Revamping the preconstruction process has been a vital focus for Michael Hodgin, a finalist for the Fred Case Remodeling Entrepreneur of the Year Award. It's one of the adjustments he has made to spur Coleman Creek Construction's 68% growth in total remodeling revenue, from $2.3M for 2017 to $3.4M for 2018 with an 11% net profit.
"We recognized the biggest contributor to diminished net profits for a design/build company is when design and construction schedules are out of sync," Michael explains. "Often, this is because a design process renders a set of plans over budget, and [once this is identified] the process must start over, delaying production."
Using Basecamp 3, an interactive database, Michael and his team created a streamlined operations manual. Basecamp 3 allows teams to consolidate documents and communications and establish a workflow in which everyone knows what everyone else is doing. For the Coleman Creek team, it allowed the company to have flow charts, checklists, and if/then processes with links to supporting data, including client-facing material, all with the goal of keeping clients and team members completely informed throughout the preconstruction phase. "The goal was to have no surprises at contract signing," Michael emphasized.
A key factor was to create a repeatable process with as little subjective input from the owner during the process as possible, Michael explains. "The team was able to create a flow chart showing the major milestones and interactions with the client. Then, supporting documents were created to detail the process, which triggered actions by teammates and notifications to the clients." In this way, each job is tracked with timelines and actions for future modifications to the process.
"It was ambitious to tackle a process linearly, while the company was moving full-speed ahead," Michael admits. "We learned how closely tied the preconstruction process is to sales." But this blessedly opened an opportunity to train the preconstruction team in sales, which the company accomplished with help from an outside consultant. "The net result is a process that is becoming increasingly easier to follow," Michael continues, "and clients are responding with positive feedback." Better than even that, targets for production are becoming more predictable, leading to fewer delays, less confusion during production, and more consistent net profits.