Building a Successful Construction Business

By Michael Stone

I take many calls from contractors whose business is more like a low-paying job than a successful construction business. Some ask, “Is it even possible in today’s economic climate? Can my business make money?”


When Business Returns

By Michael Stone

At some point this health crisis will slow down and go away. When it does, there’s a good chance we’ll be doing some things differently. But some things won’t change.


When Business Dries Up

By Michael Stone

If sales have dropped off significantly or you’re under a stay-at-home order, here are 3 things that you need to do now for both your business and your family.


Hang On – Getting Through These Times

By Devon Stone

Michael Stone offers suggestions on how to keep your construction business strong during this Coronavirus emergency.


It’s Not For Us

By Michael Stone

Michael Stone shares about a note from a contractor who initially found the Markup & Profit Revisited book “too extreme” and “not for us” – but now realizes it makes sense.


Investing in Your Business

By Michael Stone

Constant input from others is necessary if you want to stay on top of both your business and your personal life.


What the Future Holds

By Michael Stone

If you were a mouse in my pocket, you’d hear the complaints I hear about both general and specialty contractors who don’t answer the phone or return phone calls.


Year-End Planning, Part 1

By Michael Stone

Business planning isn’t exciting. But the effort you put into it has much to do with the results you’ll see next year and in years to come.


Year-End Planning, Part 2

By Michael Stone

This is part two of our year-end planning paper. We’re going to pick this up by continuing an indepth look at your overhead budget for the coming year.


Words from an Expert on Hiring Contractors

By Michael Stone

A contractor sent us an online article written by a real estate investor with the purpose of educating you on “how to develop a fair relationship with your contractor.”


A Yardstick for Success

By Michael Stone

It’s the last Wednesday of the summer, which is a great time to look back and see how your business fared.


What Happens To Your Business If You Can’t Be There?

By Michael Stone

If you own a business, your illness or death will create business problems for your families and your employees.


Spare Topics

By Michael Stone

It’s time to catch up on some spare topics I have lying around. These aren’t earth shaking but they can and will impact your bottom line.


Liability Insurance Tangle

By Michael Stone

Some time back we received a well-written letter about liability insurance from a contractor in Washington state.


Writing a Business Plan for a Construction Business

By Michael Stone

A business plan is different than year-end planning. A business plan looks at the big picture. It’s a roadmap for the whole journey.


Make Things Happen

By Michael Stone

Without looking, how do you think your business did this year? Are you feeling more profitable or less? Is your business running more smoothly or are the problems overwhelming?


Make Hay While the Sun Shines

By Michael Stone

It’s the beginning of the fourth quarter and I’d like to address a few different issues that seem pertinent right now. The most important one is to remember that things aren’t always good.


Getting Ahead

By Michael Stone

As we head into Memorial Day weekend, we want to share an upbeat note we received in April from a client.


Does This Apply to My Business?

By Michael Stone

We received a note from a contractor asking if what we talk about applies to his business.


Do Your Work

By Michael Stone

For the past few years I’ve had general contractors tell me that they can’t get specialty contractors to return their calls, show up on time or show up at all for a job. Now I’m hearing from generals who are getting calls from subs, looking for work.


Successful Business Growth

By Michael Stone

I’m a strong supporter of reviewing where your business has been and where you want it to go. Last week I discussed that subject with a friend I met over seventeen years ago.


Share Kindness

By Michael Stone

I follow Barbara Pachter, a speaker, author, and coach, who writes regularly on business-related topics, especially those related to business etiquette and communication. We requested and received permission to reprint one of her recent blog posts here.


Planning for Profit

By Michael Stone

We recommend setting goals every year, beginning the process about now. If making a profit is one of your goals, Michael outlines practices that will help.  


Managing Growth

By Michael Stone

If you’re doing a good job of marketing your company, how do you plan for and manage growth when it shows up?


Loaning Your License

By Michael Stone

It’s interesting how friends, relatives, and other contractors try to rope you into their schemes by asking to borrow your license to build their jobs.


Collecting Payment from a Dishonest Homeowner – Updated

By Michael Stone

Not all of your clients are honest. There are even a few who have no intention of paying you for the work you do.


