Justin Gabbard

You probably lack the time to monitor whether your workers are stealing from you or failing to work efficiently, but you have a friend that can: your building material supplier. Next time you visit your local dealer, ask for three things:

1) Reports showing which of your employees recently bought tools and materials. Those reports could turn up cases of workers buying stuff that wasn’t needed for the job at hand — and that ultimately ended up in the worker’s garage rather than in your inventory.

2) A breakdown by project and by project manager of all materials that were returned for credit. On which jobs were lots of materials sent back? That could suggest bad planning by you or the manager. On the other hand, which project manager hardly ever sent back stuff? Lower-than-normal returns could be a sign that the manager is pilfering those materials.

3) A list showing how many times particular employees came into the store. It’s a waste of money for a carpenter to take 60 minutes of his time and $5 worth of gas to buy an emergency bag of screws, especially when good planning could have avoided the shortfall.

—Craig Webb is editor-in-chief of REMODELING. Find him on Twitter at @RemodelingMag.