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Laws of Growth – Construction and Remodeling Estimators

The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth for Construction and Remodeling Estimators


We’re going to take a thirty-thousand foot look at another one of John’s top selling books – the 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth – and how practicing those principles can help construction and remodeling estimators grow in their careers.


My name is Chris Jurin – I am the CEO of Construct-Ed – and I will continue to be your guide through these podcasts on Leadership in the Construction Industry.  I am a trainer and coach with the John Maxwell Team.  In addition, I am the president of a commercial roofing firm and a roof consulting firm.  


Before we jump into this podcast I wanted to let our Construct-Ed members know that I am currently working on a course for construction estimators that will deep dive the 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth and how they relate to the careers of construction and remodeling estimators.  If you are interested in learning more about this topic or potentially how other positions in the construction industry can benefit from practicing these laws of growth – please head over to the Construct-Ed blog and locate this blog post and leave a comment or better yet subscribe to the newsletter so that my team can let you know when this course is released.

So – if you are ready – let’s dive in!

The Impact of Good Estimate – and a Good Estimator


The construction industry is not getting any simpler.  In fact, its complexity is increasing on what seems like a daily basis.  There are so many factors that complicate what used to be a relatively simple project.  


Projects would start out by a client or a prospect calling your office looking for an estimate to complete a scope of work on their home or business.  The work served a specific purpose and for the most part the only two parties to the agreement that you needed to be concerned with where the customer and you – the contractor.  But, the times have changed – significantly.  


Now the factors that estimators and construction sales professionals need to pay attention to have expanded – due in large part to government regulation and insurance coverages.  Building codes have grown in complexity.  Energy efficiency codes, high velocity hurricane zones and requirements imposed by insurance companies – like wind uplift, fire ratings, etc. – have complicated the job of the contractor and the contractor’s estimators. Manufacturers continue to make more sophisticated products in order to solve more complicated problems.   


There were days – long before my time – where contractors estimated on a pad of paper with a calculator.  In today’s environment, the average contractor uses a sophisticated estimating system that they purchased from a third-party software provider that helps the estimator consider all of the variables that go into determining an estimate for a project.  Your grandfather’s methods of sitting at the kitchen table with a pencil, pad of paper and a calculator are ancient history.  


Albert Einstein is quoted as saying that Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.  Construction projects are growing in complexity.  Our problems in the construction industry are not getting simpler.  They are increasing, so it seems logical that the solutions should become more complex.  


There is always a constant push between solutions increasing in complexity and people – in this case estimators – attempting to simplify those solutions so that they can be priced out as part of the estimate.  Overcomplicate a problem and you find yourself spending too much money, time and resources to address something that could have been solved in a more simple manner.  Underestimate a problem and the attempted solution fails to address the problems at hand.  


The Constant Tug-o-War Between Increasing Complexity and Developing Simple Solutions

Estimators in the construction and remodeling industries feel the constant pull between two extremes.  Underestimate the complexity of a problem and the company can be impacted negatively in so many ways – safe work sites, financially, morale.  But, overestimate the issue or the solution to the problem and the company loses work opportunities.  Either way, the company suffers so the estimator has to be spot-on accurate with his or her estimates.  


So how do estimators increase their abilities?  First things first – for those of you who have taken the opportunity to listen to the podcasts on John Maxwell’s best selling book – The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership – think back to the first law. This is the Law of the Lid.  

If you have not had a chance to listen to that podcastor to take the course.  

The premise for the first law – the Law of the Lid – is that everything rises and falls on leadership.  And that leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness.  Without increasing leadership abilities, estimators cannot grow.  They must be committed to personal growth and leadership growth in order to grow in their effectiveness.


Okay – that sounds like a big statement – and one that has no structure.  Lots of people like to talk in those big terms to make themselves feel better about themselves, but when it comes to putting structure to their recommendations they have a tendency to wither on the vine.  But what does leadership growth and personal growth look like – and how can you put those practices into play.  


Steps to Take – An Overview of the 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth for Estimators

In his bestselling book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, author John Maxwell offers 15 separate laws that can be used to support the growth of individuals.  This individual may be you – or it may be team member that you are looking to grow.  A big thing to remember is that like all positions of leadership, estimators are built through daily interaction and not in a day.

Explore the Law of the Process – https://www.construct-ed.com/the-law-of-process-leadership-for-contractors/


Estimators need to gain experience estimating.  As C.S. Lewis said, you cannot expect old heads on young shoulders.  So, if you are leading a young estimator – give them time and coach them through the early years to help build experience.  If you are a young estimator – be aware of what you do know and more importantly – what you don’t know.  Ask for help where needed – and be open to the feedback from your supervisor.


