Other Industries, Technician Tips, Business Tips

9 Tips for Growing a Successful Construction Company

ServiceTitan
July 19th, 2023
18 Min Read

Whether you're a startup construction business or already running a construction company, there are certain fundamentals you need to have in place to run a successful business. (For example, managing your cash flow and providing great customer service.) But, if you want your construction company to grow, there are more specific areas you can focus on that will take your business to the next level — including targeted marketing campaigns and managing customer reviews.

ServiceTitan’s all-in-one software solution helps construction companies that use HVAC, plumbing, and electrical (among other trades) to manage all aspects of their workflow. From the original call or estimate through to closeout, ServiceTitan’s integrated platform lets you streamline your business processes and focus on business growth. 

In this post, we cover 9 tips for building a successful construction business with specific insights into the best construction marketing strategies.

9 Tips for Growing a Successful Construction Company

  1. Create a construction business plan

  2. Set a construction marketing budget

  3. Track cash flow

  4. Manage your online presence

  5. Implement targeted marketing campaigns

  6. Plan for and track growth

  7. Enhance customer service

  8. Prioritize teamwork

  9. Automate operations

Want to discover how ServiceTitan can help grow your construction business? Book a free, personalized demo.

Tip #1: Create a Construction Business Plan

  • Find mentors for pro tips

  • Create a solid business plan

Find a Mentor

If you’re wondering how to start a construction company, or you already have one, find mentors who can share construction business ideas and potential hazards.

That's the suggestion of Tommy Mello, The Home Service Expert and Founder of A1 Garage Doors, a $50 million home service business.

“You’ve got to act like the business you want to become,” Mello says. “If I would’ve listened to a mentor tell me, ‘This is why you shouldn’t do this,’ or ‘This is why you should,’ it would have definitely fast-forwarded the business.”

Write Your Business Plan

Create a solid small construction company business plan and set up a financial framework to guide your company in the right direction. On average, it costs about $40,000 to start a construction company, but the amount varies depending on the type and size of the construction business and geographical location. Construction-firm business costs include:

  • Employee salaries

  • Liability Insurance

  • Office space

  • Vehicles

  • Equipment and supplies

  • Licenses and permits

  • Taxes

Calculate your potential start-up costs and anticipated revenue streams to be in a better position to seek funding, get your small business up and running, and set up for growth.

Getting the financial basics right (such as profit margins and pricing)  is essential for any construction business owner to succeed. It’s even more critical for businesses that want to grow. 

Learn more on how to set up the fundamentals to maximize profit in the ServiceTitan Playbook and read our post on how to level up your business plan.

Tip #2: Set a Construction Marketing Budget

Establishing a marketing strategy to attract new business is another basic requirement if you want your construction company to flourish. Industry experts say that a budget of 3-5% of sales is considered minimal in the construction industry. If you want your business to grow, you’ll need to dedicate 8-12% of revenue to your marketing activities. 

Set your construction marketing budget and then take a look at marketing costs and where you should best spend that budget. Options might include traditional TV advertising, radio and newspapers, or printing and sending direct mail flyers. Activities such as targeted email campaigns, Google Local Services Ads, and 5-star Google reviews all increase brand awareness and help you build an online reputation. We’ll talk more about some of these later on in this article. 

Test a combination of traditional and digital to see what works, or focus on one before adding another. Track results for each campaign so you can manage and adjust your marketing budget regularly. 

Tip #3: Track Cash Flow

  • Accurately estimate construction jobs

  • Track in real-time with job-costing software

Job costing and tracking cash flow are critical components to starting and growing a general contracting business. Before a project begins, estimators or project managers must accurately estimate jobs, which can become complicated due to uncertain material availability or costs

Accurate Estimates

Creating accurate estimates relies on having up-to-date and accessible pricing information. ServiceTitan’s integrated flat-rate solution, Pricebook Pro, means construction managers can select the right options for each estimate either in the office or via a mobile device.

Photos, manufacturer videos and product info can all be accessed in a couple of taps so that estimates can be produced on the construction site, and signed off in minutes. 

ServiceTitan also provides access to customer status information, such as an open estimate that needs to be followed up, so customer interactions can be leveraged to secure profit for your business.

Managing Job Costing

ServiceTitan's Job Costing Software gives you a breakdown of job costs based on material, PO, equipment, labor burden, and payroll costs. 

You can accurately measure budgeted versus actual costs using real-time data synced from inventory, contractors on-site, and payroll. At-a-glance features show the contract amount and percentage of contract revenue obtained, as well as percentage of completion, which improves cash flow management and overall profit.

Alan Lefkowitz, Founder of New Jersey-based CFO Strategies, recommends that construction-management companies move toward a routine of monthly forecasting, year-round. 

