Tom Reber & Sweeten: How To Grow Your General Contracting Business, Part 1

Tom Reber, the founder of The Contractor Fight, offers answers to common contractor issues and community support

Tom Raber contractor fight

When owning your own contracting business, day-to-day questions or larger issues will come up where answers are uncertain or the path forward isn’t clear. A contracting community as a sounding board can be helpful in your goal to keep your business moving and growing.

In this first of two blog posts, Sweeten talks with Tom Reber, founder of The Contractor Fight. Tom explains how to start job-costing, discussing profit and overhead with clients, and common issues that general contractors are facing within his coaching groups. You can also check out his podcast.

Sweeten matches general contractors with high-quality home renovation projects, vetted for readiness and appropriate budget. Contractors pay only when they win a project. Budgets start at $15,000 and average over $67,000.

What is the easiest way to start job-costing?

Tom: A lot of general contractors overcomplicate this. It is as simple as doing the math on a regular basis. Ask yourself, “What am I spending per day to do this job?” “How many guys worked today, and what did I pay them?” “What did we spend at Home Depot?” Most people are just afraid to do the math, but if you do it daily or even weekly, it can be a lot less overwhelming.

How do you recommend GCs discuss profit and overhead with clients? 

Tom: On occasion, a customer might ask, “How much profit do you make?” I typically respond with “That is a great question! We make X, which allows us to attract top talent, pay good salaries, benefits, and allows us to honor warranties.” Don’t skirt the question or get defensive—answering honestly and openly shows that you are transparent, run a tight shop, and have integrity.

What are the most common issues facing GCs in your coaching groups? What do you recommend to address these issues?

Problem: Limited access to new ideas

Tom: Hands down, the number one issue is just looking at the symptom, like not making enough money or poor employee retention, and not figuring out the root cause. This problem is caused by how you think – they [contractors] get advice from their other unsuccessful contractor buddies, which continues to limit their thinking.

Solution: Expand your network

Tom: You are the average of the five people you spend time with. Make sure you surround yourself with people who can help you, rather than hold you back. By joining our group, you get access to different ways of thinking, including the Daily Challenge, which encourages you to test and learn. You will get comfortable with the uncomfortable—and that is when real change can happen.

Problem: Not tackling the right issues

Tom: The second biggest issue I see is a lack of clarity and consistency. As I mentioned in a previous answer, you need to get clarity on your biggest issues and then consistently attack it. You dug this hole over time, so don’t expect it to be solved overnight! You need to have grit and stick with those good daily habits that lead to progress.

Solution: Focus on the numbers

Tom: One of my favorite suggestions is to install KPI Fridays. This means dedicating some time at the end of the week to focus on your numbers, whether it be job costing or goal setting and tracking. It may seem remedial, but that is where most people need to start.

Thank you to Tom Reber for sharing some great advice for contractors! 

Get even more tips from Tom on his podcast, The Contractor Fight.

Check out the rest of Sweeten’s Contractor content: 

How to Talk to Clients About Renovation Timelines

True Partnership With Sweeten: Performance Categories & Setting Goals for 2021

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