything I learned in a classroom or a study. Now, I’m not an accountant or a doctor or a civil engineer. So there’s some there’s some perspective to have there. But what I think is, it’s the maturity level of going from high school directly into a college and trying to indoctrinate yourself into what do you want to learn, and oftentimes, you go to college, you don’t even know what you want to major in yet. And I think you couple that with an expensive cost to it. And then you look at the practical nature, what happens when you get out life? economy, jobs, inflation, other things, and you realize quickly that that might not have been the best thing for me at the moment. Is there anything that you guys can touch on as to why you think there’s a stereotype that you have to go do that? And for the people that don’t? Why don’t why does it okay, are just as accepted to jump out into that? And I guess what’s related to construction a little bit to Scotty, I

16:53

think, like,

Saleh Mubarak 16:55

I was going to say, I may not agree with you that going to college? Well, it can happen four or five years later, but I would say the United States has a very flexible academic, you know, system that allows you and we are the only country as far as I know, as far as I know, in the world, that allows you to go the first year freshman as undeclared. And then the other flexibility is that, okay, let’s say you you chose marketing, after two years of studying marketing, you said, That’s not for me, I like computers, I want to switch to it. So they allow you to switch, yes, you may lose a couple of credits, but at least they allow you many other systems in other countries, they don’t allow you. But what you say what you said, applies to graduate school. During my work as a professor, I get people who come to me once want to do a master’s degree, and they want me to be there, you know, to supervise their thesis and so on. And I see a profound difference between those who did have work in engineering or construction after the bachelor degree, and then come back later, 10 years later, five years later to do the masters. And those who want to do it immediately after the bachelor degree, I will mention only one difference. Those who don’t have experience, they come to me and say, Professor, can you give me a subject to do my thesis on the others have subjects on mind? And they want me to critique I want to do with this or this. So that’s, but it’s very interesting. I promised autumn that I have a brief PowerPoint presentation on experience versus education. As much as time allows us, I can I can show you a few words, slides.

Natasha Sherwood 18:58

I think that’s changed some too, even though it gives us I have a daughter as a freshman in college now. And I have a high school sophomore, and as they are, she had to you can apply undeclared, but like when I applied it, no one declared a major but so many of them you are applying to certain colleges even even as a freshman now I think that is leading into some of that disconnect, you know, my my freshman who my who just finished her years changed her major three times and you know, eight months, right you know, I mean, she went in this pre med and I think she’s coming out as accounting or some you know, it’s it’s a little bit of craziness on that and I think from some of the studying I’ve done I was a K through 12 principle I put it in my bio I am like a recovering college for everybody. I ran a school for low income students to try to make them college ready thinking that that’s how I was going to solve or contribute to my community like that’s that’s what I was going to do to make a difference until we started finding out that there were options that were not only fulfilling and essential you know that crazy word I never want to hear right essential is one of those words we can we can ban from addiction arena we can be happy is that I wasn’t exposed that that was a career and I, from my research and so forth, a lot of that happened post kind of World War Two. So you went into that area that was at 1944 timeframe when it started becoming the push towards college rather than hard work. And there’s even a poster that says, you know, work smarter rather than harder, and that somehow hard work became the bad thing. And so I think that’s what they have, I believe led to some of the idea that college and then we, we sold a somewhat of a lie. And I’ll say I sold somewhat of a lie that college was a way to escape poverty. And that college was going to be the answer. And whether that was basketball, so let’s play sports to get you out of poverty to get you into college, or let’s do really good in school, they get you out of poverty and, and then what we’ve done is created a gap of skills that we all need. And we’ve created a gap of with people with education that doesn’t necessarily fit what they’re passionate about. And we’ve somehow to an extent as a mom, a high schooler, but we’re starting to, in my personal opinion, ruined some of high school. You know, my, my high schooler can’t take the classes that she’s liked to, that she’s to have fun and learn and actually learn about so she wants to learn about marine biology. But we’re telling we, her guidance counselor, Tiller is no need to take AP Physics and AP, calc A B and A B BC. And she’s like, I hate math. But if you want to get into college, you’ll take D she’s like, but I want to work with sharks. I want to take marine biology, you know, and so it has trickled down. And at some point, I believe we’re making that turn kinda like the hurricane that turned off in a far right, we’re just not turning quite as quickly as some of those Hurricanes were kind of turning slowly. But I think we’re starting to see that, that gap, as in need to fill and so you go back to Scott, when you said kind of about accounting or med school, I, my personal thing is, and maybe 10 to 15 years, we will see college more as an apprentice program. And many of those, if you look at med school, it really kind of is a really the apprentice program, right? Like you are doing related technical instruction during the day. And you are interning and doing other programs. And I think we’ll see a shift towards that, except for things. Engineering is one of the ones I always think of engineering accounting, where there are actual things you learn in class, they’re actually applicable to your class. But I think that’s where we went that post, you know, World War Two, or poverty kind of hit and we wanted to get out of it. And there’s that poster that many of us all, you know, you had the guy working dirty and tired, and the guy had a graduation cap and gown, and somehow one was better than the other instead of both being great additions to our country. Right.

Matt Vetter 22:35

So I think that’s that’s just it, Natasha, and I don’t know that it was even necessarily that long ago, I think within the last 30 years, we have allowed our public school system to go down the toilet. And, and we started removing shop classes from school around 30 years ago, and there was there was economic, purely economic reasoning for that, because you can’t put a standardized test on a shop class or a whole Mac class. You can’t standardize that, and therefore schools can’t can’t fight and gain funding. And, you know, I could go down a rabbit hole of governmental corruption and making the people more reliant on government by forcing us to not learn how to how to handle things on our own, how to build how to create, I don’t know how much time we have or

23:25

part two. Yeah,

Matt Vetter 23:27

but I think that’s just it in that, you know, we’ve we’ve, we’ve told kids, that college has to be the way that if you don’t go to college, you’re going to be the the dirty mechanic, turning a wrench. And somehow, we’ve made we’ve allowed that dirty mechanic to be the poster boy for what we don’t want in life for our children for our futures. You know, and instead, we push kids, you know, 18 year old kids to Scott’s point, and we push them into college, we wrap them up in with hundreds of 1000s of dollars of debt that many of them will never repay. And we kind of kick them off the dock and say, go go swim. And let’s see what happens when we could we could change this scenario, and start pushing more trade based education for those kids that were at Fitz, right. College is a great choice for some. I don’t want my brain surgeon to come in and tell me that he learned how to do brain surgery by watching YouTube videos. But it’s not the right choice for everybody. And I think there needs to be that that distinction made and then a larger effort to kind of popularize and promote trade based education.

24:36

I think it’s important just go ahead.

Scott Peper 24:38

I was just gonna say if if they if the folks come out of college knew that the dirty guy turned on the ranch have a better, much better ability to pay the college debt off. Then they might actually just went into that right out of the start because a lot of folks come out of school and they just want to make as much money as they can. They don’t necessarily have us. That is a high end goal for them. At the top of the list of four or five things more than it is, this is my purpose in life. And this is how I want to attack it. And for those people in particular, I think you might find, go into somewhere where you get some money, you feel good about yourself, you’re making that money, and then maybe you, you find out dig in to the mechanic aspect. You love cars, and you want to either own a car dealership or you want to bring in exotic cars, you can find your niche in there, and then you can go to school for that and slays point you could do that at night or on the Internet, or you could go to school, while you’re going to add to touch I didn’t want to

Natasha Sherwood 25:35

know it’s always it was just tagging on to put that in as we and that’s part of my huge that’s why I was in Tallahassee yesterday is working on those trade schools and apprentice programs and, and presenting them in this is my big part is not in an alternative to college, that is an equal opportunity to college. And that the assumption we need to change the mind frame and so I’ll be at the American guidance counselor’s conference sometime coming up, I think in June, like guidance counselors, teachers, parents, that it is not the alternative just because your kid is not smart, that we will give them a great option that’s, that is trade school. It is that this amazing kid has the option. Every amazing kid has the option of what is best for their future. So is that college is that CTE career technical education is that an apprenticeship is that trade school? And I go back to my daughter who’s number five or 10 in her class. So the child’s like, you know, she’s just got a mind the world. They never asked her if she wanted to go to college. Now, she probably will. They just assumed that she wanted to. And they were making her drop her career technical education that said, she’ll be vet tech certified. When she graduates she’ll probably make more money than me with regret she could if she wanted to graduate high scoring, she culinary marine biology, she was they were telling her she had to drop one of those. And not even finding out what her passion was. They just assumed that college was the answer. And that’s the part that I think the biggest the tag on to what Matt was saying is lame at some point, gotta figure out what people students are passionate about, or want to do. So then when they go into the workforce, whether it is as an engineer, as in construction, whether it’s marketing, whether it’s running in association, that you can be passionate about it and want to go do well. And just assuming that college is it can be it may be the right thing. Like it can be great. It is a great, man, I have great time in college. Don’t get me wrong, I like going back. But I think the same as I would have done a lot better. My graduate school grades are a lot better than my undergraduate school grades. You know, because I I appreciate it. I read books for information rather than the night before hoping to pass an exam. And so I think that’s the part is in it’s even lower than high school. We’re working with middle schoolers now. So we’re working with Junior Achievement and middle schoolers. And it’s like you have this big gap. Everybody remembers kindergarten when you had like, let’s learn about the helpers week. So you learned about firemen and you learned about you know, law enforcement and did we ever bring in a mechanic? Probably not. But who fixes your car and who builds your building? But then after kindergarten we stop right we forget about any kind of helpers and all we worry about is social emotional learning and this and that. And and then it’s high school and oh yeah. Do you remember in kindergarten which which which helper Do you want to be? And so it’s that aspect of you know what that mechanic turning the wrench may have to Corvettes in a really nice pickup in his backyard to you know, that he paid for without debts. And those are good. You got to make construction sexy.

Autumn Sullivan 28:33

That’s the that’s so I love what you just said we have in Florida we have. We have the great American teacher. I don’t know why it’s called the Great American when apparently only Florida participates in it. But but maybe it’s just aspirational, and we need more states to get on board. But I went and talked to my daughter’s kindergarten class about what it meant to be a professional writer like to make writing your career. And I was thinking to myself, gosh, we should really have a campaign where like construction leaders and laborers come in and talk about what they do for a living like they were interested that I wrote for a living but what they really wanted was for me to read them a kid’s book right because they’re kindergarteners. But if my husband had gone in and brought like ductwork and talked about H fac they would have been fascinated because duct work looks cool, right? Like they they’re a bulldozer

29:23

or Right exactly. It’s you step on in the middle of the night when you have little kids you know they just goes because the fire man brings the fire truck and the police officer brings her police her cruiser you know so So bringing back you know bringing back the the fascination with construction as a career and at a young age I think is an important part. I’m interested though because all of you used the same you know, dirty mechanic stereotype. And yes, the eye That is the stereotype around construction, right? There are lots of negative stereotypes around construction and lots of really positive stereotypes around going to college. I am curious if that is, if there is a chicken in the egg component to the culture problems that we see in construction? Do we have the problems we have in construction in terms of culture? Because we were painted this way? Or are we painted this way? Because we have our cultural problems. And anyone who wants to jump in on that question is it’s from an outsider’s perspective. I’m curious about that. Because my construction career started when I started here at mobilization funding.

Natasha Sherwood 30:38

I think it starts with why is dirty, bad? Right. So why is getting dirty, bad? So, you know, I think that’s probably where you get it. And I don’t know which psychology match the chicken or the egg, which, you know, what is it but I think it is that assumption, and it goes back to working hard is not bad. Working dirty is not bad. And that just, you know, and, you know, wasn’t bad when you were a kid to get your hands dirty. Now we sent you know, Hannah ties everything. And heaven forbid, you know, you, you eat some dirt. So I think, in my opinion, it probably starts somehow that dirty is bad. And we associated hard work and being sweaty because, hey, that’s hard. I don’t know,

Matt Vetter 31:18

when it’s, I think it’s our language. It’s how we communicate. So we talk about things right? When I was in high school, voc tech is what we call it. Right? And you could do that. But it was the burnouts, right? It was the kids who were barely hanging on to a high school diploma by a thread that would go and do voc tech. And it was, you can go to college and have have the crown or you can be the burnout and have no options in life. It shouldn’t be pasted as an alternative, it should just be an option. Yes. Yes, I agree. But autumn to your point about culture. I’m going to push back a bit, I don’t think we have a cultural problem in construction. I think, I think the United States in general, as a culture has a problem recognizing that, I think that we have a very vibrant and healing culture that I see. I mean, certainly not in my company, but in in the general industry around us. I think the culture is there, I think people recognize that you can start as a laborer, you could dig a ditch today, but you can own the excavation company, and in 10 years and 15 years, and it, you know, I’m not trying to crap on the construction, or the excuse me, the college route at all, I just think it needs to be on an equal footing as an option, and not one better than the other. Because kids learn differently. Kids have different motivations. And we need to push that men that message to create the culture that we want in this industry.

Saleh Mubarak 32:48

Right. Right. Right. Yeah, I agree with Matt, that it should be an option. And there is a stigma, it’s much worse in other cultures outside the United States that if you don’t go to college, you, you’re doomed to be a low class and so on. So I think in Germany, they have the, the vocational route very well, you know, discipline, and people that are very well respected, and so on. And I mentioned to autumn in a previous conversation, that one of the things, the differences between experience and education is that in experience, you learn how to do it. But in education, you know, also why you do it this way. So for, for example, in reinforced concrete, and I’m, I’m a concrete kind of person, we put the rebar, sometimes in the slab, sometimes on the top, sometimes in the bottom. Why do we do that? You know, that when we explained that in education, but I want to go back to work quickly, to one point about following your passion. I’m a strong advocate of following my passion. And I have five kids, none of them is in engineer so I didn’t put any any pressure on them. Two of them are in the car industry. One works with BMW, the other one with Nissan, and one who might end the I end, my own son, my fourth son, who is crazy about sports, all sports, especially basketball. And now he got a job as a event manager, sports event manager, International Academy. So but at the same time, there is a problem with following your passion, that you get the tunnel vision. You don’t want to learn other supportive subjects, and you focus too much on a narrow niche that this is my passion. I do I want to learn anything about marketing computers, this, this this. And I think that college education gives you the rounded knowledge, which is really, really important. I’m sure that all of you guys probably listen to Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford University. And he mentioned how his those courses he took in graphic design came back. So this rounded knowledge, let’s say history took, you know, I had the issues with my older son, who is OCD. And who would ace some courses, take a and other courses flunk them, you know, he cannot be dumb. Otherwise, he would flunk everything. And he would question that why I’m studying this, why should I take a course in history. And I said, Son, it’s rounded knowledge, that rounded knowledge is good. If you sit in a, you know, with a bunch of guys discussing history, geography, politics, I think you should know a little bit about that. So that’s the problem with following your passion blindly. Without the rounded knowledge,

Scott Peper 36:12

you guys have all touched on something that I heard many say in our just collective individual conversations, whether I’ve talked to you folks or even just our clients. And it’s one thing that I draw attention to is the construction industry, I think is very unique in that if you think about the macro factors of the world that can help you or hurt you. It’s not if you get those big ones, right, you can lay it on a good path. And I think so often college you have to you’re forced to focus, we’ve talked about focusing or know what you want to do or get into the right spot. And then you have this stigma like healthcare as a doctor or nurse or construction as turning a wrench or dirty. And in reality construction, you can do anything in construction, if you start as turning to try to emit you hit the nail on the head, you could be an executive in finance, you can be a labor, you can be middle senior executive leadership and management, you can be a CEO, you can expand out of construction, if you get bored with one scope, and there’s 50 scopes to go into no building. In addition to that, no matter what is going on in the world, your things are going to be getting destroyed and things are going to be getting built, they’re going to be getting rebuilt, the world’s going to change and need new stuff. And all of it is construction. And one of the things I like to say is construction is really the heartbeat of America and a country anything anyone is doing today is directly tied to the construction world where we set what we do how we go about someone had to build it, someone had to create it and constructions attached to it. And so it’s this industry, and we thought about it like that. And you are any type of skill or any type of desire you want, you could if the message was only Hey, look at construction, you could fit it into the construction industry and all these different 50 different spots. And if you try to compare that to other industries, you might not be able to you get there, maybe there’s only 10 spots you could get into or 20. And if it was framed like that, I think we find a lot more people say, You know what, I’m just gonna go get in that industry. And I’ll figure out what I want to do in any way I can get in return a wrench or whatever, go to school first go school later. I don’t know if you any of you share the same thoughts, or have you heard other people frame it that way, or what’s your general,

Natasha Sherwood 38:32

we frame it that way a lot when we go into especially in schools, so we’re always, always promoting our apprenticeship programs. So the idea is after you know, after high school or even in high school, we’ll start you into the apprentice program. And the idea that once you get in even the electrical industry as a subsection of construction is there’s HR, there’s marketing, there are estimating, there has been specialist some guys are sitting there they you know, if you like playing virtual reality at home, you’d be great been specially you know, so you know, there is so many different routes. So we have even from a national level, and from our IC national organization, as we are out there trying to recruit apprentices is putting those different levels where they can be so in what form and a superintendent, you might be in the office, you might be doing the estimating, you might be doing the sales, you might do the marketing. It’s truly a microcosm of college, where you can do that, where you are dealing with people and when we share our office space with one of our contractors and I love going in there and chatting with him in the the cafe area, you could run into the sales guy talking to the low voltage guy, he’s talking to the cybersecurity guy. He’s talking to the estimating and everybody’s chatting about how when where they got to, but it is an industry that doesn’t doesn’t stop. When I was driving home from Tallahassee. I was frustrated yesterday on the road because there were a million semis in front of me, right, you know, they’re taking up the road and they’re slow and I was trying to get home and then I just stopped from him. I was like, you know, two years ago, we were praying for the roads to be back open, right? We wanted you know, trucks and trucks couldn’t move and half those trucks were filled with, you know, lumber and pipes and you know, and I was like, okay, so Ah, this is your industry, this is what’s building, okay, so I’m gonna slow down and enjoy the drive I didn’t have anywhere to be. But that’s the one thing that didn’t stop in as to your point won’t stop. I mean, we’re in Florida, you’re going to need air conditioning, it doesn’t matter if anything happens, your air conditioner has to work. You don’t you don’t know, no offense map, but you don’t call that, you know, mental health counselor, a psychologist or the psychiatrist, or the public relations person. The one thing that you cannot live without in Florida, is air conditioning. You know, you can, you know, we can live without, you know, hurricanes don’t scare us, unless we’re going to turn off our power, we have generators for air conditioning. You know, nothing else matters. And it’s so it is a industry and a career for all of those paths. So whether you do go in as an accounting degree or whatnot, it is it is a career that is long term, and you can move up in it. I mean, there are ways there are set paths, some places you get, you never know where the next step is. There’s some clear paths in construction on where you want to go if you want to. And some just apps, one of my greatest instructors doesn’t want to do anything he loves being in the field. That’s what he loves. Yeah. And I think we all need to realize that. That is what some people want to do be in the field, be outside, be working with your hands, and that is admirable. And that is honorable. And that is an amazing and lucrative with his ideas when I took about two Corvettes and a pickup truck later.

