When Annette Greco noticed that her projects were going over schedule, she knew she had to take action. "I was hearing excuses like, 'The salesman didn't catch something,'" says the co-owner of Greco Remodelers Manassas, Va. "We wanted to create more accountability on the part of our production staff."

To accomplish that goal, the company began using a "potential work difficulties" form. Once a job is sold and walk-through is complete, Greco's lead carpenters are required to review the project plan and note any snags, like extra labor or longer lead times for special orders, on the form.

"If a problem comes up and keeps adding work, then you can't get out of there," Greco says. "Now, we head it off before it starts."

The form itself is simple. Spaces at the top identify the job, and the lead signs the bottom. In between, there is ample room for description of the potential problems. A second section is provided to identify any work beyond what's in the contract.

In use for about a year, Greco's form has been submitted for 10 of 230 jobs.