Webinar | How Construction Companies Get Paid (Or Not): Lessons From 6 Months of Pandemic Trends

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Experts in this webinar

Alex Dunn
Alex Dunn
Alice Vanus
Alice Vanus

Have you changed any construction business practices and workflows to keep up with the impacts of the pandemic? 39% say they haven’t, leading to varying degrees of success.

Join this webinar to hear a discussion between us and Brian Poage, Construction Support Manager at Raken, on what strategies will keep you ahead of the curve according to over 600 contractors’ real advice and results.

Find out:

  • What changes most contractors are implementing in response to the pandemic
  • Why accurate production reporting is essential for progress payments & healthy cash flow
  • How effective lien rights protection gets you paid and universally reduces stress

Transcript:

Alex Dunn: (01:40)

Um, as we’ve transitioned through the last, you know, six or so months of coronavirus season, um, you know, it’s been, there’ve been tons and tons of challenges we’ve seen on our end. I’m sure. You know, Brian and the Raycon crew have seen a lot of different challenges, so, you know, we’ll be comparing and contrasting a little bit there. Um, what do you say we get started? Let’s do it. I’m ready. Alright. Rock and roll. So, um, first things first, we got our agenda today. Um, we’ll, we’ll let Brian introduce himself a little bit more formally. Um, we’ll talk a little bit about why we’re here. We’re gonna look over these trends, um, and what we’ve seen happen over the last six or so months. Um, we’re gonna look at some survey data. We’ve conducted over a thousand contractors over the last six months of, you know, responding to our surveys and we’ve seen some stuff change and we’ll talk about some of the bright spots and, and great things people are doing to improve, um, construction, uh, and communication and things like that. So, uh, Brian, without further ado, take it away. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you all do at Reagan. Absolutely. So I am the construction support manager here at Raycon and that essentially means that I’m an in house construction consultant, really for the business. We are an app, uh, that is based on or built to help field teams capture critical field data in, in, in construction projects. And so before coming Reagan, uh,

 

Brian Poage: (03:00)

Just about a year ago, I spent the last 10 years of my career in the construction management industry, uh, working for contractors like Turner construction for a number of years, both in the office and in the field. Uh, I worked for a developer and then I also most recently worked for, we work actually in their in house construction group as a project manager, building out coworking space. And while I was at work, I actually was a rake and customer as well. And I leveraged their software, uh, while I was managing projects and was pretty blown away by what I was able to see and what I was able to capture for my field team. And so, you know, what is Reiki and what is, what is the, why do we exist? So we’re on a mission to help projects become more efficient. And the idea is that if we can help streamline communication, mostly from the field to the office where the majority of communication breakdowns occur, uh, if we can improve documentation, uh, collect better project data and get real time updates and we can help project teams manage projects more efficiently, more effectively, and in turn, reduce risk that they’re intaking and help to make more money, make more projects and, and, and kind of keep that cycle of success continuing.

 

Brian Poage: (04:03)

So we focus on daily reports from a subcontractor standpoint, we focus on timecards production tracking, and then we are really starting to enhance our safety and quality aspects of the product with toolbox talks. We’re coming out with checklists and we’ve started to do things like segmented daily reports. So, uh, we have a field app, which is where we really started, and that’s where we capture all the field data that can then be sent back to our web based part of our platform where, uh, people in the office, project managers, uh, accounting, payroll team, and operations leaders can leverage that data, uh, to make sure that they’re ready to make effective business decisions that required on the project.

 

Alex Dunn: (04:39)

Well, who doesn’t want that? Um, that’s awesome. That seems like a lot of awesome functionality who’s actually using the app itself, Brian, like how does it work? Like who’s kind of punching in the data and, um, tell me a little bit more about that.

 

Brian Poage: (04:52)

Absolutely. Yeah. So the field supervisors are the ones who are going to be handling the data capture out in the field. And the idea is that we made an application that is incredibly intuitive and easy to use, even for kind of the more old school seasoned teams that are a little bit more resistant to technology. And so you’re, you’re looking at superintendents, you’re looking at foreman, uh, just supervisors out in the field that are going to be needing to capture that daily report who was on site. What were they doing? Let’s get some photos to document visually what was occurring, um, as well as answering some questions as to, you know, were there any incidents on site? Were there any delays cause capturing those in writing, as you know, is one of the most important parts of the construction process, because if it’s not documented in writing, it probably didn’t happen and you won’t be able to defend yourself if there are any disputes. And so, um, the goal here is that if we can have a more effective, a more clear window into what happened in the past, on the project, it’ll help us in the future to understand how do we navigate anything. Um, that might be a potential dispute.

