Management Services FCIG, LLC: Building a Business from an Insider’s Perspective
Keith Crawford knows the construction business inside and out. He began his career as a construction contractor, but stood apart for his business capabilities. He was often asked by competitors to close shop and work for them. After spending years as an admired authority on construction, Crawford finally launched his own consulting firm.
Crawford’s business, Management Services FCIG, LLC in St. Louis, MO, provides management services for mostly small business clients, including cost management, financial analyses and marketing strategies, among others. Clients come to Crawford because he knows the construction industry and can provide outside help from an insider’s perspective.
“We have unique capabilities and provide services that are helpful at economical rates. These are services you might not be able to get elsewhere,” says Crawford.
Crawford’s construction background and his work on a vast array of projects has given him extensive knowledge and a perspective on the industry that clients value. Furthermore, Crawford has learned from experience that all kinds of contractors face many of the same problems.
“The issues are the same for a roofer as they are for a painter—productivity, managing people, estimating costs and time,” Crawford says.
Having worked in these fields, Crawford can speak to contractors’ struggles and level with them about what it takes to keep their business afloat.
And that’s not all Crawford is doing for the construction industry. Crawford has been working diligently on developing software for specialty trade contractors that will help them manage their entire operations.
“I use my own algorithm to give the best possible forecast of the manpower and cash requirements for a business over a period of time, based on their records,” says Crawford.
The program has to be revised at least monthly because things can change quickly in the construction business.
“If you don't maintain an accurate operating forecast, you're probably in for some annoying surprises—even as the economy expands—and surprise is the enemy of meeting deadlines, staying on budget, and making a profit,” says Crawford. “When you maintain an operating forecast, you are miles ahead on meeting your needs for cash, manpower, and material as the needs arise.”
Developing the software has been a challenge for Crawford, but much progress has been made. He expects to have it ready by next spring, so more contractors can be prepared when it comes to planning for their businesses.
Crawford says the most rewarding aspect of his job is being able to look at his successes.
“When I get to see contractors stay in business—and see them use methods that came from me—it’s satisfying. And it's always rewarding to see buildings I've worked on,” says Crawford. “I had the privilege to serve at the United States Military Academy at West Point, doing a refurbishment of Blaik Field and related site drainage improvements. Every time I look at the photographs from that project, I feel a sense of pride."
Though Crawford has been standing strong as a contracting consultant for over fifteen years, he admits that it’s hard to be a small business owner. For many, the temptation to give up is often stronger than the drive to keep going.
“Don't give up,” Crawford says. “A lot of times, it seems easier to give up. But I'd like to encourage people to be tough. Hang in there.”