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Analytics & Dashboarding Food For Thought

Conversational AI & Contractor Operations

Conversational AI & Contracting

In an era where efficiency and knowledge are paramount, contractors are finding a powerful ally in conversational AI.

This transformative technology is not just changing the game; it’s redefining the playing field for contractors, offering unparalleled access to information and streamlining internal operations like never before.

The integration of conversational AI into the contracting industry is a direct response to the need for more efficient knowledge management and operational agility.

Imagine a digital assistant that not only understands the intricacies of the contracting world but also provides instant access to a treasure trove of accumulated organizational knowledge.

This vision is rapidly becoming a reality, thanks to a plethora of innovative companies working tirelessly to develop conversational AI solutions tailored for the workplace.

 

Key Players and Innovations

Among the vanguard of this revolution, several companies stand out for their contributions to making conversational AI a staple in the contracting industry:

  • Glean offers an enterprise knowledge management solution that leverages generative AI to enable secure and efficient discovery across all company data sources. Its tagline, “Generative AI powered by search,” encapsulates its promise to contractors: immediate access to the knowledge they need when they need it.
  • Dashworks and Knode AI transform Slack into a powerhouse of productivity. Dashworks connects with every app in your tech stack to deliver seamless answers, while Knode AI focuses on automating tasks to free up to 50% of employee working hours for more critical activities.
  • 4149, known as “Flicker, your new hypertasking AI teammate,” embodies the concept of an AI teammate designed to supercharge productivity by automating a wide range of tasks, promising a new era of efficiency for contractors.
  • Atomic Work emerges as a unified AI solution delivering great employee experiences. It combines an AI assistant, IT service desk, and workflow automation to maximize productivity and satisfaction while reducing costs.
  • ClearFeed and Tars are redefining customer and employee support on platforms like Slack, turning them into efficient helpdesks powered by GPT, thereby enhancing team productivity.
  • Xembly acts as an automated chief of staff, organizing meetings, resolving scheduling conflicts, and ensuring tasks are efficiently managed, directly benefiting contractors by streamlining administrative tasks.

These companies are just a few examples of the many players in the conversational AI space, each contributing unique solutions to enhance the contracting industry’s operations.

 

The Impact on Contractors

For contractors, the adoption of conversational AI means more than just automation; it signifies a leap towards a future where decision-making is faster, knowledge is more accessible, and productivity is significantly enhanced.

By integrating these AI solutions, contractors can:

  • Streamline Project Management: AI assistants can provide real-time updates, manage schedules, and facilitate communication, keeping projects on track and under budget.
  • Enhance Knowledge Sharing: With AI-powered knowledge management, valuable insights and information are readily available, reducing the time spent searching for information.
  • Improve Customer and Employee Support: Conversational AI platforms can handle inquiries and support tickets, providing timely and accurate responses to both clients and staff.
  • Automate Administrative Tasks: From scheduling meetings to managing emails, AI can take over repetitive tasks, freeing up time for more strategic work.

Looking Ahead

The integration of conversational AI into the contracting industry is just beginning. As these technologies continue to evolve, their impact on operational efficiency, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction will only grow. Contractors who embrace this revolution stand to gain a competitive edge in an increasingly digital world.

In conclusion, the future of contracting is undeniably intertwined with conversational AI.

As we move forward, the potential for innovation is limitless, promising a more efficient, knowledgeable, and productive industry.

The companies leading this charge are not just creating tools; they’re building the foundation for a new era of contracting excellence.

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Food For Thought

Artificial Intelligence in Construction

5 Ways Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Construction

The potential applications of AI in construction are endless. RFI’s, rework, and change orders are standard in the industry. Machine learning is like a smart, hyper-focused assistant which is able to scrutinize mountains of data. It can alert project managers about the critical things that need their attention. Several applications already use AI in this way. Its benefits range from mundane filtering of spam emails to advanced safety monitoring.

AI is currently being used to plan and design the routing of electrical and plumbing systems in modern buildings and design new framing systems. AI is being used to track the real-time interactions of workers, machinery, and objects on the site and alert supervisors of potential safety issues, construction errors, and productivity issues.

Despite the predictions of massive job losses, AI is unlikely to replace the entire human workforce. Instead, it will alter business models in the construction industry, reduce expensive errors, reduce worksite injuries, and make construction more efficient.

 

Artificial Intelligence Will Make Construction Workers Safer

Many accidents are the result of human errors and deliberate accidents. With AI, operations managers are able to analyze and filter huge quantities of data to identify potential problem areas. For example, in the construction industry, workers often work in tight spaces, use heavy equipment, and operate large equipment. These high-risk activities can be derisked with the right IoT applications and monitoring. Many companies already have a first responder app that provides information on construction sites. In the future, AI will be integrated into these systems to quickly identify problems and inform human decision-makers before they turn catastrophic.

Artificial Intelligence Will Make Construction Sites More Effective

To improve construction effectiveness, AI can be used in many ways. It can provide an optimal construction schedule and reroute critical tasks in the event of a disruption. It can monitor activity on a job site and create a set of guidelines for safe practices. It can provide risk assessments for individual jobs, determine the best means of preventing accidents, and use predictive models to warn managers about high-risk tasks. AI can help with building management, control work process automation, and track construction activities..

For example, IBM and Cisco are working together to create construction zones with sensors and cameras that can be used for remote management and site supervision. These sensors can detect how many people are on site, if they are wearing proper equipment, and if any crews are operating outside of their scheduled area. It can also detect construction defects and inform the construction team if a build requires correction.

 

Artificial Intelligence Will Make Construction Designs More Efficient

Up to 90% of errors in design involve not updating basic information on a design, such as weight, density, and measurements of materials.

AI is now able to control these parameters accurately by directly linking data sources from the manufacturer, even for very complex designs. AI is also able to increase productivity and quality by refining designs with minimal human intervention. It can recommend the most cost-effective way to build each building based on the market conditions, building requirements, and construction priorities.

 

Artificial Intelligence Will Make Construction Estimating More Accurate

Many tedious parts of construction estimating can be eliminated with the power of AI.

AI gives construction estimators a better prediction model of what will be required on-site, allowing for a greater degree of efficiency, reduced costs, better scheduling, and improved profitability.

Smart contractors can go in-depth to understand what the project requirements are, allowing them to offer construction plans that meet the needs of their clients more effectively. Companies that employ AI will gain new levels of accuracy and precision when it comes to building estimations.

 

Artificial Intelligence Will Make Construction More Modular

In one of the most under-reported developments in the tech space, prefabricated units are on the cusp of a revolution. Prefabrication is quickly becoming a cost-saving tool for governments and businesses. Facilities that used to cost up to $100 million can now be constructed for as little as $20 million. In an effort to streamline design, construction, and maintenance, modular construction aims to reduce waste and ensure quality construction at a cheaper price. By using pre-manufactured units, modular construction essentially cuts the time needed to construct a building down by up to 50%. It’s also safer as contractors don’t have to worry about constructing multiple units on-site as in traditional construction.

AI will assist in process planning and manufacturing design to allow prefabricated buildings to be built faster, cheaper, and safer.

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Analytics & Dashboarding

Guide to Productivity-Based Compensation in Construction

As technology has improved the productivity of construction contractors, it has also contributed to the disparity between the top producers and those at the bottom of the production ladder.

In every team, there are usually several employees who seem to have a natural ability to work more effectively and produce more with their time.

Under traditional compensation models, the top producers frequently express their frustration at carrying the brunt of the weight but still earning pay equivalent to the least productive team members.

This is where a properly implemented productivity-based compensation (PBC) program can reward top-performing employees, encourage smarter work, and guide team members towards a more entrepreneurial style of operating.

What is Productivity-Based Compensation?

With the advent of a highly modernized and tech-savvy construction industry, contractors have a new challenge in balancing the relationship between innovation, safety, team morale, and profitability.

Productivity-based compensation (or Results-based compensation, Piece-work, Pay-for-performance, etc.) is an alternative to traditional compensation (hourly or salary).

It uses performance analytics, department scores, and project reports to determine payouts for completed work.

In other words, the business only pays based on what has already been accomplished, and how well it was accomplished.

Productivity Based Compensation Contractor Websites

Many owners are looking for key strategies to keep their company on the top of their game, and productivity-based incentives are one of the best ways to maximize your company’s success. 

Rewarding employees on a performance basis is a proven way to motivate them to continue performing at their best. Yet, it’s important to incentivize them in ways that are meaningful, safe, and make sense for the company’s long-term goals.



How Productivity-Based Compensation Works

The traditional compensation system of salaries and hourly rates has resulted in the construction industry rewarding time spent on work over effectively producing work.

This doesn’t match the compensation structure of the business, where productivity, quality, and safety performance are the most critical in ensuring project profitability.

If a contractor performs well, they thrive financially.

If they perform poorly, they earn less profit or record a net loss on the project.