Matt Vetter 41:26

I think to follow up on soleus point about passion. You know, I think a lot of passion is kind of kind of bullshit. Excuse me, but I don’t think an 18 year old kid knows what passion is. I think you have to go out and experience life for 10 years, 20 years, maybe even longer. Before you really can even know what your what your passion is. And I think I did. I did too. I think the rounded learning that you mentioned, I think that’s that’s critical. I don’t know that it has I don’t think it has to be in college. I think you can get a rounded learning and education through numerous avenues. But I think that’s that’s critical to developing and even finding what our real passions are internally.

Saleh Mubarak 42:12

You’re right, Matt. In fact, in fact, I can take that in big corporations, big disciplined corporations. When a new employee a young employee comes in fresh from college, they rotate him or her on all the, you know, divisions. So they first of all, it’s for two purposes, one of them you should have a my long inch deep knowledge of everything. The second thing is that to find your passion, you find it only after you experience it, it’s not just and I’ll tell I’ll tell you the strangest thing about passion. I was a professor at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia, in the 1990s, between 92 and 98. And one of my best students who wasn’t a student in the program was called construction management. In his third year, he came to me to sign that paper. He said, I’m changing my major. And I said to what he said to history, and I kind of jumped What are you changing from construction management to history? You gotta be crazy. He said, I love history and said, okay, so I signed the paper in the it was the ad dementia. That’s because it’s stuck.

Autumn Sullivan 43:35

Alright, our Chief Customer Officer, John Draco had recently had a post on LinkedIn about how he his college major was art history. And he’s like, No, I, I don’t necessarily use my art history in in what I do now. But I did. But I did learn a lot. And I did learn to learn, right like I it what it taught me was was a continuous love of learning and how to be a good learner. And I think that’s important. And to your point, Matt, I agree. I don’t think that that has to be done in a college setting. I brag all the time that my husband who has a high school diploma is one of the most well read individuals I’ve ever met he out reads me hands down. And, and is has an incredibly well rounded education because of it. But it all happened, you know, on his break in between installing commercial air conditioning systems, because that was his passion. His passion was reading and learning. I want to so we’ve got 15 minutes left. And one of the things I want to talk about is that higher education because I used to work in marketing agencies and I did a lot of marketing for colleges and universities. They spend an awful lot of money, marketing the idea that their education is the path to following your passion. and having two quarterbacks in a pickup truck, right? Like they tell a very effective story. And, and we don’t we construction as an industry does not spend a lot of money on marketing, and especially not on marketing for recruitment purposes. So my question to you guys is what could construction companies be doing that would help tell the story of the potential of our industry to those younger audiences? Natasha, I know you guys do a ton of work with with young, younger audiences, but but also like, what can the actual companies be doing to take control of that narrative?

Matt Vetter 45:40

I mean, get out and talk to these kids. Exactly what Natasha is doing exactly what we’re doing. We talked to local high schools constantly. We, we started a high school aged internship program this year, just to kind of give kids an opportunity to, you know, step into our world and just see what it looks like. And we give them the the flexibility that they can come in, they can pick which route they want to see, they can come and hang out with me and do estimates and talk about marketing and sales, I can put them in the field with my superintendent, and they can get dirty, you know, whichever area they can, they can run social media, you know, but, but I think that’s the critical nature of his because we don’t spend a lot of money on it. But we’re also fighting, you know, 3040 years of, of a mentality that we’re trying to shift, and the only way to do that is, you know, without blowing up the complete education system, the only way to do that is to reach these kids, early enough to give them the opportunity to make those decisions for themselves. And I think it’s just through talking, you know, we, we can only do so much,

Natasha Sherwood 46:46

hey, I think you should just blow up the education system, you know, like, you know, I’m on a mission,

Natasha Sherwood 46:53

there’s, then there’s a couple things that we’ve identified two that I think is important that we’ve talked about, and in a lot of it is we’ve done is making sure that our our teammates that are in the construction industry with us are proud of what they do and talk about it and don’t say, I’m just this, I’m just that, you know, because you’re not, it’s, it’s the same thing as I’m just a stay at home mom, or I’m just a project manager, I’m I’m I’m just an electrician, you know, those are a part of it is changing that. And part of it is and this I’m going to use my my master’s degree from it is being involved in the politics of the Liberal government of your chamber of commerce, politics, school board elections, and is making your voice heard. And that is one aspect that we do with our association is that we are we try to get behind those people that are not only for small business, and you know, for businesses in largest is making sure that as people that are understanding those options is we learned more than anything during this pandemic, that school boards are very powerful in what school stay open, and if they’re wearing masks or not. And if they’re enjoying school, and we are lucky here in Florida, that we are not experiencing a lot of what other places are but I think it is you know, being proud of what you are doing it is getting involved in the politics and it’s like Matt said it is getting in the schools however you can whatever toe you have to be in as you know, volunteering however, you you know, being involved in, you know, Pop Warner Football is that are around you’re talking to those kids, the junior achievements in your area, the great American teaching, whether it’s a great Florida teaching or not, I don’t know whatever it is, it is it is being in there and being proud of what you’re doing and sharing it is how that will be. That being said we’re also spending a crapload of money right now right now here and in sample on doing some billboards about built by you, that’s one of our new things we’re doing with HCC built by you and just really showing the images of what people are building and it is social media advertising. If I can figure out a tick tock for some construction electrician to do that we’ll be doing catch on I see behind that. And sometimes it may seem some of it maybe when we show them about a little bit silly or whatnot, but to grab that age group that we need to to fill, I’m sure it’s the same in construction, we have more electricians who retire every day than I can bring into the industry. So I have to grab their attention. I have to do it quickly. But they have to see people they want to be like and so that is that’s the part of putting it out there. So you know, if you’re not involved in your chamber or your local association, whether it’s ABC or IEC or whatever, you know, union it is in that area. Those are the areas I think that need to start to make those differences so that you do have those options.

Scott Peper 49:43

And go where they are is really what I’m hearing you say go where they are and their online, go online showcase the jobs. I mean, there’s some of the coolest stuff I see on LinkedIn or social media is a construction site and the video attached to it and what it looked like before and what it looks like Like after buy, you know and use the bulldozer analogy we’re talking about for two guys in a build, those are for five days can have the most some of the most impressive video from start to finish and a five day period than anything you possibly see on LinkedIn. And if all of a sudden you attach, like, here’s what these folks make to every single one of those, someone might say, You know what, that’s awesome. I thought, in accounting, I’m going to go in there and I’m going to make X and by the way, the correlation in those worlds, they have no idea if you put $1 sign of what the person is making an accounting after a four year degree. Next to their perception, I think, oh my gosh, this was so much more than what last and the perception of what they thought the person the bulldozers making, compared to what they were they are making, they might be like running towards that bulldozer. So I think the marketing aspect of just that alone would be so critical to helping shape some of the perspectives that people have just so it’s a fair perspective, just so someone’s not thinking the wrong thing. Yeah.

Saleh Mubarak 50:59

You call it a bit of marketing, and you know, it’s marketing slash education, that I think, you know, following your passion, requires you to know all the options. I mean, you may find somebody who likes certain type of food. This is my, you know, favorite food, have you tried other types of food? So I think you the trade schools that Matt talked about was was great. You know, I remember in college, we took trades, you know, welding and carpentry and so on. It’s a good thing when you have a root rotational system that you get exposed to everything. And after that you tell me, you know, which one you you fell in love with? Yeah,

Scott Peper 51:47

I had a mentor, tell me one, start listening to people, not the TV, you know, don’t listen to the government for the day, follow, find a person that you like someone that’s a human that you know their name. And like, you don’t have to know them. But you at least know it’s a person you’re listening to and not a day, or them or a government entity, or the state says or the CDC, like find the human at a place and not just the place. And I thought it was good perspective. And it’s really helped me a ton, many decades ago later. Yeah.

Autumn Sullivan 52:23

We have just a few minutes left. And we do have a question. Jeffrey asks, one thing I’ve always found missing from the trades is clear career path. Some unions do well at this, but the building industry in general has done poorly in explaining how a young person can go from labor to manager and defining that path. So who wants to respond to Jeffrey’s comment?

Natasha Sherwood 52:48

He’s spot on? Spot on? Yeah. And I think you know, that that’s literally what were my, like I said on our National Board for, for IEC. And that’s what we’re trying to delineate, and we’re trying to work out what is that path so that we can explain helper, apprentice, electrician, foreman, Superintendent, you know, project manager, what’s next and and then the salaries and dollars that go with it. And then some of them, then, you know, the, it’ll split out. And there is that is part of the education that we have not told them that you can spend four years in college and go be an accountant, and it’s been four or five years, and then you get to be a senior accountant, or you can spend four years as an apprentice working, you’re probably a good superintendent, by the time you get out of that apprentice program if you work for one company. And so we’ve done a poor job. And I think that is part of the marketing that has to be done is to show those and not just to the student, and not just to the employee that has to be shown to the guidance counselor, and the parent. I mean, let’s be you know, those parents want to say my kid went to XYZ college. That’s why you know, 70,000 people apply to Harvard, when they’re going to accept 3000, they just want to say, we know where they went. So it needs to be this is the path. But it’s interesting, because how many people really know the path of a CEO? You know, how did you how many people really know the path of an accountant, but because those came from college, somehow that gets to Trump that what is the plan, you know, for construction someone in the construction industry, but we do we have to take extra steps that we maybe didn’t before.

Autumn Sullivan 54:27

It’s interesting, because I’m thinking from, from a marketing standpoint, because I always am. That’s an easy, that’s an easy Tiktok to make, actually, to show a person you know, labor and what they make and then one year later and what they make and show that progression. I mean, that’s that’s an easy viral item

Natasha Sherwood 54:45

to find some good yet. Don’t ever vote to have that one post that went viral on LinkedIn. 1.6 million views. It’s the worst thing in your entire life to go viral because it beings all night on LinkedIn, bing, bing, bing, and if you You turn it off, and somebody disagrees with you, and you haven’t responded. So but yeah, so a via it would be an easy viral Instagram. But um, but it’s funny that that that post is exactly what we’re talking about essentially is normalizing the idea to the four year trade school is as good as a four year college. If I

Saleh Mubarak 55:17

can add one thing quickly here, in the path itself, there are paths, not just one, many people don’t understand that, that having a technical skills does not necessarily mean that you can run an organization that if you are a good in repair of HVAC, you mentioned HVAC, okay, you may be a brilliant technician, but a miserable manager. Those kinds of skills, some of them you’re born with, and some of them you have to polish those those skills. I know I have a brother in law, who now passed away, who was a great chef in in culinary school in he worked with the Disney Corporation, you know, he was brilliant. He tried to run his own business, and he failed miserably. So and some people are, by nature enterpreneurs they want to do their own business. Some of them are better stay as employ employees for the rest of their lives. So I don’t know how to put it, but you need to learn the skills required because before and be ready before you jump in.

Autumn Sullivan 56:34

That’s so true. That’s so true. One of our podcasts this season, we have a podcast called The real innovators. If you haven’t subscribed yet, please go subscribe after the end of this webinar. It’s available everywhere you get your pods, but one of our one of the episodes was with a business owner, Calvin Weathersby. And he talked about how he meets with his team and asks them what their what they want to accomplish. You know, where do you see yourself in three years, five years, and then he actually works with them to create their path? Because you’re right, when you walk into college, they’re like, Oh, you’re going for English? Well, then you want to be an English teacher, here are the courses you have to take. This is your path. But I went to college for English and I didn’t want to be an English teacher that sounded like hell on earth to me, I. And I’m pretty sure it’s like, I don’t want to do that. But no one said to me, you could get into marketing, or you could be an editor or you there was just one path. And it didn’t work for me. So we need to get better about showing that there are lots of paths, you know, to entrepreneurialism, to, to whatever it is you want to accomplish.

Natasha Sherwood 57:41

It’s not mutually exclusive. I mean, we talked about like, my students who are my apprentices are in college. So they’re taking RTI related technical instruction from us, they are doing four years at the college, they walk out with 32 to 46 college credits if they want to go take the next step. And we’re doing a horrible job of explaining that to it’s like a it’s like a community college scholarship. That it doesn’t mean that this is the end goes back kind of thing. It’s got to be any I’d have been a much better college student if I’ve done something else years. Yeah, before I got into college, even just

Scott Peper 58:26

On the next webinar, we’ll talk about having your phone or your face stuffed in your phone for eight hours a day isn’t going to help you either. From my parental conversations that I’m suffering through on my own children.

Autumn Sullivan 58:54

Well, that is our time for today. I can’t thank you all enough for taking time out of your busy days to join us for this conversation. It was hugely valuable for our audience and super entertaining to be a part of. So thank you.

Matt Vetter 59:09

Thanks for having us. I mean, this isn’t a conversation. This could have gone three hours.

Scott Peper 59:16

Review, if there’s anything that Autumn and I could do or through us that can help you in creating that meme that Tiktok a slide, anything that you could use with your network, let us know I’d love to be able to give that to you guys as our gift for you. If it’s a way of helping we different contacts we have if you said hey, it’d be great if I had a video that did this, this and this. And it was some cartoon and you could utilize it tasked us with doing that. You tell us how and we’ll do it. And I’d love to make that part of what you guys can push out from here to actually make it more than just a one hour conversation and actually turn into producible results. Absolutely.

Natasha Sherwood 1:00:00

If I may have to do that, that Tiktok does, like now it’s spinning my head. I’m like, we can just pop point, point point point. I’m like, I’m going through all the stupid dances in the stupid Instagrams eyes. Watch. I’m like, we have to be together auto email me.

Scott Peper 1:00:11

Yeah. Well, you will text us what it is. If I had this, I could do this much more than that. And we’ll do it. We’ll make it happen. Will you ask us we’ll figure it out and we’ll deliver it. What would be the thing that would help? Yep.

Autumn Sullivan 1:00:29

Thanks so much. All right. Thank you,

Scott Peper 1:00:33

everybody. Appreciate it. Take care.

A strong team is one of the best investments you can make in your construction business. Competing priorities, hard deadlines, physical labor — all of it is easier when you are all working together as a team. A strong team will rise to challenges, overcome difficulties together, and GROW together. Surprisingly, building a winning team isn’t just about hiring the person with the most experience. You have to sit down and plan out your team building strategy with intention.

And it starts with a little introspection.

A tale of two owners.

Mike and Joe are both construction business owners. Mike runs a mid-size commercial and residential HVAC company, while Joe’s specialty is concrete. They’ve known each other for years, have helped each other over their careers, and even get their families together on the weekends.

Construction team: Building a Winning Team

One afternoon, over beers and burgers in the backyard, Mike tells Joe he’s planning to put more focus on commercial HVAC installations, and that he’s excited to roll out the plan to his team.

“They’ll hate it,” says Joe. “They hate anything that sounds like more work.”

Mike frowns. “Not my team. They’re usually onboard with our goals because they know it’s good for them, too.”

Joe shrugs. “I can’t get my guys to do anything but fight.”

Mike pauses for a minute, then looks Joe in the eye before saying, “Sounds like the problem might be with you.”

Read more about Becoming a Purpose-Driven Leader.

Building a winning construction team starts with you.

Joe assumes that his guys won’t work hard for him because there is something wrong with them. The truth is most people will work hard if they believe in the goal, if they can see their own growth in that goal, and if their leader inspires and empowers them to believe in themselves.

To build a construction team that wins, the first step is defining yourself as a leader. You need to know yourself—your values and principles and purpose—so that you can look for those same values in others. You don’t all have to be exactly the same (diversity is an important part of a healthy and productive team) but you should have a bedrock of shared values to stand on.

Mike encourages Joe to get a journal and answer these questions. (And we encourage you to do this exercise, too!)

  • What do I believe in?
  • What do I stand for?
  • Am I living up to the standard I want from myself and others?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What are my weaknesses?
  • What kind of culture do I want to work in?
  • What is my purpose in going to work every day?

Joe sits with these questions for a few days, and ultimately comes to a powerful realization. His core values at home—respect, honesty, ownership and giving 100% to every job—are not alive in the shop. He hasn’t been setting the standard he wants to see from the men and women on his team.

Building a Winning Construction Team: Team Stacking Hands Talking Core Values

“I’m going to talk about our core values at our next company meeting,” Joe tells Mike the next time he sees him.

“That’s awesome,” says Mike. “Once you’ve got your people with you on your core values, you can start setting goals that all of you can get excited about.”

