This interview is part of the “Think Again” series, in which Businessing Magazine talks to small business owners about how their businesses have evolved and how things don’t always go as originally expected. In this interview, we asked Scott McKee of Scott McKee Construction in Mission Viejo, California about how his company has grown and changed in his more than 30 years as a residential general contractor.
Tell Us a Little about Your Business and the Customers/Clients You Serve.
I am a third-generation contractor. My company, Scott McKee Construction, was founded on my passion for detailed and unparalleled craftsmanship. I started my business because I believed there was a need for a high-quality residential contractor in Southern California who could incorporate design assistance with intensive attention to detail, have extraordinary craftsmanship, and still offer a competitive price.
Integrity and reliability are vitally important in this industry and they are my core operating beliefs. With this foundation, we are able to serve clients on both ends of the spectrum. Some are first-time homeowners with a small project in mind and others are ready to build the custom home they’ve dreamed about their entire lives. We are equipped and able to meet just about anyone’s desires and budget.
How Has Your Business Model Shifted over Time?
When Scott McKee Construction began, we flourished because of word of mouth referrals. Our reputation preceded us in every case. Our workmanship and code of ethics spoke for themselves and led to an extensive and consistent workload for the company. However, with the world changing quite a bit in the last ten years, we have found it prudent to develop relationships with others in the industry. We developed a professional network that includes architects, designers, engineers, and draftsmen, as well as product vendors. This has enabled us to bring greater value to our customers.
How Have You Had to Adapt to Industry Changes, Economic Ups and Downs, and Market Shifts, in Order to Continue Growing Your Business and Gaining Success?
We have adjusted by expanding our designs and styles to stay current with each generation of homeowner that we encounter. In addition, by expanding our design styles and vendor connections we have been able to address the needs of homeowners from just about any economic position.
What Expectations Did You Have about How the Market Would Perceive and Consume Your Products or Services, and Which of Those Expectations or Assumptions Have Turned out to Be Accurate?
When we first began, we believed that our company would be sustained solely on referrals, via word of mouth. We thought our expert design capabilities, exceptional craftsmanship, and vision would be embraced by primarily affluent customers. We believed this client base would be unaffected by the economic downturns our country has experienced. We were incorrect. It has become apparent that with economic uncertainty, “value” isn’t enough. Many people, no matter their economic status, are looking for the best financial deal.
What Has Surprised You (in Both Positive and Negative Ways) about What Clients/ Customers Want from You, or How They Interact with Your Business?
What has surprised us most over the years is the extensive use and reliance upon social media. A personal referral used to be a very strong source, but has really developed into just an invitation to bid the project. Our culture is visual, and uses social media constantly. People want to see what you’ve done on a daily basis and read extensive reviews prior to making a decision. If our company is not rooted in online reviews, or if we don’t have a presence in the places people are looking online, we will not be understood, appreciated, or sought after.
What Lesson(s) Can You Share with Others about the Importance of Strategic Planning, but Also the Need to Be Nimble and Adaptable in Order to be Relevant and Successful?
Strategic planning is vital to staying on track and relevant in an ever-changing culture. Planning allows us to address not only the needs of our current clients, but also our future clientele. It allows us to be reliable and efficient in the execution of our projects. If a company plans to grow and thrive, it must plan and pay attention to the needs of its client. It will shrivel and deteriorate if attachment to prior modes of operation do not evolve and address the needs and desires of a new generation of customers. Scott McKee Construction is growing, learning, and changing every day to stay relevant and thrive.
Where Can Readers Go to Learn More about Your Company?
We invite readers to learn more about Scott McKee Construction at https://scottmckeeconstruction.com/