It is not unusual for the problems a remodeling company experiences to be blamed on the production department. The odd thing is that production is typically not the problem. Rather, it is the victim. Here are examples of corporate dysfunctions that illustrate what I mean.

Sales-Driven, Not Results-Driven
Getting signatures on contracts is the main goal of some companies. All else is sacrificed, forcing the company to be stressed by problems that could be avoided. This irrationality usually is stopped by the company using up all its cash (and sometimes other clients’ deposits) to pay for the resulting mistakes.

Territory Is Too Large
What is the maximum distance from the company’s office that a client’s residence can be in which the company can still successfully serve their needs while not using up a lot of time? It depends.

If the company does small jobs ($25,000 or less) that get done in a short time (3 weeks or so), then the territory needs to be a fairly small radius. There will be multiple trips to and from the office and to different supply houses. Over 20 minutes of drive time from the office to the projects will chew up a lot of time and payroll.

If the company does large jobs ($75,000 to $100,000 plus) that take several months, the territory can be larger. There will likely be the need for fewer emergency runs to suppliers and the office. As there is so much that needs to be done if a worker does not have what he needs to do one task he can switch to another for that day.

Over 40 minutes in either case and there is no way that production can be productive, as driving around a lot does not generate income.

Ineffective Screening of Potential Clients
Production suffers immensely when sales allows the company to work for unmanageable clients.

How can serving the needs of a bad client ever be estimated accurately? If production is working for someone who needs to talk to the project manager or lead carpenter every day--or, worse, several times a day--how can the job get done on time?

Slowing down and being deliberate during the intake process and the initial meeting with a potential client can protect the production department from dealing with folks like these.

Selection Process Not Completed
Starting a project before the selection process is complete is not smart. Often the job “must” start because the company needs revenue or the salesperson gave the potential client a start date without checking with production before doing so.

Now production is going to be rebuilding things as the selections get decided on, because what is chosen often affects the rough-in work. This happens with tile a lot. Reworking the area to be tiled sized to receive the tile elegantly can only be done once the tile is picked.

Incomplete Plans
Drawings that have not been thought through because “production can figure it out” do get the project started. However, the resulting head-scratching time and tearing out work to rebuild it take accounted for time and demotivate the production team.

Poor Estimating
A good estimate is a recipe for success. With a scope of work derived from a good estimate, the production department can get the job done.

An incomplete estimate creates a lot of work for production. For example, with no quotes from trade contractors and vendors having been secured by estimating, the production department staff now needs to do that. This slows down production and contributes to lower profits, jobs taking too long, and unhappy clients.

Production Manager Running Projects
In high-performing production departments the production manager only manages the project managers/lead carpenters/etc. The production manager helps those folks be more successful than they would be otherwise.

When a production manager is supposed to do that AND run some projects, it’s inevitable the production manager becomes overwhelmed. The result is often projects not getting completed on time and elegantly. The company’s reputation is damaged and all who work in the company feel frustrated.

Production Department Overloaded
There is only so much a given production department can get done. Yes, it would be better if they could get more done, but that is not being realistic.

By acknowledging the capacity limits of the production department and planning start dates accordingly the company can actually complete projects on time.

Sales Absent After the Sale
Sales is the promise maker. Production is the promise keeper. It is that simple.

How can production deliver as the promise keeper if sales is not checking in on the project, informally at least, every couple of weeks? How can the client feel appreciated if sales does not check in with them every couple of weeks?

With the production team and the client left high and dry by sales they end up resentful and frustrated. The results are the production team being less productive and the client being more upset.

Job Completion Reviews Not Done
When a company is constantly behind it thinks there is not enough time to do job completion reviews (otherwise known as “job autopsies”).

The result is the company repeats, over and over, the same mistakes. It never learns from its mistakes.

What a depressing environment to work in.

How can this all be changed for the better?

First, instead of focusing on blame, focus on what can be improved. Work as a team to do this.

Second, learn from the mistakes, don’t repeat them.

And finally, get everybody on the same page. After all, the company only succeeds when all departments are doing what only will get done if they do it. And everyone in the company realizes they need the help of everyone else.