Forward Design Build has been growing so much over the past few years that founder Jef Forward’s biggest problem is figuring out how to unclog his workflow.
“With growing the company, we’ve transitioned from me being in the way to all of us being in the way,” he says. “We’ve literally got so much work coming in right now, my challenge is to not oversell.”
It’s a problem that most companies would be happy to have, but Forward has seen friends and competitors fail because they got too excited and grew too quickly.
“One of the biggest reasons remodeling companies go out of business is that they grow too fast. That was a big ‘a-ha’ moment. We’re doing good financially and I don’t want to get to that point.” To continue growing at a manageable rate, Forward has limited his clients and is taking only jobs in certain areas and of certain types. Right now, that’s primarily kitchen remodels.
To tackle those remodels, his designers have started utilizing virtual design tools internally. “We’ll put it up and fly clients through a project and do different color renderings right there,” Forward says. “It’s been a pretty big change for folks buying in emotionally to the design; cost becomes more secondary. In the last six months, we’ve really incorporated that instead of just presenting paper.”
- New technology can help productivity in the office and with sales for potential clients, but be prepared to train employees and set expectations. “One of the biggest challenges has been getting field personnel to adopt and embrace the tech. It’s lots of in house training. Go over a certain feature of how to do something—that’s gone a long way,” Forward says.
- All of Forward’s lead carpenters are assigned tablets so they can log in and check schedules wherever they may be. Forward maintains schedules using a website called Smartsheet.com. “We run our entire marketing department out of [Smartsheet]. When they’re in the field and they’re looking at the schedule, there’s a link that says framing, and it takes them to the work order that has the estimates in it.”