Built to Build: Blog



You’ve talked about the budget with your potential customer, and they have agreed to pay you for the planning and estimating work.

(What?!!! You’re giving this work away for free?  Stop. Get this free sales training program.

The next question customers always ask is, “When can you start?”

If you’re like a lot of construction business owners, you get excited and blurt out the first open project start date you can think of.

Don’t do this. You only have one chance to make a good impression.

If you immediately give them a project start date, you’ll look like the bad guy a few weeks from now.

You’ll get more details about the project, the customer will not respond in a timely manner to your correspondence, or things will change.

None of that matters because your customer asked for a start date, and you gave them one. 

The “start date” question should make you pause.

Not because you don’t know when you can start, but because your customers don’t know all the decisions they will have to make to prepare for the project.

(Another reason for selling them your pre-construction services.)

Your customers are ignorant.



You’re the expert, not your customers. Just like the budget question where your customers have no idea what a project actually costs, they also have no idea how a project starts.

They don’t know all the decisions they have to make before you can start the construction and they don’t know how your process works.

They think they do. But, trust me. They don’t.

They don’t understand that “When can you start” is the wrong question.

The right question to ask is “When can you complete the project?”

So answer that question instead.



Watch the video at the top of this post, and I’ll show you how I answered the “When can you start question” by reverse engineering it from what matters most – the complete date.

When you reverse engineer the start date from the end date, you’ll be able to explain how your process works, the time usually required to complete each step, and describe the critical decisions they need to make along the way.

When you reverse engineer the start date, you’ll get your potential customers to take action.

They will either hire you immediately to plan the project because the start date is just around the corner…


They will decide not to proceed with you.

The former is exactly what you want, and the latter isn’t bad either.

“How is not proceeding a good thing?”

Remember, you’re the expert. You know what needs to happen to deliver the project. Your customers do not. They are ignorant.

If they decide not to proceed with what you know to be an accurate and professional timeline, then they will just try to get some other contractor to jump through hoops to make it happen.

You and I both know that jumping through hoops for customers is not the way you want to begin a project. You’re going to lose money on that project with those customers.

Walk away.

That’s why the decision to not proceed is a good thing for you.

If they do decide to proceed with you, then you explain how your schedule works.

And no one gets on your schedule without money changing hands.

So if time is of the essence, then “sign our pre-construction agreement and we’ll get started today.”

When the customer knows how your process works, and the first step in your process, then you’ll create better customers that will follow your process.



Anyone can start a project, but professionals finish a project when they say they will.

Don’t back yourself into a corner by answering the “When can you start” question before you explain your process.

Explain your process by answering the “When you want to be finished” question.

Finishing matters more than starting.



Having a system to answer the “when can you start” question is vital for maintaining a proper schedule for your construction business. 

Are you tired of reacting to the little fires that pop up?

Wouldn’t it be great to have a scheduling system for your construction business that requires less of your time and is simple to keep updated?

When you enroll in the Built to Grow program in the Built to Build Academy®, you’ll get a complete-yet-simple scheduling system that works.

With this scheduling system in place, your schedule will:

  • Get out of your head and be displayed for your team to use.
  • Get organized and be a tool to predict the future.
  • Solve your cash flow problems because you’ll see the value of every week.
  • Make production more efficient.
  • Track the progress of every project in real time.
  • Allow you to conduct meetings in less time with more clarity.

Enroll in the Built to Grow program and you’ll get the Scheduling System, along with the Hiring, Estimating, and Customer Experience systems as part of the Built to Build Framework.

And, you’ll have access to a network of other construction business owners who can help you grow your business.

You’re going to struggle until you have these systems in place. Create a business that works for you instead of the other way around.

The Built to Build Academy® creates confident construction business owners through on-demand business training and coaching programs so you can make more money, stop worrying, and get your life back.

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