Making Your Construction Company More Productive

Create Systems For Increased For Productivity

Let’s get right to the point. In the construction industry, it is imperative to have systems in place to increase productivity and ultimately, profitability. From bookkeeping to personnel time management, systems will ease frustrations of day-to-day operations and provide customers with the best possible product and experience.

One of the goals for my company this year was to increase the productivity of my daily operations to allow more time spent growing the business and with my family.  To accomplish this, I incorporated some systems to ensure that each day ran as smoothly as possible. I began this process by evaluating the issues that hamper our daily productivity.

Time Commitments Elsewhere

When I leave a job site, the productivity of my employees goes down by about 25%. This isn’t due to my physical absence but rather the reduction in employee productivity. While many may say I need new employees, business owners understand this is a common scenario.  Employees stay more focused when a supervisor is around. In order to improve this situation the goal was to reduce my time away from the jobsite.

One of my duties as a business owner is meeting with potential new and current clients. This includes bidding new jobs, walk-throughs with current customers and checking on subcontractors at various sites.  While I do TRY to accommodate every customer, there must be an agreement on mutual meeting times that are most convenient to my operation. If the time that works for the potential client simply isn’t a good time for me, I politely tell them that we need to reschedule.  I always try to dedicate a few hours a week to meet with new prospective clients.  This allows me to be proactive in time management and not be at the whim of everyone’s schedule.

When managing subcontractors, I check on each job as early as possible in the morning to ensure there are no issues that need to be addressed. Dedicating this time allows me to get in the right frame of mind for the work day.

Material Runs

Material runs are another task that pulls me away from job sites. Nothing kills momentum on a project quicker than having to pull off when you realize you won’t have the materials needed to finish.

As far as building material goes, I HIGHLY recommend getting an account and finding a good salesman at a local lumber supplier. I can’t count the times my salesman has personally brought me a few boards or some flashing tape so I can stay focused on the job at hand. Having to run to the local big box store simply does not make sense.

As far as consumables, (fasteners, glue, shims, etc), the fix for this was simple. I needed a way to track inventory in my tool trailer and make sure that I had everything necessary to finish the job.

I opted for a storage system that allowed easy access to check inventory and a white board that everyone writes down when items need to be restocked. This allows quick access at the end of the day to the inventory on hand and allows time to purchase what is necessary before work begins.

Tool Trailer Trips

As every contractor knows, it sucks when you don’t have the tool you need handy. This is the sole reason we wear tool bags. Keeping the tools we use most often on us at all times is imperative and it happened to be the first lesson I learned when starting in the trades. If anyone was caught not wearing their tool bags at any point within the day, we had to buy the whole crew coffee and donuts the next day.

This same principle should be applied to all tools. Throughout any given day, I would send someone to grab a tool that was already out or have to quit in the middle of a project to go find the right tool. More often than not, it was buried underneath other tools or put in the wrong spot. There had to be a better way.

Enter portable, modular storage boxes. These have been a great improvement for our productivity. Being able to quickly grab every tool we might need for that job without having to make multiple trips has seriously improved our productivity and my overall agreeableness.

A fringe benefit of the boxes is the time savings of getting out and rolling up the tools every day. This system has saved me at least 30 minutes each day by not making a ton of trips to put away individual tools. Over the course of a year, this alone has paid for all the boxes.

Daily Grind

The last major “time sucker” of our days was crew members physically wearing down each day. I noticed that all the guys would get sluggish an hour or two before lunch time and around 2:30 pm. I decided to break the day into parts. We take two 15-minute breaks at 9:45 am and 2:30 pm. This allows me to discuss any potential issues they are having on a job and gives us more times to “shoot for”. For instance, “Try to get that bedroom base trim finished up before lunch.” or “Let’s get the roof sheathed before afternoon break.” With more manageable goals and a little competition to finish before a given time, our productivity has been soaring.

Final Note

While every company is structured differently, having systems in place will undoubtedly improve your productivity and bottom line. So, take note of your deficiencies and try to incorporate ways that address these issues. The systems employed in my company have made this our most profitable year ever, and I guarantee they will work for your company as well.

About the author

Will Endicott

William Endicott is a licensed contractor in the State of Missouri and is the principal of a custom home building and renovation company. After attending the University of Kansas, he began working full time in the trades and soon after, started his own company. As a second generation carpenter, William grew up around job sites and discovered his love of tools. He now enjoys finding tools that help give his clients the best possible quality, while also helping to keep his company productive and profitable. In his spare time, he enjoys woodworking projects, fishing and spending time with his wife and three children.

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