“Isn’t making more money the goal for everybody?” asks Joe, half-joking.

“Ah, young Jedi,” says Mike. “You have much to learn.”

Read more about Making Core Values Part of Your Business Strategy.

Setting goals with purpose.

Without a purpose behind your goal for more money, your team’s enthusiasm for hard work will fade like a flame under glass. And without a purpose for that new revenue, chances are you won’t make the necessary changes in your organization that will make the money feel more impactful.

Goals need a purpose or they’re not really goals. The adage that “a goal without a plan is just a wish” is true, but it is also true that a goal without a purpose is just a task to finish. It doesn’t inspire or motivate.

Once you have a purpose for your growth goal, your next step is to lay out the roadmap for how you and your team will reach it. If you don’t have all the answers, that’s okay. That’s actually great — bringing your team into the planning process can help them buy into the plan earlier and with greater intent.

Lastly, make sure that your goal is big enough that each of your team members can see their goals fitting inside yours. Joe knows that Natasha, one of his estimators, is really interested in accounting. He thinks about how he could use some of the additional revenue to help her get certified in accounting. It would be great to have someone in the office who understood cash flow better than he does . . . and it would give her an exciting new role in the company.

Read more about Setting Purpose-Driven Goals.

Hire what you can’t do.

Mike and Joe see each other at a networking event a few weeks later, and Joe shares how excited he is about the recent changes at his company. “My only problem,” he says, “is all of these changes need to be processes, systemized, so that we do them every time the same way every time.”

Mike nods. “You need an Operations person.”

Joe rolls his eyes. “Do you have one?”

Mike nods again. He winks at Joe and answers, “I do. And a CPA. And a Marketing Coordinator.” He looks at his friend and offers him this advice, “Hire for the things you’re not good at.”

Joe considers this. And you should too.

Nobody is an expert at everything—that’s why they’re called experts. And some of us have personality traits or inherent gifts that make us naturally better at some tasks than others. Listen—not being good at something doesn’t make you weak. Not hiring great people to do the things you’re not good at? That will make your company weak.

Joe hires an Operations Director, and a CPA. The Operations Director puts together a book of processes and a training schedule for new team members. Now things are running smoothly and scaling the company’s growth becomes easier.

Bonus — Joe is delighted when the CPA says she’d be happy to mentor Natasha so she can take over more of the day-to-day financial management of the company.

Joe is delighted when the CPA says she'd be happy to mentor Natasha so she can take over more of the day-to-day financial management of the company.

“Now you’re cooking with gas,” Mike says. “Time to start hiring new recruits. Have you identified who on your team will mentor them?”

Joe pauses before answering. “I was thinking about Nate. He’s been with me the longest. But now that I’m thinking about it, he can be a bit of a jerk. I don’t think he represents the way I want new people to behave.”

Mike claps his friend on the shoulder. “Now you’re getting the idea.”

Start from a foundation of teamwork.

It’s a natural assumption that your senior members can and will train new recruits, but that only works if your senior members are good teachers and good examples of your company’s culture.

That starts, of course, by hiring people who align with your core values. And if someone who is already on your team becomes a bad apple in the bunch, you may even have to let them go. That’s a tough pill to swallow, but culture and core values are too important to success to let someone ruin all your hard work.

Once you have your senior construction team aligned around your company’s core values and mission or purpose, the next step is identifying who among them is the best choice to mentor new team members. Not every rock star worker likes the idea of teaching others, or even has the aptitude to do so effectively.

Joe thinks about his team, watches them interact with each other and customer, and finally decides that Thomas, who has only been with the company for two years but is definitely a rock star employee, is the right person to train new people. Thomas is thrilled at the chance to represent the company, and turns out to be a natural mentor and teacher.

Thomas also gives Joe a piece of feedback that turns out to be a gamechanger. “Some of the new people that have been paired up with Nate say he’s really hard to work with.”

Joe shakes his head. Nate, a great worker, is becoming a real problem on the team. “Why aren’t they saying anything to me?”

Thomas laughs. “You know how it is. They’re afraid.”

Joe sits with this for a while, and realizes he still has work to do to build his winning team.

Create a culture of communication.

Toxic culture behaviors like bullying and gossiping destroy companies from within. Your best people will leave if they feel like they’re being disrespected, and it will become harder and harder to find new team members.

Culture is a hiring differentiator, and it is also part of a health and wellness strategy at your company. When people feel like they can’t talk to their peers or their leaders, they bottle up stress and hide real issues that can affect their performance, sometimes even their safety.

To change the culture at your company, you need to model good communication behaviors. That means actively listening when others are speaking, and speaking from a place of confident vulnerability. It means focusing on solutions rather than blame when something goes wrong, and taking responsibility for the actions of all of your construction team members.

Joe meets with Nate and has a frank, honest conversation with him. Nate shares that he’s struggling with depression, that he and his wife have been fighting, and that he feels like he should be doing more for his family.

Nate shares that he's struggling with depression, that he and his wife have been fighting, and that he feels like he should be doing more for his family.

Joe has known Nate for years, but this is the first time they’ve ever had this kind of conversation. He recommends a counselor for Nate, and they schedule weekly check-ins. Finally, Joe and Nate build a plan for Nate to become a mason and an estimator.

Joe knows Nate is a good person and a great worker. He invests in him because he believes in him.

And that is the final lesson in building a winning construction team — invest in them.

Invest in your construction team.

Toward the end of the year, Mike and Joe get together and talk about all the changes, successes, setbacks, and growth both their companies experienced.

“I’m taking the team to a zipline course and then out for dinner,” says Joe. “They’ve busted their asses this year and they deserve acknowledgement of their hard work.”

Mike looks at him over his beer. “I’m impressed. Actually,” he says, and looks a little sheepish, “I hadn’t even thought of that. We usually just have a little champagne toast in the shop. But they deserve more this year.”

Joe smiles at his friend. “The student has become the master.”

The reality is that Joe has already been investing in his team, by including their goals in his company’s goals and helping them find paths to fulfill those goals. Natasha is going to school for accounting and is now full-time running the books at his company, and Nate is like a whole new person. He’s kept two superstar employees because he took the time to invest in them as people.

Your construction team needs and deserves acknowledgement, both as a group and individually. Some folks are fine with a “Good job” once in a while, and others may prefer a more formal recognition. If you’re spending time investing in them individually, you’ll know the right strategy for your team.

You can’t underestimate the power of the little things. Coffee and bagels may seem like nothing, but it lets your construction team know you were thinking of them. Gas cards, company lunches, even something as seemingly small as a birthday card—all of these are little investments that go a long way toward making your team feel and act like a team. 

Gas cards, company lunches, even something as seemingly small as a birthday card—all of these are little investments that go a long way toward making your team feel and act like a team. 

Joe gets the proof of his new company strategy when a client tells him, “Everyone at your company is helpful, friendly, and positive. We always know we’re in good hands with you guys. Even if something does go wrong—and let’s be honest, it always does in construction—we know we can count on your team to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

That’s the biggest win of all in Joe’s book. And of course, he shares the email with his team. It’s a win they all deserve.

If you like what you just read, consider joining our Do Your Part mission. We’re “doing our part” to change the construction industry–for good.

Cash flow can make or break the success of your project. It can empower your team to succeed — with the right amount of labor & materials available at the right time — or it can cripple their performance.

Mobilization Funding CEO Scott Peper knows the power of effective cash flow management. Since 2013, he has walked contractors through a cash flow exercise to show them exactly how much cash they need on a project and when they need it, transforming how they think about cash on the project and how it propels their company’s growth.

Now, we’re bringing that exercise to you.

CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT: BID TO BUILT

This is the ideal webinar for construction contractors, manufacturers, and any business owner who struggles with balancing cash flow in their business.

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN:
1. Why mapping out a project cash flow on a weekly basis BEFORE THE WORK starts can improve performance and profitability on every project.

2. How to use our Cash Flow Projection Tool to estimate and track your project’s cash flow.

3. Why effective project cash flow management is the secret to organizational growth.

Cash Flow Webinar Transcript

Autumn Sullivan 06:49

Let’s go ahead and get started. Thank you. Thanks, everyone, for joining us today, Scott Peper, the CEO of mobilization funding, is going to walk us through our new cash flow management tool and talk to you about why project cash flow management is so important how it can help managing your cash flow on a project week by week can help you increase your profit and profitability, build efficiencies into your schedule and grow your business.

Scott Peper 07:20

Thanks, Autumn. So cash flow is something that’s very important to us. And we speak about all the time here with our clients, we work in the construction world, and anyone that I assume is on this call that’s in the construction world. They don’t need me to introduce them the impacts of cash flow, why it’s important, how it impacts everybody. But what is important today is we’re going to give you a solution that’s going to give you an information and a tool that allow you to actually make proactive decisions, outline exactly what your cash flow is, and then more importantly, be able to see it in a project live. So there’s a few things here I’m gonna just my camera quick, a few things that we’ve noticed over the last seven or eight years and talking to clients is a couple main general themes. One is, clients think that they’re weak at cash flow, they don’t understand it, and there’s something wrong with them. And I’m here to tell you right now that that’s not the case, it is absolutely a function of the industry of construction. More importantly, how the waterfall of monies flow from the top of the project all the way down throughout a project. And what I mean by that is whoever’s financing it the developer, the general contractor, the subcontractors, the subs have subs, all the way through, you do all the work, first, you put a payment in, the work only gets paid for depending on what’s actually been done after an inspection, it takes 30 days to do the work because you can only do it once a female invoice once a month typically. And then it takes 30 or 45 days to inspect the work that you did. And it just takes a long time. So that is the reason for it.

Now, are there people that aren’t great at finance, that working construction? Of course, but that’s like any other industry and business. So like most other industries and business, there’s tools, there’s professionals, there’s roles and responsibilities inside the organization and outside that can help and all those are still available to construction. Now whether they’re used or not, is a different story. But we’ve created a tool. And this tool is going to add the third component to what we’ve also recognized. One of the things that becomes very commonplace that we’ve heard over the years is that we’ve noticed, if you ask any construction company, whether just sub or general contractor, they’re very good at estimating what the work is going to be. They look at a schedule of values. They can look at a set of plant I’m sorry, they look at a set of plans. They can look at a schedule, they can estimate and bid pretty accurately what their general total costs are going to be. In addition to that, they know exactly what the work schedule is going to look like. Of course it changes of course if there’s rain or delay Are other trades and things like that. But at the most part, they have pretty detailed and specific, much more so than most other industries, in my opinion of what their man hours are going to be the labor portion of that the materials, equipment, rentals, costs, they do an extensive amount of work to get bids and estimates for all those things. So they know what their total amount of work is. What I mean by that is, if you did all the work tomorrow, and it was done in one day, and you can invoice it the next day, you probably haven’t really accurate margin dollars.

The problem is construction takes a long time. So it gets spread out over a couple of weeks, or sometimes a couple of months, or sometimes a year or more. And so what we’ve done now is take the third component that’s missing from that equation and marry up, how much cash do you actually need to execute on the schedule that you know, for the expenses, any actual cost that you know, you’re going to incur? Material labor, etc. So you can see week by week, alright, how much cash do I actually need to execute this project on the schedule that I want to work it on, and for which I’ve already bid the project and one, and now you can know, okay, I’m going to need a couple $100,000 Or I need a million dollars. So I’m going to show you what that tool looks like. So it’s, we’ve created an elaborate spreadsheet that we’ve always used here internally, to figure this cash flies we speak to our clients. And what we realized is we could share this spreadsheet with everyone, and it’s on our website, it has been for years, except what we also realize is not everyone’s Excel savvy. Candidly, I’m not our CFO created this spreadsheet. I didn’t I know how to read it. And I certainly know how to input and use it. But that’s but I’m not It’s not intuitive to me until I’ve done hundreds of them. But what is intuitive? And what we can do is anyone can answer questions, we ask you a direct question, you can give us the answer, especially if it’s specifically related to your estimates, and the work schedule. So what we’ve done is we’ve created a tool on our website, on the resources page that anybody can go to you don’t have to be a client mobilization funding, you don’t have to pay for it. You don’t have to get us emailing you every other day and calling everybody in your company to use it. It’s basically we need we don’t need your email, so we can email you the spreadsheet and the inputs. But that’s the purpose of it. We’re not going to use your email to sell it market to it or anything else. Okay. So um, Autumn, what did I miss so far? Anything?

Autumn Sullivan 12:33

No, that’s a great set of I am curious how often when, when you talk to clients, how often is this the first time they’ve ever thought about their projects cash flow in this way? I mean, on like, on a weekly basis to this granular level?

Scott Peper 12:55

It’s a great question, I would say and forget, I’m going to generally speaking here, I would say 95 98% of people know the first two things, they have a great bid, they estimated it well, it had made a ton of thought into it. And it’s probably accurate. If it was one single snapshot of the world, those costs are accurate. I would say on the flip side, and same thing with the schedule, I would say on the flip side, when it marries up to okay, what’s the when I say okay, how much cash is going to take to do that? I would tell you that 98% of the folks that we speak to, and just generally in the construction world, whether our clients or not probably don’t know the answer to that question right offhand. Some measure the cash flow, but it’s more of like, Hey, I know what kind of money they have coming in, it’s across the whole business or project they don’t necessarily know as they before they start a job a project. That said, if a project is only two weeks long, or three weeks long, I would say it’s probably a little higher than most No, I need 5060 grand this week, or this month in order to do it. But when you start having to order materials, now, they have lead times on them, you have different payment terms for materials. And then when you get when they land on the site, you can invoice for them. But sometimes you have to pay for them in different that becomes too complicated of a process to really map into a project. So I would say very few is definitely single digits, in my opinion, less than 10%.

Autumn Sullivan 14:23

And you talked about how contractors know the first two things, right? They know the costs, and they know what the schedule is going to be. But we talk a lot about the things that they might be missing when they’re considered when they’re putting their bid or when they’re thinking about the cash flow of their project. I’m specifically thinking about how you’ve talked about calculating the the real overhead can do you want to talk about that just for a little bit? I know we will get into putting margin down later.

Scott Peper 14:54

Yeah, so it’s a good question. So I know this cash flow tool will specifically out lined the cost of the project, which is really in in the estimate, as well, and it’ll show you how much cash you need to flow through it. But when we’re looking at estimates and bids, most often your your average bid doesn’t include the proper overhead allocation or margin, what it means is that they just sort of get blended in with the cost. Sometimes it’s marked up Oh, at 10% for overhead and profit. And I add 10% For markup. And it depends what your costs are. As soon as your costs go higher, it’s great. If that’s the cost, it’s even better if the costs actually come in lower. But I be surprised at how many folks on here, it’d be great if anyone has questions and want to put it in the in the chat box. But how many people actually end up with less cost on a project than they do more cost, you know, or neutral. So it gets us tough, but the way we’re going to calculate the margin, that’s that’s the biggest issue we see is a lot of times you have overhead costs, those come monthly. But they’re you know, they’re your rent expense. They’re your your payroll for your staff and your salaries, they’re things that are not related to the exact project. And when you pull money off of a project that isn’t cashflow positive to pay for those things, you actually make the project significantly even more cashflow negative. And if you look at if you know what the projects, how the project is going to cash flow itself, prior to using any of those dollars, it can really help you make some good decisions on how you want to use the cash you do have, or the financing that you have in place lines of credit, etc, etc.

Autumn Sullivan 16:33

So in terms of in terms of the schedule, because we all know that construction schedules change quite often, right? They they’re definitely prone to change. So if you have this cash flow spreadsheet that we’re going to show our audience in just a second, how does how does having a cash flow projection help you manage a construction project schedule changes?

Scott Peper 17:00

So great question. So this tool you’ll see goes week by week, what your expenses are, if a schedule changes, and you pull a crew off of that project, the beauty of this projection schedule is as you go week, by week or even over the course of a month, you can update those to actually become actuals. So that week will be an actual expense. And so you can keep track of it in real time. And it allows you to know, okay, this project gets delayed three or four weeks, what does that mean, for me in terms of the pay apps, I’m going to actually submit instead of the ones I plan for, if I move my pair, if I move my a couple crews off of this job, and I put them on a different job, then I can move that cost expense off of that project, too. If my costs are too high, based on what I rent equipment for, versus maybe I want to purchase some equipment, you can see how that’s going to impact things. When you order your materials. If you have to pay for your materials under certain terms, you can see how that will impact your job. That’s a big one. And we’ll share those in detail. Why don’t we go? Why don’t I open up a spreadsheet? And then some of those things will make more sense. And I can answer that too for Yeah, let’s do. So what I’m going to do guys, first I’m gonna show you what the out the final outcomes gonna look like. So you can get a visual cue of what we’re doing. So here’s what this spreadsheet is going to look like. Okay, we’re going to actually fill this out completely on our website. So this is the final output of what you’re going to see. Okay, this is what would get emailed to you along with a PDF that has all the information you submitted. So really quickly here, and I’ll show you this. There’s some important notes here tells you what this all means. But generally speaking, each one of these columns is a week, you can see that the job starts on, you know, eight, in this case, April 8, it goes week by week and automatically contat tabulates. What you input and all the way through your up here is what you’re submitting for your pay apps to your customer. Here’s what your submit, here’s what your actual expenses are. And then down here, you’re going to see what car much cash you need, or explore the surplus or deficit on a weekly basis. And then the cumulative amount of cash you’re going to need over the course of this project until money start coming in from the project. And we’ll show you that. So before we get to here, and then of course at the end it’ll total this up for you and show you okay, you have a $3.9 million project less retainage you’re going to get 3.7 million coming off of this. Here’s your costs all broken down, gives you what your margin percentages gives you what your margin dollars are. This looks awesome 31% project with one point, almost $1.2 million of profit that doesn’t even include the retainage profit. But when I show you what cut much cash you need, which in this particular case, you’re going to need upwards of a million dollars at some point in this project to you’ll need a million dollars over the first Many weeks to actually get this thing going before you actually see this job become cashflow positive.