PBC aligns the employee’s compensation structure and incentives with the employers, and improves employee performance.

Profit sharing KPI Contractor Websites

 


How to Implement Productivity-Based Compensation

New pay structure systems can be met with resistance, especially from long-term employees who are used to receiving pay increases based on years of service.

This can be challenging to overcome, but in most cases, it provides an incentive for top-performing employees to take more ownership of their projects, excel at their craft, and increase their earnings.

PBC must be a win-win situation for the employer and employee, and you need to put yourself in your employee’s shoes (or work boots) and empathize with how they approach their work.

Focusing only on productivity, instead of looking at the plan holistically, is the first and most common mistake. You need to look at the entire cycle of your employee’s involvement in a project or product. From designing, crafting, to finishing, and from their first day on site, how they interact with the client and other trades, to their last day on site.

Building a system that encourages employees to consider the company’s long-term goals and values, while giving your employees the chance to take advantage of their abilities and earn more income as a reward for their refined skillset and quality output, is the ultimate goal of the implementation.

Companies Successfully Using Different Types of Creative Incentive Plans

Type of IncentivePercent of Companies Reporting Success
Skills-based compensation89%
Earned time off85%
Gain-sharing plans81%
Small-group incentives75%
Individual incentives73%
All-salaried workforce67%
Lump-sum bonus66%

Rice University, OpenStax

 

PBC has been shown to promote efficiency as well as quality, as the employee is held responsible for a properly completed task as a condition of their bonus pay.

Pros and Cons for Employers

  • Increased productivity

    By nature of this compensation system, employees who contribute more to the company and team are paid more, encouraging higher productivity.

  • It reveals opportunities for improvement

    PBC affords businesses the insight to find the areas of their business that needs to be improved. First, identify the low performers, and then analyze why they're performing below expectations. This process will discover areas in your business that need improvements, such as inventory control, shipping, estimating, and just about every other aspect of the business.

  • Increased employee retention and overall workplace morale

    High-performers want to understand what's expected of them, and understanding how they can achieve or surpass those expectations to earn higher pay incentivizes them to stay.

  • Attractive to high-performers and improves hiring quality

    The HR team should analyze the qualities of your high-performers and then identify those traits in hiring candidates to build the ideal team.

  • Company revenue & employee compensation alignment

    In companies without a PBC plan, employees may have trouble understanding what leads to a raise. Linking compensation and performance will provide clarity and a clear path towards career advancement.

  • Entrepreneurial mindset adoption

    Employees compensated on a PBC model gain the power to increase their wages by rethinking their approach to the work. They may conceive of a better execution plan than the one provided by management and will help deliver the project faster and more profitably.

  • Defective incentives with unintended outcomes

    Poorly thought-out incentives can lead to secondary outcomes that are undesirable (see Perverse Incentives in the Best Practices section below). Businesses must be aware of the consequences of incentivization and how employees will react to different measurements.

  • Internal resource constraints

    Operating on a PBC plan definitely adds stress to the business operations if incentives, departments, or managers are not aligned, which may cause friction between crews and/or departments. It can negatively affect collaboration and teamwork, as PBC tends to focus on an individual’s or crew’s achievements over the team's wellbeing.

  • Difficult to reverse

    Once a team has adjusted to the PBC plan and is seeing the benefits it provides, it can be difficult to revert back if it’s not working. If you find another compensation structure that would work better, you will face resistance and may even lose some of your highest performers.

Pros and Cons for Employees

  • Higher compensation

    Employees that are highly skilled, effective, and that work well in a competitive environment will thrive, and likely be the highest-paid people in their trade.

  • Task focus instead of time focus leads to better engagement

    When you provide employees with the objectives they need to meet to receive compensation, they have a much clearer idea of your expectations. It also shifts their mindset from “How much time is there left in the workday?” to “How many more sheets/walls/widgets until I’m done?”

  • Adds flexibility

    Employees that are evaluated on their results and performance are allowed more flexibility in their workday. You won’t need to focus on how many hours they work, how long their breaks were, or what time they got to the site. As long as they operate safely, deliver a quality product/project, and have a happy client, they have autonomy in their day.

  • It may demotivate lower-performing workers

    Not all people are meant to work on a performance-based compensation plan. Some employees may be demotivated by the success and results of the higher-performers. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You want the best employees on your team, but not all performance is measured the same. Some low-production workers may have brilliant design skills, or are able to communicate effectively with a client.

  • It can create tension among co-workers

    Some crews may be jealous of the rewards and compensation of the high-performers. This can create difficult situations where bonuses can create resentment between crews, where low-performers feel pressured to operate at a level that they aren’t capable of.

9 Best Practices in Productivity-Based Compensation

1. Define a set of standards by which the work must be delivered.

PBC encourages efficiency, so the crew may cut corners to expedite the work. Therefore you need a set of standards by which you will accept a finished project or product. You will need modifiers for things like client satisfaction, internal team satisfaction (Did the shop foreman feel respected? Was all documentation to payroll submitted on time?), and you will need non-negotiables that will wipe out any performance bonus entirely, such as missing safety documentation, negligent actions, and mistreatment of other employees.

 

 

2. Start small with a pilot crew and experiment with different variables.

By starting small, you can test the new program to get data on important metrics, incentive flaws, and that compensation is fair to all employees.
Some companies only incentivize the foreman of the team/crew and let them decide how the rewards should be distributed. Greedy foremen rarely last for long, and the generous ones garner the respect and admiration of their crew.
Other companies may pay out a percentage of profits to the whole crew, relative to their hourly wage, based on project performance.

Not every employee will view higher pay or performance bonuses as the ultimate reward. The company needs to recognize what drives engagement and productivity in its top performers and experiment with their system and rewards.

Productivity Tracking Contractor Websites

 
3. Make it fun.

If you want to implement PBC in order to motivate your teams, it helps to make it fun and exciting. Put up leaderboards that track performance, client satisfaction, safety ratings, quality ratings, and other metrics you find important to share.
(Tip: Read the Great Game of Business)
Include non-monetary rewards, such as lunches and dinners on the companies dime, or gifts and gadgets (e.g. a tablet, smartwatch, headphones, gift cards, sports tickets) that you display in the office that are awarded based on certain criteria. Ask for prize recommendations and requests. This gets employees excited and gives them something to work towards.

 

 

4. Include your team from the start.

Building an effective PBC model relies on both the employee’s and the employer’s ability to agree on what good performance looks like. When your employees are involved in the planning of the model, their ability to understand and adopt the model increases greatly.
Your employees are also the best source of knowledge on how to effectively measure good performance.

 

 

5. Think of best and worst-case scenarios.

Planning for extreme events, however unlikely, is critical to maintaining the plan during stressful events. Having a pre-defined process for dealing with extremes will prevent rash decisions from damaging your relationship with your employees.
For example, ask yourself the following questions:

If we severely underbid a project, how do we rectify that with the employees to ensure they are fairly compensated?

How do we compensate employees that resign/quit/are laid off before completion of a project?

In the event of an accident or safety infraction, how do we determine negligence? How does it affect their pay-outs?

On the bright side, your employees have the chance to become the highest-paid tradespeople in the country and feel more engaged in their work.
What does extreme success look like for you and your employees?
If one of your employees knocks it out of the park and is making +$100/hr, is that fair and equitable? If not, why not?
Figure out if it’s because of your existing beliefs about compensation, or if it’s a miscalculation in your system.

Trades for PBC Contractor Websites

 
6. Consider second and third-order consequences.

Familiarize yourself with the concept of Perverse Incentives.

A perverse incentive is an incentive that has unintended and undesirable results that is often opposite to the intentions of its designers.

A famous example is the “Cobra Effect”:
The term “cobra effect” was an anecdote of perverse incentives in India during British rule.
The British government offered a bounty for dead cobras. Initially, this was a very successful strategy as large numbers of snakes were killed for the reward.
However, enterprising people began to breed cobras for income.
When the government became aware of this opposite effect, the reward program was scrapped, and then the wild cobra population exploded when cobra breeders set their now-worthless snakes free.

Work to understand the cause-effect relationships of your decisions to the point where you can create decision-making rules in the form of “if/then” statements.
I.e. if X happens, then Y will happen.
Chaos increases the further you move from the first-order consequence. The more knowledgeable you are of a system will allow you to predict further down the chain of events.

Simple examples:
“If we solely incentivize productivity, then safety, quality, and documentation will deteriorate.
If safety, quality, and documentation deteriorate, then our reputation will suffer.
If our reputation suffers, we will lose work.
What can we implement to counter these effects?”

 

 

7. Make the system transparent.

Visibility into the payment structure should be readily available and easily interpreted.
Every employee should be able to see how their performance on a project affected their earnings, what modifiers were applied, and how they could have performed better.

The Expectancy Theory states that employees exert effort comparable to the reward they expect to achieve.
Accordingly, managing time to maximize productivity without a correlating increase in compensation can reduce employees’ motivation and job satisfaction.
Expectancy Theory states that employees will think of time-management improvements and boost their output to the extent that their compensation will increase as a result.

