Apr 22, 2022
Some construction business owners believe in maximizing production by driving everyone from the laborers to the project managers to work harder, longer, faster, hustle, and run. And if they are giving less than 110% to the company, they are not doing enough.
One thing to consider: Don't let construction workers think too much; they may injure themselves.
Apprentices and most Journeymen working on a construction job site are better off not thinking but simply following routines and patterns established by management based upon best practices. At first read, this sounds harsh, and yet it comes from our own experiences as a contractor operating multiple job sites with small crews on each from two to ten people; this one concept generated a lot of bottom-line profits and kept injuries very low.
The system is the solution. Being process dependent, not people dependent, means investing the time and energy to plan your construction projects so that everybody understands what is expected of them.
Microsoft Project is a wonderful tool, and if all you use is 10% of it, just the Gantt chart for scheduling and resource allocation, it cannot help but make you money and save time.
Real-life example: Our main office is a two-story building we purchased at auction for the right price. It was in terrible shape, having been foreclosed on, and appeared to have several years of deferred maintenance. The entire electrical and HVAC systems had to be replaced, with most of the plumbing ripped out or leaking—parts of the foundation and supporting beams and columns needed massive repairs. And there were several tons of debris everywhere inside and outside the building.
We invested over one hundred hours putting together a commercial remodeling project plan which included all new phone lines, data cabling, and an alarm system. The project plan was detailed and broken down into phases with schedules for material deliveries, debris removal, and skilled trades that would be complete in less than thirty days, including all the building permits and final inspection.
We hired our contractor clients to handle most of the work, and Randal was the project manager. At the kickoff meeting, nobody could understand how it could get done in that time frame; however, at one time or another, they all had private strategy sessions with him, which included custom Business Process Management action plans for part or all of their construction company. In every case, the number of his recommendations they implemented was highly successful. This means they increased profits and cash flow by making or saving money.
Remove choice at the operational level. There was a mix of laborers - apprentices, and journeymen, and because it was all orchestrated with a 4' X 6' white dry erase board that we regularly updated with the people's names, tasks they were to perform, and location.
Everyone knew exactly what was expected of them; they had the tools and equipment, we had to rent some of them, and the material arrived just in time.
The entire project turned into a learning experience for most contractors involved because they saw our project management and construction accounting methods come to life before their very eyes. To be clear, it just so happens we are an inch wide and a mile deep in a few areas. Outside our areas of expertise, we are worse off than an apprentice with delusions of adequacy.
In all our construction companies (including our office building project), we also used a process to encourage innovation and optimize production.
Morning Meeting - We provided light snacks, pastries, fruit, bottled water, juice, coffee, and tea. We begin with the legal requirements and end with a sheet of paper listing the goals for the day for EACH Person, which the superintendent/foreman/lead person, whatever title you use, keeps in their portfolio.
Lunch Meeting - We provide lunch for everyone, and EACH Person gives a morning progress report and afternoon target, which is updated on the sheet of paper, listing the goals for the day for EACH Person.
Afternoon Meeting - Work stops ten minutes before everyone is due to clock out, and everyone gives an afternoon progress report and the next day's target, which is updated on the sheet of paper, listing the goals for the day for EACH Person.
Well-fed construction workers produce more work in less time, with fewer mistakes, saving you time and money on your labor, material, warranty work, and other costs.
After a few hours of intense construction work, they could be a bit dehydrated, and having burned several calories, they could be getting important messages from their stomachs regarding food. This usually results in them slowing down a little bit costing your company some profit dollars.
Minds tend to wander when the next step is not clearly understood by your crew, which leads to thinking - a distraction that could lead to injuries, and injuries cost pain, time, and money!
You should find production increasing steadily because everyone has a voice, Journeymen, Apprentices, and Laborers, which creates a positive atmosphere, and as a bonus, you should find substantial increases in innovation as an ongoing process without disrupting production.
About The Author:
Sharie DeHart, QPA is the co-founder of Business Consulting And Accounting in Lynnwood, Washington. She is the leading expert in managing outsourced construction bookkeeping and accounting services companies and cash management accounting for small construction companies across the USA. She encourages Contractors and Construction Company Owners to stay current on their tax obligations and offers insights on how to manage the remaining cash flow to operate and grow their construction company sales and profits so they can put more money in the bank. Call 1-800-361-1770 or email@example.com