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’ manualTo 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. Focus on the important things first that will make a difference in your bottom line. Make a goal to create one system a week, and you will be very organized in a year.
7 steps to create systems
1. Identify areas to systemizeStart a ‘Fix-It List’ identifying everything you need to fix in your company.
2. Assign system teamAssign 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 systemCreate checklists with pictures of the desired end result for each system.
4. Formalize and tryLet 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 trainHave the team who created the system present it to the entire company at regular monthly meetings.
6. Monitor and trackYour job will be insist the systems are followed.
7. Follow up, evaluate and improveAfter six months, revisit the new systems to insure they are still being used and working well, revising if necessary.
About the Author
George Hedley is a best-selling author, professional speaker, and business coach. He helps entrepreneurs and business owners build profitable companies. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a free copy of Everything Contractors Know About Making A Profit! or signup for his e-newsletter. To hire George to speak, attend his Profit-Builder Circle academy or find out how he can help your company grow, call 800-851-8553, or visit www.hardhatpresentations.com.