So let’s go through some of this real quick. And I’ll show you how it works on a website. So, you go to our website, which is mobilization, funding calm. Now you’re on the homepage here, right up here, in the top corner, you’ll see resources. And you’ll see cash flow tool, you click on that. You go down here, you see this little video of myself here kind of explains the cash flow tool and some of the importance of it, I won’t bore you guys with that, when you put your email in. And then you click build my cash flow tool. Alright, so we do fund other types of projects other than just construction and mobilization funding. So purchase, if you’re, if you’re a manufacturer, or you’re doing general assembly or fabrication, or you pretty much, let’s just say you work off of a purchase order more than you work off of construction, this might be the tool, this might be the version for you. They’re all the same, and ultimately, but they have different questions based on it. And if you have inventory in house and you sell a specific product, this might be a better version. But we’re going to go through the construction one here today. So you click on construction. Alright, so I’m just going to type this in here, type, my name, email, company name, the state you’re in, got it the project name, we’re just going to call this 123123 project. The purpose of this is it’ll this will for your caspo. It’ll give you the the project name on the spreadsheet, right? When does the project start? Okay, I got my little cheat sheet here. So this is going to be Oh, 401 2022.

Autumn Sullivan 21:48

And that’s just to stop you for a second. That’s my first question, technically, for the audience here is does the project have to start in the future? Or can they do this where the project has already started?

Scott Peper 22:00

You can definitely use this tool on the projects already started. And like I like I was saying before these sheets, if you’re doing it the beginning before it starts there, they’re your estimates, right. If you’re in the middle of a project, you can actually, if you’re four weeks into a 10 week project, you can use actual costs for your first four weeks, and then your projected costs for the next six weeks so that you can use it completely that way. And again, once you fill this out, it’s a good question. Because once you fill this out, you get a spreadsheet and the spreadsheets pretty easy to see at that point, you can you can clearly edit it and manipulate it and the formulas are all in there. But if you’re familiar with Excel, this is an easy way to get it going. And then the it’s just an Excel file that’s not locked or anything you could do whatever you need to do with it.

Alright, so you’re then here, just Bay, this is just basic information on the project. Here’s your contract value. What’s your direct prayer payroll, again, the idea this is to come right off of your bid sheet. So if you’re looking at your totals on your bitch, so in this case, direct payroll is $410,000. My sub labor is 1,000,008 oh two 310. I have 202,000 of direct materials. This is an actual project cost that we have, by the way for our client happens to be a Makita an H back and mechanical contract. And so some of the a lot of the material big chillers and whatnot are in the subcontract labor includes material. And then that this is this is the direct materials that they have as well. So the equipment rental is 43,000. No bond on this job, and 139,000 in miscellaneous costs. So it’ll tell you right here, total contract value, your total costs added up for 2596. This project has 5% retainage, and happens to be a school in Florida. And in Florida. For those of you that don’t know there’s a lock on government workforce that has 5% retainage instead of 10. Otherwise, it’s typically 10.

Autumn Sullivan 24:04

Why is it important to put retainage in the cash flow spreadsheet?

Scott Peper 24:09

Great question. So retainage is part of your margin. And it’s definitely important, you’re going to make that money. But it’s not you’re there withholding this, this cash back. So if this is a cash flow tool, the reason that you hope that the retainage in here is this is this money is not going to come off this project for you to be able to use so regardless of what you invoice. In this particular example 5% of it is not cash that’s going to be available on this job. But we got weekly, I’m sorry, you submit your paps on a monthly basis. The from the time you submit it put in my zip code there from the time you submit your Pap, in this particular case they get paid in 45 days. The name of your general contractor his or your customer, whoever you’re working for will just Call maybe see GC. And my expected margin on this is 40%, for example, have received no money today, I don’t have any joint checks on this project.

Autumn Sullivan 25:16

And why are joint checks relevant to get to the cash flow of the project?

Scott Peper 25:20

The joint checks are important because if you joint check a supplier for those of you that don’t know what a joint check is a joint check, as defined by us, at least for this example, is when if I’m a general contractor and autumns the subcontractor and I say autumn, I’m gonna give you this contract. But I’m going to join check your material supplier and autumns gonna put up, you know, her material supplier is the supplies that I need to I’m going to sign a joint check agreement with autumn enter supplier, which means, as the general contractor, I’m going to pay her supplier. And when she submits what her pay app is, every month, I’m going to then pay her supplier directly in the form of a joint check to her and the supplier. Why is that important? Well, it’s important because that money is also not going to be available to Hodel, it’s going to, it’s going to go directly to the supplier. So that’s a good thing. But you want to be able to account for that in your project cash flow. So in this case, you might have thought you had a 40% margin, or you estimated it, but it tells you right here, you’re calculating margin, 34 and a half percent, so it gives you the total. And I’ll show you what happens next. Okay, so now it’s a 25 week project broken down, this is going to be six, you’re gonna have six pay apps if it starts in April. So I’m just going to input the pay apps here. First one’s 200,000. The next one’s 400,000.

Autumn Sullivan 26:44

While you’re inserting the pay apps, we have a question from Stephen. He asks, we have one client with multiple projects, do we have to do a separate setup for each project, we have to do this exercise for each project? Or can you roll it all up into one cash flow?

Scott Peper 27:03

You can absolutely roll it all up into one cash flow. As you’re going on, you can see if you if you really want to do that you could total these together. Um, and the spreadsheet is totally functionable to use as all three. Now that said, and I don’t know if the next question is Scott, do you think that’s a good? Do you think that’s a good thing to do or not? If it is, then I’m gonna give you the answer that question I would say don’t do that. Because each project is going to stand on its own, even though they’re a general contractor, you’re gonna, you may have different costs or different expenses or different suppliers. But to get the effect of the projects in the same way rolled up together, once you get a separate spreadsheet file for each project, you can put them in separate tabs on the spreadsheet. And then you can aggregate those tabs all into the one Summary tab that gives you this will give you the same benefit as if you aggregated them all in this exact template form. So I would go through and do this exercise for each individual spreadsheet, I’m sorry, each individual project, you’ll receive a individual spreadsheet for each project, you can then merge those onto a separate tab into one file. And then you can marry through Excel will pull each of those cells from each of those and marry it up into one template and a summary for you. And if you if you didn’t know how to do that, we can certainly show you how to do that we have a few Excel wizards here that if you had those three files, we can put them into one template for you, you run a quick, there’s a functionality to Excel that allows you to pull from each one of those tabs and run a quick and run a quick summary. And then you’ll be able to do everything you want. And then if things change in those individual tabs, you can make individual tab changes in the project and see the impact of that. And in addition, you’ll be able to actually go in and then see how it impacts this the Summary tab tips. You can see him all world. Okay. Alright, so I put my payoff amounts in for each month. I got my total contract here that marries up to what it is. I’m going to click Next. So now do I have direct payroll on this job I do. My direct payroll is weekly. My direct payroll amount weekly, is $16,400. And basically what I did was I know I have 410,000 of direct payroll, I have 25 weeks set up. So I’m just going to divide by 25 to get my to get my at least get this in here. Now sometimes your payroll may not be the same every single week. That’s okay. Once you get the spreadsheet, you can manipulate the weeks that you need to but for the purpose of getting this in and told him correctly. That’s the easiest way to manage that. Do you have sub labor? Yes, we do. We know what that is. Okay. So this is subcontractor pay Myth number one. So as you guys know, here tells you I have $1.8 million of sub labor. That doesn’t mean though, that I’m going to only pay them one time. So I want to input when I need to pay them and what the payment date is. So in this particular case, I’m just going to enter sub one, what’s, let’s say that’s the subcontractors name and scope of work is installation, the total amount of the path to them to start is going to be 450,005 7750. I got to pay them on June. Third, because if they’re starting to work in April, they’re going to work through April, I’m gonna it’s gonna take 30 days or so to get paid, I pay them when I get paid in this particular case, or I pay them 30 days afterwards, in this by agreeing with them to pay them 30 days after they submit. So that’s June third. Okay, so then I’m just gonna go add subcontractor payment two, same thing, I click sub one, everything automatically populates here. Now in this particular case, this is the same amount, I’m going to estimate billing. And so now this payment is going to be not going to be on the 15th of July.

July 5 had subcontractor. So one same thing. This is going to be on August 5, at subcontractor payment number four, that’ll be the last one. And that’s going to be on. Oh, 902. Okay, that’s my sub labor totals up, click Next.

Autumn Sullivan 31:39

So if you had if you had different subcontract labor, if you had different providers for that you can enter multiple subcontract labor. Right, you could do sub two sub three?

Scott Peper 31:53

That’s right. Yeah, if you have 2-3-4 subs, you’re going to put sub one first, when you’re going to Oh, then you’d go to sub to do the same exercise sub three, same exercise, all those payments will track in there. And you’ll see how they flow right into the, into the spreadsheet here in a second. So we I have one, they actually have one material supplier on here, which was for $202,000. But let me look to autumns point here. Let me show you guys what that what that looks like. So this is just going to be material. Now what do I currently owe this material supplier? Right? Let me do this material supplier one, I don’t owe them anything. So this just gives you an idea of you owe the money already, and you want to pay them and it gives you an idea, but otherwise this will be zero. And again, we said the total is going to be 202,000. But instead of me doing this as one material supplier one payment, let me do it as 1023 66. And this is due on ordering it on the fifth and payments gonna be due. I have 30 day terms. So I’m going to pay for on the sixth. Now I’m going to add one more material order. So I’m gonna show you guys how this would come about material. Two. I’m going to add the other 100 grand in here zero amount to pay.

Grand same border day. And my payment day. Is this kind of equipment. Yes. Vendor. Stick with our theme here equipment one equipment. Cash balance is zero. This is 43,000. You guys get the idea here. There’s no bomb on this project. So you can skip that. Do you have miscellaneous expenses? Yes, they do.

What is the name, you can enter these as much as you want. This particular happens to be per diem and travel slash Hotel 139,000. And I’m pretty much going to accrue weekly. So what this will do is spread this out weekly on the model. Like next. Okay, now it’s reviewing. Now what this is going to do is give you a chance to see the spreadsheet here in a little circuit, you can kind of cycle through to make sure it kind of calculates, right and it moves its way through and you have it you get to the end here. You’ll see okay, you got it all and so if anything doesn’t look right to you, you can sort of kind of go through this and figure it out. In summary, it’s going to show you here everything that you input all the way through and this is what you’re going to get a PDF of basically right here and that’s actually what I’m looking at here on this sheet. My little print out that before So it gives you a summary of what you did, you can make sure you did it correctly. If you need to go back and edit anything, you can do that. And then you basically get to the bottom. If it all looks good, you hit submit projection. Boom, you’re done, it was successful, he goes to our underwriting team, they turn around the spreadsheet quickly, and email it over to you. And then we’ll send it to you. And it comes in a nice little email. So let me show you now what you’re getting. Now we’re back to the cash flow. So we come up to the top, let’s start with the Summary tab. Again, just to refresh reminder, each one of these is a week. And if you remember, we started the project on the eighth of April. So each it automatically calculates every week all the way through. Okay, in summary, we’ll go to the end of this shows you here a $3.9 million project. Last 5% of retainage. Here’s the net amount you received from the project before retainage. Yeah, 410,000 in payroll, million eight and subcontract labor, 202,000 in materials, and $43,000, here in equipment, okay, and then your miscellaneous expenses.

Now, this shows materials and only show supply one supplier, I forgot, because it takes a little while to put that spreadsheet together, what I actually input was something I already did. So I already had the output spreadsheet. So but otherwise, it would show you here supplier two, and there’d be another row that would say supplier one, and it would break it down and have a total up here at 202. So my apologies for that. But anyway, go back to the beginning. So what this is going to show you again is here’s where you’re invoicing at the end of April, it takes 45 days to get paid. So you’re not seeing any of this money. So what this is basically showing you here, these are the expenses you have by week. This is the actual expenses you’re incurring this specific week, and you can see payroll, you pay weekly, so you’re gonna have to incur payroll that way, your per diem and hotels, you’re paying for that weekly as well. But you can see the material equipment and bond premiums, you don’t have that yet. Okay. So the spreadsheet automatically calculates two things here for you weekly cash flow deficit or surplus, which means how much money do I have coming in from the project? That’s zero right here? How much money do I have going out on the project, and that’s 21,000. So it keeps it then this is the cumulative total. So each week over the first three or four weeks, you incur your payroll, and your per diem, so you can see this cumulative total of cash that’s needed on this project goes up week by week by those amounts. Okay. So in this particular case, the first seven weeks, 12345678 weeks, I’m sorry. You incur payroll and premium for a total of like, for a total of 175, almost $176,000.

What does that mean? That means that through the first eight weeks of this project, you’re going to need $176,000 of cash in your business to put onto this project before any money’s coming off so far. Okay. Now, here we are, you’ve worked now at this point through eight weeks, you’ve submitted a payout for 200,000 and a submitter, Pam for 400,000. So you are essentially owed less retainage. You’re owed $570,000. Okay. But you have 45 day terms. So you submitted the end of April, they’re going to pay you in 45 days. Well, that means that this $190,000 isn’t getting paid to you for six weeks. Okay, so 123456 Here it is right here at the beginning of that seventh week. Week Seven, you now have that $190,000 comes in, you can see cash received from the project 190,000 cash going out that week, I’m sorry, is only 21,000. So you have a surplus of 168,000 from that path. But here’s what’s important to look at. You’ve you had to pay your material supplier for or your subcontractor $450,000 already because you Oh, that’s that’s what you said. That’s what these are your numbers, you submit it. So that’s there. And you also have to pay for Some other direct material that’s 202,000, and some equipment, not to mention the payroll. So if you look at this cumulative project Cash Flow tab here, by the time you’ve received any money off of this project, you’ve had to invest $915,000 on this job. So you either have to get that money from other jobs or projects, have that money in the business, or have some way to finance that along the way, okay? Or what we would encourage you to do is now that you have this upfront, figure out how you can manipulate some of these numbers here, can you pay your material supplier in 45 days? Well, that would be really helpful because that would move it that would move it farther down the line that would drop this 915 by half. Okay? Or same thing with equipment suppliers, can you get longer terms? And if you can’t, okay, no problem. But you have to know in advance that this is what you’re going to need. So maybe you need to rework the schedule, maybe you need to go back to your customer, see if you can get paid in 30 days instead of 45. If that’s possible, if that’s not possible, okay. Can you get a deposit up front? No, if that’s not possible, Alright, great. Can you get some financing for this? And now you know how much financing you’ll actually need? And more importantly, you’ll know where you’re going to need it. Do you really need not earn? 15,000? All on day one? No, you really need 21 grand a week for the first few I’ve gotten.

Scott Peper 41:33

So going through this tab will show you Okay, boom 915,000. Now it drops the next week. Well, why is that? Well, that’s because you got 168 grand that is surplus between what went out that week and what came in for the project. And now it starts to accumulate again, until the next big one. So the maximum outlay on this job is going to be 1,000,001 million $263,000 of cash that you have to put onto this project. Before you can become cashflow positive through July. If you look here, it’s actually going to get even higher up to 1,000,004. Because it takes till August 12. Before you get your first big pay app in pay do now the project starts to really get better and better by the time this next pap comes in. Six weeks later, you have 400,000 The next one comes in. Now you’re cashflow positive. So here’s the thing. It’s important. This is October 14, okay, based on your schedule and your expenses, you’re starting on April 8. So six months later, this job becomes cashflow positive by itself. And yes, you have a great margin and you make great money you got to get through this period, you got to get through those six months to get to the point where this project can cashflow itself. And then you’ll make you’ll make this money. The problem is a lot of folks are looking at these totals and saying this is great, I got 31% margins gonna work out awesome, blah, blah, blah. But the reality is now you know, do I have 1,000,004 to invest in this project? To get to it? No. Okay, how am I going to execute on it? Now, let me show you guys one thing, just one simple adjustment, here’s the week of August 5, okay, let’s just say you’re able to get your payment terms for 45. All your expenses stay the same, but you’re able to get your payment terms from 45 days down to 30. Okay, remember, this week, this column here, August 5, stop sharing this. Share the 30 day version. Alright, now all I did here was I moved these payments from 45 days to 30. You’ll see here this 190,000 to do 1234, paid Week Five instead of paid week eight. And look at these cumulative cash flow here. As you go on. You don’t have that big $900,000 One, it’s only 769 725. That week of August 4 Fifth where we had that big fat number was 1,000,004. Well, it’s only $623,000. Now. So literally, just knowing that in advance and negotiating that upfront, is critical. It means you literally need in this case $780,000 less money, less real cash on this job to execute this project.

Autumn Sullivan 44:47

So what would you what would you recommend when when you’re looking at this spreadsheet and you see that and you start playing with those numbers and you see how much how much being paid by in 30 days would would help your cash Do you recommend taking this spreadsheet to the GC? And having that conversation? Because I know that some of our audience is going to say, Yeah, I’m not going back to my GC and asking for different pay terms. Because I can’t afford the job, right? They’re, they’re gonna think I’m weak because I can’t afford the job, they’re gonna think I’m bad with money because I can’t afford, like, talk to me about how you present this to the GC.

