One way to lose time on a job is by failing to supply the installation crew with all the necessary materials or by having materials that are the wrong size or specification. To avoid this, consider using a checklist system.

“Our whole work procedure is set up on systems,” says Jim Lett, president of A.B.E. Doors and Windows in Allentown, Pa. “Each item the customer purchases is put in a job order listing the quantities of materials.” The company's product distribution manager handles job scheduling and ensures all materials for scheduled jobs are in the warehouse. “A week before we begin work on a job,” Lett says, “we go over the job order checklist to make sure we have everything in the warehouse, ready for transportation to the jobsite.”

Because sunrooms are the most complicated and longest job for exterior contractors, companies can't afford to have a project held up due to missing parts. That's why Four Seasons Sun and Shade, in Bristol, Pa., has two operations assistants who use the company's installation checklist system to track job materials from the order process through to jobsite delivery.

“We have 12 installation crews,” company president Al Lopez says, “and we always ask them to think two days in advance. That way we'll have time to get things in if anything for a job is missing.”

Keeping 12 crews on schedule means ensuring all materials are on the jobsite on day one of construction. “We track everything in our database,” Lopez says. “The more that's done ahead of time, the easier it is at the jobsite.” Easier, and less costly, too. “It costs money when something's overlooked and materials have to be shipped overnight,” Lopez points out.

Robin Gray, sales administrator with Bob Showers Windows and Sunrooms, Philipsburg, Pa., says it pays to check and double-check materials lists.

The bottom line is that it pays to stay organized. “Invest as much as you can in pre-planning and staging,” Lopez says. It will save time, money, and hassle in the long run.