I recently attended a meeting of production managers from around the country and was reminded of the importance of this position. Focusing on supporting your production manager is one of the strongest moves you can make during these challenging times.

A production manager needs a unique range of skills, including outstanding time management; the ability to coach and train others; being capable of interacting efficiently and effectively with clients, subcontractors, and suppliers; and an understanding of project budgets. However, having all of these skills does not guarantee success. If you want your production manager to succeed, you must also provide him protected time to do his job.

What is protected time? It’s time for the production manager to review every construction contract before the client signs. You might be surprised by what he finds. One of our production managers recognized a substantial savings that could be gained by using a different framing technique. Another insisted that we add a scaffolding system to the proposal that, in retrospect, was essential to the job.

Protected time also allows for a minimum of three weeks between contract signing and construction start. During this time, encourage your production manager to ask questions. Allow him to prepare for the job start by reviewing or establishing the construction schedule and identifying milestones to complete the job by the proposed deadline.

Your team can also use this time to set up a pre-construction meeting with the clients as well as a separate meeting between the production team and the architect. For example, the design may have a complicated framing connection point that requires either a special-order hanger or a custom steel hanger. Meeting with the architect allows the production manager to include procurement time in the schedule for the hanger.

Setting aside three weeks to review critical details allows issues to be resolved before construction begins, which is essential in today’s tough market where we have a limited margin of error.

Peter Pagenstecher is a principal of Brenneman & Pagenstecher, an upscale remodeling company based in Kensington, Md.