Build Your Own Business Blueprint

Service at it’s Best

by Gary S Goldman, Goldman & Associates

    

 "Whatever it takes." That's the mantra that successful business owners and their employees repeat time and again. How do you make customers happy? How do you complete projects on time? How do they keep job sites spotless? Simply, you do whatever it takes. It's a policy that will pay off big for your company, ensuring that 100 percent of your clients will be willing to recommend you to friends and family. Here's a look at the top five areas that will help you differentiate yourself from other pavement maintenance firms.

Number of walk-through items identified for correction: There is a sure-fire way for reducing the number of punch list items — reject the concept altogether. Eliminate the mentality of “We'll save that for the final walk through”. Quality issues should be infrequent, and when they do happen it should be occasionally.  Try and catch these problems and correct them before the client raises the issue. Set your own quality standards and do not allow marginal work. If a client does raise an issue, the company should immediately fix the problem to the client's satisfaction.

The other key to eliminating the punch list is having quality employees working on the project from the start. To ensure that prospective employees are reliable, try to hire through word of mouth and look for candidates who were formerly business owners. Conduct background checks and asks more than one person to interview the candidate.  Your crews need to take pride in what they do. It should always be done right the first time. 

Adherence to production schedule: To minimize delays, your company should commit to a system called Single Stage Release, where all decisions related to the project must be made before it can be put into production. As part of this process, the company needs to be sure that the clients have a full understanding of the scope of work to be completed. Any questions should be answered prior to commencement of the project. The foreman or project manager associated with the project needs to have the client sign off that all aspects of the work to be completed have been discussed and all questions have been answered. 

Time taken to correct walk-through items: For ongoing jobs, the foreman should work with the client to correct any problems. If the job is closed out, the company sales coordinator should manage service work orders. You should write a work order for any follow-up item. The work order should be given to original job foreman to complete. The sales coordinator should then schedule a visit to the site to be sure that any outstanding issues have been taken care of. Once you confirm that the work has been completed, you should call the client to confirm satisfaction.

There is no need to pull personnel off an existing job for mundane things like additional crack sealer that needs to be installed and sealcoat touch-ups. These should be worked into the overall schedule and attended to within a week. If it's an emergency, you need to have someone right on it. If you have to pull from a job for an emergency situation, communicate that with the client you are currently working with. You want your customers to know that they can expect the same service should it happen to them.

As your business grows, you may want to set up a one or two mean team that is trained, to handle these types of situations. Too many contractors are willing to forfeit 2, 5, or even 10 percent of the value of the project just because they do not have a policy in place to handle callbacks. This type of behavior does nothing to help your bottom line as well as the image or your company or the industry. 

Communication of progress: Regular communication with clients — in person, on the cell phone, or via email notes — manages changes to the project and minimizes potential delays that might bring down the schedule. If the issues relate to additional work, your staff should immediately call the office so that the scope and pricing can be worked out while the crews are still on site.

Cleanliness of work site: Cleanliness should rank high on your priority list. It's something you need to be really big on. Workers need to put trash and debris in a designated area. Your company needs to remove any trash and debris on a daily basis. You do not want a lot of debris around the site, both for safety and the sake of aesthetics.

Your company should have a procedure for daily clean up and sweeping on every project because your clients do not want property owners, business owners, or their potential customers walking through a dirty construction site. You need to be concerned about the safety of anyone who may be working or visiting a construction area.   

You need to protect the areas around the work zone. Taping and covering curbing, sidewalks, walls, plant material, and other structures is very important. You want to show your client that you are professional and that you will take the extra time to prepare the site prior to commencement of the work. .  

This proactive behavior goes a long way. A dirty jobsite is usually the last straw for customers if they've had a bad day, they're living through the stress of the inconvenience of the project, and then they start getting complaints from residents, tenants, and customers. If a crew is making the effort to keep the job site clean, it goes a lot further than if there is no effort being made.