August 17, 2021
For subcontractors, the first year of their business is typically the most important. You spend most of your time perfecting your trade, streamlining your business, and learning what works (or more likely), what doesn’t work when trying to find, bid, and organize your projects. Let’s look at how to make that first year of business more than just a learning experience, and turn it into the perfect foundation for your business for years to come with PlanHub.
Michael Heaton, a subcontractor in the fire alarm and low voltage industry, didn’t like what he saw at the low voltage company he was working for—customers not receiving quality work. As a young military veteran with a strong code of ethics and honesty, it didn’t sit well with him to see customers being taken advantage of. That’s why, in late 2019, he took the leap and started his own company along with two other like-minded partners. Heaton’s company, QRF Systems, is a veteran-owned low voltage company in Georgia that provides fire protection and security systems in the commercial industry.
From the beginning, the founders were careful to play it smart. By reaching out to their network, QRF Systems got work without loans or bailouts, even during a pandemic. But for the first few months, nobody took home a salary. While they did get private jobs, the company only landed two jobs through a general contractor.
Launching a new subcontracting business is tough no matter how you do it, but doing it in the midst of a pandemic is even harder. “We didn’t want to start in debt. We started with maybe $500 apiece into the company. We worked on private contractor projects to build capital instead of immediately going into bidding. Even when COVID hit, which was scary, we kept going,” recalls Michael.
Even after creating a solid business model with amazing customer service, finding a consistent source of construction projects to bid on was a major roadblock. Michael reached out to random general contractors, but they didn’t win any bids. Increasing company and project profitability became their main focus as they searched for new ways to grow their business. They found themselves where several new contractors struggled in their early stages. “We were just pulling small percentages off each job. But it was okay because we started our business to take care of people, do the right thing, and build relationships and reputation. Still, it was time to bid on our own jobs. We wanted greater profits,” says Michael.
After five months, the three founders sat down and decided that they could now afford the overhead to try bidding on their own projects. It was time to grow their business and profits. Michael asked a good friend of his, who told him about PlanHub. That was when bid invites started pouring in. At first, Michael tried the free Basic subscription of PlanHub, which allowed him to view low voltage and fire protection projects within a specific radius of his location. Once subcontractors are added to PlanHub, they immediately begin receiving Invitations-to-Bid (ITB) notifications for all posted projects in the subscribed geographical area. Within a month, project opportunities started pouring in for QRF Systems.
“It was unreal. Before PlanHub, we landed two jobs through a general contractor. During the free subscription, I landed about six,” says Michael. But the paid subscription was the real game-changer. When Michael saw on PlanHub that demand for fire protection services was much greater than he expected, he reached out to PlanHub to upgrade his subscription and unlock more bid invites.
With the ability to view projects in the state of Georgia, Michael expanded his territory to complete projects he never thought were possible before. Unlocking the paid subscription and using the Bid Navigator feature allowed Michael to access the emails of general contractors, which the free Basic plan didn’t. “Once I upgraded my subscription and expanded my radius range, I saw a substantial increase in bid invites, opportunities, and connections with other contractors. It was phenomenal,” says Michael, “Right now, I have 30 pages of available bids I get to scroll through and pick.”
When Michael and his partners started QRF Systems, they projected a first-year revenue of about a quarter million dollars. Because PlanHub brought in a flood of project opportunities, QRF Systems doubled the projection, making half a million dollars during its first year of business. In the eight months since upgrading to a paid PlanHub subscription, QRF Systems also landed an astounding 20 to 25 new jobs, by Michael’s estimate. This is a 10x increase in projects before using PlanHub and 2x the revenue.
“If you are in the construction industry, you need to get on PlanHub. If you don’t want to become stagnant and if you want steady, healthy growth, PlanHub’s where it’s at. Make looking into PlanHub a priority, because that is going to make or break you,” concludes Michael.
If you are a subcontractor looking to elevate your business, PlanHub can help you find more projects to bid on, find more GCs to connect with, and ultimately, help you create more income. Set up your free PlanHub account today to receive bid invitations. If you need help getting started or have any questions, schedule a quick demo with a professional!