“Financial periods are really arbitrary,” Lefkowitz says. “We do annual reporting, and we do quarterly reporting, but business is continuous. Budgeting should be a continuous evaluation, constantly being updated.”

Learn more about managing your construction financials and accounts in the ServiceTitan Playbook and read our post on construction cash flow tips. You can also download our free Estimate Template and Job Costing Templates for subcontractors.

Tip #4: Manage Your Online Presence

  • Make your website mobile-friendly

  • Optimize your website for SEO

  • Keep your Google Business Profile up-to-date

  • Attract potential customers with top reviews

When a potential customer looks up your company online, what do they find? Attract potential clients with a mobile-friendly website that’s optimized for SEO, keep your Google Business Profile up-to-date, and ask customers to leave a review.

Make Your Construction Website Mobile-Friendly

Most customers will search for your company online via a mobile device, so they should be able to find your website quickly and easily.

Compared to a desktop version, a mobile-friendly site should be uncluttered by images or excessive text blocks, be responsive (the site adapts to any screen size), and dynamic (users see an adapted version of your site, depending on the type of device they use). A good web developer who specializes in construction web design can help you with these features.

If your construction website isn’t easy to navigate and immediately accessible, customers will lose patience and move on to the next company with a better website.

Optimize Your Construction Website for SEO

Most potential customers use the internet to search for local construction businesses. They’ll type in the words, “construction companies near me” and look for the best reviews. 

Google’s algorithm searches for the results most relevant to those keywords and closest to the location of the online searcher so, to appear on Page 1 of Google’s search results, think local when choosing the best keywords people use to find your services online.

For example, If you’re a construction company in Atlanta, be sure to use “Atlanta home remodel” as one of your main keywords. Sprinkle variations of the keywords on your website’s landing pages, content blogs, headlines, meta descriptions, and social media posts to improve the SEO health of your website. Then your business stands a good chance of coming up on top.

Learn more about SEO with this guide for contractor businesses.

Promote Your Google Business Profile Page

Attract new customers by verifying your Google Business Profile. It’s simple and completely free. This will help your construction company appear on Page 1 of organic Google search results. 

Companies can also buy pay-per-click (PPC) digital ads for better visibility, as well as set up call tracking to measure ROI.

Invest in Google Local Service Ads

Investing in Google Local Services Ads puts your digital ads at the top of search results, above PPC ads and organic listings. Crafting a snapshot of your construction business that includes your company name, Google review rating, and years in business, will quickly determine whether your construction business fits a potential customer’s needs. 

Costs for Google Local Services ads vary, but you only pay when a customer contacts your business through the ad. This cuts down on time wasters who are just price-shopping construction services online.

ServiceTitan integrates with Google Local Services Ads so your customers can directly schedule online appointments with your company, and provides business owners with ROI metrics on every campaign.

If you qualify for the Google Guarantee, you are eligible to buy these ads, which can be the first thing potential customers see when they search.

Learn more about marketing with Google Local Services and read our marketing guide

Ask Construction Customers for Google Reviews

In today's digital world, top reviews are more important than ever. One consumer review survey found that 98% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses. Provide an easy way for satisfied customers to leave five-star reviews and respond appropriately to negative reviews to encourage potential customers to choose your company over a competitor.

ServiceTitan’s software automatically sends survey requests to customers after a job has been completed. This makes it easy for customers to share their experience on an online review site (Google, Yelp, etc) while it’s still fresh in their mind.

ServiceTitan also offers a reputation management tool that automates sending review requests to customers, lets you reply to reviews, and provides insight into how specific contractors are performing.

“If people don’t have a frequent need (for your services), they’re going to Google and they’re searching,” says Megan Bedford, owner of Mugyver Consulting, which specializes in marketing for the trades. “Are you found there when your customers are actually looking? Local Services Ads, pay-per-click advertising, your reviews — those are the kinds of things that can get you customers, or potential customers.”

Tip #5: Implement Targeted Marketing Campaigns

  • Plan strategic marketing efforts

  • Track effectiveness of campaigns

As we discussed in tip #2 above, a solid marketing strategy should be part of your general contractor business plan, not an afterthought. The best marketing plans encompass a variety of methods, including maximizing your online presence (tip #4) as well as strategic email marketing and sending direct mail campaigns to your target market.

Email Marketing

Email marketing generates the highest return on investment for small businesses, and targeted email campaigns are considered one of the most effective marketing channels — earning $40 for every $1 spent.

ServiceTitan's Marketing Software allows your construction company to automate customized email campaigns, targeting specific customers or geographic areas. 

Using data already collected in ServiceTitan, you can target previous customers with a “We Miss You!” email campaign, follow up with existing customers on unsold estimates, or offer a discount to new homeowners.

