With labor still ranking as a top challenge in the industry, Jerry Gaeta, owner of J. Gaeta Business Planning said contractors need to focus on the good workers they already have.
“We sell time and professionalism, field labor is your greatest asset,” Gaeta said. He offered several tips to better utilize your employees:
- Scheduling is a must for efficient use of all your resources. “Look at the price of labor,” Gaeta said. “You need to use the labor wisely.”
- This is a people business. Gaeta said businesses supply labor and expertise. “You absolutely must be a people person,” he said. “If you’re finding out you’re starting to not enjoy interacting with people, it might be time for a break.”
- Be a mentor. It’s your job to bring your employees up. “It’s our job to increase their quality of life and make them a better person.” Motivating your employees to do well and be their best will boost productivity.
- Route and schedule your employees. “Everything we do in this industry we are looking forward,” he said. “Somehow we are always looking in the past, but we need to look and plan ahead.” The schedule should be visible for the whole team. Use a checklist system to point out priorities.
With labor being the most important asset to your business, it’s important to fine-tune how you operate your company overall. Gaeta said your company culture and operations need to center around these qualities:
- Be proactive, not reactive. Just like planning for your employees, you need to plan ahead for your jobs. Being upfront with clients and letting them know about the challenges and complexity of the work you’re doing will help down the road if any issues arise on the job.
- Host weekly production meetings. Sit down with your foremen once a week to go over production numbers. “This is not a time to chew someone out,” Gaeta said. “That’s for a one-on-one
meeting.” Gaeta said you can take this one step further and have a brief meeting with foremen each day to hear about how the day is going.
- Have a manual. “It makes life so much easier for owners and foremen,” Gaeta said. “Make sure it’s read an understood, it takes out any confusion.”
- Create a production based estimating system. It will give you a better idea of total man hours and help you plan ahead for labor and scheduling.
- Bring in ego when you have to. Client imposed deadlines can be frustrating, but Gaeta said it’s important to stand up for your company and assert your expertise in those situations.