I remember having a chance occurrence once with a chap called Mike when I visited Manchester UK.
A friend of a friend introduced us. At the time I was in my mid Twenties and Mike would have been in his early Thirties.
Now like me, Mike, was a fully chartered Quantity Surveyor.
Unlike me, Mike did not do Quantity Surveying anymore.
Neither did he run a Quantity Surveying business. What he did actually gave me a shock to start with.
He was the founder and CEO of his own Specialist Contractor business.
I remember standing outside the train station waiting to be picked up by Mike so we could drive to a local Starbucks (Uber had not invented back then so getting a lift was still fashionable)
At this time, I did not know much about Mike, only that he ran his own business and that he was doing well and that both of us should talk.
When Mike rocked up, my mouth nearly fell to the ground. He was driving a spanking new Range Rover, tinted windows and all!
OK, OK. I do admit to thinking that Mike must have dealt in Narcotics in order to drive around in such a fancy car, because, one thing for sure, was that he was not making that kind of cash working as a Quantity Surveyor!
But once I got over my initial shock and jumped into the car, the ‘Curious George’ side of me came out and after shaking his hands and exchanging some pleasantries. I blurted out…
“How the F*ck can you afford a car like this?!?!”
After an initial roar of laughter. Mike turned to me…
… I thought I was going to get the famous, “Let me tell you something speech” like from the film Graduate
But Mike just said, that a few years ago he got a lucky break. When he was working as a Quantity Surveyor a few years back for a large housing developer.
The main guy at the Housing Developer had a meeting with Mike once, at the start it was like every other meeting where they talked about the financial health of his projects. But right in the middle of the meeting the main guy got a call saying that one of his Contractors had not turned up at their site for the last week and there was no sign of him and half the materials on site!
In a spit of rage, the main guy confided in Mike that he wished Contractors could be as professional as Consultants like Mike. He went on to say that unless he found another Contractor within the next 2 weeks that could take on all the Subcontractors then he was going to be in deep sh*t!
A crazy thought came into Mike’s head. If all the Subcontractors are already there to do the work, the work is all planned, then all they need is a Contractor to act as a middle man.
Could I be that guy? He thought to himself.
Before he realised, he had blurted out loud what he was daydreaming about. And said, “I could start a company and do that for you, wouldn’t that be a help, you know me, I’m one of those professional guys you want these Contractors to be like, so let me solve this problem for you”
Maybe it was sheer luck, or the main guy being in such a tight squeeze that he had no options, he replied to Mike with…
“If you could solve this for me then we would be in your debt”
A few years later, about the time I was picked up in the Range by Mike, Mike had not only solved the problem that month for the Housing Association, but he has become their biggest House Builder!
Sitting there in his car, even after hearing this story, all I could think of still was:
I get how you won the first contract.
But, you’re NOT a BUILDER, your a Quantity Surveyor!?!
But how did you know what to do, how did you know how to manage the Subcontractors? How did you know what to price?
I never get answers to those questions that day because by the time Mike had finished his story he had to run to make a bid for a new project for a new housing association.
But years later I figured it out. What Mike did was he totally immersed himself in the topic of building a house. He leveraged his experience as a Quantity Surveying, his knowledge of the industry, his contacts and his accreditation. He essentially deep dived into the topic of building a house so that he could talk the talk to an OK level, and he leveraged other people and other Subcontractors’ knowledge. He somehow figured out on his own through study a way to win more jobs and ensure profitable growth. Of course, his path to success could have been way easier, if he has a step by step system to follow.
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