With Marketing Pro, the contact information automatically updates in real-time so you can “set and forget” audience lists that focus on specific customers (e.g. those who have yet to respond to a quote). Emailing these customers provides another opportunity to convert them into revenue.

With ServiceTitan, sending targeted emails is easy. Simply choose from our huge range of email templates, adjust the text to fit your campaign, and deliver to your chosen audience. 

Targeted emails mean higher open rates and more calls coming in. With ServiceTitan, you can also monitor the exact ROI for each campaign by tracking the email performance and the revenue attribution within the ServiceTitan dashboard.

The #1 newsletter for the trades.

Direct Mail

Some companies opt to send out their messages through direct mail marketing. This gives opportunities for potential customers to keep your postcard, similar to construction business cards, for future reference when they need it.

ServiceTitan has a library of postcards that construction businesses can choose from to execute their direct mail campaigns. Setup is simple — choose your design, adjust the text, then print and mail your postcards to your chosen audience. 

Direct mail campaigns cost a flat rate per postcard, so you only pay for the number that you send. And similar to email campaigns, you can track the results of each campaign so you can see exactly which ones are driving revenue.

Regardless of the marketing methods you choose, know what works and what doesn't so you can spend your marketing dollars where you’ll gain the greatest return. We’ll talk about how to track marketing campaigns next.

Learn more about marketing campaigns in the ServiceTitan Playbook

Tip #6: Plan For and Track Growth

  • Monitor KPIs in real-time

  • Perform accurate assessments

In order to grow, you need to know where you want to go and have the ability to track marketing and business results against your KPIs. Gain an overall picture of your construction company's performance to increase efficiency and boost your bottom line.

“I need to know from search to sale how we’re doing if I’m going to truly know how my team is doing,” says Chris Yano, CEO of RYNO Strategic Solutions and co-host of the “To the Point” podcast. “This is what you should expect from your agency. It will allow you to make very good decisions. You need facts down to the dollar.”  

ServiceTitan's cloud-based field reporting software allows you to track key metrics so you can monitor performance from any source. 

Create a marketing scorecard of all current campaigns, then tie all new customers to the specific marketing campaign that brought them to you. This means you can make informed decisions about boosting spend on campaigns with higher returns, and drop channels with poor performance.

If your company uses call-tracking software, such as ServiceTitan Phones Pro, you can easily track the number of calls, booked appointments, sales, revenue, cost per lead, and ROI for each advertising source. Then you can review your marketing strategies regularly and adjust accordingly.

As well as tracking your marketing metrics, ServiceTitan also lets you track the performance of every construction worker and customer service representative (CSR). This helps you reward or provide coaching, if needed, to ensure everyone is doing their best quality work. 

You can also use ServiceTitan’s dynamic dashboard to filter dozens of KPIs and track how your business is performing. Accurate data assessment performs a crucial function in your construction business planning and becomes a key component as you plan for company growth.

Tip #7: Enhance Customer Service

  • Make customer service a top priority

  • Use customer experience software 

Successful construction companies make positive customer experiences and customer satisfaction a top priority. One survey shows 89% of consumers are more likely to make another purchase after a positive experience, proving that happy customers are likely to become return customers.

Use ServiceTitan's Customer Experience Software to enhance your company's customer relationship management (CRM) by keeping your customers informed at every step of the construction project. 

With ServiceTitan, customer service begins as soon as the phone rings. Our call booking feature automatically shows the CSR if the caller is a new or existing customer and provides prompts so that all the necessary information is gathered. ServiceTitan even provides property information (including age and size) so your CSRs can be on the ball from the get- go. 

With ServiceTitan, you can send customers appointment confirmations via text as well as tracking information, so they know exactly who is coming and when. You can also receive texts from customers when they have questions about a job or need to reschedule

One Texas company that works in new construction noticed how much their customers appreciated job arrival notifications.

Before using ServiceTitan's construction software, Intown Plumbing notified builders and general contractors about a week prior to showing up at a construction job, says Brittany Grose, Director of Business Operations at Intown Plumbing. 

Now, the company notifies them when they’re on the way, allowing for better work coordination at job sites. It also allows builders to notify homeowners about progress on their new homes.

“Two guys that I know for sure have said, ‘We love this, don't stop doing this,’” Grose adds.

Another benefit of satisfied customers? Word-of-mouth referrals may mean more potential clients for your company, widening your customer base.

ServiceTitan’s Playbook has more resources on call center practices here and here and tips on how to interact with customers when on site here

Tip #8: Prioritize Teamwork

  • Hire intentionally

  • Increase productivity

Hire the right employees or subcontractors so you can build a great team and increase productivity. Labor remains one of the highest costs in construction projects and lack of adequate workers could create delays.

“Don't try and do everything yourself,” Grose advises, speaking from experience. “Books, invoicing, bidding, scheduling, everything — hire somebody and then get them trained up on whatever system you use.”

