Business Building: Get Your BIZ-Systems Working!

Words: George Hedley
George Hedley
  Dave owns Progressive Steel Contractors and called me for some help with his company. As the economy had gotten better, his workload was taking a toll on his ability to get everything done. He was too busy, out of control, couldn’t get his employees to be accountable or responsible, and had to constantly remind them what they needed to do all day every day? Do you ever feel weighted down with a heavy load on your shoulders? With today’s added pressure to do more faster with less, how can you get it all done? What should you do first and where do you start? Dave’s company was up to ten jobs under construction at all times, and the management team had expanded to four project managers, two estimators, six people in administration and accounting, eight field superintendents, five foreman, and fifty men on his concrete crew. His goal was to have a profitable organized company run by his management team. But he was still trying to do too much himself, not letting go, and having trouble delegating. In other words, he was a driven control freak trying to be involved with making every important decision. As Dave explained his daily routine, he said he worked with estimators on every bid, presented every proposal, tried to attend most job meetings, was onsite at every concrete pour, reviewed progress payment invoices, approved major purchases, signed every contract and subcontract, and was involved in every aspect of the operation. Dave even got involved in unimportant little decisions like purchasing office supplies and computers, hiring, firing, equipment maintenance, contract management, and what kind of coffee to buy for the office. No matter how hard he tried to delegate, empower others and let go, he just couldn’t. Dave said it was easier to do things himself than trust his people. His actions kept him stressed-out, overworked, and drove employees crazy as he changed his mind often, was short tempered, and expected perfection. He was impatient and frustrated that employees didn’t seem to care or work as hard as him. Therefore, it had also become difficult to get good people to stay at the company, as he was a micromanager trying to control their every move.  What should you do to fix your company? Most people have gone to McDonalds restaurant and watched their precision and organized operation, even without the boss in front of the line directing traffic and cooking hamburgers. How do they do it without the owner supervising, putting out fires, and making every decision? If you have ever looked behind the counter, you’ll see pictures clearly displaying how to build hamburgers and every other menu item. It’s simple to get organized and in control. A huge multi-location company runs smoothly by using simple pictures and checklists of the finished product so things can always be done the same way every time. The pictures clearly show employees what’s expected, and guarantees consistent quality and performance by even less-than-perfect employees. Plus, the owner doesn’t have to be on-site all-day supervising preparation of every customer’s order. If McDonald’s could do this in their company, why couldn’t Dave, or you? Written BIZ-SYSTEMS produce perfect results! Written systems, guidelines, and standards are the key to building an excellent organized company. Just like in football, written playbooks showing how you want things done with checklists, pictures, and systems reduce your dependence on finding super human people who can read your mind and do work exactly the way you want them to do, without constant supervision, checking, or inspection. Companies controlled by owners who have all the systems in their head can’t grow beyond the owner’s ability to be everywhere all the time. They get stuck at the level at which the owner can do work, direct traffic, and control the work flow. Systems allow companies to produce the same results every time, in the office and the field. With written, followed, and trained systems, you won’t have one manager or foreman handling decisions or installation methods one way and another doing things differently. Systems insure the little things are taken care of without you constantly reminding people to do them the way you expect them done. Systems allow you to focus on important tasks that make you the most money. Systems allow you to deliver consistent results to your bottom-line, your customers, and your projects every time, without you being there, making every decision, and looking over everyone’s shoulder. Business owners & customers want to count on the same thing every time! That includes every production method, meeting agenda, field operation, customer interaction, decision, selling opportunity, transaction, finished product, service, job, or project. You don’t want to rely on people to remember what you tell them to do. Whether it’s getting customer approvals or signatures in writing, following up on a contract or delivery, measuring before you cut, asking the right questions before you give final prices, ordering the right materials, starting jobs, handling invoices, checking your quality, or filling out employee timecards. You want all of your employees in management, estimating, supervision, administration, sales, accounting, and field production doing things the same way. Keep BIZ-Systems Simple! I’ve noticed that winning coaches use written playbooks, and excellent companies have simple systems. For example, at hotels, all rooms always look the same when they’re ready to be occupied. How do they do this? Simple! Supervisors show the housekeepers what they want by displaying a clear picture or checklist of a finished and occupant-ready room. They don’t care how the final results are accomplished, just that rooms are perfect and the same as every other room in the hotel when they’re done. This simple approach can be applied to every part of your business.  