As a contractor, you manage projects to ensure they get done on time and stay within the client’s budget. You are also responsible for ensuring your team completes the work correctly and adheres to relevant safety requirements. You play a crucial role in the construction process, so you must cultivate the proper skills to get the job done right. On the business side of contracting, you must be skilled in project management and problem-solving, as well as sales and networking. However, you also need to have hands-on knowledge of using various tools on the job, such as quality concrete mixers or dependable wet tile saws. For increased efficiency on the job, focus on developing these seven skills needed to be a successful contractor.
The number one skill a successful contractor needs to have is adaptability. Adaptability refers to the ease with which you can handle a change in plans, no matter what stage during the project the change occurs. Being adaptable doesn’t mean you enjoy when things go wrong, but it does mean that if your plans are disrupted, you can quickly assess the situation and find another solution that keeps everything on track. As the person responsible for day-to-day operations, you have to go with the flow and adapt to setbacks and changes to the plan. Construction projects are often interrupted by unexpected structural discoveries, inclement weather, changes in budget, and changes in the availability of materials, so having your own backup strategies and an adaptable attitude keeps you from feeling overwhelmed and underperforming.
Proactivity on the part of a contractor is an important trait to bring to the job site. When you are in the role of contractor, you are a leader, which means you have to step up and make decisions that affect the entire project. You have to become skilled in foreseeing potential problems and taking the necessary steps to prevent them before they occur, rather than reacting once they have already happened. Being proactive makes you an effective contractor that your clients and workers trust. Cultivating a proactive attitude not only helps the job go more smoothly but has a beneficial effect on your health and the health of those working with you.
To succeed in contracting work, you have to have good communication skills. You are the go-between for multiple people during a project. To be successful, you have to listen to and understand your client’s objectives, convey the information to your in-house team or subcontractors, and speak with outside companies providing the building materials, construction equipment, or any other supplies needed for the job. Skillful communication requires more than just listening and speaking; to succeed, you must also be skilled in:
- Reading non-verbal cues
- Clarifying objectives
- Expressing friendliness, confidence, and approachability
- Practicing empathy
- Using active listening techniques
- Keeping an open mind
- Showing respect, even in stressful situations
Successful contractors are skilled in networking. Networking refers to purposefully broadening your professional social circle to make contacts with others in your field, related industries, and potential clients. The idea is that when you make these contacts, you open up new opportunities that you would otherwise not have had access to. A good contractor network includes contacts with other contractors; subcontractors in specific areas, such as concrete, tile work, or painting; and people who routinely use contractors, such as real estate investors or house flippers. If you don’t already have a strong network, start building one by talking with other contractors or attending construction or contracting events.
#5 Project Management
A contractor is essentially a project manager, so it is necessary that, to be a successful contractor, you boast sound project management skills. Project management is an organized approach to project completion. Project management skills keep you focused on project completion in a way that helps you hit milestones and deadlines. Project management skills set you apart because they help you stay organizing and on task and allow you to present a final product to your clientele within a limited time frame. A few examples of project management skills that you can focus on are:
- Developing a management strategy
- Setting concrete, achievable goals relating to budget, materials, and objectives
- Developing and implementing a budget
- Making sure you have high-powered, quality tile tools available
- Monitoring daily and overall completion progress
- Communicating progress to clients
- Using knowledge-based strategies to work past obstacles to completion
Having a strong science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) background is vital to successful contracting. Contractors work with numbers in almost every part of the job. From making contract bids to working with client budgets to ordering materials, measuring spaces, and paying workers, your daily operations as a contractor involve some type of math skill. Physics, geometry, engineering, and chemistry are also essential parts of contracting. Knowing what chemical compounds to use in various situations and how they react with one another can prevent disasters from occurring, and understanding geometry and physics helps you make effective plans and implement engineering instructions.
#7 Hands-On Knowledge
While project management and people skills are necessary to a successful contracting career, it is also important to have hands-on knowledge of the construction jobs you organize. Hands-on knowledge gives you more credibility with workers and subcontractors and gives you an understanding of the scope and cost of projects. For instance, if you take on a concrete job, you should be familiar with using
highly specialized masonry tools like cement mixers and cut-off saws. Knowing how to work the machinery allows you to keep a safe working environment and replace a subcontractor or individual worker if they are not using the equipment properly.
Develop the Right Skill Set
Developing the right skill set can help you become a successful, effective contractor for a variety of clients and projects. By increasing your communication and networking skills and familiarizing yourself with project management techniques and hands-on experience, you will stand out in the contracting field as a reliable project leader with whom people want to work.
In addition, you will feel more confident while leading job site operations, which allows you to take on more complex, high-paying jobs.
Infographic created by West Side Tractor Sales, High-Quality Compact Construction Equipment Rental