What has really caught my attention in the NBA and NHL playoffs is how the best teams give equal focus to defense and offense. As the adage goes, “Good defense leads to offense.”

I’ve found the same is true in our business. Offense is easy to track with simple numbers — total leads, total sales, average job size, close rate. But equal attention needs to be paid to the “defense.”

That’s the production side of what we do, and tracking it is not so easy. Sure, we track gross profit and percentage of completion, but those are backward-looking indicators that don’t tell the story as it develops. We need forward-looking insights.

Look ahead

But monitoring key production elements is challenging. How do we know if a job is profitable when it’s only half complete? How can we pro-actively track time when a team is doing both large and small projects? How can we ensure that promises made during the design phase are carried out by our production team?

Our answer was to ask project managers to fill out the Production Dashboard (SM PROVIDE DIRECTIONAL) every two weeks. We have three goals for this process:

Accountability. The dashboard ensures that we consistently follow our “playbook” of best practices learned during our 50 years in business.

Proactive management. We gain visibility into challenges that could arise before they happen.

Communication. By sharing this report with team members and home­owners, everyone knows where our projects stand.

The decentralized nature of our business makes it too easy for some projects to go unnoticed until there is a problem. With this dashboard, that can’t happen.

—Bruce Case is president of Case Design/Remodeling, in Bethesda, Md. bcase@casedesign.com Click to read more from Bruce Case.