by George Hedley
During my first seven years starting and building my construction company, I tried to do it all myself. I did all the estimates and presented the bids; I signed all the contracts, subcontracts, and change orders; I made the big field decisions; I purchased all materials and equipment; I awarded subcontracts; I went to all the job meetings; I supervised concrete slab pours; and made every personnel decision. This made me crazy, raised my weight, and caused most of my hair to fall out!
One evening I took my family for a 'happy' meal at McDonalds. I noticed the boss wasn't there, the employees were sixteen, customers were happy, and the food was consistent and relatively edible. I thought: 'How do they do it without the owner supervising and making every decision?' I asked a server to show me their secret. He took me behind the counter where they have pictures or blueprints clearly displaying how to build the different hamburgers and menu items.
Good people or good systems?
Wow! A huge company runs smoothly using pictures of the finished product. This guarantees consistent quality. Plus the owner doesn't have to be on-site all the time making every decision for every customer's order. If I could do this in my business, I could also build an organized company. This could reduce my dependence on having great people.
A systemized business produces consistent performance and the same results every time. How much money are you losing relying on your people to do their best and not following company installation and operational standards? The results of owning a systemized business include:
- On-time projects
- Quality workmanship
- Safe projects
- Repeat customers
- Always make a profit
All these, with or without you being everywhere all the time! Maybe you can take a regular vacation some day!
Good systems are simple!
Excellent companies have simple systems. Outline each system on one piece of paper, written or drawn detailing a picture of the end result desired to meet your company, customer, or project specification. The best systems are team designed by the people who actually do the work and know how to do it best. For example at hotels, all rooms always look the same when ready to occupy. How do they do this? Simple. A picture of a ready room is shown to the housekeepers and the supervisors explain what's expected. They don't care how the result is accomplished, just that the room is perfect when completed. This simple approach can be applied to every part of your business.
Create a "DO" manual
To organize and systemize your company requires time and money to produce consistent results and get everyone doing business the same way. Create a "DO' manual of pictures, checklists, and guidelines as your company minimum standards. Build a three ring binder of standard systems for every aspect of your company and field operations. Include everything from how to prepare a timecard, calculate change order markup, install slab expansion joints, form door openings in concrete walls, do monthly job close-out, and get paid. Focus on the important things first that will make a difference in your bottom-line. Make a goal to create one system a week and you will be very organized in a year.
7 steps to create systems
#1) Identify areas to systemize. Starting a 'Fix-It' list identifying everything you need to fix in your company. Keep this list handy and add to it when things go wrong. At your manager meetings, pick the top one or two items to systemize every month.
#2) Assign system team. After choosing a system to create, pick three or four people to work on the company standard. Let them pick a convenient time and location to work together for a few hours. Involve those who actually work within the area being systemized. For example, your team might include a project manager, foreman and journeyman when systemizing a field standard.
#3) Draft minimum standards. Create checklists with pictures of the desired end result for each system. Draft it on a standard paper for three hole punching into a binder.
#4) Formalize it. Assign a staff person to be in charge of formalizing and distributing the systems.
#5) Try it. Let the team who created the system try it and work out all the bugs for a few weeks before implementing it company wide.
#6) Implement it. At regular monthly meetings, have the team who created the system present it to the entire company. You must insist everyone do the system per the company standard - no exceptions including yourself. If someone protests, let them put the item back up on the 'Fix-It' list for further revision.
#7) Follow-up. After six months, revisit the new systems to insure they are still being used and working well.
The beauty of systems is not worrying every project will be built the same way. This will allow you to spend your time on important matters as little problems go away. To get started, create a "Fix-It" list today and you will be organized sooner than you think.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
George Hedley is the best-selling author of "Get Your Business to Work!" As a professional speaker and business coach, he helps entrepreneurs and business owners build profitable companies. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org to request your free copy of "Everything Contractors Know About Making A Profit!" or signup for his e-newsletter. To hire George to speak , attend his 'Profit-Builder Circle' academy or find out how he can help your company grow, call 800-851-8553 or visit www.hardhatpresentations.com
3300 Irvine Avenue #135
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Phone (949) 852-2005
Fax (949) 852-3002
Email: email@example.com website: www.hardhatpresentations.com
George Hedley owns a $75 million construction and development company and
Hardhat Presentations. He speaks to companies on building profitable businesses,
leadership, and loyal customers. He holds 3-day in-depth "Profit-Builder
Circles" open to construction company owners in an interactive roundtable
format every 3 months. His "Profit-Builder System" includes proven
tools to always make a profit, build equity, create wealth, win profitable
jobs, motivate your people, and enjoy the benefits of owning a profitable company.