With the economic slowdown, jobs are smaller, more difficult to get, and sometimes at decreased margins. Material costs are rising and about the only way to make a profit is to control or reduce labor costs. But how?

  • Create participation. Now more than ever, everyone must care if each job meets budget. Share financial information with those who will have an impact on the budget. Present the numbers in a clear, understandable way, and help staff understand the impact of small changes in behavior.
  • Set up for success. Carefully review the budget with your lead carpenter and create a detailed plan for completing the job within that budget. This is a goal-setting exercise. A little time spent up front will go a long way. If the lead carpenter feels that the budget cannot be met for a particular phase, set a plan to lessen the loss.
  • Use job cost reports. Print and review job cost reports every week with key people, with an eye toward how to correct the process. Discuss and plan how to meet the budget for each phase. The more everyone is looking for savings, the more likely you will find them.
  • Be careful with mixed messages. Buying a new truck, upgrading electronics, or holding expensive parties will send a message of “crying poor.” This will lead to a distrust of you and lead to a slack attitude on the job. All your actions must underscore that this is a tough time. —Tim Faller, Field Training Services, www.leadcarpenter.com.