 

Alex Dunn: (05:50)

Yeah, definitely. That makes a ton of sense to me. Um, especially with our audience being kind of that back office, um, you know, the, the financial administrators, um, different folks on the office side is them having that paperwork and the understanding of what’s happening on the job is extremely important for communicating within their, um, you know, personal company ecosystem, but also the ecosystem of the job itself with the GCs or the sub tier parties. Um, depending on which side do you agree with that?

 

Brian Poage: (06:19)

I really agree with that. There’s no question. I mean, when you think about, especially when with, with what Levelset deals with his payments, if you’re thinking about payments, most of those are based on percent completes. And one of the first questions that comes up whenever you submit a pay application is are you really that percent complete? And can you prove it? And you typically prove that through material invoices, through, you know, potentially timecard reports, but a lot of the times visual representation is the best way to do that. And if we can have a crystal clear picture, both internally with our team of, Hey, listen, I’m going to submit 60% complete. Is that accurate? Can you prove it to me then that way when the owner comes in questions, Hey, listen, is this really accurate? I can show them, Hey, listen, I have photos. I have visual documentation. I have written documentation that indicates this is how percent complete we are. And I have it all in one place that’s easily accessible and I can quickly easily answer your questions and therefore reduce the, uh, kind of hurdles to getting paid. So that’s kind of the goal there is to, to empower it’s making the data capture easier than ever. So that way we can empower those folks in the office with data that they’ve never previously had at their fingers.

 

Alex Dunn: (07:23)

Yeah, that’s a perfect transition, a love. We love the word empower. It’s part of our purpose over at Levelset, we empower our contractors to get what they are in order to get paid really. And, um, you know, construction payments are really stressful. It’s just a little bit about us. I don’t know how many raking customers have we have here, but I know we’d probably have some mobile side customers as well. Um, but we’re always looking for more and more ways to help people get paid. And, and that communication aspect of what’s happening on the field is an important part of it, especially because the folks in the office that are dealing with payments, aren’t always privy to exactly what’s going on there. Um, so in addition to our software that helps manage that paperwork for, for contractors. We have a lot of free resources about how to set up better processes, um, learn about the different things that make payments so complicated.

 

Alex Dunn: (08:06)

We have a community of attorneys who can help with payment issues, um, credit managers, um, who can answer questions about how they do things. Um, and we have payment profiles, um, that kind of look at the payment history of, of large GCs and how easy they are to work with. So we have a lot of tools we’re adding all the time. And, um, that was just a little, you know, my marketing pitch on Levelset. Um, before we dive in, now that everybody has a context for who we are. Um, yeah, so overall, you know, I always love to start with this. The three are now four major challenges in construction, um, that exist, you know, finding that skilled labor project management and completion, which is where, you know, raking is kind of, you know, helping bridge the gap to that payment side, what’s happening on the project.

 

Alex Dunn: (08:50)

How are we documenting it? I’m getting paid as a huge, huge issue and a challenge, most people in construction. And now on top of that, we have, you know, coronavirus making everything way more complicated. Um, and that’s what today is really about is the broad strokes. Like there’s a ton of uncertainty in construction right now. Um, there’s, you know, communication and collaboration is a theme we talk about on almost every, you know, every sort of marketing element we put out there, every sort of conversation we have communication on and off the job site is hyper important. Um, and as all comes down to those customer relationships and how can you maintain them in this rapidly changing industry? Um, so one thing we love to do is, you know, at Levelset, we love to do surveys and we, you know, send out surveys to people and we do it to really peel back the onion layer by layer. Like what is actually happening in the industry? How do people feel about their payment speeds? What are their payments feeds? What are the reasons, um, that payment speeds are fast or slow or liens are being filed if they’re not? Um, so we’ll get into some of that stuff today. Um, but Brian, is there anything you wanted to add before, you know, just painting the broad strokes picture here, um, of what happened before coronavirus it,

 

Brian Poage: (10:01)

Yeah. I mean, you, you nailed on the head with these kinds of points and how imperative that is. And, and really, I think what we’ve seen with coronavirus and COVID-19 impacts is that communication is just so effective and over-communicating is one of the most important things that we can do. And then documenting, like you said, documenting that communication because it’s one thing to have a conversation. It’s another thing to document that conversation and ensure that you have the ability to follow up and whatever commitments were made will be made. And so the other thing too is, is, is visibility to projects. You know, most of the time project teams were on a trailer on the job site and communication still was difficult at that time when field teams and office teams were within a walking distance of each other. Now that we’re seeing remote teams, owners who are less on the jobs, you know, providing that effective information to your teams, whether it’s stakeholders like owners and design team members, or if it’s, um, your project team internally, it’s just so critical to have that effective lines of communication and to be able to visually show people what’s going on to the job site effectively.