Find skilled employees through your current workforce or by word of mouth. Online avenues, such as LinkedIn or industry-specific job boards, may provide leads. 

“Everyone is talking about the labor shortage, and it's not going to get any easier, let's face it,” says ServiceTitan’s Director of Customer Relations, Chris Hunter, and Founder of Hunter Super Techs and Go Time Success Group. “We're going to have to start finding these people, painting our mission or vision, where we're going, how they fit in, what it means for them, and build the bench.”

Seek the traits you value most, such as a good work ethic and teamwork, so you can set your team up for success and move toward growth for your construction company.

Learn more within the hiring section of the ServiceTitan Playbook and read our article about hiring tips.

Tip #9: Automate Operations

  • Improve scheduling efficiency

  • Automate billing and payroll

Construction jobs often span several months to a year, making advance planning a necessity to remain on schedule. Agile payroll and payment processes are essential for a successful business. ServiceTitan’s software has specific features to help in these areas:

The Latest Scheduling and Dispatching Software

ServiceTitan's construction management software simplifies scheduling with drag-and-drop functionality, leaving no question about when workers need to arrive at job sites. 

With ServiceTitan’s service scheduling and dispatch software, you can book jobs days, weeks, or even months in advance. This is especially useful for long or complicated construction jobs that require many different subcontractors. 

You can use our custom tags to flag technical specs (or even languages spoken) to ensure the right contractor with the right skill set attends. 

ServiceTitan’s dispatching software tracks where all contractors are at any given time as well as any real-time curve balls such as traffic delays. Your dispatch team can contact the individual contractors and customers via SMS so it’s easy to make sure everyone is aware of any last-minute changes such as lengthening a job, or rescheduling it altogether. 

Streamline Invoicing and Payroll

Making sure you’re invoicing customers and paying your staff promptly and correctly is critical to growing a successful construction business, and this is where ServiceTitan comes into its own.

Invoicing

Construction businesses that don’t use modern software like ServiceTitan rely on construction managers and subcontractors pulling together all the information (e.g. hours worked, materials used, etc.), to create each invoice. This is time-consuming and hard work. 

With ServiceTitan’s free Invoice Generator tool, invoices can be generated from the construction site. Simply input the relevant information into a customized invoice template and send it to the customer then and there via text or email. This saves time and looks professional — you can even include imaging and branding. It also significantly reduces the likelihood of pricing errors and lost paperwork. 

Download our free invoicing template for subcontractors here.

Payroll

ServiceTitan’s payroll software has been designed to help you track staff (via timesheets), and pay them quickly, too. 

Our timesheet software also helps you monitor the productivity of your construction business by monitoring time spent on specific activities, such as driving and collecting materials, as well as time spent on actual work. All these are recorded in real-time, and overtime and bonuses can be configured easily, too. 

Contractors can access their timesheets for sign-off, so there’s no need to drive into the head office each payroll period. Using these tools saves, on average, around 30-60 minutes for each employer, every month, helps the whole team, and makes your business more agile. 

Flexible Payment Options

Automate multiple billing phases, common in large construction projects, with ServiceTitan's Payment Software. You can set a billing schedule based on job progress, so you know the proper time to bill and any remaining balances owed based on job progress or project phase. 

With ServiceTitan, you can offer customers flexible payment options such as check, credit card, or even cash. Your construction manager or subcontractors can take payments directly from customers via their mobile device, securely capture the payment by taking a photo of the check or credit card, or send the customer a link to a personalized payment portal. This method is preferred by customers and means that your invoice is paid quickly. 

We also recommend offering financing options to your customers. You can control which plans you offer and set the rules to suit your business, and ServiceTitan will automatically do the calculations so jobs can be closed more quickly.

Note: ServiceTitan offers two resources to help subcontractors organize payments:

Ready to Try ServiceTitan for Your Construction Business?

Growing your construction business successfully relies on having sound business foundations in place that you review regularly, such as a solid business plan and steady cash flow. But you also need a strong marketing strategy with carefully targeted campaigns such as direct mail and email marketing, along with an SEO optimized, mobile-friendly website. 

Modern all-in-one software such as ServiceTitan helps construction companies efficiently manage every stage of their workflow, from the original customer call to the closeout of a construction project — including implementing and monitoring targeted marketing activities that set construction businesses up for growth.  

Find out more about how ServiceTitan could help your construction business run more efficiently and grow faster by signing up for a free demo.

ServiceTitan Software

ServiceTitan is a comprehensive software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and substantially elevate the trajectory of their business. Our comprehensive, cloud-based platform is used by thousands of electrical, HVAC, plumbing, garage door, and chimney sweep shops across the country—and has increased their revenue by an average of 25% in just their first year with us.

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