 

 

8. Keep it simple.

Most work can be classified into one of two categories:

Quantitative Performance: This is where productivity tracking is applied to observe metrics such as pieces installed per hour, square feet of drywall installed, paint hours, repair orders completed, etc.

Qualitative Performance: These are more intangible measurements that are difficult to nail down an exact measurement system for, but it’s not impossible. These metrics include customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, job quality reviews, and department-to-department reviews to ensure collaboration.

Identify key metrics for each position under the PBC plan and categorize them accordingly. Ensure you have counter-metrics that prevent a key metric from being abused.
E.g. if you’re tracking productivity, you need to track safety, quality, customer satisfaction, and team satisfaction.

 

 

9. Err on the side of over-compensating your employees.

It’s absolutely imperative to hire and keep the best employees possible, so don’t scare them away by being too demanding of their results. You should base your productivity metrics on the LOWEST performing crew, and build from there.
Never make changes to the plan without consulting the crews (or leaders of the crews e.g. foremen).
Most companies pay as little as they can get away with paying, but this results in employees who will do the bare minimum, and this ultimately cripples performance and damages the long-term prospects of the company.

 

 

Conclusion

PBC aligns the employee with the employer in terms of objectives, as a skilled, motivated employee can thrive financially under a PBC system and only gets bonuses if their project is successful, which in turn makes the project successful for the company.
Also, it takes the mystery out of running a contracting business, as you know exactly how much profit each project will net.

Some would argue that the burden of program administration may overwhelm the benefits, but that depends on your metric collection system. The estimating department provides the data needed to calculate how much can be earned from a project, and the estimating department should also have a feedback loop that gathers post-project productivity metrics, which can then be supplied to management/payroll for disbursement.
This productivity tracking will in turn provide better resources for your estimating department to bid on projects.

As an employer, you have to be vigilant of the hazard that employees may excessively prioritize quantity over quality, so you have to implement a rigorous QA process and have a way to subtract compensation from an employee delivering low-quality results, presenting safety issues, or getting complaints from stakeholders.

Every company is different, and you can’t apply a cookie cutter to compensation. Instead, owners and managers need to create a compensation system that pays employees based on their overall performance and results that are specifically tailored to their business, their culture, and their industry.

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Analytics & Dashboarding

Essential KPIs for Construction Sales & Estimating Dashboards

kpi dashboard for construction companies

Benefits of a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) Dashboard

Project dashboards make project management and estimating easier and more efficient by showing continuous performance data at a glance.

When employees and managers have access to their project’s data displayed in a visual element, they gain:

  • Greater insights into their projects
  • Increased efficiency and productivity
  • Improved estimating accuracy
  • Better communication among team members
  • Continuous feedback on their performance
  • Real-time information for better decision-making

A dashboard is beneficial for everyone on the team. It keeps team members engaged, managers informed, and C-suites aware of what types of business decisions to expect.

With the right dashboard, everyone is on the same page and understands what needs to be done across the team to ensure project success.

kpi dashboard construction

How to choose your KPI’s

To build a useful sales and estimating dashboard that your team will use, you need to focus on your audience and think about the KPI’s that are relevant to them.

Ask yourself the following questions before you start building the dashboard:

  • Who is your audience?
  • Who will be consuming this dashboard?
  • Is this dashboard for a salesperson, a manager, or an estimator?
  • What actions do I want the dashboard to encourage?

Knowing exactly who is your target audience allows you to focus on the KPI’s that are most important to them.

Design your dashboard with a specific purpose in mind. If you try to cram as much data in the dashboard as possible, it will end up crowded and convoluted, which leads to confusion and miscommunication.
If you have more visuals of valuable data that you would like to display, consider creating a second dashboard that allows you to deep-dive into the data.

Having a comprehensive data platform like SalesforceHubSpot, or Tableau allows you to create dashboards that serve all of your departments in a scalable way. Anyone in your organization can subscribe to a Salesforce, HubSpot, or Tableau dashboard as well as create recurring alerts based on conditions they set. 

Project dashboards should be able to report on estimating and sales KPI’s such as Earned Labour Hours, Qualified Bids, Win Rate by Project Type, and many other useful metrics.

Some KPI categories that you can include on your dashboard include:

Project Activities e.g.:

  • Number and Value of Bids In Pipeline
  • Bids Currently Processing
  • Bids Submitted
  • RFI’s Submitted

Time Spent & Durations e.g.:

  • Average Time To Bid Submission From Lead Acquisition
  • Average Time Per Bid Submission
  • Average Time From Bid Submission To Award

Milestones & Targets e.g.:

  • Win Rate, by number of deals and value.
  • Bid Value Submitted
  • Bid Value Won / Lost

Resource Allocation e.g.:

  • Assigned Tasks
  • Bids In Review
  • Bids In Queue

Choosing the right visuals for your KPI’s

Strong visuals are hard to ignore. The key to a great dashboard is knowing which visuals to highlight, how to display them, and how to allow the user to move seamlessly through the dashboard.
Data that can be hard to grasp when presented in a table format can be easily interpreted by adding the right graphs and charts. Trends and movements can be highlighted by using colours and icons such as arrows.

It’s not enough to have the right visuals though. The elements of the dashboard need to be arranged in the right order so the question prompted by the first element is answered by the second element, and so forth down the chain of questions.

A dashboard that tracks data that no one is interested in, or that doesn’t provide a useful recommended action, is a dashboard that people won’t use.

A useful dashboard can be described as: Displaying the right metrics, for the right person, at the right time.

construction kpis

What’s the difference between a KPI report and a KPI dashboard?

The old method of using reports has several drawbacks. It requires labour to produce, it only provides a snapshot in time, which means the information is outdated by the time the receiver interprets the information, and it keeps information hidden from the producers of that information.
It is telling you how your team WAS performing, not how they ARE performing.

In large companies, reports can be behind by several weeks, depending on how many manual data inputs are required to assemble the report. This can lead to inaccurate, delayed, and inadequate decisions being made.

Meanwhile, project dashboards provide a real-time source of information displayed in a digestible way. This leads to less time wasted producing reports, faster decision-making, and more time dedicated to winning projects.

construction kpi dashboard

4 things to consider when you are choosing your Dashboard KPI’s

The Dashboard’s Purpose

The dashboard planning process is crucial to creating a useful tool for your team. This is where you need to think about its functionality, intended objectives, and hazards. (Yes, there are hazards associated with dashboards and encouraging the wrong behaviour.)

The most important step is achieving consensus within the team or department on what the most critical KPI’s are and how they should be tracked.

KPI’s are binary. They are either met, or they are not. Establishing what the criteria are for a completed KPI should be done before going live with the dashboard.

Every KPI encourages a certain type of behaviour. It is generally accepted that valuing the profitability KPI the highest can lead to disastrous behaviour within the organization that damages relationships long-term and may even put you in a problematic legal situation.
This is why you need a counter-balance KPI for metrics that may steer team members away from company values.
For example, if you have a KPI for profitability, you may want to include a KPI for Customer Satisfaction (e.g. Net Promoter Score) to balance the behaviour produced by the KPI’s.

Essentially, your project dashboard should be relevant to the user, encourage healthy and honest behaviour, and provide continuous feedback on performance.

Your Existing Data

Project dashboards depend on data. Clean, unadulterated data, and lots of it.

Start by cataloging all your data sources.

  • What data are your teams currently producing?
  • What data are your current systems (ERP, Estimating software, CRM’s, etc.) currently producing?
  • What formats are produced when exported?
  • Can you upload the exported data straight into the dashboard software?

Next, make a list of the KPI’s that are measurable with the data that you are currently producing.

These KPI’s should be agreed upon by the team before launching the dashboard. Consensus and unanimity are essential for getting the team to adopt the dashboard into their daily routine and provide valuable feedback.

Your Future Data

Building a dashboard produces a lot of useful questions.

“What would we find out if we added this metric to the dashboard and crossed it with our labour hours?”

“What would we learn if we compared suppliers across projects to find which trades worked most efficiently with a suppliers products?”

Understanding the backbones of your dashboard will help you build additional data sets in the future. Having your data export setup to produce a common format such as XLSX or CSV allows you more flexibility when merging data sets and looking for new insights.

The Actions The Dashboard Will Produce

Try to predict the actions that your team members will take after viewing the dashboard. Understanding the analytical, emotional, and procedural actions a team member will take allows you to build a dashboard that people love having around, and will provide continuous feedback on how to improve.

Some organizations like to encourage some friendly competition by including a leaderboard and win rates, and then rewarding the winners at monthly/quarterly/annual intervals. This can be great if you have a team of “aggressive” high-performers that already have a strong social bond, but putting this on a dashboard for a team that isn’t as tight-knit or competitive will just breed resentment for management for trying to pit people against each other.

