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Focus on Finishing Faster
I was visiting one of our construction jobsites a few years ago in early-August. We were building a large, 75,000-square-foot concrete tilt-up warehouse building. The project superintendent, concrete foreman and I were discussing the job schedule, and when the tenant was expecting to move in. They weren’t sure what the exact move-in date was, or the contract completion date, or what the city required to get a final inspection and release to get the utilities turned on. Not a comforting thought, considering this project team was supposed to be in charge of a $2,500,000 project.
Post the dates for all to see
I recommend the team post these critical dates on the job office wall in bold letters for all to see. I suggest they post the start date; completion milestone target dates, including foundations, slab, exterior walls, roof structure, rough framing, drywall taping, floor coverings, final inspection, utilities on, and punch-list completion; and the final contract completion date. With these dates clearly posted and tracked, they will stay focused on the tasks required to not let them slip.
A project team without a clear knowledge of the contracted completion date or understanding of what’s required to make it happen can create a disastrous predicament for a construction company. Finishing a project late means you surely will spend more than the estimated and budgeted costs for field labor, supervision and general conditions; the customer will be unhappy; and you will end up in a dispute over delays and damages with your customer and subcontractors. And, even more important, your customer will tell everyone that your company finished later than promised.
Spend a little to make a lot
I was thinking, “Three more months. That seems way too long and won’t leave enough time to finish the project and meet our contract completion date!” I asked them how they arrived at mid-November. They said they had all decided it was reasonable, doable, and makeable in order to make sure they would be ready for the crane. I asked if they had checked the construction contract or budget estimate to see if mid-November would work or fit into the project goals. They hadn’t. In fact, neither knew what the contract said about the completion date or the budget for time on the project. I was a little upset, to say the least.
Rather than fire them both on the spot, I decided to see if I could coach them to a better result for themselves, the company, and our customer. I then asked if they possibly could move the date up a few weeks. They hesitated and shook their heads in protest. So, I tried to encourage them to think about how they could move the job a little faster. No ideas.
So, I next offered them both a $1,000 incentive bonus if they erected all the walls by Oct. 31. Guess what happened? They both changed their tune in a hurry, agreed, promised and guaranteed they could and would surely finish two weeks faster. Not a bad investment for me. A $2,000 investment versus our 20-man crew working for two weeks longer than expected ($40,000 minimum plus on-site costs). The end of the story is, they actually tilted up the walls on Oct. 26. I gave both the superintendent and foreman $1,000 each, plus every crew member a day off with pay for their extra efforts.
Offer more to get more
George Hedley, HARDHAT Presentations
|Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 16:41|