Profit Leaks

By Michael Stone

These aren’t earthshaking topics, but they are the things that cause problems on jobs, leading to disgruntled clients, lost referrals, and lower profit margins.


Making a Positive First Impression

By Michael Stone

Building trust always starts when you are first contacted by a potential client. Michael discusses how to do it right, and how to do it wrong.


Long-Term Business Survival

By Michael Stone

How well you manage your money when business is good impacts how easily you’ll survive when business is tough.


Are You Worth It?

By Michael Stone

Construction is a tough industry. For some, the hardest part is making the sale. They’re out of their comfort zone. They don’t want to talk about money or ask for the sale.


The Path to Success

By Michael Stone

In the beginning you had ambition and energy. Then reality set in.


Business Owner, or Hired Labor?

By Michael Stone

Ever heard the old saying that something “pushed your buttons”? It’s an emotional reaction, usually not positive. Well, Devon took a phone call last week that pushed my buttons.


Growing Pains

By Michael Stone

If you’re running your business like a business and not a hobby, you’ll start getting more leads, and it’s exciting to watch your business grow.


Are You a Systems or a Service Business?

By Michael Stone

In a systems company, the customer is someone you deal with when you run out of other things to do.


Be Prepared

By Michael Stone

When things are good, it’s smart to ask yourself a critical question: Are you prepared for the next downturn?


Making Goals Reality

By Michael Stone

Goals are a target, and if I start falling short, I either figure out why and fix it, or adjust the target to match reality.


The Art of Delegating

By Michael Stone

Delegating is a scary word for most of us. We don’t believe that anyone can do a job as well as we can.


A Business That Needs to Fail

By Michael Stone

Our goal is to help construction business owners build successful, profitable businesses. We want them to succeed, but we want them to do it right. A recent note from a homeowner is a shocking example of a business we’d like to see fail.


Know Your Value

By Michael Stone

A young fellow recently asked about his hourly wage.


Time for a Financial Checkup

By Michael Stone

We’re a third of the way through the year. It’s a good time to review some of the basic things you need to do to run a financially successful construction-related business.


What Do You Believe?

By Michael Stone

It can help to separate yourself by doing things right. But you're a business owner. It's what's expected. The flakes are the ones who are different.


Supply and Demand

By Michael Stone

The services offered by construction businesses are in high demand right now. Can we look at this industry from another viewpoint?


Making Money, Losing Money or Breaking Even? What Now?

By Michael Stone

Last week we discussed knowing where you stand financially, whether you are making money, losing money, or breaking even.  What now?


Making Money, Breaking Even, Losing Money

By Michael Stone

This is the criteria I use to tell if a company is making money. It isn’t the only measure, but it’ll give you an idea of how your business is doing.


Protect Against Theft On A Jobsite

By Michael Stone

It’s the season to go shopping, and some lower life forms (also known as scumbags) are doing their shopping on jobsites when no one else is around. Protect your business.


Doing It Right and Reaping the Rewards

By Michael Stone

Today we’re going to talk about succeeding. We’re big football fans. Our local high school football team is 8-0 this year. Our favorite college team is 7-0


Focus on what’s profitable

By Michael Stone

There are lots of get rich quick schemes there. Spend $2 and get rich beyond your dreams. What are the odds?  The same as making money in business without being focused.


Employees – Three Details that Cost Money

By Michael Stone

You’re in business to provide a service and make a profit doing it. Three employee issues that cost your construction company money.


What’s the Right Salary for a Construction Company Owner?

By Michael Stone

If you’re a contractor, how much should you be paid to own and run your own construction company? How much should a construction company owner be paid as salary?


State by State Guide to General Contractor Bond Amounts

By Brian Javeline

General contractor licensing and surety bond requirements by state to help prepare for running a sound business.


You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

By Michael Stone

We use Google Analytics on our website. It tells us how many visitors we’ve had and what brought them to our website.


Warning Signs of Trouble

By Devon Stone

Warning signs of financial trouble in a construction business. Michael Stone discusses eight signs of trouble for contractors.


Paying Owner’s Salary

By Devon Stone

Our newest six-hour class, based on the book “Markup & Profit, A Contractor’s Guide Revisited”, is now available. This clip is from the first part on financial requirements.


