Overdue and Over Budget
Photo credit: ©istockphoto.com/iruska


Why do installers fail to bring install jobs in on time and within budget?

Why do service techs fail to do service work within the time allotted in the flat-rate pricing book?

I don’t know about you but this used to drive me downright crazy when I was a contractor!

I’d figure an install job for one day and to be safe I’d even throw in an extra half a day just to handle the “bad scenario.” Still, more often than not, the job would drag on and take two days to complete. The next time a similar job would come up, I’d figure one and a half days and two days in a “bad scenario” and the job could still come in behind schedule.

Service techs were consistently missing the timeframes for the service work they did. We’d expand the timeframe and yet too often they’d still miss timetable.

You know, it wasn’t just the installers and service techs that failed to meet the time constraints in my head. My inside team seemed to take longer than whatever time they were given, no matter what the task or project I assigned them. Most times they complained they were too busy and wanted more help.

Hey, what’s up with that?

Maybe you know the saying, “When you point one finger, three fingers are pointing back at you.” 

Yes, it was my fault. I figured install work based on what I could do. I figured timeframes for service work based on what I could do. And back then I was good because I had a great “What’s In It For Me” mentality — the money made or lost was mine, my brothers’ and my dad’s. Plus, I was raised in the family business on the principle that you couldn’t be as good as the staff; you had to be better.

The other reality is that I was becoming delusional about what I could really do. It’s like how the fish you caught gets bigger over time.

Here’s what was as bad if not worse. When I sold an install job, I never told the installers when I wanted a specific job done by. That’s because I figured if they knew, they’d stretch out the time on the job rather than finish early.

Reality check. Why would they finish early? They were only going to get more work if they did or, worse yet, I’d send them home early with no pay. Since I never told them how long to take and never gave them an incentive to bring the job in on time and within the budget, they rarely did.

Talk about having it all backwards!


Delegation the right way

Looking back, it’s amazing how much clearer I am on what I used to do wrong and why it took much longer than it should have for me to fix this. After all, I was the cause of the problem, not them.

Here’s the good news for you. You don’t have to fall into that same hole. I’ve been there and I can spare you the pain.

But you must do what I finally learned and that is to spend more time delegating jobs on the front end the right way, with excellent communication and a reward for good performance and a consequence for bad performance. Unless you commit to this, you can expect to pay for the screw-ups, delays and disappointments on the back end almost every time.

Set up a clear system that rewards the following team members:

  1. The system engineer (I call him the Big Ticket Sales Person);
  2. The installer; and
  3. The service tech.

With a strong reward system based on the money they create for the company, there is a strong WIIFM for these team members to help bring projects and tasks in within the correct timeframe and budget.

But one big trap still exists. You can have a great reward program, but not take the time to communicate clearly in writing what you want and what you are expecting. Face it. We’re too busy! But of course, if you don’t have the time to do it right on the front end, where will you find the time to fix the mistakes made on the back end?

The most powerful tool that I can share is the Steps of Delegation. I designed them for myself to give any project a better than fighting chance to be successful. And if you work this system, it’ll work great for you, too.

But only if you take the time to do the steps in the right order each time.

Master the delegation of projects based on the following written process and then have the employee sign off on it:

  • Here’s what needs to get done;
  • Here’s why it needs to get done;
  • Here’s what you have available to get it done;
  • The priority assigned to it;
  • When it needs to be done by;
  • The meeting schedule for checking on the progress being made; and
  • What rewards are available and what consequences will be if the project is not completed on time.

If it’s not written, it’s not real.

I created a simple one-page template based on this process and it’s been delightfully successful with my clients who are disciplined enough to use it consistently.

This form works with all staff members. The sooner you get them used to this habit, the more they will come to love this opportunity to better learn what you want, what the expectations are for a successful outcome and what they get if they make that a reality.

If you’d like to see the form I use with clients or learn more about this process, email me at al@appleseedbusiness.com and request the Steps of Delegation; I’ll be glad to send it along.