BMJ Stone
EZG Manufacturing
Federated Insurance
Fraco USA, Inc.
Hohmann and Barnard, Inc.
Hydro Mobile, Inc.
iQ Power Tools
Kennison Forest Products, Inc.
Mortar Net Solutions
Non-Stop Scaffolding
Pullman Ermator
Tradesmen's Software, Inc.
December 19, 2006 8:32 AM CST

For Your Convenience...


If plans are incomplete, you sometimes have to 'help' your client see things the same way you do.
If plans are incomplete, you sometimes have to "help" your client see things the same way you do.

Don't you just hate it, sometimes? Your company has a project to complete and you have a job to do. Your client says that they are in a hurry, but they keep getting in your way! Sometimes you just have to "help" your client see things the same way you do. Let me explain.

I was working on a project not long ago and, as usual, the plans weren't complete; it didn't have the details we needed, and the specs didn't address a particular issue. What could we have done? Write an RFI and ask the questions, right? However, sometimes these RFIs require a "turbo booster" in order to get what you want.

First, we make sure we are using an effective RFI format.

Then, we ask the question, such as:

Question: The plans do not indicate any color for the block on this project. The specs do not address it, either. Standard in the industry is a grey and that's how the project was bid. For your convenience, a cut sheet detailing the block can be faxed to your office. This issue will impact our schedule within two days because the block must be ordered now. This issue has possible time and money consequences. How shall we proceed?

So what happened here? We raised the issue, made the client aware of the urgency of the problem, made it easier for the client to go along with us (industry standard), and advised them that they have possible time and money consequences if they want to deviate from standard. We also conveniently offer to provide some technical backup info that will help the cause.

What happens too often out in the field? We say to the client, "Hey, what color block do you want? The plans don't say." And your client then has complete freedom to choose what it is that he or she wants even if it costs you more in terms of time or money. We have lost control here.

If we had the space, I could give you more examples. But that subject is dealt with in detail in my book on getting paid for changes. There's a science to this stuff.

On to another topic: When MCAA offers classes on becoming a better foreperson, PM, mason or even business owner, you should plug your people into them. There are things that other people know, and they are willing to give this knowledge to you, if you'll just avail yourself of them.

If I asked you whether the experienced people in the masonry industry knew any "tricks of the trade," shortcuts, things to look out for and so on, you'd nod your head. You expect your lead people to teach your apprentices and to watch over your crew. Constant training. Common sense, right? Then why not expect the same for how your leadership receives improvement. Makes you think, huh?

Before we close, let me clue you in to another PM "trick of the trade." One time, we were working on a project and the schedule seemed to be tight, with not enough days to complete the work. Plus, our contract had liquidated damages (LDs) that the client could assess if we went over the time given.

I wrote a letter addressing the conflict we were having in coordinating our field people with other subs. There was just too much happening in a small space, and efficiency was suffering. After all of the usual greetings, my letter went something like this:

...The presence of your concrete subcontractor is impacting our work schedule. Because of this, our time to complete this phase of the work will be extended by an additional three working days. For your convenience, we will update our project completion date manually to reflect this change. No response to this letter is required on your part...

Here's what we accomplished: If the client does not write back, then your letter stands as the way things are to be treated. You win, and you are awarded three additional working days.

We realize that our client is a busy person, we made it easy, and we made it convenient. We headed off a future confrontation where the client could have started complaining about how long the work was taking and threatened penalties.

This particular play was defensive, but you can use the same "convenience" strategy in a number of positive ways as well.

Do yourself a favor and get as much education as you can. It will dramatically improve your bottom line. For fun, go to our new website at and check out the videos of PM tips that Coach is putting up there to help you. They're free. In fact, they only cost you money if you ignore my advice!

Go get them. I've made them "convenient!" See how this works?

About the Author

Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach. He has severals years of industry experience, including a background as a licensed general engineering contractor. For further information and insight on the Full Contact Project Management approach, write Coach Gary at

Copyright 2006, Gary Micheloni and Full Contact Project Management


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