 

Brian Poage: (11:04)

So that there’s kind of that peace of mind and that, that collaboration that’s still occurring, even though we’re remote.

 

Alex Dunn: (11:10)

Yeah, definitely. I like the, you know, that idea of commitments, like everyone makes a commitment on a job site, whether it’s to, you know, pour the foundation or, you know, pull the wires or make the payments. Um, everybody has commitments and when bad things happen and, you know, coronavirus comes around or a tornado rips through your job site, it doesn’t matter what it is. If you don’t get together with the people you made commitments with and have those conversations, a lot of, you know, bad things start to happen. And that communication becomes extremely important to maintain the relationship. And so Brian, tell me a little bit about what you saw with Reagan’s customers, like, you know, ahead of the pandemic before it hit, what were your customers doing back in March? Um, and they to implement anything

 

Brian Poage: (11:54)

Kind of like right away when this thing came in overnight and just stopped everything, like, what did you see then? Yeah. And so we saw our existing customers that were using Raycon on a, either semi-regular or mostly regular basis or using it very simply started using it in a much more robust way. We saw if a company three or four active projects, and they were actively using Raycon on two projects, they started using it on all four projects. And what they were doing was they were documented the impending stop of the project because a lot of the projects, yeah, we were, we were working on with our contract partners. We’re, we’re sending usually come coming to a halt. You know, we, you know, that we had all the stops in Miami. We had to stop some Boston, New York, even out here in California. We had a lot of projects that were stopped.

 

Brian Poage: (12:39)

And when contractors saw the writing on the wall, they started document entering where they were in progress, taking photos of where things were, where things were staged, what was it, what was not because you know, that they knew that the question of, if we were going to extend schedules, which owners would be either forced to do or pay significant overtime to maintain schedules, I wanted to have a crystal clear picture of where our, what is the current status of the project, because that’s always going to be the question is, did we really need to pay that much over time in order to build those walls? Were those walls even built? I don’t even know. No, if they were, you’re saying they weren’t, I’m saying, you know, there’s all those questions. And if we can have crystals clear documentation as to what’s the status of the project before we shut down, it becomes a lot easier to have those kinds of conversation.

 

Brian Poage: (13:25)

There’s a lot less disputes involved. The other thing too, was people were focusing at that point, even on, on safety, on what am I doing in order to help make sure that my product is clean is right. I was free and that we are ensuring that our workers are safe, especially from, you know, when you think about construct safety is the number one priority. And keeping our workforce safe has to be the number one priority because without an effective workforce, there is no construction. And so we saw a lot of contractors really focusing on how am I documenting and forcing and making sure that my team is following the protocols in place of, you know, are we adding extra hand-washing state? And are we documenting that? And, um, you know, are we socially distancing? And are we documenting that? And then it turned into how is that impacting my production and my efficiency, because that becomes another conversation of, Hey, listen, if I had assumed, okay, in January that I could build a floor or all the walls in five days, if I’m socially distancing and changing my procedures in order to deal with the impacts of coronavirus, I need 10 days and I need to prove what I’m doing and how this is impacting me.

 

Brian Poage: (14:29)

And so we really saw, again, at the very beginning, it was documenting status because if products were going to come to a halt, they want to know exactly where they were and be able to document that effectively. And then once projects either continued or went back to work, it was okay, Hey, are we following the protocols that CDC, OSHA, all of the entities have established? And can we prove that? And so, and, and, and, and what are doing in order to help deal with the lack of efficiency now that we’ve occurred, because that is a huge part of documenting and making sure that the, again, those conversations and over-communicating subcontractors were over communicating to GCs, Hey, listen, I need more time. I need additional, you know, schedule, uh, durations and then GCs, we’re going back to owners and saying, listen, like we have to have a real conversation about what this has impact has done to our project schedule.

 

Alex Dunn: (15:15)

Definitely efficiency was something we were really interested in earlier this year when it, when coronavirus came actually, and we did a survey on it, and it’s a very complicated topic for a lot of the reasons you just mentioned, especially when you throw in the pandemic wrench, as it were, um, a few things we found when we were doing that, you know, this is one of like more hero stats is construction. Businesses are losing a full day of the week to inefficiency, like your average construction business. This is before the pandemic, we got this. So like, you know, just throwing away, like waiting for people to get the work done, like not communicating what’s happening and when things are completed. Um, and you know, if there’s good documentation, good communication, you can definitely start shaving off some of that loss day. Um, we also saw that there’s like a lot of, you know, efficiencies that lead to this very small number of projects being finished on time only, you know, like less than a third of projects are finishing on time and under budget.