Analytics isn’t all cold logic and calculated reasoning. KPI’s will need to be tailored to the culture of your team.

Now, on to the list of our essential KPI’s!

List of Essential Construction Dashboard KPIs

Estimators
  • Earned Labour Hours – Bid vs Actual
    • Earned Labour Hours = Bid Labour Hours – Actual Labour Hours
    • This is a “quick and dirty” way of seeing how your estimating data actually matches field performance.
  • Value Added – Bid vs Actual
    • Value Added = Project Bid Value – Project Actual Cost
    • A critical overview of project performance. This would be a high-level element that can be interacted with to deep-dive into the actual costs and revenues of a specific project.

Construction Sales Estimating KPIs Construction Contractor Websites 1 We create high-performing websites for the construction industry.

  • Projects bid vs won by Project Type
    • Categorize projects by type (e.g. Commercial Retail Unit, Tenant Improvements, Warehouses, etc.).
    • Projects Won By Type = Total Project Type Bids Won / Total Project Type Bids
    • Understanding which projects your team excels at, in both estimating and field performance, allows you to strategize on which bids to accept, which markets to focus on, and where your estimating data needs to be improved.
  • Projects bid vs won by Client
    • Projects Won By Client = Total Client Bids Won / Total Client Bids
    • It’s important to know how often you’re being price-checked. Smaller teams will know this intuitively, but when submitting bids at a larger scale the intuition can disappear.
    • Another useful metric is tracking the dollar amount of projects bid/won. This lets you know if you are losing projects in a specific cost range.

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  • Qualified Bids
    • Qualified Bids = Accepted Bids + Qualified Declined Bids
    • Not all declined bids are the same. This can be detailed further by adding reasons for declining. Knowing the value of bids declined due to insufficient resources is important for planning expansion and preparing for growth.
  • Projects Lost by Reason
    • Categorize lost reasons (e.g. Price Too High, Strong Competitor Relationship, Bid Disqualified, etc.)
    • Understanding why a project is lost is the only redeeming factor in losing a project you wanted to win.
  • Value of Projects Lost by Reason
    • Are we losing projects mainly because our pricing is too high, or because or client lost the bid and we didn’t bid to their competitors? Are our bids being disqualified due to errors in our bidding process?

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  • Profit margin by project type
    • In some cases, the profit margin is improved by stellar field performance, but sometimes it’s because the project was overbid but awarded anyway.
    • Using this metric along with “Projects Bid vs Won by Project Type” and “Projects Lost by Reason” allows you to understand the full story behind the profit margin. For example:
      • Your Weighted Win Rate is 25%
      • On CRU’s it’s only 5%
      • Your average profit margin is 13%
      • On the CRU’s you win, your profit margin is 28%
      • Conclusion: Something in your CRU estimating data is inaccurate
  • Estimators profitability by project type
    • Tracking individual estimator profit margin is useful to see which estimators excel at certain projects, and that will let you set up the right mentee-mentor relationships to improve the strength of your estimating team.
  • Estimators win-rate by project type
    • Same as above. Some estimators excel at certain projects, and if you’re a manager, that lets you allocate the right people to the right projects.
  • Bids currently in development
    • How many bids are currently being worked on will give you an idea of how much capacity your team has to take on additional projects, or if more resources are required.
  • Number of issues and mistakes found in bid documents upon review
    • Having a visual of the results of your bid review and QC process allows you to make changes in your estimating process to reduce mistakes and miscalculations.
Sales (and some marketing)
  • Activities
    • While I don’t recommend putting too much credence to this metric (results > actions taken), the number of sales activities per rep in a set timeframe can give you a signal of their productivity level. Some common metrics include:
      • Number of calls
      • Number of emails
      • Meetings scheduled
  • Number of Active Leads and Prospects
    • Maintaining a consistent amount of leads, in both quantity and value, is important for forecasting and maintaining good cash flow.
  • Current Market Capture
    • Current Market Capture = Qualified Bids / Accepted Bids
    • This is a quick way of estimating market share in your category.

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  • Average Project Profit Margin
    • Average Project Profit Margin = Cost of Goods Sold / Revenues
    • Overall, how your estimating efforts are translating to field productivity.
  • Average Cost per Lead
    • Average Cost per Lead = Marketing Expenses / Qualified Leads
  • Customer Lifetime Value
    • Customer Lifetime Value = Average Value of Sale × Number of Transactions × Retention Time Period
    • This one takes a bit of work. You need to have some data already in place that is not readily available from your ERP or accounting department.
  • Qualified Lead Conversion Rate
    • Qualified Lead Conversion Rate = Qualified Leads Converted / Total Qualified Leads
  • Qualified Leads by Source
    • Categorize Lead Sources (e.g. Referral, Conferences, Word of Mouth, Directories, etc.)
  • Revenue by Lead Source
    • Use this metric to dial in on which marketing channel provides the highest return.
  • Opportunity-to-Win Ratio (By Number of Bids & Dollar value)
    • Opportunity-to-Win Ratio = Projects/Dollars Bid / Projects/Dollars Won

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  • Average Deal Size
    • Average Deal Size = Total Dollar Amount Awarded / Total Projects Awarded
    • It’s important to know if the projects you are taking on are increasing or decreasing in size, and being able to predict changes in project size throughout the local seasons and economic cycles.
  • Sales Cycle Length
    • Some salespeople will have faster sales cycles than others. Analyze which cycles produce the highest number of winning proposals and figure out what they do differently. A faster cycle isn’t necessarily better. A salesperson may close deals faster than anyone else, but their customers may be dissatisfied in the long term due to missing details or pressure tactics. Sometimes a long cycle is a healthy cycle.
  • Customer Satisfaction
    • There are several ways of measuring your clients’ satisfaction with your services and their perception of your performance. (Net Promoter Score, Customer Effort Score, Customer Service Satisfaction, etc.)
      Start simple and scale up the survey as needed. Make it easy for your clients to complete.

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I hope you find this list of KPIs useful. I am looking forward to hearing your comments and opinions on building your KPI and dashboard process.
 
Can you find any other interesting metrics that should be considered for measuring estimating and sales performance?

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Construction Projects Analytics & Dashboarding

Guide to Construction Estimating & Takeoff Software

The construction estimating process is critical to the success of every project.
Modeling the costs and productivity requirements of a construction project requires contractors to create detailed cost estimates, project and delivery schedules, and construction plans.

Many software firms have attempted to create a seamless estimating experience and provide the tools to create a comprehensive estimating and takeoff process. This guide will cover the options that are available to contractors to allow quick, precise, and accurate cost & delivery estimates for their projects.

Let’s start with a brief review of the overall construction estimating, takeoff, and bidding process.

If you’re an estimating professional, and you just want to see our recommendations, click here.

Understanding Construction Estimating for Contractors

Construction estimating is part of the bid process, during which contractors and builders will typically compile a group of documents, known as the bid package, which summarizes the project details and key information. These bids aggregate the costs that the contractor expects to pay for the sourcing of materials and construction of the project.

The process begins with the project owner creating the bid package.

The bid package contains all of the information the contractors will need to create an accurate cost estimate, schedule, and delivery method.

The documents included in the bid package typically include the Invitation For Bid (IFB), project blueprints, location and schedule constraints, detailed specifications of the contract, which include general standards, contract terms, insurance requirements, and other information about the bid and contract.

Traditional Bidding Process

TAKEOFF

A takeoff (sometimes referred to as material takeoff or quantity takeoff) is the first step in the bidding process. This step involves examining the blueprints and bid documents in order to extract the required materials and labor required for the project.

The information produced from the takeoff is what is used to build the cost estimate and project schedule.

For a General Contractor, some examples of takeoff items may include:

  • Unit counts: E.g. Counts of light fixtures, concrete barriers, pipe fittings, doors, beams, trusses, etc. Anything that needs to be calculated in unit quantities.
  • Linear length: E.g. Total lengths of cable, lumber, wiring, trim, rebar, piping, etc. Anything that needs to be calculated in lengths.
  • Surface area: E.g. Counts of areas that require painting, drywall, roofing materials. Anything that needs to be calculated by its length times its width.
  • Cubic volume: E.g. Concrete pours, earthworks, insulation, asphalt, etc. Anything that needs to be calculated by length times width times height.
  • Physical weight: E.g. Gravel, sand, shipping requirements, waste disposal, etc. Weight calculations are often a byproduct of other takeoffs, and are useful when planning transportation and logistics.
ESTIMATE COSTS & TIMELINES

Once a takeoff has been completed, we compile the data to create the cost estimates required for materials, labour, and supplies.

The process typically follows this schedule:

  1. Review Project Scope and Requirements
  2. Create a project schedule with deadlines and milestones.
  3. Identify in-house work and work that needs to be subcontracted.
  4. Determine labour and material costs.
  5. Include risk factors, contingencies, and profit margins.
  6. List project inclusions and exclusions.
  7. Submit bid to Business Development or to the client.

