Construction business owners offered chance to 'prevent firefighting' at number-crunching masterclasses

An initiative to help construction business owners build for the future is being rolled out by a Glasgow-based cash flow expert, who hopes to take the concept global.

Strategist Craig Alexander Rattray plans to kick-off a six-month programme in January, which will be run in collaboration with the UK-wide Construction Network. He will deliver a series of “Know Your Numbers” mastermind sessions, tailored specifically for business owners in the sector. The aim is to help “prevent firefighting” and give entrepreneurs more confidence in their business decisions and ultimately improve profits and cash flow.

Rattray, a former venture capitalist who has worked in private equity and corporate finance, said: “Most people set up in business because they are good operationally and understand, for example, how to build houses, repair roofs, etc. But they don’t know how to run a business. They don’t understand accounts and finance, cash flow or how banks and investors work. I am trying to provide that knowledge and ammunition to help them run their business better and reduce stress.

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Inflation is eroding margins for construction businesses as they are struggling - or scared - to try to pass on increased costs. I want them to better understand pricing, margins and cash flow. If they can get those three things right it will make a huge difference to them.”

Outlining the format, Rattray said there will be a two-hour teaching-focused session, including a “hot seat” scenario where an owner has the opportunity to talk about their challenges and receive feedback from others, plus a one-hour clinic session focused on application of the learnings.

The programme follows the successful delivery of the inaugural Know Your Numbers initiative earlier this year, with a “Mastery” programme currently ongoing. There has also been early dialogue with various chambers of commerce with a view to rolling out similar groups, while international expansion is also being considered following approaches from the Middle East, Africa and North America.

Rattray, owner of CR Corporate Solutions, added: “A business owner is generally the expert in the area in which their company provides products or services. However, most have not been trained in finance. And whilst they are not expected to be the finance expert, it is vitally important they understand the financials and the cash flow dynamics of their business. From my experience of working with companies within the construction sector, I identified there is a real gap in their knowledge and understanding. From pricing jobs properly, to managing projects and cash, many were encountering lots of problems and were highly stressed.

“It’s never too early or too late for business owners to know their numbers, and that’s important. The latest group has one owner who set up six months ago and another 35 years ago.”

Glasgow-based strategist Craig Alexander Rattray plans to kick-off a six-month programme in January.Glasgow-based strategist Craig Alexander Rattray plans to kick-off a six-month programme in January.
Glasgow-based strategist Craig Alexander Rattray plans to kick-off a six-month programme in January.

Construction Network facilitator Grant Hamilton said: “This is a great initiative during what is a challenging time for the industry. We know from experience that many construction SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] struggle in this area. We’re delighted to be involved and I’m sure it will be of tremendous benefit to our network members.”

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