Where does your construction company need the most immediate help? Dave finally realized it takes more than hiring magnificent project managers, fantastic supervisors, perfect foreman, great field employees, excellent contract administrators, and professional accounting staff. No matter how good people are, they’re not going to make your company perform the way you want it to. Why? Because they don’t know what or how you want things done on a regular consistent basis. When your business isn’t organized or systemized with written procedures and company standards to follow, the results aren’t consistent, and your company is constantly out of control, relying on you to put out fires and make every decision to keep balls in the air. Without written systems, even the greatest employees can’t deliver consistent results without you showing them how to accomplish what you want done all the time. And you spend your time running around solving problems, putting out fires, making decisions, directing traffic, inspecting work, and micro-managing others, while your company stays stuck at the same level and you go crazy. As a concrete tilt-up building contractor, Dave’s company was having problems with proper installation of metal door frames poured into exterior concrete walls. When installed wrong, they would not end up perfectly plumb and true, doors didn’t fit right, and therefore wouldn’t open and close properly. As this problem occurred often, he soon discovered fixing bad door frames cost a lot of money. After closer inspection, he realized frames were often twisted or kinked, which caused doors to not swing properly. He found out some foremen were not bracing the frames rigid enough prior to pouring wet concrete into the door-frame forms. Therefore, the weight of wet concrete was causing frames to bend and twist. But this wasn’t the real problem – they were relying on each foreman to decide how to install door frames on their own. What should he do to stop this problem? Implement BIZ-Systems using the team approach! Dave didn’t have a company-wide system in place to ensure these problems wouldn’t occur. The fix was simple: create a standardized pre-pour door frame installation technique and bracing system for every crew to follow on every project. By getting his foremen together, they developed a company standard to ensure every frame was installed the right way. Once the system was implemented and trained, it saved lots of money, time, and aggravation, as well as increasing reliability and quality workmanship. What recurring problems are costing you tons of money and aggravation every year? Most company owners tell me their list of recurring problems is endless, that they get overwhelmed and frustrated and don’t know where to start. Which BIZ-System should you install first? The biggest problem with getting organized and systemized is finding time to do it. It seems like a monumental task to organize and systemize your entire company with a detailed written playbook of checklists, standards, comprehensive procedures, and operational systems. It only takes a small time commitment to make each written system happen in your company. I recommend you set aside one, two, or four hours a week to begin systemizing your company. Start by making a list of things you want to fix or standardize. Select the ones that cost you the most money or time. If you create one or two standard systems every month, you’ll have twelve to twenty-four systems installed by the end of a year. And as Dave told me, it’s amazing what a few standardized systems will do for your company. Work towards creating a three-ring company “DO MANUAL” playbook binder of systems for every important task performed. Most employees only need ten to twenty systems or checklists and pictures of how you want things done consistently. This will eliminate most problems, crises, and fires that ruin your bottom-line, production, profits, and calendar every day. To get started creating BIZ-Systems in your company, email to get a free copy of ‘BIZ-Systems Checklist For Contractors!’ Systems will free you to focus your time on priorities that’ll deliver the highest return, like creating more profitable revenue, streamlining your operations, or motivating employees to become better. With a written playbook and systems in place, you’ll free up time to concentrate on business growth opportunities, like converting repeat customers into loyal customers, looking for ways to maximize your bottom-line profits, motivating and inspiring people, improving productivity, and finding time to enjoy the benefits of business ownership.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR George Hedley CSP CPBC is a certified professional construction BIZCOACH and popular industry speaker. He helps contractors grow, make more profit, build management teams, improve field production, and get their businesses to work for them.  He is the best-selling author of “Get Your Construction Business To Always Make A Profit!” available on  E-mail to sign-up for his free e-newsletter, start a personalized BIZCOACH program, attend a 2 ½ day BIZ-BUILDER Boot Camp, or get a discount at online university for contractors.   George Hedley CSP CPBC HARDHAT Presentations BIZCOACH BIZSCHOOL Email:     website: 
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