In an industry faced with labor-force challenges,
quality-control issues, pinched margins, and tight time lines, anyone who wants
to succeed with and grow their construction business must always be on the lookout
for ways to improve all aspects of its services. I would suggest that one of
the most significant ways to do this is to expand your sub-consciousness. Now
I know this may sound like another rant on the meaning of life, but bear with
me; this time I'll keep it very simple.
If you are a GC or builder bringing subcontractors onto your sites,
take a good hard look at who they are, what kind of work they do for you, and
how you treat them. The more competitive the market you're in, the more important
it will be for you to review how conscious your company is of its most important
jobsite resource–your subs. What can you do to help them succeed on your
projects, from providing information on scheduling and specs to jobsite conditions
and preparedness when they show up? Help them make money on your projects through
coordination and efficiency and you'll become a preferred customer in terms
of both scheduling and quality control.
It works both ways. If you're a subcontractor, take a look at
whom you're sending to represent your business, what kind of work they do when
on site, and how they interact with your general contractors. What is your relationship
with your client base, how well do communication and information flow, and what
can you add to your services that can help your customers improve their overall
quality and profitability?
Also pay close attention to how you treat your trade employees
and to whether the environment you provide allows them to do their best work.
Morale is a funny thing; it can be a positive force that shines brightly in
positive attitudes and quality work or a black cloud that darkens a jobsite
and brings everyone down. It's contagious either way, but nobody wants to work
with a company that sends disgruntled employees to their jobsites.
No matter how hard you focus on marketing and managing your projects,
it all comes down to who shows up to do the work and how prepared they are when
they arrive. And their output is directly related to your input. Best practices
point to pulling your trade subcontractors and project managers together at
the start of a project for a pre-construction huddle, maybe even early enough
to catch design flaws that can still be straightened out, but certainly in time
to work out efficient sequencing of each trade and coordination of overlapping
schedules. Designate a point-man team with representatives from each company
that can create a framework for teamwork and that clarifies the path for communication
during the heat of battle.
In addition to working out scheduling issues, this group also
should review plans and specs with an eye toward booby traps, tricky details,
and proper ordering and delivery of materials. Then, as a group, agree on the
overall planning and timing. More importantly, agree to share timely information
that affects the overall plan so that everyone can adjust to changing conditions
on the ground.