Scott Peper 45:23

So it’s a good question. So I think you’ve covered a few, you’ve asked a few things there my mind. Um, first thing is, I think this is eye opening. I think a lot of I think a lot of subcontractors will have those feelings, hey, I’m just gonna make me look weak. I can’t finance it. The GC might give it to somebody else. And you know what they might all that’s true. But here’s the thing. Like, who cares? The who cares? If they think you’re weak? First of all, you’re not weak? Because they’re not investing a million dollars into this? I mean, if they want to tell them, Okay, fine. You can pay all my material suppliers, here’s the line items, just pay him, then you pay him? Because like, watch what happens here. If they take on that and pay this instead? And I zero these out here? Well, yeah, now you only need 172. And even if they took it, even if they took the 799, from here, it’s less than you have to pay. So there’s a lot of options that you could go back to. I just simply wouldn’t worry about those things in the same capacity. Because it just the truth, the truth is, it’s not worth losing your business or getting upside down on it or giving away all your profit. I personally think yes, that’s a hard conversation. Yes, it is. It’s, it might make you look bad, they might think you look bad, but you know what, the only person that’s gonna make you look bad is yourself. You You’re not who cares what their opinion is, like people are gonna have that’s their opinion, you say, Look, man, I do great work, you gave me this contract, you actually gave me this contract, because I do good work, and I know how to do it. And let me tell you something, I don’t do work, that that is gonna put me upside down a million dollars. So I need to work something out. Now I can show you how I’ve sophisticatedly put this together using this cash flow tool, I can show you how this expenses, you don’t need to show them what your margin is, you just need to show them Look, I have 30 day terms with them. My suppliers give me 30 day terms, you can use this information, but you don’t need to show them all this you can delete all your margin. Now they don’t need to know your cost. All they need to know is what you have to pay. And what you what you owe and certain periods of time and what you have up here. Maybe you don’t even need to use use this product, you just need to go show him and based on these terms, I need 30 day terms. Why? Because I gotta pay my suppliers in three terms, I got to pay my labor. But basically, here’s here’s what it is Mr. General Contractor in a nutshell, I got to put a million dollar million $1.4 million on this job before I get cashflow positive, and that’s just too much. So we need to figure out how we’re going to work that out. What can you do? Well, you can pay me in 30 days, I can’t do that. Okay, well, what can you do? And get your deposit up front? Okay, cool. What kind of deposit can you get? I mean, you can start to have real conversations. Now, if you don’t want to talk to your general contractor, then what you can do is you just start to leverage your, the, your customer, not your customer, but you can start to leverage your suppliers. Well, you can take it to your supplier, here is a prime example your supplier, you have 30 day terms with right? Well, they’re $900,000, your sub, your sub is 900 grand or million eight of your payments. Well, can you stretch them to 45 days or paid when paid? That’ll make a huge difference. Okay? Can you take your material, provide suppliers and get better terms from them? Those are the types of things you can do with this information in real time. Long before you’re sitting there with a crisis, not wondering why you’ve got these big buildings and, and for anyone that said to yourself, Man, I owe X amount of dollars to my suppliers. I owe 750 grand in my suppliers, and I got my AR I have a million games I have $1.3 million owed to me if I could just get the money owed to be paid to me I’d be square like I’m sure everybody said that themselves. Well, it doesn’t work that way. But yes, you’re right. If you did get that money right away, you would. So what I suggest doing in these cases, then is using this information to figure out how you can manipulate it.

Autumn Sullivan

But this is powerful just to know if they’re talking to me about how how looking at the project, from, from this perspective, from a weekly cash flow perspective, can help you increase your team’s performance.

Scott Peper

Well, if you’re going to run projects, and they’re going to have a major deficit, it’s going to put stress on everybody, right? So if you’re stressed, it’s going to put your team under stress and if you’re the leader of that business, or you’re managing the project on a project When you’re stressed out, it’s going to add stress to everyone else, it’s going to hurt their performance. If you if with this info, it’ll also let you know where you can provide some incentives. You know, like, you know, here’s a perfect example, if you can get this $200,000, invoice up to five or 600,000, how can you do that? I don’t know, maybe there is something you can do, maybe you can pre order some materials to get the materials on site, maybe you can, maybe it makes sense to put three or four crews on this job. Because the payroll is pretty even if you’ve doubled your payroll, it’s pretty negligible here, right? Not too much. But if you could double this first pay app, or get one of these 800,000 or $700,000, pay apps here up front, where you can manipulate your schedule of values into a different reconstruct them in a different manner to get more money up front here. Now you know exactly how that would impact where your cash flow is, which is going to make your team more incentivized, if you give them goals of hey, look, this is what we need to finish. With month one, we have to get this much done. I don’t care if you get it done it let’s work six days instead of that are all authorized some overtime or whatever you need to do. It just gives you a lot of leeway and flexibility to a motivate them. But also be keep yourself out of stress, which is only going to get pushed down to your team.

Autumn Sullivan 51:25

And I know we have the story. We have a customer story from Andrew Ammons where he did exactly that he was looking at the cash flow tool. And yes, he used our financing but but the cash flow tool was was showed him that if he put two crews on the job, and if he had the super additional additional supervisor and ordered the materials in advance, he would save I think it was eight weeks of of payroll, he got the job done eight weeks earlier.

Scott Peper 51:54

Yeah, so instead of using one crew and and he was abused roofing contractor, so instead of using one crew to go in and prep the roof, and then that same crew to go back in and install the roof, he basically put a whole two whole crews on one one of them that one crew went out a couple of days in advance and started the prep and started to rip the roof off and put the put everything together. And the second crew came in this is a big government, a VA hospital. So the second crew went out behind them and started prepping the roof at the same time. Well, why that was important is they had free rein of that site for that first 10 or 12 weeks of the project. And if he spent one crew going out and doing all that, and that took them six or eight weeks, and then he spent sent that same crew back out for another six or eight weeks, they would have not got as much done where he was able to put get it done was while they had free rein in the roof, they were able to get on that roof with double the amount of people and just work right in tandem behind each other. And they got all of it done in basically instead of 12 or 15 weeks, they got it done in six or seven weeks. So to save them a week’s worth of time, and a week’s worth of labor that was budgeted.

Autumn Sullivan 53:05

So my last question and then we can open it up, we have a few minutes, we can open it up to the rest of the to the audience either on a LinkedIn, if you’re on LinkedIn live, please just drop a chat in the message box. Or if you’re on Zoom, drop it in QA or in chat. But my last question is how can you use project cash flow tracking to grow your business?

Scott Peper 53:32

Well, you know, the first that asked before, should they do a separate project for each one? That’s a great question. Because if you’re mapping out these projects, and you take your bid, you map each one out, and you know exactly how much cash it’s going to take to execute on it. You can do to a couple different things, you can start to determine how much financing does my overall business need? I’m going to go get an SBA loan, should I get half a million dollars? Do I need $2 million? Like what do I need? Right? You’ll know because you can map out what you’re working presses you can map it out on on these sheets to see what how much cash you actually need. The second thing is you can make these decisions in advance of starting the project which will give you the ability to think more about being on top of your business instead of every week, just managing crisis’s that are in your business. And if you’re on top of your business, thinking about what’s next and where we’re going to go. You can start to build your growth strategy a lot easier. So it’s really about knowing that the debt cash so you can figure out the right way to finance the growth or do you bring in equity or do you try to get debt Do you want to bring in a partner if you bring in a partner? How much should you bring him in for, you know, these are all the kinds of things that you’re thinking about when you’re going to want to grow and knowing your numbers by project and then aggregating them all together is going to be key for you. So I think that’s really how that works, but also let you know how you want to incentivize your team. If you gotta grow, you want to make sure you have a great team. If you have a great team and everyone’s working hard, then they’ll be they’ll be more motivated. If they if you know how to incentivize them and put things together for them, they’re going to be, you know, more involved and have a more sense of ownership and equity as opposed to, and I wonder if we’re going to be okay, my God, my owner seems stressed, the project manager seems stressed, is everything gonna be alright? Yeah, that’s not just that’s not a good environment to try to grow in.

Autumn Sullivan 55:27

So we have a question that just got dropped into the chat. And I’m guessing it’s a little tongue in cheek, but I do think it’s a it’s a good moment for you to talk about our do your part campaign been asked? And the real question is, why are we contractors instead of developers? Which, right? Which I do think I would love for you to talk about the do recruit campaign to kind of answer that question.

Scott Peper 55:55

So it’s funny, you know, like, again, and I think that I think the part that we’re getting it there is that, you know, you finance the whole job, you’re basically developing it, someone else has the idea. I think you’re right, you know, it’s true, you finance the whole project for the developer, it’s, you do take a ton of risk, and it is a lot of heavy lifting, too. I will tell you, if it’s a private project, and a developer is doing it, the developer definitely has risk in it to make because the banks aren’t going to give them 100% financing. The the general contractors probably offloading their risk more on on you than the developer might necessarily be in those cases. For example, if it’s a $10 million project, and a developer goes out to get financing, they’ve most likely put in at least $2 million of real money real cash before the bank gives them that 80% Or seven, seven and a half million, that example. So I would tell you that they probably have some significant skin in the game beforehand. Now they don’t want to put any more that money off the project, but your general contractor probably the one that is taking a little offloading some of that risk on to you. The other thing I would say is our do your park campaign is there’s been some things I would call them. Stuff that is goes about and construction that’s just accepted. And it shows up in chats, just like you did right now. It shows up in the side conversations, it shows up on the job site, but it doesn’t necessarily show up in the job trailer, or it doesn’t show up when when you have developers and GCS and banks talking. They just accept this. And one of those things are is that subs do finance the whole job. And it’s not right. Why does it take a bank 30 days to come out and inspect the project? Why can’t they just pay people within seven or 10 days, we just showed you that impact of two weeks, 45 days instead of 30. Imagine if that 45 days went down to 15, you would need maybe a quarter of the money or maybe not even maybe maybe even less. So those things are the things that are do your part can be exposed to talk about and do your part is let’s get out of the habit of living in these moments that we have to figure out like, oh, we can’t bring it up to our GC RG GC is gonna think our week well, you’re not we like subs are not weak. I mean, anyone living in this subcontract, and this is cash flow environment is going to suffer, I’m in a restaurant until the pay feed everybody for a month, fill up, fill everybody at the end of the month and wait 30 days get paid, you wouldn’t have a restaurant in sight, they’d be all gone. So does that mean restaurant owners a week that mean restaurant owners suck at finance, that mean owners that make terrible oh, it just means it’s a shitty finance scenario. And that’s the ones that is for construction. So get that out of your heads if thinking like, I’m going to look weak, or it’s going to be bad, or they’re going to give the job to someone else. Look, in this scenario here, if you don’t have a million for to put on this project, despite the fact that you’re gonna make 1,000,002 If everything goes well, you’re not going to make that million two unless you have 1,000,004. We all know that. So it’s not a good project to take doesn’t mean that anything wrong to me, it’s not a good project to take. And you’d be surprised when you start telling general contractors that want to give you the work, that you can’t do it or won’t do it because it just doesn’t meet your doesn’t have the right terms, you’ll be surprised what they’re gonna be willing to do. It’ll be just like, you don’t want to talk to them. They don’t want to talk to the developer. So they take the path of least resistance, which is push it to you. But if you push it back to them, and they look, I’m going to do great work. The way I do great work is I have a finance partner that helps me or B, I don’t take terms like this to do these projects, or C whatever it is. They’re gonna respect that. And it’s really my opinion, it’s more the insecurity that a subcontractor has that they need to get over than it is anything else. And if you’re not willing to have that conversation, do you really deserve different terms? If we’re going to be honest, probably not. So have the tough conversation. Bring it up. You’ll be surprised you’re going to get what you want more often than you’re not

Autumn Sullivan 1:00:00

We have another question. Even Steven asked, Should we go to mobilization funding? What are your general terms?

Scott Peper 1:00:08

Yeah, I think, of course, we’re a great option for many people. We can’t finance everyone. But we do finance a lot. We’re a great option for something like this. I mean, this is a real client of ours that submitted this, we can’t lend them a million for so we let we typically lend up to 20% of projects contract value, our general terms, and when we layer in a finite, so give you an example, we’ll take a sheet like this, and then try to build a loan to essentially fill the cash flow shortages that you saw that that cumulative project cashflow deficit, we try to bridge the gap of cash that’s needed from the start of the job till when it gets cashflow positive. So let’s say for example, this is a $3.9 million job. It’s it’s a big one, but it doesn’t matter if it’s a million or 500,000 Doesn’t matter. So let’s just say in this particular case, we could lend up to $100,000 on this job. And someone said that we it takes a million for and by the way, I have 800,000 I just don’t have a million for Can I borrow 600 from you? Sure. that would that would work and they would put their 800,000 in and we would put our 600,000 in and we bridge that gap from zero to there, we’d show you what the cost of the financing is in that. And so you would know if when you get to the end of that project sheet. You know, I’m just going to show you guys while we’re sitting here on this. When you get to the end of that sheet here, and you’re at the bottom here, and you see what your cost expenses are, just imagine another line item. And just imagine another line item in here that showed you what the financing costs were. So let’s let’s just say the financing costs were $50,000. So instead of 2,596,000 expense, you have $2,646,000 in expense. And then we would show you what the impact is to your gross margin. Instead of 31% gross margin, you end up with 29% or 28, or whatever that math is, but our typical costs on a project are somewhere between one and 3% of the overall gross margin points. So again, that example that’s 31, you might end up with 29.2% of the project, the way we charge is a monthly interest rate on whatever the outstanding balance is, at that specific time. So even though it’s $100,000 loan, you only needed $22,000 a week, well then you’re only paying interest on the amount that cumulative amount as the loan gets trumped, we call it tranches, you kind of think of it like a project line of credit that you can draw down and use again you just draw down but you don’t draw it down and take more payback take more it just it just gets drawn down. So it takes you from the start to cashflow positive, but that gives you a general idea of the of the dollars. The beauty of this is the spreadsheet that we create comes back to you with the actual project and the way the financing would work in it and the exact cost of that financing and dollars and exactly how it impacts the project. So then you can make real good decisions and we don’t have application fees or anything like that too. So someone applies it doesn’t cost you anything to get the information. Like I said we can work we work with law we can work with everybody and now every project is perfect. But um but yeah, we’re certainly a great option.

Autumn Sullivan 1:03:38

So if you want to try the cash flow tool, and I highly recommend that you do you can visit us at mobilization funding.com I did drop a link if you’re on LinkedIn live I dropped it right in on Scott’s LinkedIn. So it’s right there in the chat. We will have a replay of this webinar available on our website if you’re joining us on LinkedIn live I will share it on our mobilization funding LinkedIn platform and Scott watch I’m sure Scott will share it on his personal social as well. And I encourage you if you like what you see here we have lots of cash flow content. Scott’s actually working on a book on cash flow we but we have tons of blogs about it. And the best way to stay in touch with us is to sign up for Scott’s newsletter comes out twice a month has personal letter from Scott and then whatever our most recent content is and our upcoming webinars as well. Scott was there anything I didn’t ask that I should have asked or any closing thoughts.

Scott Peper 1:04:41

If you guys like this, you think it’d be beneficial please, please tell people about it. Share it. It’s it’s not it’s available to everyone. There’s no cost to it. It’s it’s our way of doing our part. We have a mission to do our part in this do your part mission and that do your part mission. As to change these nuances of construction for the better, you know, let it be accepted that you can have a finance partner in construction, let it be accepted that you can have a conversation with your GC that you need different payment terms without looking weak, let it be accepted that you’re not weak, because you can’t finance a project for everybody you know, and that it’s okay to talk about and, and that no one is terrible with finance you actually find with finance, it’s a cash flow scenario, you know, so we want to change those conversations, providing this tool to that we created internally for us to evaluate loans, basically, to give it to everybody to use for themselves is our way of do just one of the ways we want to do our part in changing the way cash flow and construction and stress and is related to construction too often. And we want to eliminate that. And this is a great way to do it by giving information and education. So please share with everybody the best you can and and go out and have a great day basically what all I want to say.

Autumn Sullivan 1:06:05

Thank you so much. Thank you for your time today, Scott. Thank you everyone for joining us. And yeah, try the cash flow tool and then let us know what you think. Have a great rest of your day.

Scott Peper 1:06:17

Thanks everybody and find me find us on LinkedIn and let’s get back there. Appreciate you.


Matt Vetter (Schafer Construction) and Mike Kepsel (Campbell & Shaw Steel) were two of the first people to join our mission, probably because their companies are already living by the DO YOUR PART principles.

This GC/Sub partnership is built on respect, trust, and integrity. They show up ready to actively listen to each other, to collaborate in order to find solutions to challenges, and to focus on present performance, not past perspectives & stereotypes.

Hear their story first-hand and learn actionable strategies to build better relationships with your partners.

Transcript

Autumn Sullivan 10:57

All right, awesome. Yeah, we had, everyone was just waiting room was waiting at the door. So we’ll go ahead and we’ll get started. Thank you, everyone for joining us today. Today is our very first webinar in our do your part campaign. This is our mission at mobilization funding, and hopefully yours too. Since you’re joining us today, to reframe the way people view think and talk about construction both inside the industry and out. If you have not yet joined our mission and taken the do your part pledge you can find it at on our website, and Scott posts about it on LinkedIn quite a bit as well. So I hope that you join us today I am delighted to bring you the CEO of mobilization funding Scott paper with our special guests, Matt better who is the Vice President of Shaffer construction, and Mike capsule, who is the General Manager of Campbell and Shaw steel. They’re going to share with you how their two companies have built a solid GC subcontractor relationship based on common values, clear communication and shared successes. Scott will be leading the conversation. We want this to be collaborative. So please put your questions in the q&a box. And I will let the guys know when you have a question. And with no further ado, take it away, guys.

