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What is the Difference Between a Plasma Cutter and a Welder?

Difference Between Plasma Cutter and Welder (Blog Cover)

When people think of welders, they tend to conjure up an image of a man with something that looks like a sci-fi mask being showered by sparks as he joins two pieces of metal together. And while this is not an inaccurate picture of what a welder does, there is much more to it. 

Over the years, welding technology has advanced – big time. Today, there are traditional MG welders and plasma welders, but many people still don’t know the difference. 

And that’s understandable because the differences will only be apparent to tradespeople and those with first-hand knowledge of the industry. But to help clear things up, Contractor’s Society of America presents a guide on the difference between a plasma cutter and a welder. 

The Basics of A Welder

One of the significant differences between plasma cutters and welders is their use. While welding apparatus can cut certain metals, in general, the traditional use for welders is to bind two pieces of metal together. 

Also, there are different kinds of welders. For instance, there are arc welders, MIG welders (metal inert gas), and TIG welders (tungsten inert gas). 

The debate as to which type of welder works best in different applications rages on. Still, the basics are simple: all these different types of welders are used to either join two pieces of metal or cut metal. 

Welders generally work by joining two metals together using an electrode. In the case of Tungsten Inert Gas welders, the electrode is protected and stabilized by an inert shielding gas that creates a barrier against the surrounding atmosphere. 

Welding is an efficient way to join two metals and cut softer metals. However, welding is the older of the two technologies. In fact, plasma cutting may be more efficient and effective for some applications. Let’s take a look at the basics of plasma cutting.

The Basics of Plasma Cutters

Plasma cutters use heated plasma to make cuts in electrically conductive metals instead of using inert gas and an electrode. The cutter blasts out plasma, creating a jet that effectively cuts and etches metal. 

Plasma cutting is used in various industries because it can create clean, precise cuts in metals that welding may not be able to handle. 

Plasma cutting is only viable if you work with electrically conductive metals like steel, copper, brass, stainless steel, and aluminum. 

Plasma cutting is used in various industries for its versatility and ability to produce precise cuts. Here are just some of the sectors where plasma cutting and plasma cutters are common:

  • Metal fabrication shots
  • Metal salvaging
  • The automotive industry
  • Industrial construction
  • The aerospace industry
  • Military construction
  • Electrical equipment manufacturing
  • Industrial machinery manufacturing
  • Medical device manufacturing
  • Robotics
  • The art industry

The Difference Between Plasma Cutter and Welder

Now that you have a general idea of each type of welder (and cutter), it’s time to go over what separates them. The differences between a plasma cutter and a welder include:

Technology

Plasma cutting is a more recent and advanced technology. It blows a highly-propelled jet of plasma through a nozzle. The nozzle then processes the plasma and uses it to create an arc capable of making cuts in electrically conductive metal. On the other hand, a MIG or TIG welder uses inert gasses to produce the angle that makes the cuts. 

Setup

The plasma cutter will generally be easier to set up, accounting for its higher on-site usage than traditional welders. In addition, there are fewer variable components in a plasma cutter than in a MIG or TIG welder. For example, achieving clean cuts and pristine finishes with a welder requires precise tuning.

Usability

Again, speaking in general terms, it is easier to cut through thick metals with a plasma cutter than a TIG or MIG welder. Plasma cutters are also more commonly used to make precise cuts, accounting for their frequent usage in aerospace and robotics manufacturing. 

The concentrated plasma jet allows for more precision cuts. Traditional welding is less precise. With a conventional welder, getting good cuts and clean welds takes much more skill and experience. 

The Final Verdict on Plasma Cutters vs. Welders

Some consider welding to be more of a craftsman’s trade. In contrast, others believe plasma cutting is the inevitable future wave. No matter what side of the debate you land on, we want you to know that we are on the contractor’s side.

Here at Contractors Society of America, we help contractors of all kinds connect with more customers in their area. We also provide a wealth of resources that allow them to administer their services.

How to 10x Contractor Customer Retention in 2022 | CSOA

Contractor Customer Retention

Contractor customer retention is a big topic among professionals. The more clients you can keep, the more your residual revenue increases. Furthermore, new competitors emerge every year, stiffening the competition for existing and prospective customers.

In pretty much every region of the United States, the contractor market is congested. Competition is fierce as over 700,000 active contractors in the construction field alone! And it seems that new contracting companies are emerging every day.

One tactic that young companies employ (mainly because they have to) is discounted services. They often outbid more established companies to make a name for themselves and build up a client base. 

Contractors Society of America provides some advice and tips to increase your contractor customer retention rates in the following post. Then, you won’t have to worry about any upstarts trying to horn in on your client base.