 

Alex Dunn: (16:14)

Um, so it’s definitely was a major finding from this survey was there was a lot of inefficiency and then a lot of people, you know, this is a little bit more tied to what we do is we have these, you know, they’re also spending a ton of time or a substantial amount of time chasing down payments. 80% of contractors are out there spending a good amount of their time chasing payments. And you know, a lot of this stuff, again comes down to how do you document what’s going on? How do you document your lien rights or your project progress? How do you communicate about those things? And, you know, have like a level playing field to talk with your customers, keep those relationships clean, um, all of the above. So I’m curious, Brian, tell me a little bit about how Raycon has, you know, added features to the app or enhanced communications between the field and office teams during this time of the pandemic.

 

Brian Poage: (17:04)

Yeah. I mean, those stats, you know, from my experience in the industry, I can wholeheartedly believe them, you know, a quarter of projects finishing on time and on budget. That’s pretty much the industry standard, which is kind of shocking. And then the 80% about chasing down payments. I can attest to that too, even though I was mostly on the general contractor side, you know, the amount of effort that our subcontractors typically had to go through in order to get paid was really substantial in a lot of ways. And then same with us, you know, submitting a full pay app across 18 different subcontractors. And then having, you know, there were always a million questions and typically it was just, it was just pulling teeth. It really was. And so yeah, any opportunity to streamline that, man that had so much value, but yeah, going back to your question.

 

Brian Poage: (17:43)

So what have we seen? So, you know, remote work is one of the first things that occurred when the pandemic hit, you know, project teams, weren’t going to the job site trailers anymore. They were going to be working from home or from a remote office. Owners were not going to be walking the job on a weekly basis to visually see the status of the project and the progress, um, design teams. Weren’t going to be doing field walks to review outstanding RFI questions or ensure that submittal samples were being approved on time. So work remote work force people to start leveraging technology in a way that a lot of the way, a lot of people didn’t think you could in construction. And we saw a lot of contractors that were reaching out to us, looking for ways to properly document what was going on in the job, not only for their internal project team in the office to understand, Hey, on a daily basis, what are we doing?

 

Brian Poage: (18:33)

Who was there, who wasn’t there, who was falling behind who’s excelling? What do the photos look like? Where are we with progress? Are we meeting the schedule? But also it’s really to keep the stakeholders involved at ease and completely engaged, you know, being proactive and sending a daily report everyday to your ownership team and helping them see the visual changes to the project really helps them to understand that the general contractor on the job is truly managing the project in a very proactive way. And it helps you to understand quickly and easily to, you know, what issues are truly holding up the job. So that kind of goes into the second part about documentation became an absolute necessity. You know, construction is such a relationship based business that, uh, over documentation at times feels like it’s, uh, a step too far and it can potentially damage the relationships. Right. And if we have, we come across it all the time, I’m sure you do all the time.

 

Alex Dunn: (19:26)

Absolutely. It’s very common that people are afraid to send documents to say, Hey, that I’m on the job because they’re worried their customer might think like, Oh, this person’s going to, you know, file a lien against me, even though it’s, it’s not that at all. It’s just, you know, what you have to send it’s proper protocols and procedures.

 

Brian Poage: (19:43)

Absolutely. And so, you know, w w we had that hesitation in the beginning, but then very quickly contractors realize that the, the, the receiver, the receiving end of that documentation typically really appreciated the proactiveness and the fact that they were looking to avoid potential disputes five, six, seven months from now by proactively documenting, Hey, here’s the current status of the project. I want to have these conversations now, while it’s fresh in our mind, I want to talk about the lack of efficiency. I want to talk about the added cost of all the safety procedures that we’re doing. Um, and I, and I want to have those conversations now, and I want to be open book about it, and very transparent, as opposed to, uh, keeping your cards close to you, and then coming out with change orders and delays notifications, you know, five, six months from now.

 

Brian Poage: (20:26)

So we saw proactive documentation, really becoming a necessity, which was honestly fantastic. And I think it saved a lot of our subcontractor and general contract partners. Um, a lot of issue, a lot of, a lot of dispute resolution. I think it’s helped with that. Um, and then obviously uptake and safety and cleaning protocols, big time, you know, we have a, we’re releasing now a checklists feature, which allows teams to do things like job site, hazard analysis, um, and, and regular safety audits, uh, as well as, um, the, the, uh, the quality COVID cleaning quality audits, things like that, where we can, we can notify and document, Hey, this is the type of procedures that we’re following regarding COVID. Uh, we also had new COVID toolbox talks that were published by groups like Nika, um, and the AGC. And so, um, we really are focusing on how are we proactively making sure that our workforce is staying safe during this time, while they’re working with COVID.