Scott Peper 12:10

Awesome. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you for joining, Matt. And, Mike, I really appreciate you guys joining. I’m super excited about this topic I’ve been. Matt, you. And I’ve talked about this endlessly on previous webinars on different other conversations personally in private. And I just moved so excited that as soon as we thought about this topic we launched to do your part campaign mission of ours. We wanted to have live relationships on that could actually talk about how they do this the right way. And I knew reaching out to you, you’d have a great person and you’d have a great trade partner. And Mike, I’m so glad you agreed to join us. Welcome. And thank you very much. Welcome. Awesome. Well, as autumn talked about the do your part mission for us is really about just removing the stigmas that around the GC sub relationship. Ironically, I actually had a meeting at the local ABC chapter here in Tampa this morning, where these exact topics came up. Everybody in the room wants to have a different conversation. But yet everyone is sort of scared to start it off. And so we’re in a unique place to be in the middle of both. We’re not necessarily we’re not a general contractor. We’re not necessarily in construction. We’re certainly not subcontract or trade partners, materials, suppliers or anything in between, but yet we work with everyone. And so we have a unique perspective. I think, to that I want to share with everybody and doing that with my folks that I talked to routinely and even knew, I thought this would be a great forum. So I again appreciate you guys for doing it. And if you want I think it’d be great if everybody could just kind of give maybe a little one minute overview who you are your business. Where are you located? And then I have a list of questions. I’m excited to ask you guys

Mike Kepsel 13:59

go first man.

Matt Vetter 14:00

Sure, sure. I’ll jump in saw Matt Vetter. I’m actually now the president of Shaffer construction or a commercial general contracting firm we’re based in in Brighton Michigan, which is Southeast Michigan. We’ve been in business this is our 25th year and we we build everything short single family homes.

Mike Kepsel 14:23

I’m Mike Kepsel. And the general manager Campbell and Shaw steel. I business has been there probably 30 years we do commercial and industrial steel frames for buildings

Scott Peper 14:39

do key thing that’s what we need for sure. So how did you guys get into construction both then your businesses or decades all? How did you get into construction?

Mike Kepsel 14:52

Um, I think mine I was going to school to be an architect and somehow or another was drafting class. And I was approached by one of the teachers instructors that a local steel company needed, needed help as a draftsman or something. And I went to reply and got the job. And they offered me apprenticeship. And I basically ended up quitting school and became the structural steel detailer through them. And then it just progressed.

Scott Peper 15:26

I think you haven’t tried to go back and design buildings where you bend steel into a perfect arc. Do you try to keep them pretty straight?

Mike Kepsel 15:34

Now we’ve done it all. Yeah, curves don’t bother us yet places we Google stuff. Like, go ahead, Matt.

Matt Vetter 15:43

I was just gonna say I think you make it better steel guy than architect Mike’s, I’m glad you went that route. I got my start in my late high school years, because, quite honestly, I could make a lot more money moving lumber around job sites, and I could do almost anything else at that age. And, and so that’s really where it Springboard I built houses for a long time, moved into commercial in early 2000. Around that timeframe, and it’s just been kind of snowballing ever since.

Scott Peper 16:18

So one of the things that we’ve always seen is this, this natural tension that’s created sometimes, or seems like a lot of times and between a trade partner in any train, and also the general contractor. And some think that it’s maybe because of the nature of your own opposing views on the control on the actual contract itself, that you have the projects, you have others. Can you guys each give a little bit of background, or just a perspective on the way you viewed it? Maybe Maybe all along the your career or or if that’s changed at all?

Matt Vetter 16:57

I’ll jump first, Mike. You know, when I first started in commercial, especially, we did a lot of plan spec work. And it was all, you know, low bid shit that, frankly, nobody really wins in, you know, whoever ends up with a job was typically the guy that made the most mistakes on his estimate. And I think, you know, that that mentality of the the low bid construction is kind of what, what puts us at odds with each other, right? Because nobody wants to admit, nobody wants to lose money, first and foremost. But then to do that, nobody wants to admit fault. And so I think it creates this, this unnatural tension between between the GC and the trade partner. You know, we it gets pretty heated in that. And, you know, we’ve tried to avoid that now. But I can see it very vividly in my, in my memory of times, when that happened when it just leads to screaming matches, and it’s, it wasn’t any fun for me, which is why I got out of it. Like, what do you think?

Mike Kepsel 18:01

I kind of have to agree. You know, and that’s, I have I balanced that with the estimators at the office, and they’ll come to me the projects. And I guess first thing we asked, you know, who’s the contractor? How’s he gonna do it? And you’re like, yeah, that guy’s gonna do the low bid. Why waste your time where I’ve kind of changed the direction the companies go on to more partnerships, and not always have to chase the low bid, build relationships with the contractors, because when you’re fighting with them, or if you know, you end up in a battle, whether it’s no fun. And it’s at the point where by age, as long as I’ve been doing this sometimes, like it’s not worth the effort anymore. There has to be easier ways of doing it. Trying to reach out and build relationships going in trying to help with design ideas. Oh, seems to work out better. And chasing the little bits all the time just never seems to work.

Scott Peper 19:02

I think one of the key things you both just mentioned that it was exactly where my brain was going when we first got into this business was anytime we saw a low margin or low bid, write it everybody lost. And candidly, anytime we financed or work with someone in a low bid situation, we ended up losing two. And we had we went through the same evolution as you both described, but yet we were not a trade partner or general contractor. We weren’t even on the project side. It’s it’s you couple that with the natural, just challenges of a construction project, specifically cash flow and how a fault flows from the bank, to the owner and so forth all the way down. You’re right focusing on something that’s low bid is going to create problems for everyone. So the folks I listed on this I think that’s the key takeaway. We talk about all the time, performance rules the world and that’s the most important thing it’s not price and if you’re thinking price when you’re Estimating. Just know, you hear it, you’ve heard it here that price leads to problems and just change your focus on that. Which brings me to what’s the first construction projects you both worked on? And how did you realize you both had the same synergies and thought processes? The first project

Matt Vetter 20:18

we worked on together, yeah. Holy cow. So I met Mike. Got to be 10 plus years ago now. Yeah, I was running the pre construction department at a, at another company, another GC. And actually, at the time, Mike was at another steel steel supplier. And to be honest, at that time, I knew Mike because he was he was a grumpy as steel guy that you could call it questions. And I was the stressed out, you know, kind of asshole estimator who had no patience and want everything now. And, you know, we we worked together on a lot of projects, when we were both of those separate companies. I don’t remember when you when you move to Campbell, Shawn, Mike, I think it was a bit before I left, where I was at, I think, and tell me if I’m wrong, but I think the real synergy between us kind of happened after we both changed and took over different roles in new companies. Yeah,

Mike Kepsel 21:18

I agree with that. Yeah. I can always remember the conversation, we have the architect, an engineer on the motorcycle shop, on the big fancy canopy, and the architect was looking at it saying, well, the owner needs to get his arms around the project, or whatever it was. And so the only thing the owner gets his arms around is his checkbook, it’s not going to let go that

Matt Vetter 21:44

I remember that conversation.

Scott Peper 21:48

How did you guys manage through it?

Mike Kepsel 21:52

We basically totally architect an engineer, this is what we’re going to do to make it work. And you just have to go along with it. Because we know where the owner is. And all we have to do is pick the phone call up and this is what he’s going to pay for.

Matt Vetter 22:04

Yeah, we were, they were trying to strong arm us into, you know, going back to the owner, and basically saying, You’re a wealthy guy, you should start spending more money. And I can’t say who the owner is, but But Mike knows him, and I know him pretty well. And that wouldn’t have gone well, we would have ended up probably in a ditch somewhere to be quite honest with you. So yeah, it was, it was probably that day that that I really started pushing back on the design consultants, you know, because it’s real easy as a, as somebody with no skin in the game, to just say, just put this in there and pay more money, right, when you have nothing to lose, because you’re going to get your damn fee, hell or high water, whether the project goes, whether it falls apart or otherwise. And I’m not knocking on the design guys, completely. But I think it’s just a different mentality that, you know, the, you know, kind of the blue collar side of the of the industry brings to the table, we got to be more realistic, right, where we’re fiduciaries of our clients, of our clients dollars and of their needs. And that’s what kind of spawned this whole, you know, real design build that we do now, where we try to take the onus of that responsibility onto ourselves so that we can provide the best for our owners, Mike, and I still get along real well, at the end of the project, everybody makes money, and we all win versus yelling and screaming and pointing fingers.

Scott Peper 23:37

Interesting. You know, before you before you guys had these individual experiences, did you ever have any preconceived notions about, like Mike and your case, other general contractors that either were from previous experiences that cemented for you that a negative feeling or a positive feeling? And then your interactions with Matt, change some of that, or, or maybe others? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Mike Kepsel 24:04

There was always, you know, as coming up in the steel business as being in engineering and a detailer. And then I got involved with a larger contractor design build. And Matt used to work there. But this goes way back before Matt’s time, we were brought in way ahead of the design part with one of the partners and had to sit down we would have lunches and basically the napkin sketch. You know, we put it together figure out what it was. He had numbers he wanted to get to as budget and we’d work to help them get to that. And then they would bring in the design team. And so this is where we’re going to go with it. This is what our base sizes were heights, etc, all that stuff. And they design to it. But then you go back to the plan and spec and quoting that’s a whole different animal. that’s already designed and stuff. And then the contractors trying to work for the owner, I don’t know that or the owner trying to push the contractor or beating them up just to keep getting a better product for less money goes back to chase and low bid. A long time ago, I decided I don’t even want to do that. I just want to work with this and do the design, build stuff up front and be able to get in, you know, the front door within a relationship with the contractor. And then Matt came on, I don’t know, a few years later, probably about 10 years ago or so. And I think he caught on to the whole thing, or he was working towards the same thing. It just grew from there.

Scott Peper 25:44

Now on your on your side, you’re working with a guy like Mike who’s got the experience, he’s gone through the evolution of low bid margin, clearly can understand both sides of it. How do you shift when you’re working on projects that whether they maybe Mike’s not working on them, or you know it better yet, it’s just a whole different trade? And that business owner or person you’re working with has a different philosophy than Mike, how do those interactions go? And how do you try to coach them up? Or let him understand or feel comfortable that, you know, you can have a different thought process with you as a trade partner than maybe what the stereotype is?

Matt Vetter 26:26

It’s not easy, you know, that? That’s the simple answer is it’s not easy to convince some guys, that that we as a general contractor are not out just to hose everybody else. Because that’s, that’s the mentality that was driven by the low bid process by the the architects, frankly, that that pumped on that drum. So, you know, when we come across new subcontractors that are either looking at projects we’re working on, or we’re trying to build a new relationship, it takes a lot of work to foster that trust for for me to foster that trust from them that, okay, we’re not, we’re not going to string you out to dry. And I can talk all I want, you know, I can paint a real good picture of my vision and how this industry should work and where we’re trying to take it. But you know, at the end of the day, you’re dealing with folks who have quite likely been burned pretty bad in the past by this system that we were all kind of forced to work in. So it just, it takes time. And you know, Mike touched on relationships. That’s it, like, you have to build that relationship before it ever works. And, you know, to answer your question directly, Scott, there is no quick answer. I don’t think, you know, if they if they believe me right off the bat, and I sold them on my, my outlook then great. But I think more often than not, it just takes a lot of time, a lot of conversations, before we get to that point where there is a mutual trust.

Scott Peper 27:56

Mike anything you’d add to that?

Mike Kepsel 27:59

No, I mean, I agree with them. It’s all about the trust and conversation. Before I was with Campbell & Shaw I was with the previous place. And that’s still company, they chased the low numbers, they would lowball it. Because their attitude was we’re gonna make it up in extras and back charges, and then you’re chasing a whole different animal, you know, down that rabbit hole, it doesn’t work. And you get into all these conflicts with the contractors and it was just nuts. It was a nightmare.

Scott Peper 28:29

In conflicts cost money to

Mike Kepsel 28:31

Yeah, it was a lot of time to chase that. And, you know, in the end, it would settle for 50% of it, but you still everybody’s like, you know, you walk into a building or to a meeting and they know, okay, that’s the lowball guy. I didn’t want to be none of that and didn’t take long at all for me to get tired of it.

Scott Peper 28:52

So, you know, both of you have probably developed younger guys on your own teams, or are new to the business, how do you coach and teach and train inside your own organization to help shape the mentality to approach your new customers or customers you want to work with with the with the mentality that may they may they may have been precondition with before

Mike Kepsel 29:16

That’s what we’re working on now. And kind of bring people in and that’s part of the problem with this business is the lack of people that come in it’s Matt and I’ve talked trying to chase guys and get him into the business or bring kids in you know, they’re just not walking in the front door, throwing an application at you and and looking for a job right now. I mean, wait, go ahead. Go ahead. I’ve got two guys that I work with to help them and they were estimators I guess where they came from, and they were used to a certain thing, you know, plan and spec but didn’t do a lot of design build. I came along when the owner was there and start non teaching, because it’s a different way of doing things, working with different people and kind of turning that corner away from those contractors, like just throw things out the bed, because we know it’s a waste of time, and getting them to help, and I’m introducing them to contractors. I’ve got I’m missing the maths golf outings. So good to know those people. And it’s just changing, changing the whole the aspect of trying to do business.

Matt Vetter 30:34

Yeah, and, you know, we’ve done it on the, on the GC side, I’ve, I’ve tried to shape and mold numerous estimators in my career. And you can tell a very distinct difference when you get a guy that comes from one of the, you know, the big five construction firms versus somebody who comes from something maybe smaller or, or who has never done it before. And to be quite honest with you, I would rather the latter, I’d rather the guy who has no experience in construction whatsoever, but has an open mind and is willing to learn, then try and take the guy from I’m not going to use her name, but the giant paper pushers and bring him into my world and try and deprogram that that mentality because it’s it I’ve found it’s nearly impossible. Maybe I just suck at doing it. But I’ve gone through more candidates and more new hires, from that world trying to bring into mind that I care to even admit, it’s really difficult.

Scott Peper 31:35

Hard to deprogram and reprogram it takes a special person to have it that has a desire to want to realize, Hey, I’ve learned a bunch of things that probably don’t suit me well. And by the way, I want to accept the fact I’m going to blank them out and relearn. It is a special kind of person, regardless of your training skills, man.

Matt Vetter 31:56

Yeah, it definitely is.

Scott Peper 31:58

So what let’s talk a little bit I mean, we probably have, we have a lot of subcontractors, general contractors, material suppliers, different administrators of different companies that are here on this webinar listing. For folks, they’re like, what are some proactive, specific things that they can both do to help change the culture around the GC, subcontractor relationship on their projects? What would you recommend, first and foremost that they could they could do? They don’t have the trust, yet? They got a job jump out in their project, they have a culture around them. That’s either the way we’ve been talking about that’s the norm. And or it’s some combination of both. And how could they go do their part to help make it different?

Mike Kepsel 32:44

Talk? have discussions? Yeah. Have a discussion. The sad part, I think right now is we don’t have data, we don’t have enough face to face discussions, don’t have enough meetings, Graham, you have this whole virus thing that screwed that up. And technology today is made it easier not to have face to face meetings, and discuss things and get views. I think we need to go back to that person. I’m old school. So I guess that’s the old guy you’re talking?

Matt Vetter 33:21

Well, I’m not that much younger. And but I agree with you. I mean, this sort of stuff is great, because right we’re having a conversation from different different sides of the country. And it’s got its purpose. But you know what, what Mike and I do on a day in day out basis for our our actual jobs, you learn much more you communicate better when you’re when you can sit across a table from somebody, you can have an old fashioned set of paper drawings, and you know, highlighters and you can scribble on them. I think talking is a huge point. But I think just shutting up and listening more would would serve a lot of people because I’m gonna keep going back to the relationship side of it, you have to get to know Mike, right, you have to get to know where he’s coming from and what his mentality isn’t to understand how he’s approaching a project. And until you can do that, you’re just going to be spinning wheels. So I think overall communication is really the key. And as a society we’ve gotten away from that.

Scott Peper 34:24

Yeah, I agree. Yeah, it’s funny, um, I was talking to I had friends now for as I get older, and I’m almost I’m in my late 40s But while I get well I get lots I’ve gotten older and I’ve done different deals or negotiated different stuff, whether it’s either inside mobilization funding or out I’ve just you get more confident with yourself and as soon as it’s like almost like one day and you can think about along your journey people tell you hey, you’re you’re okay you know, you’re pretty good. Like Thank you take those comments. Sometimes you don’t, you don’t accept them and other times you start to get some on the one hand, so there’s you believe them all and you think you’re better than you are But ultimately, as you build some confidence, that competence also says, hey, look, I did a good job. But here’s all the other reasons why I did. And in this case, it’s you focused on performance, you didn’t do a little bit, well have the confidence to know why you are good. Be specific, hey, you know, I don’t bid low bid jobs, just be who you are, and that people are gonna either like it or not. And just be clear about who you are, what type of projects you want to work on. You know, if Matt’s telling you, hey, look, we did this one time, this is gonna be tough, but you just tell him, Hey, man, I’m not your guide. And I can’t do that kind of work. I can’t afford to carry the cost. But you know what, when you have this type of job, and this one, this one, I’m your guy, and I can do great on that frame. And here’s the reasons why, like, then Matt doesn’t waste time, you’re not wasting time and vice versa. And Mike, you don’t have to burn up your resources. I’ve just found over the years that if I get more clear with what I can do well, and what more importantly, what I can’t, it allows the other person to hone me in where, where they can see me fit well. And I think it applies to construction really, really well, in the same manner. Because every projects different. You know, they’re all the trades are different. Everything can be specific. I think if everyone just talks like you said, Mike, I mean, that’s the best advice, just talk. And when someone else is talking, now, you and the other side, listen, and do it without judgment. And everyone can get a little more confident to be vocal. And if you’re inside an organization, and you’re not the boss, or you’re not the head of something, ask questions challenge why people are doing it, you know, why do we do it that way? Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it. If you hear that answer, you’re on the home run spot and keep peppering that thing until someone gives you a better reason than because we always did it that way. Because to Mike’s point. It’s there’s a lot of technology out there now. And there’s better ways to do things. None of it’s better than sitting face to face, in my opinion. But there’s technology that definitely helps a construction project, there’s technology that definitely helps bids, and designs and workflows and all kinds of stuff. So those would be some pieces of advice that I would offer up on just listen to you guys conversation. I think you guys in well nailed them.

