Scott Truberg, financial manager of Creative Design Construction and Remodeling, Northvale, N.J., realized that poor communication between field and office staff was eating into company profits. “Because information wasn't organized, the office was constantly calling project managers with questions about job costs, inspections, subcontractors, and more,” he says. “It was very inefficient.” So CDCR set out to alleviate the problem. The result: “The Wallet.”

The Wallet is a communication system designed to capture an array of critical information about jobs-in-progress in a format that is easy for office staff to document and track. There are seven tracking tools:

Subcontractor project summary sheet. The project manager completes this form for each job, noting expected sub schedules for the coming week as well as the inspections needed. Using this form, admin staff can confirm that these outside parties are aware of and will meet the expected schedule.

Timecards. Break down exactly what each employee is doing on each particular job and for how long. There's also space to track overtime.

Logistics summary sheet. Helps maintain a schedule for countertop templates and installations, repairs, cabinet and miscellaneous deliveries, and new job starts that will be in progress during the upcoming week.

Weekly job cost summary sheet. All receipts are tracked on this form — what was purchased, who purchased it, and type of expense. “Now that we are tracking [job costs] we've discovered that our estimates were not accurate in several areas; so we revised our estimates to make sure that we reach our gross profit goals,” Truberg says.

Team forecasting summary sheet. Used to manage human resources, to know who is going to be on which job, and to be able to move people around to the highest-priority areas. Project managers receive a copy at the weekly meeting.

One-week look-ahead. Helps project managers efficiently schedule and complete weekly goals. They fill out their look-ahead for each project and then discuss their progress at the next meeting. By having clearly written goals, Truberg and owner Glenn Lumia have seen an increase in efficiency among the field staff.

Change order summary sheet with lessons learned. Here, project managers track any alterations homeowners have made since the final contract was signed, capturing all the change orders. At the bottom of the form, project managers fill out a “lessons learned” section, which is discussed at the weekly team meeting.

Truberg says The Wallet has substantially helped the entire organization capture critical information, learn from it, and improve the operation to help reach the company's goal of being a lean, mean, profit-making machine.

Victoria Downing is president of Remodelers Advantage, Laurel, Md.; 301.490.5620. Her new book, 101 Power Tips: Great Business Ideas From America's Top Remodeling Companies, will be available in October.