 

Brian Poage: (21:25)

Um, and so, yeah, and then a survey template as well, where we ask typical questions, like, has anyone on the job site displayed any illnesses or any, um, symptoms temperature’s symptoms? Exactly. You know, how have we properly cleaned all the wash stations today? Can we document how many wash stations that we have on the job site? Can we document that everyone is practicing social distancing procedures? Can we take a photo of the man left showing that only four workers are going in at a time, as opposed to the usual, you know, 16 to 20, um, you know, how does that look on the job site? And, and it’s really a great way to help document that not only for the CDC and OSHA, but just the workforce in general, we want to keep everyone safe. We don’t want, we don’t want any outbreaks on the job. We want workers to go home at the end of the day, healthy, go back to their families and not worry about bringing their families and illness that’s going to potentially impact them. And so it’s really been a great way to see our, our, our, our customers really take this information, take these tools and leverage them to the best of their ability. And we really have seen a lot of success with that. So it’s been, it’s been really great to see.

 

Alex Dunn: (22:27)

Yeah, it’s really, it’s really cool that you guys went and actually build like specific tools for this change in the market. So, you know, fantastic work. They’re like, that’s, I love it. I love it when people adapt quickly and, you know, that’s why construction tech is such an interesting place to me and construction in general is it’s just changing all the time and, um, good for y’all for doing that. Very cool. Um, there’s, there’s also, it’s interesting. One other thing that was coming to mind while you were talking about that is just the increased cost that construction companies need to think about. You know, margins are already pretty thin on a lot of construction projects, and now you have this other layer of things you need to do, whether it’s extra hand, washing stations, procedures, protocols, um, safety checks, OSHA check-ins, whatever it is. Um, it adds up, it takes time.

 

Alex Dunn: (23:10)

It, it hits that efficiency bottom line, um, and it’s all these things you need to communicate with, um, you know, changing your contract or, um, you know, your commitments, you know, if you committed to coming in at this budget, you might need to go and have that hard conversation and say, these are the extra costs I have on the job site, and we need to find a way to offset them. Um, so anyway, I’ll continue on after that quick side note. No, that’s perfect. I completely agree with you. Yeah. So talk a little bit about what happened with payment. You know, Ryan, you did a really good job outlining what happened, um, you know, on the job site with tracking, seeing how people use your app and then how you adapted to it. Um, we’ve also seen some really interesting stuff, um, that happened throughout coronavirus.

 

Alex Dunn: (23:55)

You know, not only do we run these surveys, but we have a lot of data that we go and get from County recorder’s offices, as well as that flows through our app, through our users, um, sending these payment documents. And one thing we saw was a massive spike in liens being filed, um, right in March. So, you know, we’ll do like a hyper zoom into Miami, um, is a good example. Miami has a lot of construction going on. There was a city that was hit really hard with current virus. Um, and in, in March in Miami, they had, you know, 335 mechanics liens filed just in Miami Dade County, uh, totaling $53 million in construction debt. And then in April it was 416. So it ballooned up even more. Um, and then in may, it was a little bit less than it started to go away back to June where it equalized at around 250 mechanics lien filed in the month of June.

 

Alex Dunn: (24:47)

So, you know, hundreds and hundreds, and like over a thousand in the first few months of, of, uh, coronavirus, we just saw a lot of fear. I think a lot of people, you know, realized that this is going to be bad. The economy went down and that they needed to protect themselves. And it was a very reactive way to deal with problems that, you know, nobody likes mechanics, liens being filed. You know, you don’t want to have to file one. You don’t want one filed on you. Um, but at the end of the day, like people were afraid and there were a lot of fears that came up there. So it’s pretty interesting to just see how people reacted right away and how they’re reacting right now. So we went and did another survey, um, you know, about a month or two ago, um, to look at how payments have changed over, um, you know, from the beginning before current virus till today.