Invest in CRM Software

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. CRM software is self-explanatory: software designed to help you keep track of your customers and improve relations and customer service. 

A big part of contractor customer retention is improving customer satisfaction, streamlining your services, and anticipating your customers’ needs. CRM software can be a tremendous help in all of those departments. You might also consider some of the best construction project management tools.

A customer profile is one of the best tools a good CRM software suite will have. It will automate gathering data and information on any customer you do business with into one digital space. So how would such a tool help? Let’s take a look:

Improving Customer Satisfaction

No one likes to have to explain themselves repeatedly to different sales reps. Having a consolidated customer profile with information gathered from different agents negates the need to ask redundant questions. In addition, it gets your customers the help they need faster.

Streamline Services

Many CRM software suites can automate customer calls, customer outreach, and even marketing emails so you can spend your time on more important matters. 

Anticipate Customer Needs

A CRM software suite will record all the services a customer needs. With this information, you can better predict what type of services they will need or want next and reach out to them about it before they have to ask. 

Manage Online Reputation

Your company’s online reputation has mostly to do with what people are saying about it online. However, it also will play a big part in your customer retention rate. Review sites are one of the largest forums that people use to sound off about companies they’ve hired. 

Sites like Yelp, Google Business Profile, Angi, and Houzz are frequently visited by customers looking to evaluate their current or future contractors. Unfortunately, a bad experience may prompt clients to confirm their suspicions about your service by looking for similar complaints.

However, being present on these sites isn’t enough if you want to increase your customer retention rates. Consider the following statistic: 52% of consumers expect companies to reply to their online reviews. 

So, as much as possible, make sure you are responding to the reviews your company gets across all platforms. Responses show that you care about the customer’s experience, and it builds trust and brand loyalty. 

General Review Platforms

Platforms like Google Business Profile and Yelp are essential for all business types. While contractors benefit just as much as any other industry from favorable Google reviews, the platform also influences lawyers, doctors, and any other business you can consider.

Niche Review Platforms

Platforms like Angi, Houzz, and HomeAdvisor are specific to the contractor industry. Therefore, feedback on these websites/apps is critical for contractor businesses. These sites are not more important than Google and Yelp, but they are vital to your reputation.

Social Media

The same goes for social media. If someone takes the time to retweet you, tag you, or comment on your posts, be sure to shoot back with a response. Acknowledgment drives engagement, and people are more likely to hire a company that shows activity online.

Utilize Email Marketing

We know email marketing can seem a bit spammy at times. Still, the fact is that it is very effective for customer retention. Keeping in touch with existing and past clients can be a great way to remind them of your service – especially if they had a good experience with you. 

For the most part, people won’t want to take the time to research and communicate with a new contracting company. Instead, nine times out of 10, they will go back to one they have a relationship with, assuming that the first project went well. 

Email marketing messages are a great way to remind your customers of your service and their relationship with your company. The numbers don’t lie either. According to a survey, 37% of respondents reported that email marketing messages were effective for customer retention. 

There are some things to keep in mind if you want to launch a successful email marketing campaign, though:

Email Frequency

You never want to inundate your customers’ inboxes with marketing messages. Most contracting companies don’t need to send multiple emails a week. Try sending out a message every month instead. 

Personalized Messages

Having the recipient’s name in the subject line, referring to a service they hired you for, or reminding them of maintenance will help increase open rates. People’s email inboxes are filled with spam, so you have to give them a reason not to skip over your message.

Special Deals

Tell your email list about any special deals on services you offer. You might also run seasonal promotions for holidays, summer, winter, etc. The key is sparking engagement from your email list. Monitor your metrics to see which promotions your customers respond to most favorably.

10X Customer Retention With These Methods

So how can any contractor compete with lower prices? Instead of finding new customers who are willing to pay more for experienced contractors, work on retaining your existing customers. Increasing retention is generally more cost-effective than having to churn and burn.

Contractor customer retention may be your best chance for staying competitive in your market, even with newer companies offering their services at lower rates than yours. 

Contractor customer retention is one of those concepts that are easier talked about than executed. However, it is far from impossible, and it will be much cheaper for you than to go out and try to rustle up new leads and customers. 

The strategies mentioned above, including CRM investment, reputation management, and email marketing, contribute to a higher retention rate. Retaining customers reduces stress on your budget and allows you to maintain a more sustainable business model in 2022.

The Best Pest Control Truck Setup (Vehicles + Accessories)

Pest Control Truck Setup

Finding the best pest control truck setup can be an extensive process fueled by trial and error. But what if there were a way to skip all the headaches and find the optimal configuration right now?

