January 2015: Business Building

Words: George HedleyJanuary 2015

Business Building

Replace Yourself With Written Systems

During my first seven years building my construction company, I tried to do too much myself. I put all the estimates together and presented the bids; awarded, negotiated and signed all the contracts, subcontracts and change orders; made the big field decisions; purchased all materials and equipment; went to all the job meetings; supervised concrete slab pours; and made every personnel decision. I couldn’t let go, because we didn’t have any written systems or training programs to insure everyone knew what and how to do things the way I wanted them done.

One evening, I took my family for a Happy Meal at McDonald’s. I noticed the boss wasn’t there, the employees were 16 years old, customers were happy, and the food was consistent and relatively edible. I wondered who decided how many pickles to put on the hamburgers to assure each one was the same. Is there a pickle inspector, or does each burger flipper decide? I asked a server to show me the secret. He took me behind the counter where they have pictures or blueprints clearly displaying how to build a hamburger with two pickles.

Good people or good systems?

So, a huge company runs smoothly using simple pictures of the finished products. This guarantees consistent quality and results. Plus, the owner doesn’t have to be on site all the time supervising, juggling and deciding for each order. If I could do this in my business, I also could build a systemized, well-organized company. This could reduce my dependence on having great people. And, it would allow me to grow beyond the level of what I can control, micromanage and supervise.

A systemized business produces consistent performance with the same results every time. How much money are you losing by relying on your people to do their best, but not following company installation and operational standards? Who decides how many nails per top plate of a wall, form braces per lineal foot of slab edge, support wires per light fixture, etc.?

The results of owning a systemized business include on-time, on-budget projects, quality workmanship, safe working conditions, repeat customers and an ability to always make a profit.

Create a ‘Do’ manual

To organize and systemize your company requires time and effort for consistent results. Create a “DO’ manual of pictures, checklists and guidelines as your company’s 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 closeout, and get paid.

7 steps to create systems

  1. Identify areas to systemize Start a ‘Fix-It List’ identifying everything you need to fix in your company.
  2. Assign system team Assign a key individual in your company to be the systems keeper to formalize and keep them organized. Pick three or four people to work on the company standard.
  3. Draft standards, guidelines and tracking system Create checklists with pictures of the desired end result for each system.
  4. Formalize and try Let the team who created the system try it to work out all the bugs for a few weeks before implementing it companywide.
  5. Implement and train Have the team who created the system present it to the entire company at regular monthly meetings.
  6. Monitor and track Your job will be to insist the systems are followed.
  7. Follow up, evaluate and improve After six months, revisit the new systems to insure they are still being used and working well, revising if necessary.
George Hedley is a business coach, speaker and author of “Get Your Business to Work!” and “The Business Success Blueprint for Contractors,” available at his online bookstore. He works with contractors to build profitable growing companies. Email GH@HardhatPresentations.com to request free admission to his next webinar, sign up for his enewsletter, be part of a group BIZCOACH program, join a peer mastermind BIZGROUP, take a class at Hardhat BIZSCHOOL online university, or hire him to speak. Visit www.HardhatPresentations.com.

George Hedley, HARDHAT Presentations, 800-851-8553

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