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After the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the construction industry talent shortage has become a crisis itself.
During lockdowns, the industry lost many skilled workers through layoffs or later during what’s being dubbed The Great Resignation. While the sector’s been busy trying to rehire, the lack of skilled labor remains one of the single biggest obstacles to growth. The jobs are there but finding the right resources — both in the field and office — to take them on is an epic challenge.
Skilled labor is tight, but it’s also hard to hire AP people, administrators, office management, and IT talent — virtually every job you need to support scaling your business.
To meet the challenge, wages are rising across the industry, which already operates on razor-thin margins. You’re growing, and you’d like to keep doing so, but with that growth, you don’t just need skilled workers but take on a lot more processing in the back office.
What’s a construction business with its eye set on growth to do? Well, it’s that old saw, “do more with less.” Fortunately, thanks to advanced technology, you can do just that.
The building jobs are out there. The U.S. construction industry is forecast to grow 8.8 percent and reach $1.3 trillion in 2022. And that’s even factoring in the challenges the industry is facing around the global supply chain, material pricing and shortages, and lack of skilled labor.
In addition to difficulty hiring the resources needed to take a larger piece of that $1.3 trillion pie, even effectively bidding on new jobs can be a struggle when operating lean in the post-pandemic industry.
Construction businesses have a wealth of data that can help improve estimating, and so create more realistic and effective bids, but tapping into it is incredibly difficult. It’s often trapped in silos of different systems and business units.
The result: bids based on estimates based on gut instinct and guesswork. This may have been acceptable a decade ago, but as owners and clients modernize and become more data-driven they are becoming less likely to trust contractors without cold hard numbers backing up their well-honed instincts.
Less time, better estimates
By using a financial automation platform like Briq, construction professionals can access and draw down historical data quickly and easily, making forecasting easier. Using S-curves, it becomes easy to visually represent various potential scenarios, so you can bid on the most appropriate jobs for your business. (And avoid the duds.)
Using historical data and being able to predict profit more accurately allows the business to confidently make data-baked decisions to grow and scale, knowing where they need to place resources. Worst-case scenarios can be investigated, understood, and avoided.
Improved resource planning in the field
Drawing on historical data and current data can be a boon for resource planning too. By automating labor forecasts, you can more accurately gauge the need for workers more than just a couple of weeks in advance, and plan and hire accordingly.
You can better predict when you’ll run into not having enough labor to take on a project, avoiding the mad hiring scramble and potentially soured client relationship. Again, you can make better decisions around your business development, taking on the jobs you can staff and scaling right.
For example, in 2019 commercial concrete and civil construction contractor Fessler & Bowman turned to financial automation to help support its own heavy growth amidst labor scarcity. With its staff spending most of its time manually creating spreadsheets, there simply wasn’t time to accurately analyze and project resources to know which jobs they could take on so they could grow in a controlled way.
Automation-fueled back-office efficiency
For Fessler & Bowman, adopting Briq flipped the amount of time their office team spent on manually inputting data — about 80 percent of their focus — and the time allotted to analysis. The shift gave the business an opportunity to really analyze their data and the trends impacting them so they could make better data-driven recommendations.
You can’t scale with a lean team if your finance teams are bogged down with manual tasks and minutiae. In the past, as construction businesses grew, many back-office or finance team members would be hired just to handle the reams and reams of paperwork and data entry.
Not only is it inefficient to hire staff just to take on manual data entry for invoicing, reimbursements, general ledger, etc., but it’s also a poor use of their professional skills. By using financial automation, you can move your existing pros to more value-added and strategic work while eliminating the need for new hires as you scale.
One of the most obvious ways to avoid hiring is by better employee retention. Because Briq removes mundane manual tasks, employees feel more fulfilled, and their brainpower is being better tapped into.
Employees want to feel valued and that they play a part in the company and its goals. Even more than before the pandemic, your team members don’t want to come in and type numbers into a computer for eight hours a day.
Briq frees up employees’ time through automation that removes manual work and by implementing new well-researched workflows that are tailored to your business. Financial professionals, project managers, and the rest of your team don’t spend their precious time entering and re-entering data, but on high-value activities and the business’s growth and success.
Learn more about how Briq can help you optimize your resources so you can scale with predictability and control. Visit briq.com/demo and request a demo.