2022 seems to be a great time to invest in a pest control business, but if that’s what you’re planning to do, you probably have some questions. So Contractors Society of America will focus on your pest control truck setup, a particular but essential aspect of a pest control business. 

What Kind of Pest Control Vehicle Do You Need?

Before you can start thinking about what to keep in your vehicle, you will need to decide on a vehicle. At the very least, you will need a pickup truck with a shell. However, you may need a larger vehicle depending on the kind of services you render. 

For instance, if you only deal with insects, a pickup truck should work fine. However, if you also handle rodents and larger animals, you may need a large van. 

It’s also important to consider the safety regulations in your state. Most likely, you will be keeping a supply of chemicals and sprayers in your truck. These types of equipment need to be stored securely. Be sure to check out the laws in your area regarding the transportation of chemicals. 

Pest Control Truck Accessories

Ladder Racks

Again, the specific accessories you will need on your truck will depend on the kind of work you do. However, the basics of exterminator truck setup should include a ladder rack since you will most likely need to access high areas of a property. 

A ladder rack will make carrying different-sized ladders much easier and safer. You can have your ladder rack shelf-mounted, roof-mounted and there is even a pull-down option for larger vehicles. 

Bed Liners

Another helpful customization for pest control trucks is heavy-duty bed liners. Since you will be keeping a supply of chemicals in your truck, it’s good to protect it against wear, tear, and spills with a bed liner. 

You can also take a look at some floor liners if you aren’t keeping any chemicals in the bed of your truck. While bed and floor liners aren’t essential, they’re still suitable investments as they will keep your vehicle looking presentable.

Bed Sliders

If you opt for a truck with an exceptionally long bed, you may want to look into a bed slider. A bed slider is a rollout rack that can hold heavy gear and other materials.

Then, instead of climbing back into your truck bed, you can pull the rack out while you’re still standing at the tailgate. Of course, bed sliders can be loaded up with a variety of equipment too. 

Skid Sprayer

You’ll more than likely need to carry an assortment of sprayers for different jobs. However, the most suitable kind of sprayer is a skid sprayer. Skid sprayers are typically gas-powered and have a strong out frame so they can withstand the rigors of frequent transportation.

In addition, you can conveniently mount skid sprayers in the backs of pickup trucks which is perfect for pest control specialists. 

Tool Boxes

To have all the equipment you need with you at all times, you have to invest in a good truck toolbox. You will also likely need more than one. 

Consider the equipment you carry around on jobs; it’s all probably pretty expensive. You can lock truck toolboxes to secure your valuable equipment. There is a wide variety of truck tool boxes, so be sure also to consider the size and weight of the equipment you typically carry. As a result, a strong toolbox is essential to your pest control truck setup.

How Contractors Can Develop a Good Sequence of Operation

Sequence of Operation

In our tireless endeavor to provide contractors of all kinds with the resources, the Contractor’s Society of America outlines the all-important sequence of operation. The operation sequence should dictate the project’s priorities and execute critical phases in order. 

As you can imagine, a sequence is a pivotal part of the project design and serves as a roadmap for the entire operation. The sequence of operation dictates equipment allocation, human resources delegation, timelines, and flow of communication. 

As such, it can be tough to develop an effective and thorough sequence of operations that holds up throughout the project duration and takes into account some of the unforeseen challenges of the project. 

Project Requirements

Every project will start (or start) with the Owner’s Project Requirements or OPRs. The OPR details the purpose of the project and the use of the construction. The OPR is the project’s cornerstone and the top reference material when forming a sequence of operation.

The MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) engineering team typically develops the OPR at the very beginning of the project. And even as it is generally formed by a different, internal group, as the contractor, it is the single most important document for you to develop a compelling sequence of operation. 

Refer to the OPR often and think of it as the framework for your entire project. 

Important Aspects to Consider

The OPR will dictate many aspects of your project, making it easier to develop your sequence of operation. But there are always variables on a job site. So here are some critical project aspects to consider when forming a sequence of operations:

  • Project Design: Refer to the OPR to see how the system will be built and how the system is intended to work. 
  • Project Construction: Controls programming should determine the logic of system operations. In this phase, reporting and observing trends should also be included. 
  • Project Commissioning: In this phase, the commissioning agent’s job is to ensure that engineers, equipment suppliers, and contractors fulfill their roles. 

Managing your Resources

As a contractor, understanding and managing resources are vital to developing your sequence of operation. It helps to take stock of your personnel and equipment at the outset of the job. Here are some of the contractor resources you should include in your operation:

Staffing

There is a man for every job – or at least there should be. Therefore, carefully examine the areas of expertise and background of all your crew members so that you can delegate work effectively. 

