There’s a running joke in the northern climes: the four seasons of the year are winter, still winter, mud, and construction season.
Regardless of whether or not you find yourself in a climate that allows only six months to do much of the base work of construction, you may feel that as the weather cools it’s time to take a breather. The months of deep winter and the onset of the holiday season can seem like a time to relax and wait until next season.
Rest is important after a season of hard work, but the off-season can also be a crucial time to turn your attention inward, to do things that seem impossible during busier months.
Here are four things you can set your team at while they once again wait for sunny days and busy work schedules.
1. Analysis and Planning
When your company’s attention is fully engrossed in meeting deadlines and putting out fires, you rely hard on your processes and systems. Now’s the time to dig deep into all the data you collected during the second and third quarters of the year, to see if those processes and systems are serving you as well as you’d like. Take the time to find out what went wrong and right, and what improvements can be made throughout your operations. Here are some of the things you can work on:
- Analyze budget overruns to learn how to better avoid them
- Use workforce management data to find out how to be more efficient
- Set new goals for revenue, safety, and other metrics that will drive you toward your team’s mission and vision statements
- Revamp your marketing plan to bring in the work you’ll need for next season, and set its execution in motion
Taking the time to fully analyze past operations and rejig for efficiency will pay off down the road. You’ll be able to approach new bids with a more organized and professional tone, because you know your business.
2. Learning and Networking
There’s a reason most North American construction trade shows happen during Q4 and Q1 – because that’s when you may find construction leaders with the time to attend.
Trade shows offer a number of benefits to participants, as well as to sponsors and presenters. They may help:
- Educate teams on the newest available tools, technologies, and methods available
- Bring together some of the brightest minds in construction to network and forge new connections
- Offer a chance to market services to your target audience
Outside of the trade shows, you may take the time to foster your business connections by reaching out to past clients, attending seminars, and networking online.
Off-season educational opportunities include courses that can help your team hone their safety certifications, take some classes in leadership or management, or learn new skills. Check out the American Association of General Contractors for some ideas to get started.
Recruiting and training new hires is much easier during the down months, too, as you’ll have time to get each new team member settled in before things get crazy again.
3. Research and Implement New Technologies
If you want to stay competitive this is the time you need to dig into new tech improvements. New tools are coming available pretty consistently these days, that can help companies a lot of time and money. This includes a full suite of software options.
However, a 2017 McKinsey study indicated that one of the top reasons technology tools fail to take hold in companies is a lack of commitment to and education in their use. That’s why the off-season could be an optimal time to put some time into learning new systems for full roll out after a successful pilot project.
Software systems are set up to be as user friendly as possible, but working something new into daily routines can take practice. For instance, Device Magic is a tool that allows users to make custom forms to track robust data in the field, and adding geolocation and tacking on photos for an even fuller picture. It’s a simpler and more effective way of gathering information from a work site and transmitting it among stakeholders on a project, and it takes a mental shift to use it daily in place of old pen-and-paper forms.
If you find the right solutions and make them work for you, technology can significantly impact the way you make decisions within your company. It’s worth finding the time to learn them well and build them into the fabric of your operations.
4. Relax and Recharge, But Also Revamp
Contracting teams deserve to wind down a bit during cooler months. Mix up that R&R with some business-building activities and you’ll have a recipe for a great busy season. Attending trade shows, learning new things, and analyzing past business performance are all a nice shift from the daily grind of the jobsite and can help your company to grow and thrive in the future.