Endless phone calls. Extra trips to the site. Irate, tired-of-waiting customers. All of these problems worsen when a budget question crops up mid-project and goes unresolved for a period of time because only the company owner can answer it.
John Keohane of Keohane Construction Co., Dedham, Mass., has figured out a unique way to deal with this issue. He shares his budget with his lead carpenter and project manager at the beginning of the job and makes sure that they understand it completely. They then have the authority to make budgetary decisions without consulting him. “Not only does it save me time, but then my crew has an ownership in the project, and they feel more connected to it,” Keohane says. As long as the additional expense will keep the project within 2% of budget, they can go ahead with it. Management meets every month to go over the non-billable change orders and move money from one account to another as needed.
The policy has led to increased customer satisfaction because there is no longer a delay on resolving unexpected issues. Keohane also attributes his company's low employee turnover to systems such as this one — specifically, the ability to “delegate without turning my back on the project. [Carpenters] know I have confidence in them, but that if they do have a question, I am available.”
This policy, which has been in effect for about four years, has given Keohane more time to focus on something often overlooked in the remodeling business: marketing. He has been able to use the extra time to generate leads, go on more sales calls, and better organize his business.