If someone came up to you and asked you, “What is the most important aspect of your business?” What would your answer be?

  • Your latest Festool purchase?
  • Your new pickup?
  • Your tight crown mold joints?
  • Your sweet branded t-shirt?
  • Your new stickers?

While all of those things are important to you, and possibly your business, there is something far greater in importance than any of those things.

It’s the “business” side of your business. Your numbers.

That’s why I invited Shawn Van Dyke on the show today to discuss this all-important topic. He’s an expert when it comes to the numbers and systems in a construction company, and I know you’ll love the insight you get from listening today.

Here’s a taste of what’s inside:

  • How Shawn went from engineer to business consultant
  • The amount you should be using for markup
  • The sweet zone for business profit
  • The 7 hats of a general contractor
  • Why you should stop giving away free estimates
  • How to account for the unknowns
  • And much more!

The best way to begin improving your business tomorrow, is to get started taking ACTION today!

There’s so much information packed into this one episode.

So, wait no longer.

Tap whatever button you need to tap to listen to the show today. And be sure and book mark this show, because it’s one you will want to listen to over and over as your business continues to grow.

—-Today’s Show Notes with Shawn Van Dyke—-

Shawn was born in Seattle and eventually moved to East Tennessee when he was three years old.

He grew up like any normal kid in the south, and loved the laid back environment. He was always out and about, playing outdoors with his friends, swimming in the creek, and so on. He and his brothers (with him as a middle child) grew up as proud Tennesseans.

When Shawn was in high school, his dream was to be an architect. Fortunately, he met a real architect who advised him to become an engineer instead. Especially since he wanted to construct houses as opposed to just signing documents, and being stuck in a cubicle all day long.

After high school, he applied for several Ivy League schools, but eventually settled for the University of Tennessee. He finished his Undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering. Years later, he got his Masters Degree in Structural Engineering.

From Engineer To Business Owner

He moved to Seattle and worked for different companies for a couple of years, gaining experience. Then he decided to move back to Knoxville, Tennessee and got another job there. It was also during this time, he got married and started raising a family.

In the middle of finishing his thesis for his Master’s Degree, he was suddenly laid off. Not only that, he failed his license test, which was a hard time for him. With no job and a baby on a way, he had to move fast. He decided to get out of engineering.

He worked for another company and got hired as a quality control/manager in a construction site. Then he moved on as a construction manager for commercial buildings. He spent most of the time traveling. He did that for about three years.

Shawn admitted that the money was good, but he was spending way too much time away from his family. In 2005, he made a decision to quit and started his own business – a real estate construction management company.

His company focused on doing due diligence and pre-planning work for mom and pop shops.

“Listen, you’re not just building a ‘building’… you have to develop a mind of a real estate developer.”

Know The Value Of What You Provide

He remembers his father’s advice while he was starting out, particularly on what you’re worth and how much you’re supposed to get from your business: Figure out what you want to make per year, triple it, and thats what your hourly rate should be. He followed that advice and never looked back.

Shawn eventually started consulting work for different clients.

He starting helping clients with the pricing structure. Which is:

  • Cost of labor,
  • Estimates of costs and materials,
  • The budget of the overall project.

He trains his clients to know what hats they are wearing.  You need to learn the value of what all you’re providing, because the customers deserve the right to pay for the work. The bottom line is that contractors should know the value of the work they provide and know how to sell it.

According to Shawn, here are some of the “hats” of a General Contractor:

  • Sales person
  • Estimator/project manager
  • Marketing/business development
  • Human resources
  • Owner
  • Bookkeeping
  • Technician

Shawn said that general contractors should determine the cost of their work and understand what their time is worth. Knowing their markup is a skill that contractors should learn. Some contractors operate for years and have kept their markup really low. That’s dangerous because they have gotten used to it. This means, there’s no growth on their business.

Shawn also stressed that contractors should learn to pay themselves well, instead of investing everything on the business. A contractor should always take care of themselves, and at the same time control their expenses.

He relies on the belief of the sunk cost fallacy when selling to homeowners – “There’s more pain associated with losing small amount of money instead of spending more money.”

Shawn encourages contractors to charge customers up front, and always ask them for a budget. Some might say it’s crazy, but there’s a reason behind it. He says you are simply educating the clients on your process and letting the homeowners know they’re in charge of the price, and that they have the power to make the decisions at the end of the day.

Writing An eBook And Giving It Away For Free

Shawn has been in the trenches for so long, made a name for himself and has grown a business, which for him is a blessing. When his wife was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease called multiple sclerosis, he decided to leave his own company to focus on his family. During this time, he thought of finding other ways to help contractors, so he wrote a book. He decided to give it away for free.

The Paper Work Punchlist is the genesis of his business and how he can help contractors who are struggling in their business. He provides information on how contractors can put systems in place within their business.

Two major takeaways contractors will get from the eBook:

  • Why to stop giving away free estimates.
  • Learn how to account for the unknowns.

More About His Coaching Services

Aside from running his own blog, Shawn also has other services for contractors. Here are the paid services that he offers:

  • Personal Coaching Program
  • Online Course 30-40hrs training
  • Group Coaching (more affordable)

You can learn more about Shaw Van Dyke here:

He’s also a contributor to Fine Homebuilding Magazine

Parting words of wisdom:

“Before you start out on your own, you will probably spend some time working for somebody else. So if you’re just starting out and thinking of leaving the employer that you’re working for… Then spend some time trying to be the absolute best employee you can be. Be an all-star employee there, because then you will start to learn, and see all of the things that are getting ready to come your way when you start out on your own.

If you still want to go out on your own, then by all means go do it. Hustle hard. Do the hard work. Charge more than you think. Call someone, find a mentor. Find someone that has a battle scars that knows…and just listen to him.”

You can learn more about the author of this podcast here: