Bob Sturgeon was in the middle of an employee review when the idea came up: The employee wanted to know if it would be possible to hold a monthly or weekly meeting for everyone in the company.
Two weeks later, Sturgeon set up a weekly production meeting. The goal of the meetings is to discuss the anywhere from three to seven projects his company is working on at any given time, with a view to driving down slippage.
Sturgeon's company, Westside Remodeling, Thousand Oaks, Calif., was shooting for a 35% gross profit on its jobs but was regularly coming in at 28% to 30%. Sturgeon wasn't really sure why, but he did know that he needed to find out -- especially because he had added an office manager and a production manager without substantially increasing volume.
"As we grew and took on overhead," he says, "it became more and more important to hit that number."
The meetings are held Wednesday mornings at 7 in the company offices. The production manager, office manager, owner, and lead carpenters attend. Sturgeon takes notes throughout the week for discussion. After that, the meeting moves to the state of current projects. Participants review daily job logs, job schedules, and job-cost reports on all projects as they progress.
Sturgeon says he realized that much of the slippage was due to incomplete estimating, among other causes. It took six months of weekly meetings for him to begin to see a reduction in slippage. The first quarter of this year, the company hit its gross profit targets exactly. In addition, Sturgeon says the meetings have had an effect on morale. Employees "have realized they only have so many hours to get things done. That changed people's attitudes. That and the fact that we're all paying attention."