In the 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, John explores 15 laws that support the growth of leaders and people in leadership positions – and remember that everyone is at a minimum a leader of her or himself.  


Let’s look quickly at how these 15 laws relate to construction and remodeling estimators.  


  1. The Law of Intentionality – are you being intentional in your position?  Are you learning all that you can so that you are growing?
  2. The Law of Awareness – do you understand who you are and what your strengths are?  Are you honest with yourself and with those around you about your strengths?
  3. The Law of the Mirror – do you believe in your abilities and your skills as an estimator?  If you don’t believe that you can be good at your job, chances are that you won’t be.
  4. The Law of Reflection – have you taken the time to reflect on your successes?  Are you learning from your mistakes – so that you can avoid them?  Suggestion – look at job costing reports.
  5. The Law of Consistency – do you commit consistent effort to your position?  Do you continue to expect more and more from your estimates – or are you content with making mistakes?
  6. The Law of the Environment – are you employed in an environment that supports your growth as an estimator?  If you are the employer, are you creating an environment that encourages growth and development of your estimating team?
  7. The Law of Design – are you purposeful in creating opportunities for growth?  Do you specifically look for growth and self-development or are you content just to take whatever is thrown your way?  Do you approach each construction project as a chance to learn something new or to practice your skills?
  8. The Law of Pain – estimators make mistakes.  A detail is missed.  A number is fat fingered.  Do you accept responsibility and learn from it – or do you deny it or avoid it and transfer responsibility to someone else?
  9. The Law of the Ladder – character is critical and for estimators is it a critical component of their career.  Are you continuing to allow your character to grow and support your growth?
  10. The Law of the Rubber Band – do you estimate the same thing over and over again?  Or do you feel the pull to learn something new and continue to grow?  Estimators are the gateway to the work for the company – if there is no desire to learn to grow then the company suffers the loss of future growth opportunities.  
  11. The Law of Trade-offs – are you interested in growing into an estimator position?  Going from a field position to an estimator position typically leads to a reduction pay, not an increase.  Learning new skills takes time and there is a trade off that has to be made any time you want to go up.
  12. The Law of Curiosity – are you interested in the unknown?  Estimators must always be asking the 5 w’s and 1 H – What, When, Why, Where, Who and How?  Smart estimators learn to ask great questions – and make limited assumptions.  
  13. The Law of the Mirror – back to the Law of the Environment – are you working somewhere that you can mentor under a seasoned estimator?  Do you read books – or take courses – on estimating?  Who are you reflecting?
  14. The Law of Expansion – the best thing that a young estimator can do is start from where they are and increase their capacity through self-development and mentoring.  As their growth continues their capacity to handle larger and more complex issues will increase.
  15. The Law of Contribution – how do you know if you really have mastery of something?  Turn around and try and teach it to someone.  If you cannot teach it, you don’t understand it.  By teaching it, you will develop a mastery and a greater level of understanding of the estimating process.  


Closing –


It may sound like a marketing tag line, but it is true – all good projects start out with a good estimate.  An estimate is how a project’s costs are projected – and that estimate becomes the budget that the project is managed by.  If the estimate is in error, the project has impacted – and not in a good way.  In order to have a good project, a company needs a good estimate.  And in order to have a good estimate, a company needs good estimators.  


So – if you are an estimator how are you building your skills?  Take the time to build yourself and your abilities.  Growing your own abilities leads to success in your professional pursuits.  


If you are a company owner – take the time to develop your own leadership abilities and the abilities of your estimating team.  Challenge them to grow and develop – and not to be tempted to just be content with the status quo.  


Growth requires movement.  It requires pursuit and tenacity and an interest in learning.  And ultimately it requires individuals to share their skills and knowledge with others in order to create the hand-off.  John Maxwell is famous for saying – Be a River, not a Reservoir.  Don’t damn up your knowledge and hoard it.  Share it freely so that you can elevate the team around you.  When you elevate them, you in turn elevate yourself.  


As mentioned earlier – I am working on putting together a course for construction estimators and for those who are interested in construction estimating as a career.  The course will be focused on the 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth discussed in this podcast and blog post – and how they can elevate an estimators career.  It will be an outstanding resource for any of you who are interested in growing or building their skills in construction estimating.  


If you are interested in this course, please comment below on this blog post.  My team will be more than happy to notify you when the course becomes available.  You can also sign up for our newsletter at www.construct-ed.com/blog and you will receive a note when the course is ready!


The John Maxwell Team has outstanding resources for helping you develop your leadership skills.  These skills can be developed in a way that will help you in both your professional and personal lives.  I would suggest that you look at resources including the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and the 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.  Click on the Products tab which will take you to the John Maxwell Team online store.  Search for the content on the site or take time to browse the online store.

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