Your success stories on keeping score.

We used the theme "Make More in '04" for the entire year partially because it was catchy, but mostly because it really works. Many of our readers followed my advice and will continue keeping score in '05 (even if that doesn't rhyme). I'd like to share some of the comments we've received.

From Joe T. in Atlanta: "Hey, Mr. Paul. We've been in the plumbing business since 1961, doing quite successfully with over a hundred employees. Our productivity, profits and employee morale have skyrocketed simply by keeping score.

"We always looked at scorekeeping as a very big negative of documenting discipline and poor workmanship. You were 100 percent correct about the responses from our employees.

"The best ones asked, 'Why didn't you keep my score from the time I started to work for you?' The marginal comments were, 'What are they trying to do to us now?'"

Joe told me he now fully understands what I meant when I said, "The difference between incidents and patterns is documentation." He said, "So do all of our employees. '04 is almost over, but our scorekeeping days have only begun!"

From Tracy in Chicago: "Mr. Ridilla, I've been vice president here in my dad's company for three years doing HVAC work with about 60 employees between our shop and jobsites. Dad started this business 31 years ago and enjoys a lot of respect from his team.

"I attended one of your seminars two years ago and brought back your written chain of command. Dad agreed with your comments and almost follows them. That made a big difference for me getting respect, especially when I would chide Dad for sticking his nose in my business. We made it fun!

"I'm not sure if you discussed keeping score in that seminar, but I didn't catch it. Your articles about 'Make More in '04' have put the icing on my cake. I love to see all of those employees busting their butts to improve their scorecards. They have made it fun, too!"

From Tony in Newark, N.J.: "Paul, we have a union shop and do only large commercial and industrial plumbing and pipefitting. Depending on our work load, we will have between 50 and 100 employees from different locals on our payroll. I know that you personally have worked with a lot of union locals and realize we have rules and restrictions. Your scorekeeping recommendations definitely helped us make more in '04. We were pleasantly surprised with the acceptance by most of our jobsite employees and the entire management team. Thank-you."

From Mike in Tennessee: "Hey Paul, your scorekeeping recommendations did much more for us in '04 than just make us more money. We had two really good employees that were coasting that we were ready to fire. They both shaped up with your scorekeeping. We also had three former employees return to our company when they heard about everything we've changed.

"You were so right when you said, 'Anyone good wants to be measured. They also want that measure to mean something.' Now our employees have it!"

That last statement is possibly the most critical part of my entire year's articles. You, who follow professional sports, realize that every strike out, home run, base hit or error goes on that baseball player's record and definitely means something.

Fair & Honest Comparisons

I like to compare using your scorekeeping to determine wages, salaries and promotions to a schoolteacher's student record for establishing grades, passing or failing.

Our construction employees have convenient memories and forget all of their negatives, but fully remember (as well as exaggerate) the positives. A schoolteacher discusses and documents both good and bad performance when it occurs. He or she does not trust or rely on his or her memory, which eliminates all of that one-sided comparison, resentment and poor morale.

Every student realizes that they totally control their own grades and destiny with whatever talent and ability they possess, plus the amount of effort they are willing give. Isn't that exactly what you want for each and every employee because it is fair for you and them?

Our recommendations to larger companies for negotiated management and office job descriptions, rigid written chain of command and scorekeeping will fine-tune that organization to make more money and have more fun. This also helps to minimize costly "lack of communication" issues.

But for every construction company in all of the trades, our biggest challenge is today's critical craft crisis. Your only hope to overcome this shortage, regardless of where you work, is to keep score and make it mean something:

  • Ideally you have already initiated a specific task and skill inventory recognizing each employee's existing skills and learning new ones. Most contractors compare these inventories to merit badges (as in the Boy Scouts) for their certified techs.

  • Your entry-level foremen should be trained, measured and documented for increasing each employee's skill inventory as well as motivating and maintaining high morale and productivity.

    Each employee's inventory should be reviewed and updated every month. When employees are not progressing, you need to investigate, resolve and document in the employee's file, and also make sure it is documented in your foreman's file.

  • Using a 90-day mentoring program will expedite and assure each new employee's progress.

  • Pay employees well for what they install. Isn't that how you get paid? You can use simple piecework, which automatically requires scorekeeping. Do not withhold wages for what they do not know. Pay them for doing what you taught them. Send them home to their families and friends with a big paycheck that you helped them earn. I will guarantee you they will bring their friends and acquaintances to capitalize on that very same opportunity in your company. Not only does this resolve your skilled-craft crisis, you will also outshine all of your competitors.
In all of my years working as a contractor and consultant, I've used a simple measure for making business decisions:
    1. How much will this cost in time and money?
    2. How much will it produce, or cost, if don't do it?
All of my 2004 columns are archived online at If you will take the time to review this year's articles and what applies to your situation, I'm sure you will agree that this is a fantastic profit-producing decision.

Keep score!