8 Signs Complacency Is Killing Your Construction Company

Lacking clear plans and losing the interest of top talent and leadership are just two warning signs that your business may be failing.

Wayne Rivers, Co-Founder/President

May 30, 2024

3 Min Read
Thoughtful construction company owner holding clipboard and looking into distance
Hanna Kuprevich/Alamy Stock Photo

I consider complacency to be the top business killer for mature companies. I don’t think it is competition, inflation, the war for talent or anything else external. People often believe that their past and current successes mean prosperity will continue easily for the next 10 or 25 years. But that’s not the nature of business, especially in a sector such as construction that can be deeply affected by the overall economy and consumer patterns.  

Here are eight signs of complacency and how to combat them in your business: 

1 | Leadership relies on cliches to justify the lack of change.  

You go to your supervisor and ask about a process that could use improvement. You’re met with the phrase, "That's the way we've always done it here.” 

Another common platitude we see from leadership is, “If it ain't broke, don't fix it.” But that’s just not real life. Everybody who owns and operates heavy machinery knows you must do preventive maintenance. You don't wait for the equipment to break down; you work on it proactively so you can avoid the costs, delays and headaches that come with out-of-service machines. It's the same with your business—you must be proactive and willing to adapt.  

2 | Forward-looking plans and financials are absent.  

While it’s important to review the financial outcomes of the previous year, it's your future numbers with which you should be most concerned. It's your current and future jobs that are going to pay your employees and bills in 2024 and beyond. You must also factor in any necessary equipment upgrades or other changes to how the business operates. What if you buy a $1 million piece of equipment? What if you hire 10 new people? Determine how such decisions may impact your financials and the health of your company. 

3 | Mission, vision and value statements are unclear or nonexistent.   

These should be part of the long-term strategic planning mentioned above. Once you have these statements fleshed out, schedule a regular review of them—annually, at least—by leadership and see if you can make them more impactful and to the point. 

4 | Senior leaders have mentally checked out.  

They don't have that passion for the company anymore. You may notice they take extensive time off and lack urgency when talking about future plans for the business and even their roles. Additionally, you may also see that they don’t seek to quickly address complaints raised by employees and often leave them unresolved. 

5 | Your best talent begins to leave the company.  

When top performers don't see long-term strategic or succession planning, they often begin to feel stagnant and search for new roles in which plans are clear. Even if you don’t yet have a fully developed plan for the next five or 10 years, communicate clearly with employees that plans are ongoing and that your door is open for any concerns. 

6 | Development and training opportunities for employees are lacking.  

People who aspire to be great in construction want training and opportunities to learn new things and to stretch their capabilities. If you don't have those in your organization, you will not be as attractive to the next generation of leaders.

7 | Revenue margins remain flat or decline.  

Profitable construction companies don’t emerge because people simply want to put money in their pockets. They're profitable because they're good operators. Profit is a measure of your business efficiency. You cannot generate profits without healthy volume and clear processes. 

8 | The company website is outdated.  

A contractor contacted us about doing some work, and I looked at his website. That's the first thing anyone does when they consider you for work or employment. The website featured a page for news and updates—and the last entry was from six years ago! If a prospective hire or customer looks at that website, it becomes immediately clear that ensuring all vital information—such as pricing or service offerings—is up to date is not a priority for that company.  

About the Author(s)

Wayne Rivers

Co-Founder/President, Performance Construction Advisors

Wayne Rivers is the president of Performance Construction Advisors. PCA's mission is to build better contractors! Wayne can be reached at 877-326-2493, [email protected], or on the web at performanceconstructionadvisors.com.

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