Make Your Time Count in Production

      Ways to reduce wasted time on site in remodeling work. September 22, 2007

Reprinted with permission of Michael Stone, who has more than three decades of experience in the building and remodeling industry. His new book, Profitable Sales, A Contractor's Guide was released in May of 2007. He also wrote the book Markup and Profit; A Contractor's Guide, published by Craftsman Book Co. Michael offers Coaching and Consulting services for construction companies throughout the U.S., as well as audio and CD programs for business management, and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached by phone at 1-888-944-0044 or at his website, www.markupandprofit.com

Time wasted on a job comes right out of profit. Let's review production issues that can be time wasters.

1. Power tools. All set screws, thumb screws or other locking screws or devices should be turned down tight before the tool is put away. This will prevent them from being lost. Teaching your employees to observe this rule is time well spent. I once drove 35 miles one way to retrieve a setscrew for a reciprocating saw that had not been secured.

2. Bad or worn power cords. These should be repaired or replaced at the first hint of wear. Cords that won't conduct electricity are not only worthless, they are dangerous. Breaks or nicks on the insulating covering can deliver a nasty shock. Bad cords are a waste of time, keep them in good repair.

3. Not using pneumatic nail or screw guns. A good pneumatic tool is money well spent. At the cost of labor, hand nailing is an expensive way to work. Nailing off one sheer wall with a pneumatic nail gun can save enough time on one job to pay for a new 16d. nail gun. Make the investment. There is ample information available to make a good decision on the make and model that would best suit your needs at your suppliers or on the Internet.

4. Dull saw blades are not only a time waster, they are hard on the ears and dangerous. Anyone that works in the field should always carry at least one complete set of unused shop sharpened saw blades. And, by the way, you don't save money by sharpening your own blades. That is like doing your own bookkeeping. Pay the other guy to do what he does best; you do what you do best.

5. Not reviewing plans on each section of the job or having the latest version of the plans at the job site. Your crews should review the plans for the job they are working on each morning, and again when they shift from one part of the job to the next. This should be a mandatory exercise.

Additionally, although it should be top priority to get new plans to the job site ASAP, one person on each crew should be assigned the task of checking with the office on a regular basis for updates to the working plans. We recently heard of a room addition that was framed with 8' walls, while the plans called for 10' walls. It wasn't discovered until they noticed the roof rafters weren't setting.

6. Crew size. In remodeling work, a one-man crew is the most efficient, with a helper that floats between jobs as needed. This takes some planning and coordination, but that should be the lead man's job. Basic rule of thumb: a given job will expand to fill the available hours for all workers present. In most situations, a smaller crew will be more efficient.

7. Picking up materials in the morning. Schedule your pickups in the late afternoon on the way back from the job to the office. The supply houses are normally vacant in the mid to late afternoon. Calling your order in ahead of time will save even more time if you can find suppliers that will compile the order.

And a two or three man crew picking up materials is an absolute mistake. Getting materials is almost always a one-man job. Better yet, pay the supplier to deliver materials to your job site. That is a much better use of time.

8. The owner of a company picking up or delivering materials is an even bigger mistake. I have never understood why the owner of a business, who should be worth no less than $50 an hour, would take his or her time to pickup materials and deliver them to a job site for employees working for $10 to $20 an hour. "Checking the job" is no excuse; that should be a scheduled event each week. The owner of a company who delivers materials is not planning their day or running their business. What they are doing is donkeywork and losing money.

9. Subs not on schedule. This is usually a result of poor planning and lack of follow-up by the person responsible for scheduling. The subs should be given the job schedule at the pre-job conference and they should agree to a timeline for their work. Then the job scheduler should call them at least twice, preferable three times before the day they are due at the job. It should also be a condition of the subcontractor that they agree to your schedule and stick to it, no excuses.

10. Use of mobile phones. The number one waster of time in construction. I'm amazed at the amount of money and time that business owners invest in the use of or misuse of mobile phones.

A limit should be set on the number of minutes per month any mobile phone is used. If the user goes over that amount, it should come out of their pocket, and that time deducted from their pay as well.

One of the best methods of phone use we have heard is to have field people check their calls and return them twice a day, around noon and just before quitting time.

Tell your employees the phone is only to be used to expedite the jobs they are working on. It is not for personal calls, talking about sports or bs'ing with a buddy. The phone is to get the job done. If the call is not job related, cut it off and get back to work.

Copyright 2007 by Construction Programs and Results. All Rights Reserved. No part of this content may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, nor may any part be stored in a database or other electronic retrieval system, or any other website, without the prior written permission of CPR.

Michael Stone has more than three decades of experience in the building and remodeling industry. His new book, Profitable Sales, A Contractor's Guide was released in May of 2007. He also wrote the book Markup and Profit; A Contractor's Guide, published by Craftsman Book Co. Michael offers Coaching and Consulting services for construction companies throughout the U.S., as well as audio and CD programs for business management, and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached by phone at 1-888-944-0044 or at his website, www.markupandprofit.com



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