Markup and Profit Recording

By Michael Stone

Michael Stone discusses why contractors go out of business, the correct formula for markup, charging for change orders, employees and cash flow, and payment schedules.


Like breathing, being profitable isn’t an option

By Michael Stone

If your construction business isn’t profitable, it won’t survive. You have an option of being competitive in construction. You don’t have the option of being profitable.


Making Your Business Successful

By Michael Stone

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? We neglected our blog while our website was being remodeled and our newsletter revamped. It’s time to get back at it.


Michael’s Comments

By Devon Stone

4 short videos by Michael Stone, “The reason you are in business” “Using an Accurate Markup” ”Accurate Estimates” and “Getting Paid on Time”.


Ten Cardinal Sales Rules

By Michael Stone

Ten Cardinal Rules for residential construction sales.


Paying Yourself

By Michael Stone

You’re in business to provide a service and make a profit doing it. Having the financial info you need to make decisions is critical for your business success.


“I Work in a Competitive Market”

By Michael Stone

Don’t worry about what “the other guy” is charging.


Guidelines for Success

By Michael Stone

Guidelines to a more successful construction-related business.


Ten Cardinal Rules for Construction Business Owners

By Michael Stone

Ten Cardinal Rules for a successful construction-related business.


Building Quality Jobs

By Michael Stone

Many contractors believing building “quality” helps them sell jobs and make more money. But how do you define quality? Who sets the standard?


Make Business Happen Where You Are

By Michael Stone

I saw a post from a guy who was about to move his family. His construction business has no work and he believes the answer is to move to a new location.


Business is business

By Michael Stone

We’ve noticed the same problem that we’ve seen with other specialties. They believe that because their work is focused on one thing, their business operates differently.


Knowing What You’re Worth

By Michael Stone

I got a note from a young guy the other day that was priceless.  The short version said that he had finally come to realize what he was worth to his clients.


Transparency

By Michael Stone

Transparency, as I understand it, is opening your books to your potential clients and showing them all the numbers pertaining to a job you are quoting.


Permits for Your Construction Project – That’s a Job for the Professional

By Michael Stone

While exercising the other day, I watched a code compliance violation hearing on one of the local TV stations. It's a station that shows local city government meetings.


Pay Your Sales Staff Commission

By Michael Stone

If you have salespeople, their job is to bring in profitable work. If you are paying them anything other than straight commission, where is the motivation to sell?


Should the Government Be Pricing Your Jobs?

By Michael Stone

A building inspector in a city in Ontario, Canada has gone out of his way to tell two different home owners that their contractor is charging too much for his work.


I’m Late, I’m Late!

By Michael Stone

It’s my opinion, that being late is almost always a habit. If you have employees who are perpetually late, you have to decide how much you want to put up with.


Missed Opportunities Cost Money

By Michael Stone

I talk with contractors all the time who miss one opportunity after another and never seem to connect the cost of this miss.


Your Clients and Your Subs

By Michael Stone

Now, if you are a subcontractor, it doesn't matter what trade, if a general contractor has hired you to work on a job your obligation is to that general contractor only.


How Not to Treat a Salesperson

By Michael Stone

I spoke with a friend the other day about his work with a well-known promotional company. He'd been hired to help bring in and manage new business.


Dealing with the Trades

By Michael Stone

He asked a sub for a quote on a job, and it was higher than expected based on past jobs. When he asked, the response was, "Well, I just wanted to see if it would stick".


Do You Pay Bonuses for Work Done?

By Michael Stone

If you’ve raised kids in the past 20-30 years, you know the new rules – no one loses, everyone gets a prize. Don’t keep score because it hurts their feelings.


Making Things Happen

By Michael Stone

One of our clients called from one of the towns along the Missouri River. He wanted info on how to do the cleanup and rehabilitation of homes along the river.


Contractors – Don’t Do It All Yourself

By Michael Stone

I've talked before about not trying to be all things to all people. There is just too much that a contractor needs to do to be able to wear all the hats in the company.


