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Digital Adoption & the Long-Term Benefit of Business Systems in Construction

I spoke recently with Gary Gies, Executive Director of the Red Deer Construction Association (RDCA). The RDCA has 300 commercial construction company members, in the $1 - $5 million in sales. "They're proud. They have such pride in what they do." Gary says. These owner-managers are running hard to keep up with hundreds of tasks demanding attention.

Gary describes his experience while working in the family business: "I was just like, what am I doing? I used to work at a job eight to five, Monday to Friday, go home, and never worry about anything. Then in the business, I literally worked seven days, thinking about it every night and every weekend and I couldn't take a day off ever. It was not sustainable; it just wears you out. And eventually, your own business, you somehow hate the thing, which is crazy."

The Owner-Manager Problem

The owner-manager problem is the feeling that, 'I am the business,' but that viewpoint obscures the real issue. In reality, owner-managers serve as the backbone or the control center of the business. They know the ins and outs of both their trade and their operation. Because they're so knowledgeable, it's tempting for them to handle tasks themselves—often because it seems faster or easier that way. But the reason it's 'easier' is that they haven't set up any formal systems to share their expertise. Essentially, the know-how exists only in their minds. And let's face it, when you're a no-nonsense, action-oriented individual, sitting down to create systems doesn't feel like the most productive use of time.

These businesses have very little value because if the owner left, these businesses would grind to a halt. This is a significant problem, that gets worse over time. And the reasons are almost always the same:

  • "I'm too busy"
  • "there are not enough good employees."
  • "I can't find good sub-trades"

If you think about this momentarily, you will realize another side to this coin. These owners are saying, "I can't keep up. There is too much business to handle." There is a huge opportunity and a massive payoff for someone who wants to solve these problems. And how do you do that? The answer is you build systems that allow you to:

  • Automate administrative work
  • Delegate the work you don't want to do
  • Train and on-board employees quickly
  • Find sub-trades who are building systems and want to collaborate

Fortunately, the solution lies in building systems, as Nathan Giesbrecht, an advisor with IG Private Wealth Management in Red Deer, who works with business owners to build wealth, explains: "The most triumphant business owners implement systems and technology to ensure their business remains relevant, thereby enabling them to attain remarkable financial success." And the best way to build systems is through digital adoption.

Canada Digital Adoption Program – the best way to build systems.

The Canadian government recently introduced the Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP). CDAP is a massive $4 billion program designed to help 70,000 Canadian owner-managers build digital business systems. Technology is changing fast, and Canada does not want to fall behind. The benefits are game-changing. Digital tools like scheduling, hours & materials tracking and automated payroll eliminate routine administration work that no one, especially owner-managers, wants to do.

The goal is that everything necessary to be "on-time & on-budget, all the time" is tracked and displayed on real-time dashboards. Every day you can see: hours, materials, percent complete, and comparison to the estimate for every job and every worker. All tasks are scheduled and tracked eliminating a lot of wasted work. People are more productive, jobs get done faster, and profits increase.

So you may think, "That's too good to be true." But the reality is that this type of automation has been available in larger companies for years. And recently, it has filtered down to the small business level in a practical, useable way. With the advent of ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence programs, the level and sophistication of small business software are increasing rapidly.

"Sure, but how am I going to do that?" The Canada Digital Adoption Program works with Canadian businesses with more than $500,000 in revenue and at least one T-4 employee on their last tax return. The program supplies a $15,000 grant to retain a Digital Adoption Advisor to write a digital adoption plan. The business also qualifies for a $50,000 interest-free loan with no payments in the first year.

The process for writing the digital adoption plan is very well designed and requires one hour per week of the owner's time for 4-6 weeks. Scott King, CEO and Founder of the Breakthrough Hub and an expert at conducting interviews with business owners, says, "Relationships reduce risk." The idea is that business owners need to surround themselves with high-quality advisors. Gary Gies agrees that relationships reduce risk, which is why the RDCA works to find high-quality advisors.

For more information about the CDAP process, don't hesitate to contact Scott King, CEO and Founder of the Breathrough Hub at:

You can also check out our digital advisory service and what it could mean for you. Schedule a free consultation to learn more.