As a small business owner specializing in residential construction and remodeling, managing two or more teams can be quite daunting. How can you effectively manage multiple teams with maximum productivity and quality results? Good management skills of course – but are there better ways of doing what we do?
When I see what I can accomplish today versus how I did things twenty years ago, I wonder how I was able to stay in business. I had to evolve with the industry. With the evolution of mobile phones, tablets, laptops and apps, I’ve discovered better ways of managing my teams. And although managing multiple teams is an art, this is not as difficult as you may think. Especially with the tools available to us today. Vendors are reaching out to contractors with tool sets created to help us succeed and stay on top of our game. The fascinating part – the tools are free.
The key to maintaining multiple job sites is staying prepared. There is nothing costlier than an event preventing a team from working or finishing their tasks. Plan ahead by keeping a backup task or another site ready to divert a crew to in short notice. Many circumstances such as material shortages, inspections, permits and weather can slow production or stop progress. Here are some suggestions I use to stay productive.
Keep your phones and computers setup with alerts such as the WeatherBug app. Set up alerts for daily and weekly forecasts and plan around whatever Mother Nature dishes out.
Try to keep job sites inside and outside. Prepare workarounds or secondary tasks. Give your crew leaders a weekly list outlining backup tasks in case a possible event may stop or slow down production.
Calendars and software built into mobile devices can help you manage your projects. Learn how to use them. Put alerts in your calendar apps that will alert yourself and your crew leaders to call in inspections, order materials, safety training, etc. These are powerful tools and good planning is key to keeping production moving forward.
Leverage Your Vendors
Not surprising in today’s market, vendors are taking extra steps to earn your business. Leverage your vendors to help with purchasing, material planning and delivery. Sending people after materials slows production and increases cost. However, making runs for materials is inevitable.
Sign up for Home Depot’s “Pro Xtra” loyalty program and this is one of the many valuable assets that will help your business stay productive. There are many features to Pro Xtra such as tracking purchases by job, credit card, day or however you want to set it up. Pro Xtra has a feature called “Text2Confirm”. You will receive a text from Home Depot alerting you one of your crew is picking up materials. A link will display on your phone what is being purchased, the amount and you approve it, keeping you free and speeding up time at the register.
“BOPIS” (buy online, pick up in store) is another powerful material management/purchasing tool offered by Home Depot. You can order and pay for everything you need for a job site and your materials will be available for pick up in two hours. You will receive an email when your order is ready.
We have all experienced the lost or stolen tool problem. I have everything engraved, locked and secured the best I can, but it never fails that something comes up missing or misplaced. For many years I have budgeted for lost tools and replacements.
Milwaukee’s new “ONE KEY” platform can help eliminate this problem. Now I manage my Milwaukee tools that have built in location and security. With Bluetooth capability, I can locate a missing tool, and there is talk of adding the ability to shut a tool down if it is stolen. The free app gives me the ability to track the usage of each tool by keeping records of the last time it was operated and will let me customize specific tool settings. While some portions of this app are still being developed, this saves me time and money and I look forward to seeing this evolve further into my work force.
All the apps mentioned in this article are free and can be valuable tools in helping us manage our teams and growing our businesses. NARI is an excellent resource and perhaps one of the most valuable assets that business owners such as ourselves need.
About the author
Carlos Jones, Contractor/Consultant
Carlos is a consultant and contributing writer for trade publications in a range of industries, from construction and remodeling to manufacturing and military equipment. He has worked in construction for over 35 years. After serving in the Navy, Carlos started with residential remodeling and new home construction. For 25 years he specialized in commercial building rehabilitations in Southwest Ohio.