Top 10 Contractor Mistakes


A look at some of the most common contractor errors and how to avoid them to keep your construction projects safe, productive and profitable

The savvy contractor knows they can’t possibly avoid every jobsite mistake. But they also know that working smart helps limit issues. Staying proactive during projects by recognizing pitfalls and taking appropriate steps to avoid them limits accidents, ensures budgets and timelines remain on schedule and creates a more positive work environment. This adds up to smarter, safer projects that are ultimately more profitable. Let’s explore 10 of the most common mistakes made by contractors with the best way to avoid the worst.

Having sound safety practices in place — and tracking and enforcing their use — is vital to reducing costly accidents.

1. Neglecting Safety Measures

When accidents happen at construction sites, the harm can come to more than just property. It can come to workers and the public at large. Accidents will happen, but the more organized and prepared contractors and crews are, the better the chances of reducing such tragedies. Modern technologies have made it significantly easier to ensure that all-important safety steps get followed. We’re seeing wearable, connected safety equipment to monitor things like heart rate, heat and stress levels and more. Meanwhile, using cloud-based project and field-management software, crews can ensure safety collaboration is achieved, all proper steps are followed, and it all gets documented in one place. Construction is never without risk, but working smarter means working safer.

2. Hiring or Assigning the Wrong Workers

You can’t bypass employee turnover, but what contractors do about that change matters. The hiring and HR management processes can prove a difficult endeavor. With construction HR departments strained with day-to-day tasks, it takes valuable time away from ensuring that the right workers are always being hired and assigned to the right jobs. Valuing employees, making their work experiences easy and creating high morale on jobsites helps with that. But when the inevitable comes in this era of labor shortage, vet candidates thoroughly and choose those with the widest of skill sets. Having a progressive business model and embracing technology like intuitive, construction-specific HR software not only helps improve your existing workforce but helps attract more tech-savvy new employees.

Poor planning, lack of collaboration, shoddy materials and more can all affect the quality of work.

3. Improperly Estimating Costs and Poorly Planning Projects

An overestimated or incomplete bid may mean you won’t win the jobs you need. Underestimating jobs means you may lose money on those jobs you once coveted. Having the ability to better predict the costs for and forecast upcoming projects can have a dramatic effect on the accuracy of bids, helping to win more work. Having the latest technology and software like an intuitive construction business intelligence solution delivers a deeper understanding of project data and the analytic power to project future projects and bid accordingly. Once work is won, modern software can make it easy to set up projects from bid information, and it helps improve efficiency and manage job costs during construction to achieve out the highest performance.

Inefficiencies, mistakes and old or lost data resulting from manual human processes can cost contractors millions of dollars.

4. Relying on Outdated Software

With today’s construction demands, operating with poorly connected software or data, cloud-based accessibility or modern applications, such as automated workflows and business intelligence can cripple a contractors’ ability to compete with modern, digital contractors. Inefficiencies, mistakes and old or lost data resulting from manual human processes can cost contractors millions of dollars. Moving to a fully-integrated, cloud-based construction management platform brings modernization and balance to frenzied construction processes, helping contractors boost productivity and profitability.

If you're using manual processes or disconnected software programs, odds are you'll be duplicating or even triplicating your workloads just to make sense of your project data.

5. Not Modernizing Manual Processes

Worse than outdated software or solutions not designed for construction is no software platform at all. Amazingly, some contractors still rely on paper, pen and spreadsheets to track and manage projects. These manual construction processes leave every action within a project vulnerable to mistakes and inefficiencies. Deploying the right software, designed for construction, and staying up to date on new features and functionality available helps boost efficiency, drive down costs, keep your projects safe, and allow you to finish on time and on budget.

6. Ignoring Proper Equipment Management

Construction equipment is the most vital capital asset contractors have. So, ignoring or being lax about proper equipment management can lead to devastating results, including delayed projects, and sudden, unexpected project costs. That’s why properly tracking equipment use, following a rigid maintenance schedule and knowing in advance when equipment will need to be replaced can save contractors significant money and headaches. For a contractor with a capital and operating budget of $10 million or more for heavy equipment, even a 1 percent savings on equipment costs could add hundreds of thousands of dollars directly to the bottom line. Stay on top of data collection and analysis with technologies that automatically track meters and usage, ensuring equipment gets property maintained and isn’t overused.

If your data isn't providing you with a clear path forward to scale your business needs, it's time to modernize how you're collecting, storing and analyzing that data.

7. Not Effectively Scaling Growth

Just one taste of success leads to the desire for another bite. Be cautious, though, as taking on too much, too quick can lead to costly mistakes as you must make major changes quickly to keep up. Of course, not jumping on opportunities when available can limit your future potential. Using the right construction management software to help realize understand workloads, see opportunities and help you grow smartly by allocating time and expenses properly can help you scale appropriately. And be sure to choose the right software solutions that can scale and grow with your organization’s needs.

Be sure to choose the right software solutions that can scale and grow with your organization’s needs.

8. Ignoring Change Management

Your entire organization needs to embrace technology changes if the company is to modernize and grow effectively as one. As everyone strives to do more with less, adopting new technologies across the board ensures that one area of the company doesn’t reject new technology while others embrace it. The key to successful technology adoption is communicating change that allows your team the time to understand, digest and embrace the decision. Incorporate others’ input into technology reviews and decisions, getting buy-in along the way, and use feedback from the end users before making changes. These strategies encourage everyone to embrace change management.

9. Not Diversifying

Diversification takes many forms in the world of contracting but neglecting either of the main forms — a diversified workforce or a diversified project list — can lead to stagnation, incredibly siloed thinking and stifled future growth. By embracing diversification in both areas, the company itself grows from within, learning from a mixture of employees, both in the field and in the leadership sector. By bringing new expertise and experience into the fold and staying on top of industry trends, your company can challenge for a wider array of project types, bringing more revenue potential and providing deeper levels of protections should market downturns occur or business opportunities in a particular field shrink.

Even little mistakes, when ignored, can snowball into much larger issues, including patterns of un-checked issues and business practices.

10. Forgetting About the Future

Speaking of what could come, plan ahead. Always. Prepare for the next recession or downturn now, so the company can avoid painful losses. The better your software and technology, the more you’ll be able to plan for — and adapt to — the future. This also includes thinking about the future leaders of your company with proper succession planning to ensure the business is always in good hands. Not looking to the future means that when adversity hits, a contractor has nothing to rely on to set themselves apart and stay ahead of the competition. Working now — when things are going well — to improve technology and efficiencies by diversifying business, setting aside money or upgrading technology that will cut costs and improve productivity will not only help current processes, but set the company up to win jobs even in the toughest of times.

Posted By

Andy is Marketing Content & PR Manager at Viewpoint. He has worked in the construction software arena since 2011. Previously, he netted multiple awards as a newspaper and trade media editor.