 

Alex Dunn: (25:36)

And we found some really interesting stuff, um, mainly that there are actually like less liens. We found people are getting paid a little faster and then they were in the early part of coronavirus. And that’s mostly like, you know, there’s correlation, there’s causation. We’re not always sure exactly what’s going on with the data, but we do know that people started to come to the table and talk and, and you know, that fear kind of like reversed itself for being, I need to file a lien to I’m going to make these payments so that Elena’s, in fact, I’m going to communicate what’s going on. So people don’t feel like they need to file a lien. Um, so anyway, I’ll talk a little bit about, um, I actually, maybe I have a question for you related to this. Um, but I can’t think of one off the top of my head. Is there anything you wanted to say about, about that? Yeah, so, I mean, I’m curious, so

 

Brian Poage: (26:26)

It was owners who were saying, listen, I see these mechanics liens happening all over the place. I’m going to try to be more proactive with my payments

 

Alex Dunn: (26:33)

In order to avoid that. Yeah. I mean, I suppose the first rule of accounting or whatever, um, it just, you know, don’t pay until you have to like try and build your cash reserves and when there’s tremendous amount of uncertainty, um, the first gut reaction is like, hold the cash reserves, figure out what’s going on. Like wait. Um, and I think that that’s caused that initial spike of leads. I think that because there are liens being filed, um, and all that fear, it would just kind of like created a fire. And I think that fire went out pretty quickly because owners and GCs realized it’s only gonna get worse and there’s going to be a lot more litigation, unless we just kind of like clear the table, like, let’s get these people paid, let’s, you know, get communicating, let’s see what’s done on these projects and kind of like have a slower restart to getting things done.

 

Alex Dunn: (27:24)

I’m sure it’s not the same for everyone. Um, construction, streamline, fragmented, tons of different businesses, types, verticals, you name it. Um, so it’s different for everyone, but at a very macro level or at a micro level, looking at a specific city, seeing the macro view of construction in that city, um, that’s kind of what it looked like to us. It’s really fascinating. Yeah. So a few other cool findings, w you know, this is some of the stuff I was just talking about. I probably should have gone ahead to this slide before I talked through all of it. Um, but one of the things we noticed was GCs were getting, you know, twice as likely to get paid within 30 days, then substance suppliers, um, at Levelset, we talk about the payment chain where you have, you know, the folks at the top, the lenders, the owners, the GCs, and then all of the sub tier parties.

 

Alex Dunn: (28:10)

Um, and it always takes them longer to get paid. So this wasn’t all that, um, enlightening to us, very obvious, but it really confirms that idea of the further down you are in the payment chain, the more removed you are from the cash source, the longer it’s going to take you. And the more careful you need to be in assessing your risk going into a project, um, how do you, you know, be clear about your lien rights and, you know, take care to communicate those kinds of things up the chain. Um, see a few other cool findings here. Um, this is all really related to that parody in the construction payment chain, um, where general contractors are a lot more satisfied. Obviously they’re getting paid faster, so they’re more satisfied. And the, uh, they’re all getting a deposit way more frequently than those sub tier parties starting work.

 

Alex Dunn: (29:01)

So they have a little bit more cash flow. Um, and really, like I said, this isn’t, this isn’t anything new per se, but it does show us that it’s important to be a little bit more careful when you’re lower down a part. And there’s a lot of things you can do to increase that communication and kind of get rid of this, um, this risk that exists in this very real data. So, um, one factor or a bunch of factors on this list, we said like, what do you think helps you get paid faster? And three of these things that had the most percentage or setting clear expectations, which has like a communication item, um, good communications with their customers. So like that relationship management talking and out, and then, um, good follow up processes. So I think a lot of people send an invoice and wait.

 

Alex Dunn: (29:48)

Um, you know, there’s a lot of things you can do that don’t take lien rights into effect at all. You could send a invoice reminder or a, um, payment demand letter, or there’s a lot of things that aren’t like heavy duty on the lean side of things. Um, even preliminary notices again are like good followup processes. They let people know you’re on the job. They let them know you’re serious and that you’re following up on payments. So it’s pretty, pretty cool to see these stats roll in because it was really like hones in on why y’all are, are trying to do a rake. And what we try and do on the other side is just like increased communication, increased collaboration. Um,

 

Brian Poage: (30:23)

I like this too, because you know, the top two setting clear expectations and good communication with customers, those are proactive things that you’re doing to enhance a relationship, really. You know, you’re, you’re setting clear expectations in the beginning is really important with anything, and it really helps everyone be on the same page, make sure you’re aligned and you’re moving in the right direction and then good communication with customers. And that’s kind of, we’ve been talking about this whole time is having that effective communication really proactively helps to create any issues on the back end. And then I like seeing too that taking a firm stand is the least valuable in this free. And this essentially surveys is that’s the last resort and that’s where you can create, you know, you can damage relationships. And it’s great to see that most contractors are seeing success and that kind of that proactive let’s create and cultivate this relationship and follow up and be proactive with the way we’re working and save, taking a firm stand as the last resort. I think that this is great data. Yeah,

 

Alex Dunn: (31:21)

Honestly, I’d love to like go back in time and, and ask this question three years ago and see what happens with taking a firm stand. Um, I feel like the mentality of the industry has changed actually quite a bit to this, you know, relationships have always been important. Um, but like there’s also been a lot of bullying and a lot of, you know, kind of less good things. And I think some of that’s going away, um, with the introduction of, um, good technologies that help with community.