Of course, there are always unseen snags like sick days or vehicle failure. So come up with a plan B or C. If one man can’t make it to the job site for whatever reason, have a backup member with a similar (or as similar as possible) skillset ready to go.

Equipment

Having the right equipment on hand will be crucial for completing project phases on time. Take a careful inventory of what you currently have and need to complete the project. Again, refer to the OPR as often as needed and then some. 

This will help you determine what additional equipment is required for you to complete the job. In some cases, you may consider renting larger equipment like cranes and backhoes, so carefully organize your timeline so that you have these larger pieces of equipment when you need them. 

Materials

For materials, construction project management software can help out an operation. Keeping track of supplies and materials should be a significant point of emphasis for your project. You will also need to have a direct line of communication with your suppliers. 

A good construction management software suite can help manage materials and automatically place new orders. Suppose you are not using any software like this, though. In that case, it’s even more vital that you have dedicated time to assess material and supply needs to be accounted for in your sequence of operation. 

Vehicles

Contractors need reliable transportation to and from the job site. Fleet management should also be accounted for when you develop your operation sequence. 

Again, construction project management software can help you track your fleet and stay on top of regularly scheduled maintenance. But if that’s not an option for you, be sure to keep a close eye on the condition of your fleet or have a dedicated person for this task.

Reporting

Contractors must account for incremental project reporting in your operation. Even forgetting to check in with people inside your team can have disastrous consequences. 

There should be a chain of command for reporting in your organization and personnel dedicated to reporting to the owner and other contractors throughout the project’s duration.

Correction of Problems

When working on large-scale projects like an apartment building, large venues, and universities, problems are bound to arise. One of the most common problems is that there is no qualified personnel on-site after a construction phase is complete and a problem arises. 

Once one phase is complete, qualified personnel move on to the next phase while the commissioning process for the completed phase is still ongoing. This can cause delays as engineering teams scramble to find contractor personnel to fix the problem. Be sure to consider that problems will arise after the completion of each construction phase. 

Stay Ahead of the Curve

Constructing a complete and foresightful sequence of operation is the hallmark of a successful contractor. While there are always things you cannot foresee, an exemplary sequence of operations will help you overcome construction challenges on the fly. 

Here at Contractors Society of America, we strive to provide you with a competitive edge as a contractor. You can use our website as a resource to assist with every aspect of your organization, from equipment and resources to marketing and development.

Who Pays for Builder’s Risk Insurance? (2022 Update)

Who Pays for Builder's Risk Insurance

Builders’ risk insurance is essential for large-scale projects. As a contractor, you may have wondered about builders’ risk insurance. But, on the other hand, maybe you have gone to jobs without it because you are already covered with contractor insurance. 

However, it’s critical to understand all the aspects of this kind of specialized insurance as going without it could do irreparable harm to your company and your reputation. 

Of course, every contractor who has considered this type of coverage has wondered, who pays for builder’s risk insurance? The answer to that question can vary on the project, however. 

To help you understand more about builders’ risk insurance, what it covers, and who will pay for it, the Contractors Society of America presents the following post.

What is Builders Risk Insurance?

Builder’s risk insurance covers everything that your contractor insurance does not. Generally speaking, contractor insurance protects you, the contractor, and your company from claims made by customers

For example, if property damage occurs during the project, contractor’s insurance will cover the cost of the damage and protect your company from claims made by the property owner. 

On the other hand, builder’s risk insurance goes a step further and protects all parties involved in the project. Say, for example, that a bank is funding your project and you need to hire subcontractors to complete it; builder’s risk insurance will cover any losses suffered by yourself and these other parties involved. 

Builder’s risk insurance will also cover the actual property owner if property damage is incurred during building. It even covers smaller items like your tools and equipment. 

In short, builder’s risk insurance is a catch-all policy that includes all entities that have a stake in the project. With such a broad span of coverage, the question then becomes, who pays for the insurance?

Determining Who Pays for Builder’s Risk Insurance

There is no universal answer to the question: who pays for builder’s risk insurance? However, what is certain is that even though the policy can cover many different parties, the cost is not split. In other words, one entity will pay for the policy even if it covers 5 or 6 other entities. 

That’s mainly because a single policy will cover a multitude of entities. However, traditionally, the policy is paid for by either the general contractor or the land developer/owner of the property. 

The onus of paying for the builder’s risk insurance policy usually falls on one of these two parties because they tend to have the most stake in these kinds of projects. 

