A Pre-Season Punch List

Preparing for your pavement maintenance season is similar to that of a pro baseball team. Even if your business is ongoing for 12 months there is still that almost subconscious "spring training" thought process that happens each year. So here's my "Spring Training Punch-List" to remind you of what you need to do to bring your "team" to a championship season.

1. Review strategic vision & plan. If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got - so dust off the old strategic plan and spend some serious time assessing where you are at and asking if you are prepared for the oncoming season. Update and revise if needed; refocus on what you want to accomplish in your business.

The three primary direct costs on every job are labor, equipment, and materials, so make an honest assessment of each one. Do you have workers than need to be educated on new skills? Is it time to promote a crew member to a crew foreman? Do you feel confident with this workforce? What shape is your equipment in? What written preventive maintenance plan do you have? What equipment should you rent/lease versus purchase? Are you satisfied with your material vendors? Have you negotiated the best purchase options for this year?

3. Clean up tools, yard, & equipment. Start each season with a clean presence. Dirty tools that are not regularly cleaned eventually invites employees to mishandle them. Sharpen or replace saw blades tips, squeegee rubbers, and replace loose or taped up electrical cords and wires. Apply the same "detailed-ness" to your yard. Improve your signage, designate parking spots for specific equipment and vehicles, have all your vehicles heading "out," and create a "one-way" driving path. Steam clean that equipment, repaint vehicles, and make sure your company name and contact info is very easy to see from a drive-by prospect.

4. Develop & conduct a two-day spring training season. Bring your leaders in and refresh the basics of customer satisfaction, the critical components of safety "to, on, and from the job," talk through every work process you have to ensure that quality is part of each step, and have a healthy discussion on how to lead the workforce. Follow your leaders' meeting with a mini-training session for the rest of the workers. Demonstrate safety procedures, proper management of tools and equipment, professional methods and manners for customer interaction, etc.

5. Visit with your financial partners. Tell your banker(s) how the early season looks and what cash flow you are anticipating. Re-educate your banker on the nature of your business, what the ups and downs of receivables look like during the year, and move to renegotiate the amount of money you need to have to get the new year kicked off properly.

6. Re-stoke marketing & customer "touch-points." Many people subconsciously consider the spring as the time to get things cleaned and ready for the year ahead, so it's a great time to contact them about pavement maintenance. You should have been selling through the offseason, but no matter your work backlog double up your marketing and selling efforts.

7. Conduct a retreat to refresh & rewind.Get away, just you and your most senior of leaders and/or confidants, for a couple of days to set new goals, develop detailed action plans to support the goals, and review individual roles and responsibilities. Spend team time problem solving "surprises" you know will happen during the season (i.e. like half the crew not showing up; what to do on rainy days; what to do when equipment breaks down, etc.). Make personal commitments to each other, and to yourself, about how you want to conduct yourselves during the season. Remind each other of the importance of professionalism, no matter the situation.

Great construction leaders, just like great baseball managers, realize that the season is long and grueling. Whether you have a natural "break" in your season or not, turn each spring into your own time of review, refreshment, and recommitment to your company. Remember, your employees will reflect what you set out personally to do and how you go about doing it! Set the bar high and be the example of what construction professionals do to be successful.

Have a great season!

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