There are several tools available to estimators to help them build their cost estimate.

  • Estimating & Takeoff software – Manual takeoffs are resource-intense and prone to error. software creates a seamless process from takeoff to bid, with minimal chance for human error and several integrated checks and balances to ensure you have completed the takeoff and estimate accurately. 
  • Subcontractor database – It’s critical to have a good network of subcontractors that you can rely on for expertise and cost estimates. Some companies that provide takeoff software also provide a database of material pricing and general costs associated with a construction project, which can provide a helpful overview into the cost of the project before going out to source local pricing.
  • Pre-built estimate templates – Pre-built templates are critical to efficient takeoff and estimating processes, and they help you capture details that the IFB may have missed. Most estimating software providers have multiple pre-built templates for GC’s and larger sub-trades.
  • Item specifications – Many software suites will allow you to store item specs and useful data about materials and components. The information may include things like cost to purchase, cost to install, ANSI specifications, and local distributors.
BID PROCESS

The most common way of bidding is to prepare a hard bid (AKA competitive bid, hard dollar, fixed price, and others).

The GC sources material and subcontractor pricing, and then adds costs for their own supervision, site requirements (such as offices, sanitary facilities, dumpsters), contingencies, and profit.

Contractors with the most competitive bid, along with the best strategy and history/reputation, will likely earn the work. In the case of public projects (owned by government), the contractor with the most competitive bid is required to be awarded the project by law, provided their bid fully meets the requirements of the project.

Software Tools for Estimating & Takeoff Automation

Takeoff and estimating software refers to programs that help estimators extract useful material data from blueprints and IFB files. Some software will assist with generating material cost and labour estimates.

Typically, the software will support most file types for blueprints, such as PDF, DWG, SVG, DXF, XLSX, PNG, and other types of files.

With the suite of tools offered by the software, estimators can measure, calculate, and compile information quickly with fewer errors.

Features & Functionality
TAKEOFF
  • Tools for Counts, Areas, Lengths, and Volumes – The essential utility of takeoff software is the ability to extract materials, quantities, and requirements from digital files supplied by the project owner.
  • Collaborative & Team Takeoff – Having your takeoffs and estimates synchronized to allow for collaborative work is crucial for a large team where conflicting edits may happen. Most cloud-based services offer collaborative takeoff features.
  • RFI Creation & Management– In the event that insufficient information has been supplied or there are conflicting requirements in the project, an RFI will need to be issued to rectify the conflict. Some programs allow you to create, store, and compare RFI’s in a useful layout and dashboard.
ESTIMATING
  •  Activity Tracking – Knowing who did what on which bid is critical to a good estimating management process.
  •  Audit Trail – An audit trail is a step-by-step record which provides evidence of the history of document changes to its source and is useful to see who made changes to a document.
  •  BIM – Some advanced estimating software suites include BIM (Building Information Modelling). The purpose of BIM is to provide both a high-level overview of the project, as well as critical details, to ensure that the right information is included in the estimate.
  •  Cost Database – Most estimating software allows you to import your database of supplier costs, which is critical in building an accurate estimate that is suited for your local market.
  •  Customizable Reports – Management wants to see not only the results of a bid, but how you got there. You can build reports that compare similar projects, subcontractor pricing, typical amounts spent on previous projects vs current, and just about anything else you can imagine.
  •  Historical Database – Having a database of past projects that you can refer to and learn from is an estimating best practice, especially when you can compare estimated vs actual costs with the job cost report of the project you are comparing your current bid with.
  •  Project Templates – Pre-built project templates are useful when you are estimating projects that are similar to ones you have completed before. A 50,000 sq. ft. 3-storey CRU may have similar project requirements as a 60,000 sq. ft. 2-storey CRU, and you can save hours of work by reusing the template (with careful consideration of the project’s differences).
  •  Project Workflow & Schedule – Project scheduling is the process of listing tasks, milestones, critical path items, and subcontractor requirements with a planned start and finish date.
    Scheduling is often the most critical component of a project where you need to work closely with the operations team to ensure you are setting realistic deadlines and building optimal process flows. Proper scheduling ensures the project is completed on time and within budget.
  •  Projections & Forecasting – Estimating software helps you improve budgeting and forecasting estimates by aggregating cost requirements, benchmarking, and project forecasting.  Proposal Generation
  •  Subcontractor Management – During the bidding phase of a project, the GC needs to source a multitude of estimates from subcontractors. The more subcontractors and suppliers you involve in the process, the more risk and exposure the bid gets to failing specifications, inaccurate scope coverage, and inability to perform. Knowing which subcontractors are right for the project (not too large, not too small) is critical to the success of the project.
  •  Task Management Software – Historical task data can help you with process control and productivity when estimating new projects. When you have a reliable track record of successful estimates and bids, you can build new processes and analyze the historical information to help you create better estimates and more accurately predict resource requirements during the estimating process.
  •  What-if Analysis – A What-If analysis can be a time-consuming process of creating variations of the original project and analyzing the effects those variations have on the total project cost & construction time.
    What-If analysis replaces the painful process of learning by trial and error. If a predictable process or critical path breaks down during construction, the cost to fix, reorganize, or rebuild can carry additional costs and impact the schedule of the project. Using What-If analysis, you can create scenarios in which your operational team can quickly adjust to changes in the construction process or schedule, keeping the project within budget and scheduling requirements.
 
BIDDING
  •  Approval Process Control – Estimating software should allow you to customize and control the information each user can see and edit depending on their role in the organization. After the bid is completed, there should be an approval process that triggers it for review and submission to the client.
  •  Automated Quoting & Proposal Generation – Manual quoting processes are slow and inefficient in today’s world. Having a time-consuming quoting process scales poorly with your business, as the time it takes to produce winning bids is increased with each additional estimating hire. Using automation allows you to send out more bids in less time, keep track of incoming requests, and update data.
  •  Bid Management – Managing the different versions of your bids often includes making revisions to your takeoffs and estimates. Keeping track of changes and how they impact linked tasks helps you modify bids in an optimal way.
  •  Calendar Management – Everyone needs a calendar to track deadlines, milestones, and submission dates. The integrated bid calendar should show you which projects are due on what date, bid priority in the case of opportunities exceeding the bidding capacity of the estimating department, and tasks remaining until bid completion.
  •  Contact Management – Contractors submitting multiple bids to different clients will find a contact management system incredibly useful. 
  •  Customer History – Seeing the past projects that you have bid to a client is useful, especially if the Business Development team has made notes on successful or unsuccessful bids with actionable items that may improve your chances of winning the next bid.
  •  Customizable Reports – Some estimating software comes with integrated sales features that include useful reporting for operations and BD, such as insights into the sales funnel, characteristics and data on winning bids, and estimated times to complete bids.
  •  Digital Signature Software – In today’s world, people want low-friction and easy-to-use ways of doing business. The old way of printing off documents, taking them to the client, and having them sign is being phased out. Digital signature features often includes add ons such as open-tracking (being notified when your client opens the bid) and use-analysis (how long they had the document open, where they dropped off, where they spent the most time, etc.)
  •  Projections – Creating projections for the project schedule and budget is essential for the operations team to stay on track and understand how delays and cost-increases impact the project further down the schedule.
  •  Subcontractor Portal –  A subcontractor portal helps you communicate essential information, share project documents, and manage bid revisions with trades that are invited to bid on the project.

The Best Construction Estimating & Takeoff Software

ProEst

2021 06 10 07 34 44 proest home page.png 1024×768 We create high-performing websites for the construction industry.

PRICING: US$5,000.00/year

FREE VERSION?: No. Free Trial.

FEATURES:
  •  Accounting Integration
  •  Activity Dashboard
  •  Bid Management
  •  Bidder Management
  •  Building Product Database
  •  Change Order Management
  •  Collaboration Tools
  •  Cost Database
  •  Customizable Reports
  •  Customizable Templates
  •  Job Costing Software
  •  Multiple User Accounts
  •  Proposal Generation
  •  Reporting & Statistics
  •  Subcontractor Management
  •  Takeoff Software
  •  Third Party Integrations (Procore, Acumatica, Foundation, RSMeans Data)

PROS: 

  • Extensive list of features
  • Full takeoff-to-bid process integrated
  • Builds your estimate while doing takeoffs
  • Lots of pre-defined templates and reports
CONS:
  • Expensive for smaller contractors
  • Some find the scheduling feature to be lacking
  • Difficult learning curve for inexperienced users
BOTTOM LINE:

ProEst is a great option for midsize to large contractors. The system is cloud-based. This carries both pros and cons. If you don’t have an internet connection, you cannot access the suite. However, you will be able to access it on any computer with internet access, providing great flexibility.


 

PlanSwift

Takeoff Software for Construction Estimating | PlanSwift

PRICING: US$1,595.00/year

FREE VERSION?: No. Free Trial.

