Chicago-Based Residential Construction Firm (Business Consulting)

Ground Floor Partners was engaged by a local residential construction firm on the South Side of Chicago. They had only been in business for a few years, but were growing rapidly. They hired us to help them review all of their operations, identify and prioritize problems, devise and implement solutions, reduce operational risks, and position them for steady yet rapid growth over the next few years.

Our first step was to conduct a comprehensive business audit. The audit revealed several major problems, including questionable employment practices, insurance over payments, poor accounting practices, insufficient oversight of bookkeeping, no marketing or sales process, and no clear marketing strategy.

We worked with the client over a period of approximately 6 months to rectify these issues.

Results

The Right People to Grow the Company

Based on our recommendations, the client replaced their accountant (who was completely unresponsive to their requests for help), hired a corporate attorney (in addition to their real estate attorney), and hired an experienced project manager so the owners could focus more on marketing and sales.

Improved Processes

We worked closely with the client and their bookkeeper to streamline the company’s bookkeeping procedures. We also developed a 20-page procedure manual for bookkeeping. This allowed the owners to tighten control over bookkeeping procedures, and also provided a backup for them in case the current bookkeeper decided to leave.

Focused Offerings on High Profit Projects

We spent a significant amount of time reviewing the client’s portfolio of work. This involved analyzing contract specifications, pricing, payment terms, ongoing maintenance costs, as well as labor and materials estimates, for hundreds of construction projects. The end result was that we were able to classify the client’s projects into 5 or 6 well-defined segments, such as remodeling, rehabs, garage construction, framing, etc. We then worked closely with the client to establish new, more profitable guidelines for project pricing, payment terms, and labor and material estimates. Based on this analysis, the client agreed to gradually phase out certain types of lower-profit projects, and focus on a reduced set of higher-profit projects.

Marketing Strategy Development

We designed a preliminary marketing plan, which combined low-cost local Internet marketing, door hangers, direct mailings, print advertising, and PR. We then helped the client implement parts of the marketing plan. In particular, we helped the client select a website designer and hosting service, and worked closely with them to develop and organize the content for their website so it accurately reflected their particular brand and unique message.

About Andrew Clarke

Andrew Clarke is President of Ground Floor Partners. Over the past twenty years he has advised hundreds of small businesses on strategy, marketing, real estate and finance. He is passionate about small business, social and environmental justice, and is a proud member of the American Sustainable Business Council, Food and Water Watch, Green America, Food Consultants Group, and the American Planning Association.

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