Terri Lasater is a serial entrepreneur. One of the businesses in her growing arsenal is Domain Construction Services, a 15-year-old remodeling company entirely powered by referrals that completes 15-25 projects a year ranging from bathrooms to full-gut remodels. Back in March of 2020, as the emergence of the coronavirus shuttered businesses across the United States, several of Terri’s business ventures slowed down or were forced to temporarily close.
With newfound free time on her hands, Terri focused on her remodeling business where she saw an opportunity for growth. “I had to have a software program that could grow with me,” she said describing her search for construction software. This search led Terri to sign up for CoConstruct.
Asking the right questions
Not being afraid to ask questions, say yes, and figure things out on the go are central tenets to Terri’s business success. It was through growing and leveraging her network that a spray foam insulation company eventually morphed into Domain Construction Services. “I asked someone else who knew how to read blueprints to show me how to. People will help you in this industry. The ones that are in it for the long haul, they want good builders… and they want female builders,” Terri explained.
But after implementing CoConstruct Terri realized that the questions she didn’t know she needed to ask were directly affecting her business’s bottom line. “I didn’t know what I didn’t know. What I didn’t know is that I wasn’t charging enough. My profit margins were looking like my actuals instead of including my markup,” Terri said of the impact of using CoConstruct. With this insight, Terri dived headfirst into estimating and budgeting on CoConstruct, two tasks she previously accomplished in QuickBooks.
“To really know what I was spending on each project - I really wasn’t doing that,” stated Terri. With accurate cost tracking and a better understanding of margins vs markups, Domain Construction Services saw their profits takeoff. “I’m making more money now,” Terri said of the operational change.
This whole experience was a catalyst for Terri to focus on working on her remodeling business rather than in her remodeling business. With CoConstruct Terri was able to shift some of the responsibilities of business development, estimating, job management, bids, and invoicing from her plate to her project manager’s for everyone to be more efficient with their time. Plus, Terri realized that both her business and her clients were benefiting from the software. “Every client that I’ve had has absolutely loved it (CoConstruct) and they say it,” Terri said.
Planning and building the future
Terri’s business ventures have evolved with the market over the years and she doesn’t see that stopping anytime soon. Even with her other businesses starting to come back online with lifting statewide restrictions, Terri isn’t planning on taking her foot off the gas for Domain Construction Services. Instead, she’s planning on using CoConstruct to help grow her business efficiently. “As I can get this software program going and things flowing the way that I’d like to see it, I can expand here and have the people in place to run and operate this deal and then I can go and be a part of the community,” she explained. “I really want to be a service-oriented business where we are giving back to Austin and the community that I’ve been in for 25 years.” CoConstruct is helping Terri grow her business according to her vision and achieve her goal to be an asset to the community.
The construction community
As a strong believer in the construction community, Terri wants to encourage others to not be afraid to take risks. “Don’t be afraid to take challenges and figure it out, we’re all doing that, all builders do that,” she offered as advice to other builders. Terri also recognizes her importance in the community as a woman business owner and operator. Today women only account for 11% of the construction workforce but Terri has advice specifically for her fellow female builders: “It’s a male-dominated field and that can work to your advantage too… Build your relationship network, build with other females and males, and just don’t be afraid.”
Not being afraid to take chances is how Domain Construction Services grew to its current size and reputation in the Austin community. While Terri will admit there were plenty of mistakes made along her journey, the lessons they provided proved to be invaluable. “I have lost a lot of money, I have made a lot of money, and everything in-between,” she said, “And I have learned so much from other people’s expertise along the way.”