Every contracting company should have a mission statement. Mission statements are not just for big corporations or charitable organizations or political parties. Even your one-man contracting company should have one. A mission statement helps define what a company is and what it offers, and it clarifies the company’s goals to keep it on the path of service and success.
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” — Henry Ford
A good commercial mission statement spells out not just the purpose, but also the priorities of the company, which, obviously, go beyond “I’ve put years into my training and education, and I need to support my family”—that part is understood. It also explains what you esteem, and how you intend to achieve your business goals of serving your clients, based on your values and priorities.
Sample Mission Statement:
[Your Company]’s mission is to provide the highest-quality workmanship possible. We succeed at this because of the integrity of our subcontractors and staff, our commitment to a solid work ethic, and our passion for staying current with the newest innovations of our industry, with consideration for the environment.
[Your Company] is a general contracting business incorporated in [state or province] in [year] by [principals]. Our staff and crew bring years of experience to bear in residential and light commercial building and high-end renovations and additions. Currently, the company is involved in custom whole-house renovation and remodels, in addition to new-home construction and commercial projects.
Typical projects are structured with one of the principals as the primary project manager. A working supervisor or foreman is on the job from start to finish and is responsible for the implementation of the design.
We’ve worked with our subcontractors for years because our relationships are built on trust and performance. Our employees have been chosen based on their ability and level of craftsmanship, as well as their personal qualities and values. We believe that having our own employees provides us with more immediate control over the direction and nature of the construction process.
Our pride and personal involvement in the work we perform result in superior quality and service. This attitude is also directly reflected in our employees’ level of responsibility, professionalism and competency.
Basically, a mission statement should state:
- what you do;
- how you do it;
- why you do it;
- who you do it for; and
- how you succeed at it each day.
Don’t let a blank screen or piece of paper intimidate you; it doesn’t have to be Shakespeare, but writing down the answers for these points is a great exercise for crystallizing why you’re doing what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. It also may help you decide whether you need to change any of it. Your mission statement should guide your company’s actions and move you forward every day.
Once you’ve got these points written down on paper, consider hanging it on your wall so that you can see it every day. If you’re not happy with it, hang it up anyway and tweak it as you go.
A good mission statement isn’t just an excellent marketing component; it helps clarify for you (and your employees, if you have any) exactly what your goals are each and every day. It’s easy to lose sight of why you became a contractor when you’re booked solid and rushing from one appointment to the next. Sometimes, providing excellent customer service may be done more from memory than passion.
Building Your Business Identity
Ask yourself exactly what you do to help improve your business on a regular basis, and write those things down. Do you take special training and Continuing Education courses? Do you belong to the International Association of Professional Contractors, and attend chapter meetings and special events? An important element in defining your professional identity—which is reflected by your mission statement—is belonging to a supportive association and being in regular contact with your fellow members.
Attending industry events will help you stay current with:
- changes in codes and standards;
- new developments in building products and practices;
- safety training; and
- innovative marketing and business success tips.
By exchanging your experiences and ideas with other contractors through online forums and at industry events, you’ll expand your own pool of ideas, as well as learn from the mistakes of others.
Aside from peer input, do you get customer feedback that tells you whether you’re on the right track—the one that you’ve set for yourself? Your mission statement is what you tell the world you are, but it’s also important to find out whether the world agrees with you!
Your Mission Statement (and Mission) Refined
Once you have finalized your mission statement, display it in a prominent place where you (and your staff and crew) can see it every day, such as on your office wall or in a common area. Reading your mission statement regularly is sort of like a coach giving his team a pep talk; you may have heard it a hundred times, but it helps to reinforce just why you’re doing what you’re doing, and that’s great for personal morale, as well as for expanding your vision for achieving your business goals.
Once you’re satisfied with your mission statement, have it added to your brochure. A client will value someone who knows who he is and what his goals are, and how he achieves them. Putting that into words can make a confident and powerful statement that guides your company on a trajectory of success.
TIP: Read this article on Brochures for Contractors.
Code of Ethics
Every contractor should have his own Code of Ethics. Consumers look for licensing in their contractors, but remember that licensing is just a minimum requirement. What will separate you from your competitors is your customer service, and part of that is spelling out who you are. A code of ethics is similar to a mission statement in that it articulates and crystallizes who you are as a businessperson based on the standards you embrace. But it focuses more on your duty to your clients and to your industry. Regardless of whether your state licensing authority and any associations you have membership in have their own code of ethics that binds you, your own code of ethics, posted on your website (and, optionally, in any marketing materials), is a declaration of self-accountability that you share with the people who are deciding whether to hire you.