“Pay If Paid” or “Pay When Paid” Agreements

By Michael Stone

I read an article by a practicing attorney dealing with pay when paid (or pay if paid) clauses in contracts, specifically between general contractors and subcontractors.


You Shall Take a Fixed Salary . . .

By Michael Stone

Too many construction company owners don’t pay themselves for their work. It’s nice to have a hobby, but it’s not why you are in business. Pay yourself for your work.


Bigger doesn’t always mean more profitable

By Michael Stone

Often when I talk with contractors, I hear, "I want to grow my company so I can make more money." Consider this, if size mattered, dinosaurs would still be here.


Miscommunication – It’s not pretty

By Michael Stone

Today, with email and the internet, we have nearly instant communication. But there is a down side to this rapid give and take, and that is miscommunication.


Getting Something for Nothing

By Michael Stone

A friend told me about an incident he witnessed at a trade association meeting. A supplier sponsored a dinner, and with that had the opportunity to make a presentation.


One markup, and only one markup

By Michael Stone

Wandering through construction forums, I've recently read posts commenting on the markup that sales people should be allowed to use.


Who Pays Your Salary?

By Michael Stone

The next time anyone, including yourself, wants to complain about how much money you make, think about this quote from Henry Ford.


Tax Treatment of Subs versus Employees

By Michael Stone

I read an article in Entrepreneur Magazine titled “Freelance Nation”. The author discusses the proper tax handling of subcontractors versus employees.


You Have Every Right to be Angry

By Michael Stone

In my light reading of women's and home and garden magazines I have repeatedly noted articles that encourage beating your contractor down on price.


What’s Your Influence?

By Michael Stone

"The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority." The dictatorial manager won't get the results they want by bullying or badgering.


Growing Your Company

By Michael Stone

How do you grow from a small, one-man firm to a larger firm? That was a question asked by a respondent to our recent survey.


What Goes On a Business Card?

By Michael Stone

One of the topics was business cards, we spent several minutes reviewing the value of a business card and how it can help promote your company.


Customer Service Makes a Difference

By Michael Stone

Like you, I'm always busy building or fixing something at home. Where I buy supplies has changed over the last year.


Some Jobs You Wish You’d Never Touched . . .

By Michael Stone

Brian Tracy had a great quote today from Comedian Bill Cosby, "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."


Relationship Between Sales and Owner’s Salary

By Michael Stone

We had a question come in this week from a contractor asking about how to calculate the volume of business a company needs to support the owner’s salary.


Casualty Repair Work – Know What You’re Doing

By Michael Stone

We have had some bad storms this year and some of you may be tempted to do casualty repair work (insurance work) if and when you get those calls.


Getting Taken by an Attorney

By Michael Stone

I heard an interesting account over the weekend about a friend who owed business taxes to the IRS. They’d gotten behind and the IRS was trying to collect the money due.


Cost vs. Value – Remodeling Magazine

By Michael Stone

I was looking through the November issue of Remodeling magazine the other day and was reminded what a great tool the Cost vs. Value report is.


Wise Use of Your Time

By Michael Stone

Do you have projects in and around the o …

Wise Use of Your Time Read More »


Building Contractor Business Failures

By Michael Stone

In a recent note from Brian Tracy, he quoted a fellow by the name of Robert Ringer. Ringer said, “The future belongs to those who possess certain knowledge.”


Preparing For New Business

By Michael Stone

For many, business is picking up. Now let me ask – how are your office practices and procedures? Is your office and staff ready for the upturn in business?


How Much Do You Pay Yourself?

By Michael Stone

One thing you need to decide each year is how much salary you will pay yourself.


A Market in Holiday Lighting

By Michael Stone

You need to start planning your advertising to potential clients that you are available to install and take down Christmas lights and decorations.


Taking Photos Before, During and After

By Michael Stone

A follow-up on the earlier blog post about photos of jobs – this is important for all jobs, even (especially?) handyman work, insurance repair and/or restoration work.


Photo Documentation

By Michael Stone

I was reminded again last week of the value in taking a good set of pictures on the jobs you do.


Solar Attic Fans

By Michael Stone

For those of you who would like to expand your business, I saw an interesting ad in a magazine the other day.


Becoming a Construction Business Owner?