Who pays for the insurance is usually decided when the details of the project are being worked out by the general contractor and the property owner. That’s why the answer to the question, ‘who pays for builders’ risk insurance?’ is so subjective. 

It can depend on the project’s scope, the negotiations between owner and contractor, the relationship between the owner and contractor, the length of the contractor, and the number of parties to be involved. 

What Does a Builders Risk Insurance Policy Cover?

While a builder’s risk insurance policy covers a multitude of parties and situations, it doesn’t cover everything. It usually comes down to whether or not a party will take a financial loss if an accident or setback occurs. 

For example, an equipment supplier who has already paid for their goods should not be covered in a builders risk insurance policy even though they are technically involved in the project. 

Architects are another example of a party that should not be included in a builder’s risk insurance policy. Even though an architect is involved in the design of the building, they will not take a financial hit if an accident or setback occurs during construction. However, here are some of the essential things that builder’s risk insurance policy does cover:

  • Inclement Weather: Inclement weather such as rain, hail, snow, and high winds can cause damage to a building in progress and can delay construction. Builder’s risk insurance policy will cover any weather damage or additional costs incurred due to project delays. 
  • Tools: If your devices are damaged or stolen while building, a builder’s risk insurance policy will cover the costs to replace the tools. 
  • Banks: If a bank is funding the project and something goes wrong, this policy will make sure the banks are covered financially. 

6 Impactful Flooring Company Local SEO Tips

Flooring Company Local SEO Tips

SEO is a helpful tool if you are a flooring company trying to get more local customers. Local customers convert well, whether you get leads from Google Maps or regular Google searches. That’s why it’s essential to appear on every local SEO platform possible, so you get lots of chances to grab new prospects.

Below, Contractors Society of America examines six Local SEO tips for flooring companies.

1) Claim Your Google Business Profile

You can immediately rank on Google Maps if you perform one simple task: claim your Google Business Profile. The former Google My Business listing is now called Google Business Profile, so head over to https://www.google.com/business/ and set up your new profile.

You may have to create an entirely new profile (but only if you don’t currently have a listing for your business). Ensure to submit accurate contact information because you must claim the profile via postcard, which is sent to the address you provided during the setup.

2) Submit Business Citations

Google is the #1 business citation, but others can strengthen local SEO for flooring companies. Yelp, HomeAdvisor, Angi, Houzz, and BBB are examples of credible internet directories for local businesses. Citations transfer link equity to your website and help verify your contact info.

There are several ways to submit citations across the web, depending on your budget. For example, you can pay for a citations service like Whitespark, or you can submit your profiles manually, one by one. But, of course, paying for a service saves you a whole bunch of time and effort.

3) Publish Location Pages

Your flooring company’s website can rank for more local terms by publishing individual location pages. These pages should target specific cities within your service area. For example, a page titled flooring installation services in Houston, TX, would grab local consumers.

If you repeat the process for more than ten cities, be sure to diversify the content and provide unique information about the specific town. The last thing users want is spam-like local pages that copy and paste from the same content. Instead, consider routing local reviews to the right city pages.

4) Get More Reviews

There’s no way to sugarcoat the review generation process because you can’t skip steps in the process. To get more reviews, you need more customers, creating a puzzle for flooring contractors. One practical option is to send recent clients direct review requests via text and email.

Streamlining your review generation process is easier once your website ranks well on Google. As you gain more customers, you get more review opportunities. The hard part is convincing those first few customers to take the time to leave a positive review on your Google Business Profile.

5) Build Local Links

We mentioned how citations could get links to your website. However, those types of links are called nofollow, which means Google only treats them as a ranking hint. The most potent links come from follow links, which you’ll need to get from other local institutions with credible sites.

The best way to acquire links is by publishing informative content pieces. For example, consider sharing long-form blog posts about hardwood flooring on your social media pages and reach out to local businesses who may have an interest in the data. Besides that, always continue to network locally.

6) Establish Regional Authority

Most marketing firms talk about a concept called topical authority, which involves establishing your business as an authority for a specific topic. The same idea can translate to a region or city which you service. We mentioned publishing location pages, but authority requires even more.

Try publishing 10-20 long-form blog posts about a specific location. Of course, these blog posts must still relate to the flooring industry and flooring services. As you publish more content about a particular city, be sure to interlink to your other regional pages. Eventually, Google will see you as an authority in this area.

How To Earn Your General Contractor License in Texas

General Contractor License Texas

Being a general contractor is appealing to many different types of people. People who like to work with their hands, people who have a skill for task delegation, and people who garner satisfaction from seeing a job through to the very end all flock to the trades, and many of them eventually become general contractors. 