Matt Vetter 37:14

Yeah, you know, look, this industry is is stressful as hell. So the way I’ve started looking at it in the last, you know, half a decade or so is if I’m going to stay in this industry, and I’m going to sweat and toil to make a living doing what I what I do love to do. I want at least have some damn fun, right? And if if every day is stressful and miserable, because you’re not, you know, you’re always at odds with somebody, and then what the hell’s the point? Because nobody, nobody is getting mega mega rich doing what we do, we can do pretty well. And we’ve got other opportunities, but you know, you’re not hitting billionaire status by being a smaller scale general contractor in southeastern Michigan. Sorry, if that’s a newsflash to you, you know, you can do well, you can have fun, though, you can make a good living, but you got to be able to do it on your own terms.

Scott Peper 38:05

Yeah. Mike anything you’d offer up on that,

Mike Kepsel 38:11

No, I gotta agree with them. You know, it’s this business is stressful, it’s, it’s hard and can be long bass and times, and you got to figure out how to enjoy it. I guess I come to the conclusion here lately, you know, we build buildings, put a product out there. But I have to remind myself, and I’ve started to remind everybody else, one thing we do is we just built buildings, we’re not all surgeons, we make a mistake, can own up to it. Nobody’s gonna die an operating table, if we make a mistake, or something gets broke or something falls down. We can get back up tomorrow and fix it and keep going. And that’s just kind of the attitude we have to take and keep plugging along.

Scott Peper 38:57

So, here’s an opportunity for you guys. Let’s just say this entire webinar was being heard by all the major owners and bankers and architects and designers in the world. What what are the one or two things that you guys wish they were doing differently at the top of the waterfall that would help impact everyone positively?

Matt Vetter 39:24

You know, I think it comes back to communication but learning to you know, we have a constant struggle seemingly lately, especially with with lending institutions that do not understand the design build model of construction. They only understand and they only have on paper, you know, the rules that that govern the old, the old school design bid. Right? And trying for us and that’s been one of our biggest pain points in the last few years is as we’re growing as a company and working on larger and larger projects where we’re, by the nature of the beast dealing with more and more banks and lenders firsthand and trying to educate them that. Look, this isn’t the way that you think it’s done. This isn’t the way you’ve been told, it’s always been done, we do things differently, there’s a different approach here. For example, architects, in our model, I hold the architecture contracts, where in previous models or other models, the owner does or the developer does, we have a constant battle with lending institutions to even get them to understand that I’m in a battle right now I have a have a call with my attorney after this, to discuss this very topic, because we have a bank wanting me to get my architect to sign over rights and to agree to a bunch of nonsense, should the project go south, so that he would essentially then be working for the bank? To which I said that it’s not impossible, right? We hold their contract. So so maybe we could have that relationship with the lender. But, but it can’t be a way around, and it’s just, uh, you know, I’m not knocking on them. But it’s, it’s an old school mentality, or that they don’t, they don’t seem to want to figure out or want to learn how it is that we do business. It was a long winded answer around it. But you know, we were seeing it constantly, it seems, and I don’t know how best to fix it. Because just talking hasn’t, hasn’t helped.

Scott Peper 41:34

I think developing relationships in the banking world are just as important. You know, I, I’ve found a lot of friends that are developers or partners, and they, you know, who their bankers and how they develop those relationships and educate them along on what they do and how they do it. Is, is important, you know, if you think back if banks can land into the world, where they’ll allow a developer to clear a piece of land, and they’ll understand that there’s going to be ultimately a building on it, and they have a lease with a tenant that for something that’s going to be built, they’re going to turn it over, they can understand the construction side, too. They can they’ll get the design build some of them. But you’re right. It’s not it’s not every bank, it’s certainly not the big ones, either. I can promise you that. Big banks are not going to be the ones that gonna take time to figure that out. Um, is there any, is there one or two things that you guys have found that are in that AIA Contract that you wish for change? Or you do change often, to benefit one and I?

Matt Vetter 42:41

I mean, I do by not using them? We’ve, we’ve moved away from them completely. We still have some legacy projects that were under AIA documents. But But there’s other options out there. You know, and, again, I sound like I’m shitting all over the architecture profession. I’m really not. But an AIA document was written by architects, and is designed to protect the architect and the owner and it it does nothing. For the general contractor. It certainly does nothing for the subcontractors, and it causes divisions in and of itself. So there’s other options we have used. Consensus docs has a pretty reasonable set of documents that protects everybody, but it’s got it was written with input from subs and from GCS, not just the design side. There’s, there’s other forms and formats. That would be my answer, just stop using them.

Scott Peper 43:41

Yeah, it’s interesting, because it’s why I brought that up. Mike, anything you want to use? What do you see working with different folks

Mike Kepsel 43:48

to agree with him? I mean, I’ve done some routes from what Matt calls the Big Five area, and I’ve gone through their contracts that use those and I’ve redlined them and marked a mountain. So I’m not going to do this, or I don’t agree with it, or, you know, and I’ll send it back to him that sign and so you need to change, revise it. And I’ve literally had their legal call me and say, You can’t mark it up as well that I’m not signing the contract. You know, you’re going to go to the next guy. Next thing, you know, no red, line it and blank it out and I’ll get the contract. But it’s always a nightmare. And if you don’t take the time spent a whole day reading the contract and going through it. You’re leaving yourself exposed. Yeah. Matt says there’s there’s better ways.

Scott Peper 44:38

Matt, is this contract something that you have that you guys have created or modified? Or is it something that everyone can go get on their own? At least start with from a template perspective?

Matt Vetter 44:48

Nope. Consensus docs. I think it’s consensus docs.com Or someone something around that it’s it’s not free. I mean, you got to pay for it but But anybody can go and buy their their template. That’s, which is what we’ve done. And then we modify them accordingly, you know, based on based on project based on need, you know, we, you can start from scratch. You know, my, my attorney is always asking me to let her create us a contract. And while I appreciate the intent, I think more of it is to get the billable hours and doing so. But, you know, again, the consensus docs, it’s not perfect. It’s not perfect by any means. I don’t think there is any perfect contract. But it’s, in my mind, from what I’ve seen, it’s, it’s way more well rounded.

Scott Peper 45:34

You know, I can say, from our perspective, having read reading a lot of contracts that are executed that come to us, the AI is definitely and most of our con, most of our customers are subcontractors. And it’s definitely not a favorable contract without some tweaks to it. And you’re you hit the nail on the head, Mike, matter of fact, one of the webinars we did was with an attorney having to be out of Texas, but very familiar with the doctrines and he recommended the five or six places that you really should like, make some modifications. If you want to have like, any, if anything bad happens, you’ll at least be in a somewhat okay spot versus just a disaster. And so I recommend everyone go do that. We can post that later on and show but you got the money you spend on those contracts. Redlining is worth every penny and a couple hours you spend your trade new than it is getting in a fight?

Matt Vetter 46:26

For sure. 100% agree. Yeah. So many people don’t read them. You know, and that on the GC side, the sub side, the owner side, so maybe we’ll just, you know, if we could all work on a handshake, that’d be great. I’d love it. But that’s not the world we live in. And if you don’t take the time, and spend the money to really understand what the hell it is you’re signing. Good luck to you.

Mike Kepsel 46:52

Yeah, you need to read them.

Scott Peper 46:56

I’m gonna look and see here we have some questions. It looks like there’s been some comments, I want to ask you guys a couple of right from the audience here. Um,

Autumn Sullivan 47:04

We do have questions. We have one from Ben, that says, What have you done to educate the project owners who are hesitant to do the design build approach, it seems they’re hesitant because they don’t personally know or trust, a GC or subcontractor. So they feel like they’ll get taken advantage of Whichever one of you wants to jump in first,

Mike Kepsel 47:30

I guess I probably got the longer exposure. We sit down, going back to that one contractor, and he would bring a lot of his trades in and meet with the owner face to face. And we will put numbers together. And he was shown those numbers. It was basic, open book. We had a profit margin, but I could do it with Matt, anybody, I’d sit down and show you our cost for all of our materials, show your labor hours, and our profit margin. Do. You know, if a contractor is willing to do that with an owner? I, I don’t see how it couldn’t work. Maybe they’re not showing up. So maybe that’s how the honors who like maybe they get taken.

Matt Vetter 48:21

I think that’s just it, you know, Ben, he mentioned that they don’t know or they don’t trust the person that that’s the first three rules of sales, right? You got to you got to get your client to know like, and trust you. And if you’re trying to pull the wool over somebody’s eyes, why would they trust you? You know, we operate still, like Mike just said on a on a very open book, I’m happy to sit down with an owner and any of my trade partners that that are there and and we’ll show them every number, I’ll show you exactly what what I’m gonna make Michael show you what he’s gonna make. You may not like it, but, you know, at least it opens up the door for conversation. And that’s the way we change this industry is we have to start having those conversations, to gain the trust from the ownership community as a whole. Because it, you know, design builds been around forever. But for a very long time, it’s just been a catchphrase. You know, it’s been like hanging your core values on your wall and calling that good. People would throw it around to use it as a marketing term. We have to do better as an industry to really teach people what the hell it means and how it can actually work and benefit not just us but the owners also.

Scott Peper 49:34

The owners want their buildings built that mean that they’re not interested in the construction of the building doesn’t help them what that’s not the purpose of the building. It’s not certainly not going to make them any money. It’s not going to occupy itself. So I think we you just hit the nail on the head both of you is the confidence to actually say I’m making money on the project. By the way, guys, like I’m definitely doing that number one, and here’s how much I’m making. And I don’t feel bad about making that money and There’s a lot of risk, like on paper right now I make this money if I could put my fingers and it’s done, yeah, that’s what I’ll make. But you know what, there’s a lot of things in here that have risk I have to perform, I have to manage people, there’s a 10 month project, it’s a two month project, whatever it is, a lot has to go. Right for me to make that money more often than not, I’ll make less, sometimes I might end up making more if I can be efficient, but who cares? Like, you know, I’m making money. That’s it. And it’s that’s the brain shift that I’ve seen in our group, while we work with different folks that, and I’m sure there’s folks on here now thinking like, that’s insane. I’ve never done that before, I promise you, if you do that, you’re gonna win more bids. Because I believe it’s the unknown that people don’t trust, not what they know, if they know you’re, you show them all the numbers, they know, you’re gonna make 25%. And they think you should only make 15. They’re, they’re happy that you’re not making 30 As if that was on the table before 40 or 50, or whatever. And they feel like, okay, 25 is more, but they know, at least they know and they’re like, Alright, then they can talk to you about the things that are actually important, right? If I give you this, you’re gonna do a good job, like you promise you’re gonna do a good job. And this is why and here’s how I think they can run with that.

Matt Vetter 51:15

That’s what I believe. Well, why the by the F, wouldn’t we do that? Right? It’s, it’s, we have already talked about how stressful the industry is. It is fun, I like building stuff. But it’s not that fun that I want to do it for free. I’ve got plenty of things I could occupy my time with, if I wasn’t making any money, and it wasn’t concerned with paying bills, and it probably wouldn’t be building buildings. So we do it as a profession, we do it to make a living to put food on our family’s plates, you know, why the hell not have those conversations? And if the owner doesn’t like that, I’m putting 15% on it. We can have a debate, you know, but But you get back to that, that age old conversation. Well, what is my experience worth? Because you can’t do this yourself? That’s why you’re talking to me, you know, just like, I can’t do surgery, but I can build a hospital. You know, and and Mike’s got, you know, decades of experience under his belt, why the hell Shouldn’t he charge for that? Because nobody else has that you can’t, you can’t reproduce that, you know, there’s no technology ever that can reproduce that sort of thing. So we’ve all got to stop being so chicken shit about making money. We’re that’s why we’re doing this. That’s why we have these conversations is why we’re in business.

Scott Peper 52:36

I couldn’t agree more. You know, um, the other point I was gonna make was as you as you start to jump into these, you’re having these conversations about dollars and cents and money. You realize also Okay, yeah, 20% is whatever, like, that’s the margin, let’s say, for example, but they’re holding 10% of retainage. And they’re talking about 20%. And you’re like, Listen, man, I’m running the job on 10, which is hard. Like, how about I hold 50% of your profit? I mean, 10 seems like 10. But it’s really 50% of the profit. I mean, then you can might be able to get into a conversation where the owner might say, Okay, well, if you could bring your margin down to, you know, 5%, then I won’t hold any retainage. And then you have a choice, then you can make some decisions one way for you advantageous to you, maybe you’d rather have more of your money up front, and you can do it for less. Or maybe you can say I get a hold, you know, you can pay my guys or I can pay this or I can get better terms if you allow me to do this as a nurse. So yeah, I’ll do that. If you give me 10%. Up front, I’m a contract. And I can actually get out and get started and do this more efficiently. Now you can get into the meat of real conversations that actually will make the job more efficient, you can actually make more money on it. By spending less, you can get into some conversations, if you get past the price. And when everybody’s making just slap it on the table. That’s my personal opinion. I’ve seen that in my own world, with different business ventures. I’ve definitely heard folks like you guys who do that just just like this. And they’re every one of them are more happy. They do better projects, they avoid problems. And there’s less ambiguity, always.

Autumn Sullivan 54:13

Yeah, there’s an added benefit to talking about money. Oh, I’m sorry, not in that the perception of construction is that it’s and we talked about this in the Do Your Part campaign, that the perception of construction as an industry is that it’s a dead end job. And that you have to go to college and you know, all the stories that we all know, right? But if the if, if, if the industry is willing to start talking about what you actually can make and construction if we’re just like you said less chickenshit and willing to talk about the money that can be made here. It’s it that’s part of changing the perception, you know, for the for the younger people who are coming into the industry, that it’s an actual viable career where you can make real money

Matt Vetter 55:00

Yeah, you don’t have enough time to get me on that soapbox. That could be a whole nother episode, but I will be 100% agree with you awesome.

Autumn Sullivan 55:13

Yeah, we’ll have you on for that one, I promise.

Scott Peper 55:17

Also say if everyone hangs out on this and complains about the topics we’re having, and do nothing different than I guess you deserve what you’re getting. But now that you’ve been on this and listened, try it. Pick the person have the best relationship with go show how much you’re gonna make on their project. Ask them if there’s anything you could do for them to help them better. Think about it from their perspective and ask them to think about the project from your perspective. And you’ll both find a lot of value in that and probably a great relationship. I promise you the unknown. This is a long lasting as the unknown is what people don’t trust more than anything else. The unknown.

Autumn Sullivan 55:59

Yep, very true. All right. And if you haven’t yet, go to our website, take the do your part pledge. Join us in our mission. Thank you guys so much for joining us. We don’t have any other questions. So I’ll go ahead and give you 15 minutes back to your day. Scott, did you want to close this out?

Scott Peper 56:17

Yeah, there was one in the chat. I think we answered it. It had to do with Luis, I saw your earlier will we be sharing this recording? Yes, absolutely. We’ll send out a link to this to everyone. We’ll also put on LinkedIn, it’ll be live. I’m sorry, not live. It’ll be on YouTube, you can always go get it. You can see this as and as many times as you want and slow motion. Rewind. And fast forward. Are you able to see it all? Um, I think we Matt mentioned that consensus docs was another question in the chat about where the documents are. And everyone that’s had so many positive comments, I thank you very much. We appreciate it. And most importantly, Matt and Mike, thank you guys so much for your time, I appreciate you guys having the courage to share this. Your own relationship and journey and interaction. I applaud both of you for having the confidence to do it the way you do it. And most importantly, this do your part mission you guys definitely represent and are already leading the way on it. And I’m so glad we chose you guys to Nashville, and most importantly, you accepted to jump on, it’s great to watch the both of you and what you’ve cultivated. And I’m certain one or a few people, if not hundreds, hopefully will be impacted by this and start to have a little bit different conversations. And soon enough, the world keeps spinning. And it’ll permeate out farther and farther. And will all of a sudden one day someone’s going to come to you and show an owner is going to walk in your guy’s dorm show you how much money they’re gonna make and ask you how much you’re gonna make. And maybe they’ll even give you a little more taste on.

Matt Vetter 57:50

That Scott, I appreciate you having us on. It was it was fun as always. Mike, I’m glad you came. Thanks for Well, thanks for helping along the way, buddy.

Mike Kepsel 57:59

Oh, welcome. Thanks for having me.

Autumn Sullivan 58:01

Thank you guys so much.

Scott Peper 58:04

Please join us in the do your part mission. There’s some cool guests, there’s lots of stuff we’re doing, it costs you absolutely nothing. We’re going to help educate things just like this type of topics, more gas, more conversations, different blogs, different ideas. Our part in this deer park mission is launching our cash flow tool that we will have we’ve gone through webinars on this before, but it’s a cash flow tool. It is 100% free. Anyone can download it right on our website, what is the cash flow tool, it basically helps you figure out if you haven’t been in an estimate and a schedule you need to keep. It’ll show you exactly how much cash you need to execute that job. And if you don’t have enough cash, just imagine knowing that in advance, and then you have the options and tools to be able to do it. Perhaps you take that tool into your GC or your owner and you show them Hey, man, I need $5 million to run the project because you’re taking too long to pay me if you pay me in 30 days, I only need 2 million. So help me out or hundreds of 1000s or whatever it is. But that tool is very impactful that may help you make proactive decisions and it’s 100% free. And all the tools are there for you to use it and show it and work off of it. So thank you all again, Mike. And Matt. I really appreciate you guys. Thank you so much. Thanks. Take care, everybody. You too

Your company’s approach to communication impacts your cash flow, for better or for worse. How you and your company communicate will determine whether you are successful reaching your goals.  That might seem crazy—how can emails and phone calls affect our bottom line?—but it’s true. There are lots of opportunities throughout a construction project, from start to finish, where how you communicate can mean the difference between having the cash you need to do the job . . . or not.