 

Brian Poage: (31:46)

I completely agree that that’s exactly what I was thinking. I think the fact that we have some of this technology now, that’s really intuitive and it’s at our fingertips and we can, we can know, we know how to use it can really, really help significantly cultivate and create those really good relationships and help them be proactive as opposed to being just purely reactive.

 

Alex Dunn: (32:05)

Yeah. And even without software, like sure. We could all disappear tomorrow. Like these processes can be done without software that a lot of them, like we talk about, we have this thing, we call it the set framework. I have it listed up there. So I suppose I should talk about it for a second. Um, but it stands for see everyone on the job, which is like CNBC. Like if you don’t know who’s on the job, you can’t communicate and collaborate. He is, you know, exchanging paperwork’s paperwork easily. So, you know, how do you let people know what progress you’ve done? How much, how do you let them know? You need to be paid on all of these things? Like paperwork is a pain in the butt. Um, technology makes it easy, but it doesn’t mean you can’t write out a pay app or sign a lien waiver and get it sent in the mail. It takes longer. And the technology is great there, but you don’t need the technology and then T is talk it out. So, you know, before you resort to these issues, before you take a strong stand, how do you have like a real conversation with someone and, you know, work on that relationship to get to a good outcome without litigation or leads or anything like that.

 

Brian Poage: (33:03)

That’s great. That’s a great framework.

 

Alex Dunn: (33:05)

Yeah. So, um, that’s a little bit about what we’ve seen. I’d love to hear a little bit more from you Brian overall. Like what are some of the bright spots around, you know, you’ve already mentioned a few things like people just using documentation at a much higher clip than they were before COVID came. Um, what other things, um, are bright spots to you and are there areas you think still need improvement?

 

Brian Poage: (33:27)

Yeah. So again, leveraging technology, we were seeing a lot of companies first time that are moving, they’re coming in off of pen and paper across the board of everything they were doing was pen and paper or not documented at all. And so we’re seeing them finally, you know, really embracing technology and seeing the value there. Um, streamlining internal communication is a big one. You know, when I was in the field, when I was in the office, the biggest issue that we always had all the time was the field. Doesn’t communicate with the office and the office doesn’t communicate with the field. And even though it has become more difficult to communicate because teams are remote, they’re not physically interacting on a daily basis. Seeing each other. We’ve actually seen a lot of project teams tell us that by leveraging some of these tools, their internal communication has skyrocketed and they’re being more proactive with the way that they’re looking to communicate.

 

Brian Poage: (34:14)

And then that also goes with external communication. One of the biggest feedback that I’ve seen is contractors who are proactively sending things like daily reports or weekly summaries to an owner who never did that before because they, because the owner used to walk the job once a week or come in and OAC. And now that the owner is remote, they’re getting more information on a daily basis than they ever have previously. And it is completely enhancing these relationships where without being asked for it, this owner is getting a daily or a weekly summary of here’s the progress photos. Here’s all of the important information that all the important things that happen on the, on the last week, here’s some of the issues that we’re involved in and where we could use your help. And it’s just like that. We are getting feedback from contractors that they’re winning work, repeat work with owners that they never used to before, because of all of this types of enhanced communication. Um, they’re, they’re having more of a, kind of a civilized approach to the way that there’s problem solving a lot of these things. And the, and it all comes down to just, just having that proactive communication and just being more transparent and then kind of working more as a team. So we’ve seen a lot of really great positives, honestly, um, amongst all of the, kind of, uh, the dark clouds that we’ve been involved with.

 

Alex Dunn: (35:28)

Yeah. That’s, that’s really great to hear. Um, there are some other stuff on this slide. I think you, oops, sorry about that. Basically. Like, uh, you hit on all of these, there go. Yeah, exactly. Over-communicating

 

Brian Poage: (35:38)

With product stakeholders is probably the most popular, the most successful one that we’ve seen. And then, um, you know, people want to leverage data. You know, data is everywhere. It’s big part of business analytics and making effective business decisions. And the more data you have, the more accurate that data, uh, the more that you can do with it. And so, you know, we, we’ve been really focusing on providing contractors with data that they previously really don’t have at their fingertips. And especially in real time, you know, a lot of times with subcontractors, for example, they figure out kind of their production rate by analyzing timecard reports and manpower tracking from the previous pay period and material invoices that have kind of hit their budgets, make a blended kind of production rate. Whereas we have that kind of information available every day at the, at your fingertips. And we’re hoping that that kind of information can empower people to really understand their business better, understand the current, the current project status and be able to either correct course or continue course based on what they’re seeing. So, um, a lot of really great, great things that are really coming out of this.