By Michael Stone

When people lose their jobs, many decide to start their own business


Do Something, Don’t Just Wait

By Michael Stone

I’ve had many calls over the last two weeks from contractors who have few or no projects working and are on the brink of bankruptcy.


Stay Focused – We Want Your Business to Survive

By Michael Stone

The success of your business is going to depend a lot on your priorities. Where is your focus?


Is a Trade Association Worthwhile?

By Michael Stone

An association exec said, "Many associations are now struggling to get through the recession, and losing members and sponsorships."


Selling a Construction-Related Business

By Michael Stone

I’ve heard any number of people say they are going to build their business up, then sell it. Let’s talk a bit of reality.


Cash Flow Problems

By Michael Stone

Several contractors have told me lately they are having serious cash flow issues, often having to borrow money to pay bills.


Do the Things You Have to Do

By Michael Stone

“When you do the things you have to do when you have to do them, the day will come when you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them.”


Production Budgets

By Michael Stone

We recently heard from a company that took over a $200,000 hit (spread over several jobs) because of actions the job superintendent took.


Signs of Trouble

By Michael Stone

Often I’ll hear a caller tell me they are borrowing money to pay bills. This is a great big RED warning flag that your business is in serious financial trouble.


Find Them a Lender

By Michael Stone

Several contractors have told me that customers are asking them to carry the contracts for their job(s).


Plan a War on Debt

By Michael Stone

We encourage every coaching client to stop using credit cards. Cut them up, throw them away, call the company, cancel the accounts.


Employee’s Hours

By Michael Stone

One of our coaching clients told me recently that his crews are working four 10-hour days but his production numbers are off.


Help Your Fellow Contractor

By Michael Stone

A question I hear all too often is, "Why should I help educate my competition? I'd rather they went out of business so I got the work."


Avoid the Deadly “I’s”

By Michael Stone

The two deadly "I's" in construction: Inventory and Invoicing.


Arbitration on a Construction Project

By Michael Stone

Got a call from a contractor with a legal problem. He got involved with a homeowner who kept adding to a job, then decided the price was too high and they aren’t paying.


Reducing Overhead means Fewer Parties

By Michael Stone

Many contractors are experiencing a lower dollar volume of business. That means less money coming in the door to pay overhead.


What bad economy?

By Michael Stone

I have to ask. What bad economy?


Is a Contractor’s License Important?

By Michael Stone

Why would you choose someone that has chosen to work without a business license for 30 years?


Financial Problems

By Michael Stone

If you suspect you are having financial problems, you probably are. If you wait, it will be harder to fix.


Running a Business or Being a Craftsman?

By Michael Stone

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to interview with Brian Javeline for The Contractor Show. Our episode was just posted.


Where’s Your Focus?

By Michael Stone

Recently I've been made painfully aware of a problem some contractors. That problem is focusing on themselves and their business, instead of the customer.


Are You Throwing Away Small Jobs?

By Michael Stone

A contractor recently told me he takes leads from anyone who calls. He qualifies them before riding off to rescue or repair, but he’s willing to look at most jobs.


Construction Contractors – Stay Focused

By Michael Stone

Alfred E. Neuman used to say, “What, me …

Construction Contractors – Stay Focused Read More »


Reward / Penalty System for Sub/Specialty Contractors

By Michael Stone

Quick question here: Has anyone been using a reward/penalty system in dealing with other contractors on your job sites?


Why Should I Make a Down Payment?

By Michael Stone

As a contractor, you need to know that the homeowner is both able and willing to pay for the work being done.


New Home Builders Moving into Remodeling

By Michael Stone

In the last few days, I have had a number of new homebuilders call and ask about switching their business to remodeling. “Can we do it?”


Question on Insurance Policy for Construction – Can you help?

By Michael Stone

My insurance agent met with Tammy and I last week and made a proposal to sell us an installation floater with our insurance policy. I have never heard of it before.


General and Specialty Contractor relationships

By Michael Stone

In the last month I’ve heard from more specialty contractors having problems being paid by generals than I’ve heard in years.


Elect Your Construction Business

By Michael Stone

I have talked at length about the housin …

Elect Your Construction Business Read More »


Know What You Are Paying For

By Michael Stone

I’m not sure if this topic has ever been approached, but something everyone should keep in mind. Be sure you know what you’re paying for and why.


Job Theft on a Construction Site

By Michael Stone

A contractor called recently with a question about a homeowner complaint that some of their liquor has been stolen (just the liquor – the bottle was left behind).


Generate Leads

By Michael Stone

If you are a general contractor, talk with your subs about work they are doing away from your jobs. Ask them to hand your business card and flyer to all their clients.


Customer Games with Your Money

By Michael Stone

I believe a majority of the conflicts I …

Customer Games with Your Money Read More »


The First Source of Problems in your Construction Business

By Michael Stone

When I ask clients to take a hard look at their company, the first thing I usually hear is how their employees are doing. That's usually not the problem.


Construction-Related Franchises

By Michael Stone

“I was wondering if you had any advice for contractors when approached about a franchise opportunity.”


Finding and Keeping Good Subs

By Michael Stone

My biggest challenge as a residential remodeler is obtaining and keeping qualified and experienced sub-contractors willing to do smaller type projects.


Keep Sales Coming In

By Michael Stone

This business is not about what you “like” to do. Nor is it about refining building techniques. This business is about making money.


Spec Homes / Custom Homes

By Michael Stone

I was asked for information on the diffe …

Spec Homes / Custom Homes Read More »


Doing Extra . . .

By Michael Stone

Successful construction contractors do more than their duty – they go the extra mile for their specialty contractors, their customers, their construction employees.


Set Your Own Price for Construction Work

By Michael Stone

We recently received this note. He seems to be a nice chap, and we exchanged a comment or two. He discusses the world of commercial and industrial construction work.


Calculate Your Cost Per Lead

By Michael Stone

Knowing your cost per lead is important because it helps set your sales goals and advertising budget.


Is it a Construction Business, or a Hobby?

By Michael Stone

Question came from a friend the other day. He said, "Michael, how do you determine whether someone in construction has a business or a hobby?"


Keep Going . . .

By Michael Stone

With material prices, employee issues, bad weather, a flat tire or two, we sometimes wonder if it is all worth it.


Operating Capital Reserve Account

By Michael Stone

With the tightening up of construction, …

Operating Capital Reserve Account Read More »


Helping Others

By Michael Stone

A long-time friend and coaching client received a letter from a young plumber just getting started, mailed to local general contractors hoping to obtain business.


Try Something New

By Michael Stone

I was in Minneapolis last week at the JLC Live show. At the airport, I picked up my bag, went to the Super Shuttle desk and caught a ride to the hotel. It cost $15.


Salary and Markup

By Michael Stone

One of our clients called with cash flow problems. Leads were coming in, sales and production was good, correct number of employees for the volume of work, but no money.


Business Management for Contractors

By Michael Stone

Want a little secret? Working longer hours is not the answer. Working harder is not the answer. The only thing working longer or harder ever got anyone is tired.


How Much Do You Pay the Owner?

By Michael Stone

During a recent class I taught, it was clear many in the audience didn’t understand that their sales volume must be enough to support the salary of the company owner. 


Insurance for Contractors

By Michael Stone

A caller asked the best way to buy insurance. My response was that if you have a choice, I would choose a broker rather than an agent.


Partnerships

By Michael Stone

Every once in a while I get a call from somebody about to do something crazy. They want to start a partnership. The worst ship that ever sailed is a partnership.


Let Construction Employees Learn from Mistakes

By Michael Stone

I’ve talked to numerous construction company owners recently who are having problems with scheduling, getting jobs done, getting the right people to the right jobs, etc.


Warning Signs of Financial Problems

By Michael Stone

There are eight warning signs of financial problems in your company. Warning signs, loud and clear, that there is something wrong on the financial side of your business.


Changes in the Construction Market

By Michael Stone

An association exec told me that several months ago he tried to get association members to submit bids for long term contracts at a local military base.


Construction Industry Standard and Right to Remedy

By Michael Stone

I spoke today with an attorney representing a contractor who performed a major remodeling project for another attorney. The homeowner (attorney) fired the contractor.


Scroll to Top