As a company grows to where the owner can't personally monitor it day-to-day, week-to-week, or even month-to-month, processes must enable the owner to keep abreast of the business.
This requires that the company set up at least two systems. First, it's necessary to produce a weekly, monthly, and quarterly accounting of requests received to set appointments with prospective customers; the closing ratio on each project type, complete with job size and profit estimate; and a list of every job in process on a monthly and quarterly basis (this report might include whether the project was on budget, running on time, was still being completed to the satisfaction of the customer, and requests for change orders).
Second, a monthly report on all completed projects should include the following information.
- Customer satisfaction. Lead carpenters should ask at pre-completion punch list meetings if the customer is satisfied, and the company should send a job satisfaction sheet for the customer to fill out two weeks later.
- Net and gross profit on each job. And lead carpenters must know the company's approach to markups and margins.
- If necessary, the specific problems on each job and the steps taken to resolve them.
- Reports on problems with manufacturers, retailers, or subs.
Keep in Touch
Depending on the size of the company, it should hold monthly meetings with sales staff, the production coordinator, and lead carpenters to make sure the process is, indeed, working.
Annually, the company owner should meet with each lead carpenter to find out if they're happy with their position and what suggestions they have for changes. If turnover is high, it should be investigated. Lead carpenter turnover could mean many things, among them, that they're over their heads on the lead carpenter concept and want to go back to the old two-man crew; that they don't want to work alone; or that there's a lack of opportunity to grow in the company. The production manager should use the same approach with subcontractors.
More companies are opening up their finances to office and key production staff. This approach enables the owner to communicate with key people regularly and work harder to increase company profit.
If you take these steps, don't forget to monitor employees' response to the information. This will be helpful in finding out if problems exist.
Stay Healthy, From the Bottom Up
In meetings, the company owner or manager should emphasize that company success is tied to performance in the field. If the office and field staffs are aware of any problems, the company should know about it.
It can't be emphasized enough that in both remodeling and handyman segments of the industry, there's a major movement toward bottom-up management. It started with the lead carpenter concept and has been carried over into the handyman world. This means that training is critical to company success. There's no longer the production manager of the old days, who was responsible for everything in the field.
This bottom-up management concept is going to speed up the use of the well-trained field man but at the same time require that each project be totally organized before it starts.
The preconstruction conference — between the customer, the lead carpenter, the salesperson, and the production coordinator — enables the remodeler to transfer day-to-day management of the project to the lead carpenter.
Tracking these meetings is yet one more way to monitor jobs, and your business. Doing so will ensure that you stay on track, not just day to day, and job to job, but for the lifetime of your business. Monitor your business well, and it will stay healthy. — Walt Stoeppelwerth is a publisher of management and estimating information for remodelers. 800.638.8292; firstname.lastname@example.org;www.hometechonline.com.