6 months later: How builders have been navigating business amid the pandemic

Chelsea Cole / Buildertrend

Back in April, we checked in with some of our builders from around the globe. After six months of the new normal, we’re checking back in to see if they’re facing new challenges, what the long-term strategy looks like, if anything’s changed for the better as the pandemic continues to have a significant impact on businesses around the world.

We hope you will benefit from the different perspectives of your fellow construction professionals as you continue to navigate the ups and downs of the current uncertain environment.

6 months later blog

 

Sullivan homes
Name: Jared Borden

Company: Sullivan Homes

Location: St. George, Utah

 

 

What have you learned while going through the unknowns of the pandemic?

Adaptability is key, but communication is even more important. We know that in some industries they have had to overhaul their entire operations. Luckily, Sullivan Homes is in a position where we only had to make minor changes to fit within recommended guidelines. The big thing has been communicating with our clients about any issues and showing potential customers that construction is still moving forward despite any challenges throughout the pandemic.

How have you rebounded from COVID-related hurdles?

We’ve focused on our marketing. Shifting from promoting pricing to community connections. We are fortunate to be in the area that we are. St. George, Utah, is a place where we still have most of the amenities of a traditional city, but with the space to spread out. We are seeing a high amount of traffic coming from buyers looking to move here.

Are there any practices you’ve adopted that you will keep forever?

We adopted a by-appointment-only system to help limit the amount of people within our building at a time to help maintain social distancing. We don’t know if it will be like this forever, but our team has appreciated the ability to fully focus on the client they are meeting with, whether it be for an interior selections meeting, going over sales contracts or architectural planning. Our doors are always open to our current and potential customers, but the ability to better control the situation at hand has helped our efficiency and ability to stick to our process.

What are your biggest concerns for your business and staff as the pandemic continues?

Our team is a work family, so our priority is the safety and health of our staff. In our industry, we interact with clients, potential buyers, subcontractors and people within our community and abroad, so we understand the importance of stopping the spread while also keeping business moving forward as much as possible. It has definitely been a challenge to find that balance, but we are proud of the strides Sullivan Homes has made even during these unprecedented times.

 

 

novis

Name: Steven Miranda and Eric Newcomb

Company: NOVUS Building Services

Location: West Palm Beach, Florida

 

 

What have you learned while going through the unknowns of the pandemic?

We have had to pay greater attention to communication. We have invested more time and resources on remote communication and off-site management. Alongside IT infrastructure, from Microsoft SharePoint to Microsoft Teams, Buildertrend has helped shore up that gap.

The biggest lesson we have learned while battling COVID-19 is that less is more. With less people we can do more with proper organization and proper scheduling. Utilizing the technology that has been made available to us, especially with Buildertrend, has helped us operate remotely more effectively with more accountability, not only with our own staff, but with subcontractors and clients.

How have you rebounded from COVID-related hurdles?

It’s been a collective effort from our team. We have all had to learn new skills and find creative ways to be present for our clients by expanding the services that NOVUS provides and continuing to provide above and beyond customer service.

We have rebounded by opening our eyes to new opportunities. We have taken on additional scope, opened ourselves up to new territories and taken on additional marketing tools that we were not using prior to COVID. We are also pushing the limits of how we use Buildertrend with field staff, accounting and with personnel in the manufacturing shop to give greater visibility into daily operations – so we can plan our weeks better to be more efficient.

What steps are you taking, whether voluntarily or by mandate, to protect your company and staff for COVID-19?

From an operations and logistics standpoint, we are providing our crews with the appropriate PPE equipment to protect themselves, subcontractors and clients while being on site. NOVUS is enforcing the importance of keeping clean work areas by having weekly safety meetings and monitoring temperatures for all employees daily. We are prepared to meet fabrication needs through the automated systems we have in place when limited personnel is required or mandated.

The health and safety of our customers, employees and the community are our main concern. We have a strong system of responding to emergencies, and we are fully equipped as we work through the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand how critical our service is to our customers. At NOVUS we feel we are not only in the business of supporting renovation needs, but also feel we promote health and wellness through the services we offer in the renovation programs we have in place. We invested in IT infrastructure and project management software like Buildertrend to forward manage the business, support two manufacturing facilities and employees and provide up-to-date, real-time information. All these efforts have allowed NOVUS to take greater precautions on behalf of our clients and families.

What are your biggest concerns for your business and staff as the pandemic continues?

We all hope the economy can ramp back up quickly in the next few months, but we are making huge strides in process and procedure that will make our current efforts more rewarding. We always worry about staff reductions due to economic uncertainties, but the entire company is making sacrifices for each other. Our concern for each other and making sure we stay healthy as a company and personally, is my biggest concern and we do our best to make sure everyone can work and go home safely to their families.

We would all like to think we can control outcomes and the best way to do so is through open collaboration and communication. By letting people and companies hear each other’s thoughts they find meaningful solutions to shared problems. We share each other’s concerns and the welfare of all our clients. We are operating as a team to help each other find meaningful solutions to overcome all the concerns that we must deal with.

 

 

RDC Fine HomesName: Bob Deeks

Company: RDC Fine Homes

Location: Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

 

 

What have you learned while going through the unknowns of the pandemic? 

We were lucky in that we already had a good rhythm of communication both within the teams and across the company. Without this communication structure, we really would have been in trouble as everyone transitioned to working from home. And the senior team has had to limit their site presence to maintain physical distance.

How have you rebounded from COVID-related hurdles?

Market demand has surprisingly remained quite strong and while it has taken a bit longer to get projects to construction we have managed to keep all our staff employed.

Are there any practices you’ve adopted that you will keep forever?