It’s also easy to imagine that many general contractors get into the business because of job security. In addition to making an above-average income, general contractors’ job growth projection through 2026 is 11%

And if you are one of the people who want to be among Texas’ fine general contractors, you probably have some questions about the process. Luckily, obtaining a general contractor license in Texas isn’t as hard as it is in other states. But the process is still riddled with red tape and bureaucracy.

In the following post, Contractors’ Society of America will be helping all the hopeful general contractors out there by answering some of the questions associated with how to get a general contractor license in Texas. 

Can I Use my Contractor License in Another State?

While some states have contractor license reciprocity agreements (meaning that you can obtain a contractor’s license in a state other than the one you became licensed in without taking another test), some do not. At the time of this writing, Texas has no such reciprocity agreements with other states. 

Furthermore, “state jumping” is not allowed. State jumping refers to when you get a reciprocal license in one state and then go to another state and obtain a license there and the merits of the reciprocal license you got in the previous state.   

Do I need a General Contractor License in Texas?

The short answer is no. Texas does not require any testing or specific licensing if you want to operate as a general contractor. But there’s always a short answer and a long answer. The long answer is that while Texas doesn’t require anything to operate as a general contractor, some cities within the state might. 

Of course, it gets complicated for many general contractors. The city you are working in may have its licensing requirements. But to get your general contractor business set up in Texas, there aren’t any specific licensing requirements. 

Contractors that need a License in Texas

Chances are if you are a general contractor, you probably offer other services that do require state licensing. For example, if you plan on providing plumbing, HVAC, or electrical services in-house, you will need to obtain a license for those services. Of course, if you plan on subcontracting all of those services out, you won’t have to worry about getting those licenses yourself. You must be sure that any subcontractor you are working with is fully licensed and insured.

Do I need General Contractor Insurance in Texas?

Again, the short answer is yes. If you are working for public clients, the state requires that you have workers’ compensation insurance. Workman’s comp protects your clients and your employees should they get hurt on the job. The workers’ compensation insurance will foot the bill for any medical costs. 

And yet again, there is a longer answer. You may also need a builder’s risk insurance and put up a surety bond to work with some clients or in certain cities in Texas. The surety bond protects the client if they fall short of building codes or a project is left incomplete. The builder’s insurance protects against any damages that may occur during any given project. 

Some cities may require you to have all of the insurance types mentioned above to get your work permit. The best way to find out which Texas cities you will need a license and insurance in is by visiting the Texas Municipal League’s website and clicking on the specific city. That link takes you to a city-specific website that lists general contractor licensing and insurance requirements.

Get your Career Started

If you are ready to start your journey as a general contractor, why not become a member of Contractors’ Society of America. We provide you with the valuable resources you will need throughout your career. Plus, we offer unique networking opportunities for contractors of all kinds so you can find quality subcontractors or pick the brains of industry leaders. 

Should Contractors Be Bonded and Insured?

Should Contractors Be Bonded and Insured (Blog Cover)

Should contractors be bonded and insured? Well, only if you want to win the most customers possible. Savvy homeowners will know the difference between liability insurance and a bond. And if a contractor isn’t bonded, they may very well stay away from them. 

So the short answer to these questions is yes. All contractors, whether you fit pipes, install electrical boxes, hang drywall, or shingle roofs, should be bonded and insured. But for those of you with inquiring minds, Contractors’ Society of America will be explaining why you should be licensed and bonded as a contractor. But let’s start with the basics.

What is the Difference Between Being Insured and Bonded?

There is a common misconception that insurance and bonds are essentially the same things. That isn’t the case. In straightforward terms, a surety bond protects contractors’ customers while liability insurance protects the contractor. 

A surety bond is a certain amount of money that a contracting company puts up to a surety bond company. If the contractor fails to follow local building codes and regulations, leaves a job incomplete, or detriments the property, the consumer, can go after the company’s surety bond. 

The bond protects the customer from an ill-intentioned company and keeps contractors honest. On the other hand, insurance means that you won’t be on the hook if a contractor is injured while working on your property. 

There are different insurance types that a contractor should carry, like liability and worker’s comp. Still, these policies are more to protect the contractor and his/her company more so than the customer. 

On the consumer end of things, there is one significant difference between insurance and bonding. As erstwhile mentioned, a bond will protect the customer if the contractor fails to follow building codes. Adhering to regulations is very important.

Say, for example, you hire an electrician to wire a room you recently added to your house. The project goes off without a hitch; you pay the contractor and say goodbye. But a few months later, your new addition doesn’t pass inspection because of faulty wiring. 

