Dennis D. Gehman, CR, CLC
Gehman Custom Builder
The first payment is collected by the salesperson at the time the contract is signed. During the pre-construction conference, the salesperson introduces the project manager to the clients. We also review the investment schedule and let the clients know that the project manager will tell them a few days ahead of time when a project approaches a milestone that requires payment. The project manager collects these checks, as well as payment for additional work orders. It works best to have the project managers collect the checks because they're on site every day and building a strong relationship with the client. If there is a problem and the clients withhold the payment, it gives the project manager an opportunity to talk with the client to find out what's wrong so the problem can be corrected immediately.
Don Boozer Construction
We do not use the lead carpenter system. All our workers are subcontractors. We have a project manager who is responsible for jobs. He or she determines the draw schedule with the customer prior to the contract and is responsible for collecting the payments.
Kathleen Ostrom, CR
C. N. Ostrom & Son
My lead carpenter will often collect payments. It makes sense for the lead carpenter to pick up the check because he is on site more often and at the times when the client is available. If we are talking about a change order payment and the client is aware of the costs, the lead will also collect that. If it is a big surprise, I will handle this myself and meet with the client to discuss costs and collect the payment.
In the cases where the lead carpenter does not collect, I collect the checks when I do a site visit. I have also had some clients who just mail the check when they see the progress of the job as related to the advance due -- such as when the drywall is delivered. Others leave checks at the site for us.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Our associates and lead carpenters present the bill and collect the money. That's our policy because they are the ones with the most direct and trusted relationship with the client. They are also the most knowledgeable about the details of the project, and thus most qualified to answer any questions should any arise regarding the invoice. The associate or lead is the one who prepares the bid or estimate and knows the numbers intimately. By having clear invoices, clear expectations, and a quality project that runs on schedule, we are most often able to collect at the weekly meeting when the bill is presented.
As the company owner, I collect the down payment on projects I sell. I do this when the production manager isn't going to be available. He usually collects the regular payments. We also collect many progress payments through the mail. Lead carpenters only collect payments if they are running the entire project, which is common on smaller jobs. Collections are a part of the job description of the production manager. He's good at it and knows the timing of the payment schedule. Plus, he sees most clients most days, so it's convenient. We don't necessarily want our carpenters to get much into the dollar side of the business. They have control over their labor hours but not over material costs.