“Being good is good business.” — Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop
Below are some suggestions for categories and items you can consider and adapt in creating your own business Code of Ethics. You can make your Code as brief or as elaborate as you want, but make it easily readable and readily understandable. Avoid being redundant; opt for brevity. Format it so that it’s user-friendly. Finally, incorporate items that describe what you’re committed to doing, including the standards of behavior and business practices that you would expect of your contractor if you were the client.
(Remember that your Code of Ethics applies to any staff and crew in your employ. They should be made aware of what it means to uphold it, as well as any consequences for violating it.)
Sample Code of Ethics:
As a professional engaged in the business of providing construction and project management services, and as the owner/a member of [Your Company], I agree to conduct myself and my business in accordance with the following Code of Ethics.
Duty to the Public
- I will be fair, honest, impartial, respectful and professional, and act in good faith in all my business relationships with my clients and the public, including employees, subcontractors and suppliers.
- I will always act in the interests of the client unless doing so violates a law, statute or this Code of Ethics.
- I will not discriminate in any business activities on the basis of race, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, familial status or handicap, and will comply with all federal, state and local laws concerning discrimination and fair housing.
- I will be truthful regarding my training, experience, qualifications and services.
- I will be truthful regarding my licenses and certifications, and will provide documentation upon request.
- I will be truthful regarding my bonding and insurance coverage.
- I will accept only assignments and projects for which my skills and licensing are commensurate.
- I will uphold and comply with all governing codes, government and municipal statutes and rules, and professional licensing requirements of the jurisdiction in which I conduct business, especially those related to safety.
- I will not engage in any practices that could be damaging to the public, including providing or promoting any building materials, products or techniques that are known to me to be defective, substandard, or likely to cause harm. If such knowledge that is relevant to the project comes to my attention following contract execution and/or project commencement, I will take all necessary steps to notify all relevant parties and engage in immediate mitigation efforts, as I deem appropriate.
- I will strive at all times to promote high-quality and safe building materials, products and techniques.
- I will provide a timely and appropriate response to all items and workmanship covered under warranty.
- I will use generally-accepted accounting principles in relation to all of my financial transactions and reporting.
- I will not engage in any deceptive practice or any practice that creates an unfair advantage for my company or other party.
- I will compete fairly for projects and contracts, and have no undisclosed conflict of interest with the client or with any party to the project or any transactions thereto.
- I will not accept any undisclosed commission, rebate, profit, or other benefit from any party to the project.
- I will not provide any undisclosed commission, rebate, profit, or other benefit to any party to the project, including for purposes of receiving referrals from any party connected to the project.
- I will respect my client’s right to confidentiality with regard to financial and other details whose disclosure to other parties is not required for the advancement and completion of the project without the client’s prior written consent, except where it may affect the safety of others or violates a law or statute.
- I will negotiate fairly and openly with my clients for reasonable compensation, and charge fees and expenses that are reasonable and commensurate with the services and materials to be provided and the responsibilities and risks to be assumed. I will use a written contract that specifies the services to be performed, limitations of services, and expenses and fees, and will adhere to both the letter and the spirit of such contract.
- I will meet all financial and contractual obligations in a timely and responsible manner.
- Should conflicts arise, I will seek to have such disputes negotiated, including mediation or arbitration via an impartial third party, before resorting to litigation.
Duty to the Industry
- I will uphold the integrity and dignity of my profession and not engage in any practices that could bring discredit to the construction industry.
- I will seek to make a reasonable profit, but not at the expense of safety or workmanship.
- I will uphold the conventions of my profession and will provide my services in a professional and workmanlike manner.
- I will comply with all the laws and regulations that govern its practice in my jurisdiction.
- I will strive to engage in professional training and stay up to date with professional development, as well as news, notices and recalls that affect my industry and my clients.
- I will not knowingly violate any law, statute or regulation in the performance of my professional services.
- I will not maliciously or recklessly injure or attempt to injure, directly or indirectly, the professional reputation of others.
- I will engage in ethical business practices that put safety and quality foremost.
- I will seek to be a good steward of the environment in all of my business and contracting practices.