I expect we will never return to as many face-to-face meetings. The time savings in having people call in for meetings has improved productivity and allowed staff to spend more time working from home. We will likely maintain the improved hygiene standards adopted (I have not had a cold in nearly 7 months) and continue to maintain physical distance where possible between trades and staff with improved communication and scheduling on site.

Do you expect to continue to see disruptions that will impact your business?

Supply chain shortages are a bit of an issue and may get worse. As above not sure if we can continue to see such a robust demand if we experience a significant 2nd wave of COVID.

 

 

Urban homes

Name: Daniel Klinkenberg

Company: Urban Homes

Location: Hamilton, New Zealand

 

 

Until recently things have been busy and back to normal. However, we were put back into level 2, which may lead to another lock down due to community transmission. It is currently pretty much business as usual but for how long is a big unknown.

 

 

Beyond Build

Name: Jason Economos

Company: Beyond Build Constructions

Location: Sydney, Australia

 

 

What have you learned while going through the unknowns of the pandemic? 

I think we can summarize it in three categories: adaptability, optimistic leadership and focus.

Adaptability: Although change and uncertainty can be terrifying, it gives us an opportunity to innovate in our industry and better ourselves as a company. It’s a chance to get out of our comfort zone and learn continuously while things are unfolding, which I believe is pretty powerful in itself.

Optimistic leadership: Being a positive leader is essential, especially in these times. Everyone is affected one way or another by this pandemic either mentally, emotionally or financially. As a director of a company, it’s important to be positive and believe in yourself and your employees’ abilities. At the end of the day, no one wants to follow a pessimist. By creating a positive work environment, you create a space where people feel supported, which in return boosts productivity, teamwork and communication.

Focus: This is an important lesson – focus. Allocate your time, energy and resources to the issues and goals that are the most important at this time. Try not to think too much about the outcome or aftermath of the pandemic and instead, redirect your focus on your responsibilities and the work you have at the moment. And don’t forget to convey your priorities clearly and repeatedly to your team.

How have you rebounded from COVID-related hurdles? 

I would say technology, online platforms and marketing. A lot of the time, companies believe the first thing that needs to go when the budget is lean is marketing, but that’s a huge misconception. I believe, if you invest the time on social media, for example, weather Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn to engage and connect with your online community, you’re in some way keeping your company at the forefront of the industry. This helped us a lot, to attract new jobs and opportunity of partnership with other companies. In summary, my train of thought is when things pick back up, chances are people will remember your team and company rather than someone who is offline.

In terms of technology, Buildertrend is a great software to invest in.  You’re able to manage with your team, clients and trades all from your desktop or mobile phone. Having this system in place helped us get back on our feet quickly when COVID hit in Australia.

Do you expect to continue to see disruptions that will impact your business? 

This is a hard question. It’s difficult knowing what the future holds, but I can say for us at the moment there isn’t much disruption. In fact, we’ve been busier than ever with work. We had a lot of helped from the government with different incentives put into place, clients in positions to go ahead with renovations and a pipeline full prior to COVID-19. However, one thing that could impact us is suppliers and the stock of some products if they aren’t produced in Australia. This could have a snowball effect and delay handovers.

What steps are you taking, whether voluntarily or by mandate, to protect your company and staff for COVID-19? 

One step we are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is limiting the amount of staff on each building site. We’ve split our team into smaller groups, no more than two to three people on site at the same time. We’ve also set up a sanitary station where we encourage our employees and trades to wash their hands regularly when on site. We’ve provided masks for them to wear when out to get supplies for their job, but it’s not mandatory and left to their discretion.  Additionally, we’ve printed signs on our fences to ask anyone that is feeling unwell or developing symptoms related to COVID-19 to leave the premises for respect of others. These are small steps, but we believe it’s important to equip our staff with the essentials, so they can have a certain peace of mind and feel safe at work.

 

 

Tass Construction

Name: Ryan Jenkins

Company: Tass Construction Group

Location: New South Wales, Australia

 

 

What have you learned while going through the unknowns of the pandemic?

The biggest takeaway we have learned from this pandemic is to survive the unknown you need the ability to adapt and diversify any or all aspects of your business – hoping for the best and waiting for the storm to pass will force you to fall behind the market. You need to be able to shift and adapt your systems in the office as well as your systems on site to suit the current climate we are facing.

How have you rebounded from COVID-related hurdles?

In Australia the hurdles weren’t too bad as construction workers were noted as an essential workforce that drives the economy. Luckily for us, we continued to operate by following social distancing and hygienic guidelines to continue to provide a safe workplace.

Do you expect to continue to see disruptions that will impact your business?

In the world we live in, whether it’s a pandemic, wild weather or economic downturns, there will always be a new disruption around the corner. In saying that, disruptions also bring the chance for new opportunities, so as long as we adapt and diversify to fit the changing world, I believe we will stay on top of the building industry.

What are your biggest concerns for your business and staff as the pandemic continues?

My biggest fear is people paying too much attention the negative driving force of the media. Yes, we are in unprecedented times and yes, we should follow safety measures, but I believe it’s a time to work together and help each other survive rather than panic. If there are other businesses struggling, reach out and give them guidance for other opportunities they could be taking to get through this. Help them adapt, diversify and survive these current times.

We’re here if you need us

Like these construction pros, we want to ensure you’re equipped for success both now and in the future. Never hesitate to reach out if we can help in any way. And be sure to visit our COVID-19 resource page to find fresh tips and tools to keep your business evolving during these ever-evolving times.

If you’re looking for a better way to manage your projects, now is the best time to take advantage of Buildertrend’s top-notch platform. Use this time and schedule a demo today!


About the Author

Chelsea Cole
Chelsea Cole

Chelsea Cole is a technical copywriter at Buildertrend

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