Spring Cleaning or Spring Fever?
This spring cleaning philosophy can also be applied to your business. It’s better than succumbing to the listlessness of spring fever, that other springtime tradition where you just sit back and merely wish for something good to happen.
But I’m not so concerned about your physical office and buildings since most of you already have either a full-time maintenance employee or a maintenance service. I’m referring more to the “contents” of your business:
1. Spring is a good time to review each employee’s performance record and pay scale. Are you getting what you pay for? Are they being rewarded fairly for what they do? Is that scorecard complete and accurate?
2. Your fiscal year is ended which should give you enough data to analyze this year’s marketing strategies. Which type of job made you the most money and why?
3. Your year-end statement should also reflect your productivity and jobsite efficiency, or lack of.
4. You should review the inventory in your warehouse and yard. Be certain that you do not have mixed bins or boxes of expensive mixed fittings. Your employees would have to waste valuable hours searching for items that may not even be in stock. Likewise, they’ll buy new items when what they needed was in that pile on the floor.
5. Anyone who owns equipment such as backhoes, welding machines, forklifts, tampers, etc., should have an ongoing maintenance program. But spring is a good time to give everything a thorough “once over.”
6. Spring is also a good time to review last year’s rental costs to see what you should have purchased rather than leased.
7. Review the efficiency of your home office and job trailer offices. Do you have the most efficient computers, software, telephones, fax machines, copy machines, etc.? Is your office layout conducive to efficiency, productivity and effective communication. Would changing offices or adding a partition eliminate congestion or confusion?
8. Are your company trucks and company cars being properly maintained? Do you need all those vehicles? Should some of them be replaced? Or junked? Would a fresh coat of paint brighten up the company image?
9. Review last year’s accidents and safety inspection records. Are you following the basic rules that you initiated? Are there updated MSDS sheets in each truck or on each job? Are the tool box talks properly documented? Who is personally responsible to make all of this happen?
10. Would a new coat of paint brighten up your offices? Maybe a new floor, a brighter light fixture, or some additional shelving could make those long days a little more enjoyable and productive.
Since each of you have your own individual situations, some of these suggestions may not apply, but you can probably come up with at least a dozen more that do. Your best bet is to create a written checklist for any of those yearly spring cleaning tasks that you feel warrant your attention. Be sure to add “by whom” and “by when” to each item to guarantee that they will get done.
“Shot-In-The-Arm:” Spring cleaning in no way ever indicated that our homes were dirty or not taken care of properly. Everything was kept neat and clean throughout the entire year; spring cleaning just added that “shot-in-the-arm” to start out each year with a clean slate. Likewise for our business. I especially recommend concentrating on three items:
1. Over half of the contractors profess the value of a yearly review for their employees, but still procrastinate performing it. Some employees will wait two or three years and finally have to confront their boss for a raise. Unfortunately, a larger percentage of those whose boss broke his or her promise joined those migrators we wrote about last year and found another job.
The saddest part of these yearly reviews is the lack of recorded performance. You all know about “convenient memories.” People only remember all of the good things and the extra effort they gave you last year; naturally, you can remember only the bad. After all, every one of their mistakes costs you money!
This yearly review should be a review of their written performance record only! If it’s not in their file, it never happened and nothing should ever be documented until it is discussed with that employee. Some of you will be amazingly pleased with the results of doing it right.
2. I hope your bookkeeping system separates your diversified activities into divisions or profit centers. It is nice to know that your company made a nice profit last year, but it is even nicer to know which activities were the most profitable. If you have a fully stocked warehouse, you should weigh what you have invested against what it returned. Is that convenience worth as much as it costs? Should you expand or shut it down? You need to carefully analyze the entire picture before you make a rash decision.
The same goes for your service department. Are you only providing a service for your customer or is that where you should be expanding? How many service contractors are you selling? How much additional service do your techs sell? How much is repeat business or referrals from satisfied customers?
Are you more profitable on your multiresidential or with custom homes. Should you continue bidding government projects or stick with private industry? Do you want more remodeling? How about your design-build turnkey projects? Should you continue doing site work and utility lines?
3. Reviewing and analyzing items 1 and 2 should provide you a pretty clear picture of jobsite efficiency and productivity. If you visited each job once a week and documented any performance above or below expectations, your spring cleaning task will be quite simple.
I hope you can use this evaluation to prevent repeating any costly blunders and fire up your troops to find that better way.