This year should be a good year for the construction industry. The entire construction industry will benefit from all the infrastructure spending planned for the next couple of years. That being said, concrete subcontractors still have these six challenges to face moving forward.
Lack of Capital
Construction billing and building cycles can be slow. Often time’s concrete subcontractors need to have the money for a project at the beginning of a project. Firms that don’t have the capital end up taking on a lot more risk on projects, since they’re entirely dependent upon the completion of a project and payment. While not every firm might have enough capital, there are ways for concrete subcontractors to ensure they have the funds on-hand for a project. Loans and lines of credit can give concrete subcontractors the necessary funds up front. This can help concrete subcontractors both win bids and protect their business.
Not every contract will have the same payment schedule, which can impact a concrete subcontractor’s cash flow. Cash flow is necessary for any business; however, it isn’t always certain in construction. Projects and owners can fail, general contractors might not pay which impacts a concrete subcontractor’s bottom line. While it might be hard to take on perfect paying clients every project, project management, and document control software can help concrete subs get paid. When subs have all of their paperwork in line, it makes any and all claims easier to file. Proper document control and mechanic’s liens make it easier for subcontractors to be paid on time every time.
Another common issue that concrete subcontractors face is inadequate planning. Planning solves many problems before they arise. While it’s hard to plan for everything, many issues are foreseeable. When bidding on projects it’s important to have an accurate understanding of what your workforce and equipment will look like. This is an easy step to understanding exactly how much work a concrete subcontractor can take on without being stretched thin. If you know you won’t have enough workers for a series of projects down the road, then you should consider starting the hiring process. Taking the time to look at all foreseeable outcomes and plan for them can save concrete subcontractors time and money down the road.
Growth isn’t a bad thing; however, unplanned or uncontrolled growth can be detrimental to a concrete subcontractor’s business. Knowing your business’s limits is a good way to start planning for growth. By listening to your current and previous customers to gauge customer complaints, you can get a good idea of how your business is doing. A lot of businesses will see an increase in customer complaints when there is too much growth because the level of attention decreases. Uncontrolled growth usually leads to a decrease in quality which causes long-term issues for concrete subcontractors.
Repairs and Maintenance Fees
Maintenance and repair fees are a big issue for concrete subcontractors. Concrete can crack, scale, and spall from exposure over time. While all buildings have repairs and maintenance fees, bridges are the most likely to suffer from cracking. The effects of damage mean that concrete subcontractors have to come back for repairs and regular monitoring. Projects and researchers are looking for alternatives to concrete in more projects in order to decrease the repair and maintenance fees. However, Materials for Life and other research teams are developing self-healing cement-like materials. This would decrease repair and maintenance fees, and make concrete construction a larger field.
The concrete powder is itself a green construction material. However, it isn’t biodegradable and uses lots of water. One of the major concerns with concrete construction is the amount of water it uses and wastes. Because the excess water runs off and can enter the local environment. However, researchers are working on creating cement substitutes that reduce the amount of cement and recycle other materials. These new materials will make concrete construction greener which can beneficially impact the concrete industry. By incorporating concrete engineering principles and green concrete materials, concrete subcontractors can experience a growth in business.