FEATURES:
  • Overlays
  • Quick Estimating
  • Calculate Measurements Instantly
  • Create custom assemblies
  • Import Excel Items
  • Calculate Labor, Material, & Taxes
  • Create custom formulas
  • Includes standard reports
  • Create unlimited number of custom reports
  • Takeoff Templates
  • Assemblies and Parts
  • Point and Click
  • Takeoff Templates
  • Share Estimates
  • Drag and Drop
  • Import Blueprints, Projects, and Jobs
  • Integrations: QuickBooks, UDA Construction Suite, databases like Excel, SQL Server, and MS Access

PROS: 

  • Extensive list of features
  • Detailed and customizable budgeting information
  • Intuitive and user-friendly interface
  • Lots of pre-defined templates and reports
CONS:
  • No built-in cloud syncing between computers limits collaborative work
  • Price changes in database do not change pricing for current jobs. Needs to be manually added.
  • Only PDF is acceptable.
  • No API for web integrations
BOTTOM LINE:

PlanSwift is best for smaller teams, where collaborative work features are not required. The software runs on your PC, and stores files locally. PlanSwift can be custom-tailored to fit all trades from finish paint to earthwork.


 

Stack

STACK Software - 2021 Reviews, Pricing & Demo

PRICING:

$1,999.00 / YEAR – 1 User

$4,999.00 / YEAR – 3 Users

FREE VERSION?: Yes.

FEATURES:
  • Aerial Measurement
  • Assembly Takeoff
  • Audit Trail
  • Bid Management
  • Building Product Database
  • Cost Database
  • Data Import/Export
  • Electrical Estimating
  • Electronic Plans
  • Historical Database
  • HVAC Estimating
  • Job Costing
  • Job Management
  • Overhead Costs Estimating
  • Plumbing Estimating
  • Prebuilt Assembly
  • Project Management
  • Quotes/Estimates
  • Reporting/Analytics

PROS: 

  • Pre-built database that include in-depth lists of equipment, labor, and materials.
  • Easy-to-use scheduling features.
  • Fully cloud-based.
  • Fast loading of projects files.
CONS:
  • Expensive for smaller contractors
  • Few accounting and project management integrations.
  • Rates increase as team add new features.
  • Cloud-based user interface has limitations
BOTTOM LINE:

Stack is a growing company in the SaaS space. They implement new features quickly, have an active online community, and are constantly releasing new versions.
Cloud service is an essential feature for larger teams requiring collaborative tools. The user interface is intuitive and easy to use.

While still in its infancy, Stack is a fantastic tool for estimating teams and is currently our favorite.

CONCLUSION:

The market for construction estimating software is growing at a staggering rate, and there are new options being released frequently.

Many estimating suites come with integrations that allow you to connect to your sales CRM and KPI dashboards. However, most of the options with modern integrations are hosted in the cloud.

To ensure everyone in the organization is in the loop on new projects, you need to ensure there is cross-compatibility with other software suites that may be used for sales and operational processes.

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Website Design Search Engine Optimization

How To Get Your Contracting Business On The First Page Of Google

How Google and other search engines work.
First things first. Google is not the whole internet. Google is a directory of discovered website links that it algorithmically ranks in order of perceived relevance and trustworthiness.
Just because your site doesn’t show up on Google doesn’t mean it’s not accessible. Your website may be live and have great content, but unless it is structured in the right way it may never rank for the terms your customer is searching for.

Google works like this: They have automated searchers running 24/7 that discover and follow links on websites to discover other websites, then they store that information in their database and assign a ranking value to each link depending on its authority score. Google then uses this data to determine which websites are most relevant to a searcher’s keywords, which is then displayed in order of importance and relevance. The resulting list of sites is known as a Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

So, now that we have a broad understanding of how their algorithm works, how do we improve our site pages so that Google ranks them higher than our competitors?

Establish Your Baseline

lighthouse seo performance We create high-performing websites for the construction industry.
1. Check your site speed

Your website should load quickly on all devices. Time to Load is a critical ranking factor in Google’s algorithm.
Website speed has a considerable effect on conversion rates. Studies have shown that fast page speed results in better conversion rates.
Pages that loaded in less than 2.5 seconds had a 1.9% conversion rate, but at 3.3 seconds, the conversion rate was only 1.5%.
Now that may seem like a small delta, but if you consider that it means that you will get a 27% higher client conversion rate (1.5% vs 1.9%), which ends up as a big difference on your bottom line.
Nobody likes to wait several seconds for any website to load, so most people exit out of a page if it’s taking too long.
You can conduct a free page speed test on Google’s Page Speed Insights or use the free tool GTmetrix to test your website page speed, page health, and find optimization opportunities.

2. Check your site health

After you have analyzed your page’s speed, assess the overall health of your site to see which factors are most important.

There are lots of great and free tools to identify opportunities for health and speed improvements.

  • MxToolBox Domain Health Report: Free tool to check for multiple major site issues.
  • Pingdom.com: Enter your URL to test the page load time, analyze it, and find bottlenecks and improvements.
  • KeyCDN Tools: The KeyCDN Speed Test tool can be used to evaluate the health and speed of your website to see where improvements can be made.
3. Assess your current Google ranking

To measure the effects of your modifications and improvements, establish a baseline of your ranking and save the information for future comparison.

Use tools like TheHoth SEO Ranking Checker to see how you are ranking for search terms and which are currently leading to the most traffic.

Long-Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are 3-5 keyword phrases which are very specific to the service or product you are offering. Specific and long-tail keywords are easier to rank for and tend to match better with your intended customers.

1. Pick 3-4 long-tail keywords to own

The most valuable keyword strategy for producing more leads is to focus on long-tail transactional keywords. Transactional keywords are the search terms a person uses when they are looking to purchase something.
Informational keywords are usually searched by people that want information, and are not ready or looking to purchase anything.

Example: A person that is looking for information on how to install light fixtures may search “how to install kitchen spotlights”, while a person looking for a contractor to do the work may search “kitchen spotlight installer” or “light fixture electrician”.

Creating and ranking for informational posts are great for building authority and driving traffic, but they are not high-converting resources.
On the other hand, ranking for transactional keywords is valuable because the searcher has already decided that they are ready to purchase. They just need to find the right contractor (you!).

Keywords that have the words below as a prefix or suffix to the rest of the keyword phrase indicate a searchers buying readiness:

  • Buy
  • Review
  • Order
  • Purchase
  • Shipping
2. Review competitor analysis

If your competitors are ranking higher than you in search results, you can find out why and by how much they are outranking you.
Seeing what your competitors are ranking for is a great opportunity to find keywords missing on your site, and which keywords they are ranking for that you can target.

2021 05 12 05 59 10 SpyFu SEO and PPC Competitor Keyword Research Tools ericsson.com We create high-performing websites for the construction industry.

Use a tool like SpyFu’s Competitor Analysis or UberSuggest to learn more about your competitor’s ranking.

3. Analyze and decide on your keyword strategy

Once you have identified your highest value keywords, start planning your content around them and strategizing on how that content can convert into a paying customer.

Identify your main keywords by doing keyword research in a tool like UberSuggest.
Prioritize keywords by their potential, because you will generate thousands of keywords. You have to be selective about what you want to rank for and decide which are most important to you and your business.

It’s critical that visitors to your site can do two things as soon as they land: know what the page is about, and easily find the information they are looking for.
These are indicators to search engines that your page is meeting the searchers intent, which boosts your rank higher and drives more traffic.

4. Plan your content based on the highest-value keywords and tailor your content to those keywords

The best content is useful content that is shareable and easily digested. Optimize for informational as well as transactional keywords and improve your search ranking by writing resourceful and detailed content that helps the searcher in their search intent.

After you have optimized your content for your chosen keywords, you can return to tools like SpyFu’s Competitor Analysis and UberSuggest to see how your new content is affecting your page ranking. Please bear in mind that search engine optimization and ranking take time, and older content is valued more than newer content. You can expect to see improvements in your ranking typically 3-6 months from your publishing date. These timeframes are accelerated by social sharing, traffic, and backlinks.

5. Generate content that is useful and captivating

The main content marketing strategy today is writing useful blog posts for your potential customer, but there are multiple types of content you can have on your website.

Some of these are:

  • Blog posts, informational (how-to) or transactional (leading to a sale).
  • Product page (a page about your products)
  • Category page (a page showing multiple products or services)
  • Landing page (a page pitching a product or service)
6. Optimize your pages

If you have multiple products, services, or client types (also known as buyer personas), you should have separate landing pages and service pages for them. What may appeal to one client may not be relevant to another.
These pages should have different keywords that are tailored to their needs.
Having content that aligns with search intent is the first step, but your pages also need to be deserving of a place on the first page, where Google shows the most relevant and useful results.
After analyzing your client’s search intent, you should know what information they are looking for and how to provide useful answers.