In this case, the electrician’s insurance can’t help the consumer at all. But the bond can. The customer could file a claim against the company and go after their bond money to help cover the cost of rewiring. 

Do you Need to be Bonded?

The tricky thing about bonding is that some states require it to get your contractor’s license, while others are laxer on the rule. Here is a full list of which states require a bond, but it’s best to contact your local licensee board for specific regulations. 

That’s because some states require a bond for some trades but not others. The county you are operating in may be a determining factor as well. For instance, if you are a contractor in Montana, you may be required to be bonded in one county but not the neighboring one. 

Do you Need to be Insured?

Again, the short answer is; absolutely. Different states have different license laws. Some require insurance for you even to get your contractors license. But in general, you will need at least some basic insurance to obtain your contractor’s license. 

But apart from the requirements, not having a full complement of insurance as a contractor can cost you customers and income. That’s because some home owner’s insurance policies require that the homeowner works only with insured, licensed contractors. 

So, for example, a homeowner could have their insurance voided if they knowingly work with a contractor who is not insured. For this reason, many savvy property owners will stay away from contractors who don’t carry a full complement of insurance policies. 

Final Thoughts From CSOA

In the end, the bonding and licensing process benefits both contractors and their customers. It may seem like a hassle for a contractor to pay into a surety bond every year, but it keeps your work honest, which in the end is suitable for your business. 

On the flip side, it can be a chore for the consumer to obtain multiple estimates from different contractors (as is the smart practice) and to make sure they are all fully licensed and bonded, but in the end, it’s worth the effort. 

But whether you are a consumer or contractor, we can make the process more comfortable with the wealth of resources we offer here at Contractors Society of America. Reach out to us today.

7 Best Construction Management Software Tools

Construction Management Tools (Blog Cover)

Taking a firm charge of any construction project can help tremendously. Knowing what the project goals are, setting exact performance parameters, and selecting project participants are a few of the challenges of successful construction project management. 

It’s a full-time job, which is why many construction companies hire experts to deal specifically with project management. According to TrueLook, some of the biggest challenges regarding construction project management include hazard management, jobs going over budget, and poorly defined goals. 

And of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. That’s why the construction project management software has been booming as of late. Experts estimate that the construction project management software industry will be worth well over $2 billion in just eight years – which is double the $1.2 billion it was worth in 2018. 

Construction management software could be your solution if you want to increase productivity and job success but don’t want to create a new salaried position within your company. Many of our members here at Contractors Society of America utilize construction management software successfully in their own business. But how do you know which would be best for your company? According to our members and community, these are the best construction management software tools:

1) CoConstruct

CoConstruct is a great management tool to use if you run a design-build firm. That’s because it’s incredibly adaptable. While other software more or less locks you in as soon as you set a timetable, materials list, and schedule, CoConstruct allows you to make changes on the fly. Some of its best features include tracking changes in orders and material expenses and single-entry estimating – making it easier to provide clients with estimate service.

2) ProContractor

ProContractor is geared more towards the financial management of projects. One of the coolest features it comes with is the profitable project management feature, making it much easier to see what you will net at the end of any given project. By merit of this useful feature, ProContractor is also extremely helpful for submitting bids. It will help you streamline the bidding process, know what you stand to make and gives you the best chance at a winning bid. 

3) Projectmates

Projectmates is a more comprehensive suite of tools for managing all aspects of the job – financial and performance. It comes with integrated tools like a document manager that stores plans, contracts, status report documents, and project photos neatly and conveniently. There are also scheduling tools you can use to help manage your team and the workflow. And there is a helpful capital planning tool to help you keep an eye on your bottom line and draw up estimates.

4) WorkflowMax

WorkflowMax is another comprehensive software suite best known for its client management tool, conveniently organizing client information, contacts info, and categorizing projects according to the client. WorkflowMax is also a handy program to track the time spent on jobs and keep an eye on how much the job is costing/making. But perhaps the best thing about WorkflowMax is that it virtually eliminates the need to cobble together management tools from other software providers.

5)Procore

We get asked, “what is Procore construction software?” a lot. T7his is a popular construction management software package because it automates many tasks like document delivery and team member revisions. Procore offers an easy communication platform so you can keep in touch with all the key players of a project. Procore is best suited for companies that already use (and want to keep using) other management tools because it can sync with many other popular construction management software tools. 

