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#02: Dennis Dixon, Finding Hidden Profits

Dennis Dixon is the author of Finding Hidden Profits: A Guide for Custom Builders, Remodelers, and Architects. The book is a comprehensive guide that offers a multitude of best practices and ideas to improve every aspect of your business. It’s a must-read for all construction professionals. Everyone WILL learn something valuable.

Dennis been building both commercial and residential projects since 1984. He’s built over 300 custom homes and remodels. Dennis is one of the more prominent leaders in the industry, a consultant, author, and speaker on the national level. His website is

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Show Notes:
[1:50] – Overview of Finding Hidden Profits.
[2:40] – Importance of A-grade plans, specifications, and contract with owner. The more you can get on paper, the better off you will be.
[5:15] – “When you go to court, the one with the most paperwork wins.”
[5:38] – “If you’re running the company, hire someone to do the paperwork.”
[7:05] – The Grandma Rule.
[7:40] – Write up your own specs that are alphabetical and put bullet point nuances in each category (model numbers, finishes, etc). Most of it will stay the same between projects.
[9:05] – Noting exclusions in specs.
[10:20] – Separating yourself from the competition…having a contract and specs that outshines the rest.
[11:35] – “If the project priority is money, then I probably don’t want to take on the project.”
[11:55] – “People that are worried about the money, they’re gonna worry about whether you are using 200 nails or 192 nails and did they get a credit on the 8 nails you didn’t use.”
[12:35] – Dennis’ client test questions.
[14:10] – Addressing budget issues with clients whose priority is money.
[14:40] – The cost per square foot conundrum and the garage footage paradox.
[16:55] – Try to get a deposit for preparing estimates, which will be credited on the contract.
[18:00] – Take your time and do a great job with the estimate. Don’t give a ballpark estimate on unfinished plans.
[19:05] – The importance of supervision.
[19:25] – Setting expectations with clients up front.
[19:55] – Dennis’ construction horror story. The lesson: People hire us for our managerial skills. You have to double check everything.
[24:40] – Dennis’ 2018 projects.

Show Links:
Journal of Light Construction (Dennis’ recommended construction publication) (Dennis’ website) (Finding Hidden Profits, Dennis Dixon) (Dennis’ construction contract)