Backlinks

Backlinks are considered the most important factor in having a high-ranking website. Backlinks are essentially “votes” from reputable sites. If you have more votes than your competitors, you will usually rank higher than them in search results when the search intent and keyword matching are the same.

1. Complete competitor analysis and find backlink opportunities

2021 05 12 06 26 57 Backlink Checker A Free tool to check backlink We create high-performing websites for the construction industry.

You can use a free tool like SmallSEOTools Backlink Checker to find which sites link to the one you’re interested in.
The backlink checker should list the domain rating of the linking site, which is an estimate of the score that Google would assign to the link. The higher the score, the more valuable the link.

2. Find the most valuable backlinks and strategize how to get linked

The more high-quality backlinks you have, the higher your odds of ranking among the first few search results.
So how many backlinks do you need?
There’s no exact number to reach, as not all backlinks are equal. Having links from industry-specific and high-authority sites like associations, chambers, and suppliers is the best strategy.
Some backlinks can be considered “toxic” if the linking domain has been flagged for spam or “black-hat” practices.

3. Add internal site links

Internal site links are a great way of leading your customer around your site, and it provides a useful map to search engines on how your pages are related.

Google’s crawler follows links throughout the internet to find and index websites. If your website has proper internal linking, the crawler has an easier time finding the new content that you create and link to. As a result, indexation happens faster, and your content is rewarded by improved search engine rankings.

4. Review potentially toxic backlinks and remove them

There are backlinks that are considered being bad for search ranking, or ‘toxic’.
These links come from spammy sites or are gained by trying to game the search engine algorithm.

From Google’s Quality Guidelines:

Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.

Use Google’s Disavow Links guide to remove toxic backlinks from your search ranking.

Content

Content ages like fine wine. The longer your content has been active and shared, the more valuable it will be when it comes to your search ranking. Research from Oracle reveals that on a per dollar spent bases, content marketing generates more ROI than paid search ads, so for the startup company it makes sense for the owners to generate their own content, and for larger teams it makes sense to have someone in-house.

1. Define the purpose of your content

Smart marketing isn’t just about being a good writer, speaker, or media generator. It’s about being strategic about your production and understanding your buyer personas. Knowing exactly what your desired outcome is from an article is the first step to producing content.

Is it to generate brand recognition and industry authority? Or specifically to generate leads for a service or product in your business?

Your ability to take a piece of published content and get it to thousands of readers, within a specified time frame, will determine your success. Your readers will find you with an effective long-tail search, ideally in an organic way.

2. Focus your articles on data

If you back up your content with accurate data, people will see your content as more authoritative and will possibly share it on social media, thereby expanding your organic reach.

Essential to a successful content marketing strategy, which will produce accurate, high-conversion traffic is the creation of relevant, true, and quality content.

3. Tell a story

Your content should ideally connect with your audience’s pain points. perhaps you begin the introduction by describing the pain or questions that your customer is experiencing or asking.

It’s generally accepted that short content has a harder time ranking over a page with more substantial content, so you’ll want to have a content length of at least 400-500 words.

Use story telling to guide your audience from point to point.

4. Write a captivating headline

Google has made a lot of changes to their search algorithm, but one element has stuck around: the headline.
Writing a killer headline for your content is one of the most important factors in getting your customers attention, and getting them to share it with their network.
Even if you are ranking first for your desired keywords, it’s the headline that converts a view to a click. Clicks lead to sales.
The key to writing a captivating headline is to invoke curiosity. Curiosity is what makes your customers click on your headline before moving further down the search result list.
Some tips for creating a captivating headline include:

  • Know your audience. 
  • Add numbers to your headlines. “5 Ideas To Remodel Your Kitchen” is better than “Ideas to Remodel Your Kitchen”.
  • Ask questions. Use what, why, how, or when.
  • Create a knowledge vacuum (combined with numbers). “These Are The 5 Best Ways To Remodel Your Kitchen”
5. Use numbers, images, and multimedia to illustrate your point

Written content is important, but it’s not for everyone. If you find a medium that works well for you, try to specialize and excel in it.
Some people can’t or won’t write, but they do well in speaking engagements and interviews. Perhaps podcasting or videos are the way forward for them.

Here’s a list of possible mediums for content creation:

  • Helpful Informational Videos
  • Guides, How-to’s
  • Infographics (great for social media)
  • Checklists
  • Webinars and Demos
  • Podcasts

Ads

Google Ads are the linked text ads that show up at the top and bottom of Google’s search results pages.
Google’s search results are like real estate, you can either own (by having great SEO optimized pages) or rent (by buying ads).

1. Understand what Ads are and when they are appropriate.

Google Ads are great for lead generation and for converting transactional searchers, but not, in my opinion, very valuable for informational content or building brand recognition.

Contractors typically use Google Ads to get new customers, but there’s another audience that could see your ads and help grow your business. Industry partners.

Construction companies rarely provide every solution that their customer requires. For example, you are a mid-size general contractor doing work for a local development firm. That development firm also needs services for engineering, permitting, legal services, and surveying. Companies offer those complementary services are potential partners.

2. Understand how Pay-Per-Click (PPC) works and how to structure your ad.

Also known as cost per click (CPC), PPC is a method that Google charges based on the number of times a searcher clicks on an ad.
Another metric is cost per thousand (CPM), which is the number of views in thousands, regardless of whether the view results in a click.
If you’re just getting started with your business, ads are a great way to generate traffic and sales quickly. You can give your site an immediate boost as you wait for your organic ranking to increase. This makes Google Ads an appealing strategy for new businesses to acquire leads and grow sales while building their content strategy.

Conclusion

From my personal experience, it’s easiest to integrate construction-related long-tail keywords in case studies and project profiles.

This serves two purposes. It creates useful content for both searchers and search engines, and it provides potential buyers with your track record of successful projects.

Search engine optimization is no longer about keyword stuffing or creating useless content. It’s about continually developing your understanding of your customers pain points and needs, then creating high-quality content that will help them.

Following the guidelines in this article will set you on the path to long-term success and organic traffic for your business. Write and speak naturally, as if you’re communicating with your customers one-on-one, and focus on answering the questions they are asking.

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Search Engine Optimization Website Design

10 Free Ways to Increase Traffic to Your Construction Website in 2024

10 Free Ways to Increase Traffic to Your Website in 2024

Tips and tricks to get your website ranking higher.

You know what the internet needs?
It’s 2,515,918th article on improving SEO and website conversions.

While I say that tongue-in-cheek, what the internet really needs is an SEO-guide written specifically for construction companies and tradespeople.
I’m going to list 10 ways you can increase your SEO for free, with not a nickel spent, other than some time and writing skills.

1. Use specific landing pages with a clear value proposition

A value proposition is a quick summary that promotes the unique value of your products or services.

Too many companies focus on themselves and get too technical on their services or products. People want to know your solution, not how the sausage is made.
This is why a solid value proposition is at the core of all marketing communication. You are speaking to a person with a problem you can solve.

This is a great example from Everlast Vinyl Fencing in Edmonton, AB:

construction website

Everlast goes straight to the point of addressing the customer’s desire.

YES = “… the perfect fencing style to complement your home and landscape design.”

NO = “… thousands of fencing styles in our inventory.”

YES = “featuring materials that protect against the sun and stay durable against impact.”

NO = “featuring materials that are UV 400 rated and coated with durable polyethylene.”

Three quick tips on creating a strong value proposition:
  • It should explain how your product or service best solves a customer’s problems or needs.
  • It should describe what specific benefits your customer will receive.
  • It should explain why you are the right choice to solve that problem.

2. Improve on-page SEO

First off, what is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization refers to the practice and system of optimizing your web pages to improve a page’s search engine rankings and drive more organic traffic to the site.

Search engine results are like real estate.
You can pay an advertiser like Google to list your company at the top for your desired search terms, and rent that top space, or you can put the work into owning that space by implementing good SEO practices.

A strong SEO strategy is focused on useful content creation, as well as best practices when it comes to site loading speed, social media engagement, and development best practices.

Three quick tips on building your on-page SEO:
  • Test your site speed and optimize deficiencies. Use GTMetrix or PageSpeed Insights by Google
  • Get an in-depth SEO analysis done. Use Moz Free SEO Metrics or SEOptimer
  • Don’t forget to engage with your audience and customers. Frequent posting and engagement with your community is a vital part of building your domain’s authority and trustworthiness.

3. Build backlinks

nW9G4quSDd0AAAAASUVORK5CYII= We create high-performing websites for the construction industry.

What are backlinks?
Backlinks are links from one website to another. Google and other search providers use backlinks as a sort of vote on how trustworthy a site is.
Good sites usually have lots of people linking to them, bad sites usually don’t.

The pages that rank highest in search results are usually the ones with the most backlinks and engagement, especially for high-volume searches.

One best practice is to build links to useful assets. If you want people to link to your page, you need to create or share something useful.
A great asset can be a blog post, guide, useful video, calculator, quiz, etc.

