You don’t need to be reminded that legal services are expensive. It’s hard to understand how anyone can charge so much to hold meetings and produce paper. The prolonged downturn in residential construction coupled with aggressive competition and suffocating government regulations leaves little money left to spend on unnecessary expenses and, for most contractors, legal services are, or should be, unnecessary. If you think of lawyers as expensive janitors, cleaning up messes caused by others, then the less you spend, the better off you are. Right?
Let’s be clear. The first and most important job a business owner has is to manage a profitable business. If you’re not profitable, your customers will suffer with less than satisfactory service; your employees will suffer with poor quality working conditions; your subs and suppliers will suffer with slow payment for services; and your family will suffer with the stress and dissatisfaction that comes with a struggling business. Spending money on lawyers after problems develop hurts profits.
Residential contracting in Minnesota, and especially insurance-paid repair and renovation contracting, has become one of the most regulated businesses in Minnesota. The last 5 years have seen an assault on the industry by the state legislature and by state and federal regulators that has changed the face of construction. Many contractors are asking themselves if it’s worth staying in this business. It is no longer good enough to learn a skill, take care of your customers, and pay your bills. You are being told what your contract can – and can’t – say, who your sales people have to be, what your warranty has to cover, and how much you’re allowed to charge.
Our firm has served the residential construction industry, not as a small part of our practice but as the primary focus of the services we offer, for more than a decade. We know the Department of Labor, we know the legislature. We know the economics of your business and your industry. Most important, we understand you, the owner of a small construction company, and how challenging it is for you every day to deal with all of the challenges of managing a business, keeping everyone happy, and paying the bills.
Because our clients demand it, and deserve it, we provide legal services differently. We never lose sight of our responsibility to help you improve your bottom line, your profit. For example, we’ve been showing our clients how the EPA Lead Repair, Renovation, and Painting rule should not be a costly burden to your company but instead is a fantastic new profit center. We provide training for your sales representatives to help them use the government-mandated contracting process to close more sales with fewer cancellations. We take responsibility for keeping your company compliant with all of the complex laws and frequent changes so that you can focus on providing quality service to your customers. Our services are designed to let you get back to what you want to do . . . build great projects, satisfy your customers, and make a nice living.
Of course, we handle the typical “legal stuff” that you expect from a lawyer, the stuff that ordinary lawyers will tell you that they can take care of. We prepare contracts, set up new companies, handle Department of Labor investigations, handle collections, and defend lawsuits. As a client of our firm, however, contractors receive the peace of mind that comes only from knowing that we’ve got your back. You’ll receive updated contract documents before you even knew the laws changed. We’ll take care of the annual recordkeeping needed to ensure that your corporation or LLC remains legal with the state. We’ll keep an eye on the legislature and let you know when they are planning a new law that will hurt your business (with our help, contractors successfully beat back a proposed law that would have made it illegal for contractors to discuss damage with an insurance adjuster before the claim was settled hurting homeowners and the storm renovation industry. See our recent blog posts on our website.) And we do all of this for our clients for a lot less money than they expected.
If you are not yet taking full advantage of the specialized services we offer to help you grow and protect your business, you are missing a great opportunity. Our full service clients tell us that we are not just an expense item on their income statement; our services grow their bottom line and improve their job satisfaction. We are their sub-contracted CFO/business advisor helping them achieve their goals and feel the satisfaction that comes from managing a successful residential construction company. Give us a call today and find out how you, too, can turn the money you spend on legal services into an investment in your business success. And sleep better tonight.