 

Alex Dunn: (36:38)

Yeah. That is awesome that you’re seeing those things. And in a second, I’d love for you to, you know, if you can, I’m going to put you on the spot, what are one or two things listeners can do to improve, um, their, their own internal processes or something you, you, you wish everyone was doing. Um, also I want to do, I want to open it up to questions. So if anyone has any questions, any listeners out there throw it in the chat, hopefully we can answer them. You never know, um, if we can or not, but we’ll try. Um, and I’ll just, well, Brian, thanks a little bit on what are two things people can do. I’ll talk about some things I know everyone should be doing. Um, one is just communicating your right to get paid. You know, people are happy to take your services.

 

Alex Dunn: (37:17)

People are happy for you to come do the work cause you do great work. Um, so, you know, it’s really important that you don’t feel like asking for the money is a bad thing to do. Um, and you know, thinking about that set process, CNBC and on the job, that’s seeing everyone that’s there. The easiest thing anyone can do these days is just send a preliminary notice. You can do it directly for free through Levelset. Um, it’s a really easy document. It lets people know you’re there in some States it’s required, California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, there’s ton of places that require this document. If you don’t send it, then your lien rights are kind of out the window in some cases. Um, but if you, if you do send it, even when it’s not required, we’ve seen invoices go to the top of the pile, they get paid faster just because they know you’re there.

 

Alex Dunn: (38:02)

Um, and they know that you take your payments seriously. So that’s one thing I always think people should be doing. And the other is, are keeping an eye on your customer’s payment history. And we have a free tool and Levelset, um, called payment profiles. And, um, you can go and see the payment history of the GC that, you know, maybe you’ve never worked with them before and they want you to come do a job. You can go and see how other people have been paid by them. You can read a guide about how subs or suppliers can get paid faster. You can find the forms that they require or the requirements they need, the people you need to contact over there and their billing department. Um, so that is, you know, a couple things that I think everybody should be able to do, um, just to speed up payment and communicate, um, your payment rights.

 

Alex Dunn: (38:43)

So Brian, any last words or ideas for other people before we open it up to questions? Yeah, I would just kind of reiterate what you said about man document, everything that is so critical to have the clear window that you have into what has happened on your project in the past will help you to manage the future and the present. So document everything and, um, and definitely, uh, be willing to leverage technology because it can significantly add value. So, um, yeah, that’s kinda what I would leave on. We should add a D to the set framework, document everything, put it in there somewhere. Yeah, definitely. I agree. Um, I do like that framework though, that is extremely valuable. I think that’s a great, great, uh, advice there. Yeah, definitely. I mean, so we’re all about, you know, we’re trying to level the playing field and if people know who’s on the job, they’re exchanging documents and they’re willing to have conversations and talk it out.

 

Alex Dunn: (39:34)

It’s all good. I mean, it’s not that easy, easier said than done, of course, but it’s a start, no question documenting everything. It’s a lot to document. So, uh, you know, that’s why we, we both exist years to, you know, help make all that rigmarole of documentation easy. Um, it doesn’t look like we have any questions. You got a quiet crowd today. Uh, we could wait another minute here. Um, and if we don’t hear anything, we can, we can close out, uh, Brian who was really, really great having you on as always, we love partnering with you all on content and pretty much anything else we can do, we gotta get like a, you know, an app, an API integrations or apps. Absolutely. That would be fantastic. Oh yes. Well, I’m, I’m not the guy who makes those, but neither of my kids, we can connect the dots on a good word.

 

Alex Dunn: (40:18)

Yeah, exactly. I want to say no, thanks again for allowing us to be part of this Alex and Justin, really, really, again, we, we, we really, uh, enjoy the partnership with Levelset and really think there’s some great synergy between our products. So we’re always happy to be part of anything you guys are doing cool. Well, same here. And, uh, I know there are no live questions here, but our emails are right here. Anybody wants to shoot us an email. We’ll be happy to respond, connect you to the right person. Even if you have questions, um, totally unrelated to this and just want to learn something about, you know, what Brian ends up having for lunch later. Um, I don’t know. Maybe he’s too busy to answer that, but, uh, yeah, just hop over to levelset.com to, if you have other questions you want to ask anonymously, we do have the expert center or the community where you can ask and get help from a lawyer or a professional in your area who can help. So we have a lot of resources for y’all and just shoot us an email if you have any questions and thank you all for joining Brian, have a wonderful day. I’ll see y’all out there. Thanks so much. Have a great day.