Your bid: Start communicating with confidence

If your first thought when you start a new project bid is, “What price do I need to have in order to win this project?” then you are thinking, and likely communicating, from a mindset of lack. When price is the pillar of your bid, you aren’t communicating confidence in your team’s performance.

Ask yourself instead, “What will it take to do this job the RIGHT way? How much cash will we need to ensure we have the labor, materials, and equipment for us to do our best work?” Plan out the project’s weekly cash flow—the money coming in and off the job—so you know exactly how to build your schedule of values. Make sure to use real, accurate numbers. What are your costs and terms right now with your current suppliers? What is your current labor cost and capabilities? Start there and see how many adjustments you would need to make to do the job effectively and profitably.  

Remember, your team’s ability to perform is the key and what matters most.  Just because another company might be able to do the job for less money does not mean your company can right now. Every company has different expenses, supplier terms, supplier pricing, labor capabilities, etc. Know what your team’s capabilities are and then be honest with yourself about them when you are bidding a project.

Then, show your work in the bid. Put your price down and explain how you got there and what that number will mean to the GC in terms of schedule and performance. Share your cash flow projection with them, so that they can see any potential cash flow gaps you point out. How are you funding the project? Add that to your Capability Statement. Trust us—the vast majority of GCs won’t judge you even if you use outside funding. Instead, they will be relieved to know you have a plan for funding. The general contractor’s worst nightmare is the subcontractor who suddenly runs out of cash and has to stop work or rely on them to finance the subcontractor.

Explain why a certain part of the design plan needs to be done a certain way and therefore will cost more time or money. Point out any red flags or errors you see in the schedule—make sure the GC knows this is calculated in your bid and they should make sure other subs are thinking the same thing. Save the GC—and you—the trouble of change orders that could have been avoided. Bid the job the way it needs to be bid to actually do the work, and explain how you got there.  This will help you stand out from your competition and be much more valuable to the GC and the project.

Remember, numbers don’t tell the whole story; your thoughtful analysis of the project and its costs will show the GC that you’ve put the work in ahead of time to make sure the project is done right.

When you approach each new bid with this mindset, you ensure that every new project has the cash flow schedule needed to fund itself, that your team can perform to the best of their ability, and that your company will make the profit you need to flourish and grow.

During the build: Clear communication is key

A formal process of communication between the general contractor and your company is critical to your ability to manage costs on the project. Don’t be afraid to push if a GC wants to verbally submit a change order. Remember, and remind the GC, that clarity is in the best interest of everyone on the project. Change orders can have dramatic consequences for your cash flow, and you need to be able to ensure that you can bill for the new scope of work and get paid for it.

The same theory applies to preliminary notices. Sending a preliminary notice isn’t a threat, unless you make it sound like one. Preliminary notices are good business practice — they let everyone on the project know that you are a member of the team and what your expectations are, according to the contract, regarding payment, and that you are only preserving your contractual rights to get paid. Subcontractors who submit preliminary notices are actually more likely to be paid on time than those who do not.

Questions, problems, challenges, issues . . . call them whatever you like, but the fact is that they happen A LOT in construction. It’s just the nature of the industry — the design looks great until you get out there on the site and start working. Sometimes, these issues are inevitable, faults that were missed in design. Other times, someone on the team causes the problem.

Either way, the best way to protect your cash flow on the project is to keep the project moving. That means skipping the blame game and OWNING the problem and more importantly the solutions to the problem. Contact whoever is a stakeholder in this problem—whoever will be needed to fix it and to approve the plan—and spell it out quickly and clearly.

  • What the issue is (not who caused it)
  • How it will impact the rest of the project and schedule
  • How you propose to fix it
  • What you’ll need in order to execute that job

Owning problems on-site doesn’t only protect the cash flow on this job, it establishes your reputation as a solid, trustworthy partner for the future. That’s an easy win-win.

Before, during, and after: Keep lines of communication open

Construction is a people business. If you look at each project as nothing more than a job to do, you aren’t building the relationships that will help you reach your larger goals. You need an industry network that supports you, and which you can support in turn. Think more about how you and your team are making your customer’s job easier and bringing value to them.

Before, during, and after the project, be a good communicator by actively listening, responding with empathy first, and communicating clearly. If you pour value into people, listen attentively and with empathy, and focus on bringing cohesion and collaboration rather than conflict and stress, you will find that general contractors want to work with you again. Other subcontractors will refer you, because they want to work with you again. They know what they get when they partner with your company—integrity, transparency, and excellence, and a job well done.

Join your local chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, or your local trade association. Attend their events and support their causes. If you aren’t on LinkedIn yet, get on there and start connecting with general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and other partners in your area. Fifteen minutes a day spent communicating with your network can pay off huge when someone turns to you first when they need a contractor.

None of this works unless you are invested in the people you’re networking with. But, if you are willing to pour value into people, to give your knowledge, experience, and perspective away freely, to be a good listener and a clear communicator, then the good you give will come back to you.

How does that help cash flow? Referrals, for one thing. New opportunities.

Communication is a hidden cash flow superpower

From the bidding process to the project’s end, how you communicate with your GC, your suppliers and vendors, and even other subcontractors on the project, can impact your cash flow. Communicating clearly what you need to perform on a job, owning every problem AND its solution, and pouring value into your relationships will all make it much easier for you to earn what your worth, get paid on time, and build a pipeline of new business that gets your company where you want it to be.

Like what you just read? Awesome! We’re changing the way the construction industry talks to each other and about itself. Take the DO YOUR PART pledge to become part of this important mission!

Communication between General Contractors and subcontractors is critical to the success of the project and the success of the business relationship. Yet many (if not most) GCs and Subcontractor relationships have so many roadblocks to clear and effective communication that it results in tense conversations and even outright conflict as the norm.

It doesn’t have to be like that.

Here are 5 tips for better communication that you can put into practice today.

1. Be a good partner first.

It all starts here. It is very hard to expect more from your customer than you give yourself. Whether you are the general contractor or the subcontractor, your mindset regarding the relationship will set the tone for every interaction you and your team, has with everyone else on the project. It’s up to you to role model a positive, collaborative partnership relationship.  Look at the relationships and culture within your own organization first – it is very likely that problems you have within your organization will also be problems you have outside your organization, so fix your house first!

2. Set expectations early and clearly.

People will treat you the way you train them to treat you. Setting clear boundaries and expectations early around communication will help general contractors know how you as the subcontractor would prefer to interact throughout the project. That starts by including your business policies in your bid’s capability statement. Let the GC know your guidelines for credit and payment terms, as well as how you collect on overdue accounts.  Let them also know what they can expect from you and what you will deliver to them.  Then make sure you stick to what you say you will do.

Nervous about laying down the law with the GC? Don’t be. Most General Contractors will welcome the clear parameters and your company’s attention to the important details.  This will separate you from your competition in a good way!  It will also allow them to set clear expectations for you up front – then you both can agree how you will move forward with both!

3. Be transparent.

One of the best ways to increase transparency is to communicate in writing and in advance of a situation. Yes, that means you send preliminary notices as a matter of course and yes that means you require change orders to be in writing (even if it is just an email).

No, that doesn’t mean you’re sending a message that you don’t trust the GC to pay you. Unless you frame it that way.

Remember, set expectations and boundaries. In order for everyone on this project to perform at their maximum efficiency and skill, we follow these business practices. That isn’t personal, it’s professional.

Subcontractors, when you submit a bid to the GC, you are essentially making a promise. Build trust around that project by showing how the project cash flow will impact your team and how you plan to address it. Focus on telling the story around the numbers. The job requires a certain amount of costs upfront; show the GC that you have secured the cash to cover them in the most responsible way possible.

Written communications build trust as both parties set expectations and meet them. They also leave a clear trail of decisions for both parties to refer to should an issue arise.

4. Become an active listener.

Before your next conversation with your GC or subcontractor partner, commit to being an active listener. Active listening is listening with 100% of your focus on the person who is speaking. It means paying attention to body language as well as what is actually said. Active listening exercises empathy and cognitive thinking, so you understand the issue from the other person’s perspective as well as your own.

When you are actively listening, you aren’t focused on what you’re going to say next or what you need to do after this conversation. You are dialed in completely on what the other person is saying. It can transform how you perceive the speaker and the challenge you are both trying to solve. Jesse Itzler, owner of the Atlanta Hawks says, “Be where your feet are.” That goes for your mind, thoughts, and attention especially!

Active listening isn’t being weak or a pushover. It’s exercising confidence and humility in order to have a greater positive impact on the situation, the project, and your business relationship. It takes a real leader to sit quietly and let someone talk until they feel heard.

5. Create a feedback loop.

The last tip is probably one of the most challenging. You have to ask others how your communication is being received. Then, you have to sit with that feedback and decide what you can change to improve.

Luckily, its also one of the easiest tips to implement, once you get comfortable with it. All you have to do is ask. Ask everyone you talk to. The more feedback you receive about your communication, and the more you implement that feedback when it is valid, the better your communication will be moving forward.

Conclusion: Communication is a team effort.

Everywhere from the shop to the contract to face-to-face conversations on the site, communication is a team effort. When we communicate from a place of empathy, transparency, and collaboration, everyone wins.

Like what you just read? Awesome! We’re changing the way the construction industry talks to each other and about itself. Take the DO YOUR PART pledge to become part of this important mission!

It’s time to Do Your Part! If you follow our newsletter (and if you don’t, now is the time!) you know our CEO Scott Peper talks a lot about how the construction industry needs to be rebuilt. The industry that literally built America and continues to build our future has fallen into disrepair.

There are lots of reasons—resistance to change, a cultural shift toward college over trade careers, outdated and toxic work philosophies—but at the end of the day guess who is responsible for letting those things happen?

WE ARE.

All of us, those who work in the construction industry and those who serve it, are responsible for letting the rust gather, the tires go flat, the tank to run dry.

And that means it is our responsibility to fix it.

Better than that, it is our opportunity to make it better. Each of us have this moment to look inside ourselves and ask, “What can I do to impact the industry? What is my part?”

That’s why we are launching the DO YOUR PART campaign.

We’re asking everyone—GCs, Subcontractors, Service Partners, Material Suppliers, and anyone else serving the construction industry — to take a pledge to communicate more effectively, operate with integrity, and help us rebuild the industry we all love.

What does it mean to DO YOUR PART?

Glad you asked.

Do Your Part Step Up Blog Image

Show Up

We need to come to every business call, every meeting, every team interaction with our PURPOSE in mind. Look at these interactions with fresh eyes focused on whatever YOUR PART is in fixing the problem.

Lip-service isn’t enough. Your actions, big and small, day after day, are the only thing that will move the needle on the issues that are impacting construction.

  • There’s a massive labor shortage.
  • The supply chain is under pressure.
  • Stress in the industry, from owners to laborers, is incredibly harmful and impacting people’s lives.
  • There’s a perception that the industry is a “dead-end” rather than a road to success.

It’s time to show up for the industry you love to help solve these problems. We no longer have the luxury of waiting for someone else to do it for us.

Step Up

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s time to push ourselves, to stretch beyond our comfort zones. That means doing the right thing even when it is hard. That means being more transparent about your business, its capabilities, its finances, and your expectations.

It means asking for help and it means offering help to others – regardless of where you or your company fit in the industry. It means telling people what you need in order  to get a job done the right way and the way you want to do it. Proactively look to collaborate over conflict with one another – other trades, subs and GCs, owners and developers. Transforming your work culture to improve your team’s mental health and wellbeing.

It means being a role model of what a leader in construction should be.

When there is a problem, it is a leader’s job to step up and own the solution.

Young female engineer smile and stand with success engineer team with safety helmet and suit in center of downtown with background of tall building or skyline

Raise Up

A rising tide lifts all boats is a great saying, but the truth is some boats are already leaking water. Doing your part to restore construction to its former glory means reaching out to help others. Whether that is joining a coalition like the CIASP, working with your local high school to expose kids to trade careers earlier,  or offering business advice to the next generation — doing your part is about more than your own success.

It’s Time to Do Your Part

If you agree it’s time to rebuild the construction industry for good, click here to take the DO YOUR PART pledge and join our mission.

Construction payments are notoriously slow. There are a lot of misperceptions about why that is. Raise your hand if either of these statements sounds familiar.

“General contractors NEVER pay on time.”

“Subcontractors are terrible with money.”

Of course you have; they are two of the most common complaints made in the construction industry. The trouble is that both of these statements over-simplify a complex issue and pin blame where it doesn’t really belong.

Why are subcontractors always chasing down payments? Why can’t GCs ever seem to pay on time?

Slow payments, of course.

Getting paid in construction is like trying to run a marathon where the road is pocked with potholes and carpeted in broken glass. It is an arduous, uncertain journey that starts at the bid and ends . . . whenever (if ever) the subcontractors finally get paid. And retainage—that’s a whole other conversation!

Our industry is just starting to talk about slow payments. It’s about time. If we can change the conversation from the cliched stereotypes about irresponsible Subcontractors and miserly General Contractors, we can instead focus on solving the actual problem.

The Reality Behind Slow Payments in Construction

It’s no secret that construction has the slowest payment timelines of any industry. Levelset’s 2019 National Construction Payments Report detailed that about half of all US contractors do not get paid on time, with a staggering average wait of 83 days. The majority of those are subcontractors, who already operate on extremely tight profit margins. They also finance the bulk of the expenses in the early stages of a project.

On the flip side, the same report showed that most general contractors are paying their subs before they get paid by the owner. General contractors are putting their own business’s profitability at risk to cover payments to subs and suppliers because they aren’t paid on time, either.

A late payment doesn’t only impact one project. One late payment on a project can be the rolling stone that starts an avalanche — especially for subcontractors. Subcontractors often rely on the payment from job X to cover the mobilization costs on new project Y. If that money doesn’t show up, they scramble to find a funding solution. The results are often ugly. Desperate subcontractors grab quick cash from Merchant Cash Advances that end up bankrupting their business and ruining their lives.

Sound far-fetched? The 2018 Bloomberg series, Sign Here to Lose Everything, tells the story of Jerry Bush, a plumbing contractor who attempted suicide after MCA debt crushed his business. One of the lenders told Bush he would pursue him “until his death.”

Slow payments is a serious problem, impacting everyone in the industry. This is the battle cry our industry needs: We have to attack this together. We CAN solve it together. It will take technological advancements in construction finance, operational shifts within contractor companies, and collaboration between General Contractors and subcontractors. That’s right; you guys and gals need to get comfortable talking about cash flow on the project.

But first, let’s look at some of the ways technology is making it easier to get paid.

Getting Paid is Easier Online

The trouble with payment in construction starts with the process to simply request a payment. It’s a marathon of paperwork for the subcontractor, and that is only the first step. The financing on almost any construction job is like a precariously built Jenga tower of invested parties — including the General Contractor, developer, owner(s), lenders, and so on. A mistake in the paperwork chain at any point and the whole thing comes tumbling down.

The process is confusing, prone to failure, and entirely inefficient. Thankfully, there’s hope on the horizon.

Like many industries before ours, the digital transformation is solving some of these challenges. Levelset made waves when it secured $30 million in funding for its cloud-based SaaS company that allows contractors to quickly send a payment app or file a Mechanic’s Lien. On the financing side, Rabbet has created a streamlined, AI-driven construction draw process that makes it easier for lenders to receive, review and approve payments. We’ve undergone our own digital transformation at Mobilization Funding. We utilize digital solutions to make applying for funding, requesting disbursements, and making payments faster and more efficient.

But, technology hasn’t yet solved the subcontractor’s main dilemma. How do I finance 3 months of labor, equipment and materials on this job without a single payment from the job?

That’s where a good old-fashioned conversation can help.

Tear Down the Stereotypes

Before subcontractors and GCs can start talking about money, both sides need to adjust their perceptions of each other.

General Contractors — subs aren’t necessarily bad with money.

Subcontractors — the GC isn’t sitting on a stash of cash and delaying your payment out of malice or neglect.

Both of you were hired to do a job. Both of you are trying to do that job to the best of your team’s ability. Both of you are dealing with the constraints of the construction project, and You BOTH want to SUCCEED. So rather than butting heads over a situation neither of you is responsible for, why not work together?

Acknowledge Reality from the Start

Why wait until the first late payment to talk about what to do next? Subcontractors need to start talking about funding and payments in the bidding stage. Include late payment penalties (and early payment incentives) in your bidding contracts. When estimating your project costs, remember to include the cost of your funding. Because let’s be honest — you have to get funding from somewhere to float three months’ worth of labor, materials, equipment, and so on. Small Business Loan, Line of Credit, Mobilization Loan, “borrow” it from another project, MCA — Just kidding, please don’t take an MCA ever again — there is an associated cost. If you don’t build it into the bid in advance or you didn’t build it in at all, it will come out of your profit margin and you just might end doing the project for no profit at all.  In the case where you take out an MCA you most likely are doing the job to just give all your profit to the MCA lender in addition to ruining your company’s cash flow.

Create a Plan Together

General Contractors and Subcontractors need to sit at the table, put the numbers between them, and figure out how to complete the work at a profit margin that keeps both businesses growing and flourishing. Stop seeing each other as Customer/Vendor and start treating each other as what you really are: Partners.

You have a shared goal, remember: a successful project completed at a profit.

Talk honestly about contingency plans, incentive deals you can kick up to the owner, and discounts or credits you can leverage with suppliers. Build a strategy that reduces tension around money, ramps up collaborative success, and allows you both to focus on the performance of the project.

It is a long road ahead of us to solve the slow payment crisis in construction. It’s a marathon, but it doesn’t have to be hell on Earth. The first step is communication.

Now, go get paid.

Like what you just read? Subscribe to our newsletter.