Three quick tips on building more backlinks:
  • Focus on high-quality links (local associations are great) over low-quality but high-quantity links.
    Spammers link to other spammers and will reduce your domain authority.
  • Build more linkable assets such as blogs, tools, and useful content.
  • Search Google for posts in your industry that are already ranking well, and build upon it. Many articles are overview only (like this one) where each category or topic can be expanded and improved.

4. Optimize your Google Business profile

Having a Google My Business page is THE MOST IMPORTANT factor in ranking well in search and getting more customers.

Google’s algorithm for search ranking does not just consider keywords, domain authority, and trustworthiness, but relevant locations with highly optimized profiles.
Optimizing your Google My Business profile is the first thing a business should do when focusing on improving SEO as it allows you to be the first result even when searching for broad keywords like “edmonton electrician”.
Here are a few examples:

THE GOOD
2021 01 30 10 18 49 colz electric Google Search We create high-performing websites for the construction industry.
 
THE BAD
2021 01 30 10 25 33 rite on electric Google Search We create high-performing websites for the construction industry.
THE UGLY
(No GMB profile at all, even when searching for the actual business name)

2021 01 30 10 24 22 taylored electrical services Google Search e1623850317423 We create high-performing websites for the construction industry.

Three quick tips on optimizing your Google My Business Profile:
  • Register your business at Google My Business and add your business information.
  • Start gathering reviews from your customers. Every business should have at least 5 reviews, and a great score is anything above 4.4.
  • Add a Call-to-Action similar to the first screenshot. Do you want customers to contact you before requesting a quote, or can you send them straight to one of your estimating forms?

5. Get social

Links from Social Media do not contribute much to your websites page ranking, but it does one thing better than any other medium. It spreads useful and viral content by incentivizing people to share it with their networks.

People can’t link to content they don’t know about, so you could be creating tremendous value on your site, and no one would ever know.
Someone much wiser than me once said, “It doesn’t matter what you know if nobody knows you know it.”

Three quick tips on engaging with Social Media:
  • Maintain a list of your best-performing content, update it, and share it regularly. Don’t feel bad about sharing old content. Remember that most social shares do not reach the full audience.
  • Don’t treat social media as a chore. Engage with your audience in an active and helpful way, and they will become your biggest fans.
  • Create more partnerships with the industry.
    Consider using your platform to elevate other businesses that you enjoy working with.Your goal here is to build real relationships and useful partnerships with people in your community. It’s not enough to just like every post they share, you need to engage, ask questions, and be useful to them.

6. Create high-quality infographics and imagery

contractor website design We create high-performing websites for the construction industry.

We live at high speed these days, and much can be communicated to our short attention spans with a well-designed infographic.

What is your customer searching for, or what is their unknown unknown? (i.e. what do they not know that they do not know?)

Infographics for home and car maintenance routines have been a home-run. Everyone needs a reminder once in a while to clean their dryer lint trap, replace their furnace filters, and de-ice their freezer.
How does this apply to your industry?

Three quick tips on creating useful imagery:
  • Use a site like Canva to quickly create images that can be directly shared to social media. Small, frequent, and useful images are more effective than once-per-year supermassive infographics.
  • Do something that someone did before, but do it BETTER.
    You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, and you can use existing content to build yours. Just don’t plagiarize.
  • Make sure you tell a story that is interesting and useful to your audience. Random information and statistics about your industry are not engaging unless you are posting to a forum specific to your trade.

7.  Submit your site to search engines

This is so simple that I wasn’t sure if I should include it, but too many site owners believe that they can “build it and they will come”.

Google will index your site if somebody else is linking to it, but how will someone link to it if they can’t find you? And how will Google find you if no one is linking to you?
Submitting your site to Google also verifies the ownership of the domain, which increases your domain authority.

Three quick tips on connecting your site to search engines:
  • Connect your site with Google Search Console. They will also give you useful information on which keywords are best for bringing users to your site.
  • If you want to go the extra mile, also submit your site to BingYahoo, and Yandex.
  • Make sure you sign up for interruption-of-service notifications. If your site goes down, you want to be the first to know.

8. Host or participate in a podcast

Do you like to hear yourself talk?

Do you often go on long and intense monologues?

Well, then podcasting may be for you.

Podcasts are one of the best ways to engage with your audience these days. The podcasting platform is still new enough that there are giant market gaps, especially in construction and trades-related categories.

Look around for podcasts that you can participate in as a guest, or start your own if you have the voice and personality for it.

Three quick tips on using podcasts to your advantage:
  • Search Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts for relevant shows in your market. Reach out with a topic in mind and ask if you can be a guest host. Remember to sell yourself and your story.
  • Getting started with your own podcast show takes little more than some time, about $100 in recording equipment (a decent microphone), and some editing skills.
    Here’s a great guide by Buffer on starting your own podcast.
  • If you’re set on starting your own podcast, see if you can find a good co-host or partner. If you don’t have the editing skills, maybe find someone that does.

9. Optimize for longtail keywords

Popular shorttail keywords like “edmonton electrician” might generate the most traffic, if you manage to rank for them, but targeting competitive keywords like that is not that useful for finding the right customers.

image40

Why?

Let’s say you’re a local commercial electrician, and you specialize in new commercial construction and high-rise buildings.
What you really want to rank for are keywords like “commercial electrical contractor edmonton”, because Google will only place so many links to your page on their first page of search results, and using highly competitive keywords is crowding out your niche long-tail keywords.

If your page is optimized for “edmonton electrician”, you’re going to get a ton of people looking for someone to fix their breaker box or install new outlets in their house. This is a waste of your time.

On the other hand, the “commercial electrical contractor edmonton” longtail keyword will not have as many monthly searches, but because it’s longer and more specific than the shorttail keyword, you will more easily rank in the search results and generate more qualified leads.

Here’s a screenshot of “edmonton electrician” and how many searches are done per month:

w+NZR6CRA5S+AAAAABJRU5ErkJggg== We create high-performing websites for the construction industry.

And here’s a screenshot of “commercial electrical contractor edmonton”:

We create high-performing websites for the construction industry.

What are we seeing here? Way less volume for the second long-tail keyword, but these are the exact customers you want.

2021 01 30 13 30 52 Keyword ideas Standard Scaffold Insulation Google Ads We create high-performing websites for the construction industry.

Three (longer) quick tips on using longtail keywords:
  • Think about your ideal customer. What problems do they have and how are they looking for a solution?
    In the example of a commercial electrical contractor, they may go to Google and search for “edmonton commercial electrical contractor wcb cor”, because they’re looking for a qualified and experienced contractor with all of their safety requirements in order.
  • Write for the modern-day search algorithm. Google no longer ranks the sites with the most keywords or exact phrases on their site. We have progressed to user intent searching instead of keyword targeting. This means users are becoming more accustomed to typing in their exact problem into search instead of keywords.
    E.g. They used to search “edmonton electrician”, but now they are starting to search for “electrician to fix my breaker panel”.
  • Create useful content (ABU!). In our experience, we discovered that it’s easier to rank for longtail keywords in long-form blog posts and case studies.
    Instead of creating just another blog post, focus on actionable guides and data-driven posts that are helpful to your audience.

    SEO has evolved from strictly keyword targeting, so it is absolutely essential to have content that is highly specific and niche.
    Constantly study your customers, gather feedback, engage with them on social media, and understand what problems they are facing and how you can help them.


10. Optimize your highest traffic source

Google Analytics is a powerful tool when used properly. Unfortunately, most people don’t use it properly. Pulling useful information and valuable insights can be tricky, especially if you have a low-traffic site, but there are a few tricks to it.

You need to familiarize yourself with two areas of Google Analytics: Acquisition and Behavior.

Acquisition breaks down the data on where your visitors are coming from, and Behavior breaks down how they interact with your site.

Acquisition – How your customers are finding you.

Behavior – What your customers are doing on your site.

On the Behaviour page of Macsson Snow Removal, we can see that most people land on the homepage and then click on their Request A Quote form. After that, they return to the homepage and go to the About page or Contact page.

This is extremely useful because you can find out what your customers are after and how they look for it. Sometimes it’s just a quick quote, and sometimes they want to know more about your company.

Three quick tips on using Google Analytics:
  • Find easy and low-effort opportunities to boost traffic. Does one of your blog posts get 10x more traffic than the others? Use it to link to your other posts and update it as often as possible.
  • Look for your high-converting pages and improve their SEO.
    Our goal with SEO and content marketing is to drive potential customers to our site, and to engage them in a way that they trust us with their business.
    One of the best ways to do that is to capitalize on one of your best pages and use it to drive traffic to other parts of your site.
  • Find new keyword opportunities by tracking your internal site search. Does your site have a built-in search bar? If you do, you can analyze all of the inputs to gather information on what your customers are looking for.
    If you have a large search volume for “products”, it may mean that your products page is not visible or obvious enough for people to find.