This article was originally published on January 4, 2016. It was updated on December 28, 2016.
It’s that time of year again… Time to reflect on the past 12 months and consider what we did well and where we can do better. It is easy to make a mental list of resolutions, but it’s not so easy to stick to them for a whole year. But we have come up with a solution to this problem: resolve to make tangible changes in the short term that will lead to long term success.
Before we get into suggestions for resolutions for contractors, here are some tips to help make sure you meet your goals:
- Write down your resolutions. Try keeping your list nearby and visible so you will be reminded of your resolutions every day. Maybe tape them over your desk? Or keep them in your vehicle?
- Break down big goals into easier-to-achieve steps. (Take a look at the Objectives & Key Results system of setting goals if you want to take this to the next level.)
- Share your resolutions. If you tell people what you are hoping to achieve, you will be more motivated to follow through!
- Measure your progress. Big goals can’t be achieved right away; they takes time and continued effort. By tracking progress you will see accomplishments along the way which is inspiring and helps prevent feeling discouraged.
- Reward yourself. Think about well-deserved ways to treat-yo-self once you have accomplished your goals.
- Start now. Don’t put it off.
Review Contracts Extra Carefully
Carefully reviewing contracts is common sense, but it’s easy to fall into a habit of quickly skimming through all that text without reading every word. This is dangerous! Commit to spending more reviewing contracts in the next year, and make sure you are aware of and understand red flags so you can identify them before it is too late. Look out for pay-if-paid clauses, no-lien clauses, and more.
Understand Your State’s (or States’) Lien Laws
Lien law varies from one state to the next, so it is important to understand the rules that apply to you. If you perform work across state lines, this is a little more complicated (but fortunately, zlien has state-by-state resources as well as hundreds of blog posts to keep you informed!). Having a thorough understanding of how lien laws work and how you can use them to your advantage will save you time, energy, and stress. Rather than dealing with unpaid invoices on a case-by-case basis and backtracking to see how you could have prevented nonpayment, you can face each new project with the confidence that you understand the system and the tools available to you.
Keep Track of Deadlines
Managing deadlines is key for contractors that want to ensure payment. Like lien laws, deadlines for sending preliminary documents and enforcing liens vary from state to state. The first step is to familiarize yourself with the deadlines that apply to you. Click on your project role to download a free chart that provides deadlines for all 50 states: General Contractors, Subcontractors, Material Suppliers, or Equipment Lessors.
The second step is to keep track of them. Here are a few ideas for how to stay on top of deadlines – do whatever works best for you
- Mark them in your calendar. (Make sure you leave yourself time to research, fill out, and mail the document!)
- Set electronic reminders. There are tons of apps and email tools that you can program to automatically alert you at a specific time.
- Use a lien management software. In the zlien platform, the queue tracks deadlines for you, and you can even program it to automatically send preliminary notices! You can try it out for free.