Dave owns Progressive Steel Contractors and called me for some help with his company. As the economy had gotten better, his workload was taking a toll on his ability to get everything done. He was too busy, couldn’t get his employees to be accountable or responsible, and had to constantly remind them what they needed to do all day every day. With today’s added pressure to do more faster with less, how can you get it all done? What should you do first and where do you start?
Dave’s company was up to 10 jobs under construction at all times, and the management team had expanded to four project managers, two estimators, six people in administration and accounting, eight field superintendents, five foreman, and 50 men on his concrete crew. His goal was to have a profitable organized company run by his management team. But he was still trying to do too much himself, not letting go, and having trouble delegating. In other words, he was a driven control freak trying to be involved with making every important decision. No matter how hard he tried to delegate, empower others and let go, he just couldn’t.
Dave said it was easier to do things himself than trust his people. His actions kept him stressed-out, overworked, and drove employees crazy as he changed his mind often, was short tempered, and expected perfection. Therefore, it had also become difficult to get good people to stay at the company, as he was a micromanager trying to control their every move.
What Should You Do to Fix Your Company?
Most people have gone to McDonald’s restaurant and watched their precision and organized operation, even without the boss in front of the line directing traffic and cooking hamburgers. How do they do it without the owner supervising, putting out fires and making every decision? If you have ever looked behind the counter, you’ll see pictures clearly displaying how to build hamburgers and every other menu item. It’s simple to get organized and in control. A huge multi-location company runs smoothly by using simple pictures and checklists of the finished product so things can always be done the same way every time. The pictures clearly show employees what’s expected, and guarantees consistent quality and performance by even less-than-perfect employees. Plus, the owner doesn’t have to be on-site all day supervising preparation of every customer’s order. If McDonald’s could do this in its company, why couldn’t Dave, or you?
Written BIZ Systems Produce Perfect Results!
Written systems, guidelines and standards are the key to building an excellent organized company. Written playbooks showing how you want things done with checklists, pictures and systems reduce your dependence on finding super human people who can read your mind and do work exactly the way you want them to do, without constant supervision, checking, or inspection. Companies controlled by owners who have all the systems in their head can’t grow beyond the owner’s ability to be everywhere all the time. They get stuck at the level at which the owner can do work, direct traffic and control the work flow.
Systems allow companies to produce the same results every time, in the office and the field. With written, followed and trained systems, you won’t have one manager or foreman handling decisions or installation methods one way and another doing things differently. Systems ensure the little things are taken care of without you constantly reminding people to do them the way you expect them done. Systems allow you to focus on important tasks that make you the most money. Systems allow you to deliver consistent results to your bottom line, your customers, and your projects every time, without you being there, making every decision, and looking over everyone’s shoulder.
Which BIZ System Should You Install First?
The biggest problem with getting organized and systemized is finding time to do it. It seems like a monumental task to organize and systemize your entire company with a detailed written playbook of checklists, standards, comprehensive procedures and operational systems. It only takes a small time commitment to make each written system happen in your company. I recommend you set aside one, two or four hours a week to begin systemizing your company. Start by making a list of things you want to fix or standardize. Select the ones that cost you the most money or time. If you create one or two standard systems every month, you’ll have 12 to 24 systems installed by the end of a year.
Work towards creating a three-ring company “DO MANUAL” playbook binder of systems for every important task performed. Most employees only need 10 to 20 systems or checklists and pictures of how you want things done consistently. This will eliminate most problems, crises and fires that ruin your bottom-line, production, profits and calendar every day.
Systems will free you to focus your time on priorities that’ll deliver the highest return, like creating more profitable revenue, streamlining your operations, or motivating employees to become better. With written playbook and systems in place, you’ll free up time to concentrate on business growth opportunities, like converting repeat customers into loyal customers, looking for ways to maximize your bottom-line profits, motivating and inspiring people, improving productivity, and finding time to enjoy the benefits of business ownership.
George Hedley, CSP, CPBC, helps contractors grow and profit as a professional business coach, popular speaker and peer group leader. He is the author of “Get Your Construction Business to Always Make a Profit!” and “Hardhat BIZSCHOOL Online University” available—on his website. Visit www.hardhatbizschool.com for more information.