6) GanttPro

GanttPro is a great tool to use, especially if you are already using Gantt Chart. With the GanttPro software suite, you can easily breakdown projects into subdivisions or sub-tasks. The subdivision is an invaluable tool for contractors who regularly take on large-scale or nuanced projects. You can use GanttPro to define clear timelines, goals, schedules, and job parameters among the subdivisions. GanttPro also archives jobs so you can audit the work you have already done to see what needs to be improved. 

7) BuilderTrend

BuilderTrend simplifies estimates, proposals, and sales with a variety of features that will impress construction companies. Users can import Excel data and other integrated software while working from existing templates and accumulating digital signatures. The tool comes with a built-in email marketing feature allowing quick responses to leads and the ability to craft effective email blasts.

Keep it in Perspective

So what is the best construction management software of all seven that we have highlighted? That will depend mightily on what your specific needs are. For instance, if you find financial planning to be your biggest challenge, ProContractor would be incredibly helpful. But Procore is one that came up a lot when we were pooling insight from our contractors here at Contractors Society of America. 

At any rate, keep things in perspective. Be honest about areas of project management that you are struggling with and make a choice accordingly. And for more tips and resources, contact us here at Contractors Society of America. 

How to Manage Construction Vendors for Ideal Results

Manage Construction Vendors (Cover)

How you manage construction vendors says a lot about your business. The manner you choose, communicate with, and work alongside your vendors could mean the difference between project success and complete chaos. It can also affect how customers view (and review) your business. 

And the bigger your business is, the more vendors you are likely to have. We have seen contractors struggle to manage multiple vendors across different projects. Today, we want to share some of the best tips that we have seen work well for contractors regarding managing construction vendors. 

Instead of dealing with delayed projects and angry clients, please read Contractor’s Society of America‘s guide on managing construction vendors.

Establish A Strong Line of Communication from the Start

First things first: when selecting material suppliers, you should establish a strong line of communication. But it’s not only about providing your contact information and even alternate contact information (although those things are important to do). It is also essential to establish what your goals are for the partnership. When onboarding a new vendor, make sure they understand the scope of the projects you typically face.

Onboarding should also entail discussions about how the vendor intends to deliver reports should a client require them. And if you want your vendor to use the same project management platform as your company, be sure to provide them with all the information they need.

Also, be sure to define your expectations clearly. Tell any potential vendor how often you would like status reports and the method(s) you prefer to receive them. 

Evaluate the Performance of your Vendors

Taking inventory of how your vendor is performing is crucial for the overall success of your company. Some contractors assume that their suppliers are doing an excellent job if projects are getting done on time. But improved performance is usually attainable in one way or another. So you need to gather specific information on your vendors and review it regularly. 

  • Ask your Crew – A great source of information on how your vendors are performing is your crew. Ask them what they think of the vendor if supplies are making it to the job site on time, what condition the supplies are in when they arrive, and their interactions with the suppliers. 
  • Evaluate Safety Issues – When evaluating your vendors’ performance, be sure to compare the way they operate to your safety procedures. Are they following the safety protocols you set forth when you hired them? If not, you could be risking dangerous accidents and potential lawsuits. 
  • Flexibility – Have you had to change a supply order? If so, how willing to accommodate were your vendors. The fact is you will need to make changes (delivery location, method, materials, etc.) from time to time, and your vendor needs to be able to adapt.

Document Performance

Keep notes or official reports on how your vendor is performing throughout your professional relationship. This point is especially important when a vendor makes a mistake. Nobody intends to mess up, but it happens from time to time. When it does, it’s important to document certain aspects of the failure. 

For one thing, you need to identify which vendor made a mistake if you work with multiple suppliers. It also helps determine the impact of the error i.e., missed deadlines, injury, or lost clients. Documenting the vendor’s reaction and explanation of any incidents is also essential. And when something doesn’t go right, don’t assume that it was the vendor’s fault. Take an unbiased look at any incidents so you can determine whether the responsibility lies with your company or the vendor. 

Collect Financial Data

Chances are, vendor costs are a big part of your company’s budget. To make sure you are getting the best value for your money as possible, gather and evaluate critical data such as:

  1. 1) Itemized Materials – Itemize the materials that your vendor supplies to make cost analysis easier.
  2. 2) Pricing Breakdown – Request that your vendor breaks down in detail the prices for items and services
  3. 3) Discount Information – Be sure to calculate any discounts you may be receiving for large orders. And make sure you are receiving any applicable discounts as well.

Helpful Resources for Contractors

Good help is undoubtedly hard to find. But here at Contractors Society of America, we do our utmost to provide your contracting business with the resources it needs to succeed. Help with construction vendor management is just the beginning. We have a wealth of resources specifically for contractors, including industry studies, networking opportunities, and more. Grow your business and become a member today.