The Artisans Group in Olympia, Wash., uses allowances for most of the products and materials used for its projects — one project could have as many as 25 or more allowances. To track these allowances, the company created a simple Excel spreadsheet that lists the allowance, the actual amount spent, and the difference.
Although at first the Artisans Group only completed this Master Reconciliation Sheet at the end of a project, as time went by the sheet became increasingly detailed. Chris McDonald and his team began updating it every few weeks to track a project from start to finish. They also began including change orders and any separate, small projects done at the house.
Every two weeks, the production manager uses invoices to update the sheet and gives the homeowners a copy of the summary page. McDonald says that the sheet has proved to be an invaluable customer management tool. “It has helped the bottom line. If we get additional cost under the client's nose in writing in a timely fashion, they emotionally sign off on the price long before they experience the cost. So they don't argue when it's time to pay,” McDonald says.