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Start Every Project Right

Walk through the mud, kick the dirt, smell the air and get excited! Start every construction project right by holding a pre-job start-up meeting, on the jobsite, with every team member in attendance. Get everyone focused, outline the goals and objectives, make commitments, avoid potential conflicts and make your project a success.

Often your superintendent or foreman will say, "We don't need to have a meeting!" They're wrong! They might have lots of experience and know how to handle a field problem or delay. But, if everyone meets together before your job starts, I guarantee your construction project has a much better chance to avoid potential conflicts, finish ahead of schedule and stay under budget.

Start every project with a Pre-Job Start-Up Meeting

Identify every member on your team. They all have an important part to play. Your project team includes the owner, developer, builder, architect, engineers, general contractor, all subcontractors, major suppliers and in some cases the lender or real estate broker. If in doubt, insist that they attend.

Hold your pre-job start-up meeting PRIOR to starting work. Subcontractors are going to fight you on this. They don't want to take the time to go to a meeting. The masonry contractor is saying, "I don't need to be out there for three months!" But you need the mason there, and the electrical contractor, too. Everyone is needed to understand the importance of teamwork, project milestones and how everyone counts on each other.

Hold the meeting on site. Don't even consider your office conference room. It may be inconvenient to go out to the site, but once everyone stands there, the project becomes a priority. It engages the senses as your team sees the players, the problems, and the issues -- it becomes real and urgent!

Have the project manager and field superintendent run the meeting. If the company owner runs the meeting instead, then these two don't become responsible or accountable. They must get together before the meeting and get ready to explain the project plan to the team. Don't let them "wing it."

The Agenda:

  1. Review project goals and objectives. Often, subcontractors think price is most important on every job. But schedule, quality or value engineering may be the most important factor. When everyone understands what targets to aim for, project goals can be met.
  2. Issue all subcontracts for execution before starting the job. All the subcontractors can then discuss issues, problems and conflicts immediately and get them resolved early. This forces the project manager to commit to all of the trades early on, freeing up time later to just concentrate on building the project.
  3. Issue approved plans and specifications. Review them together and make sure every subcontractor understands what's required.
  4. Issue the project schedule. The superintendent can then discuss the work flow, anticipated problems, coordination, and long lead items. Follow with an open discussion of the schedule between all subcontractors and suppliers.
  5. Review job and safety rules. These include jobsite hours, safety, noise restrictions, clean-up requirements, equipment, adjacent property concerns, etc.
  6. Review permit, license and special inspection requirements. Identify who will be responsible for each of these and when they will be required.
  7. Issue a required shop drawing and submittal list. List out when everything is needed, who approves them, and timing. This step can reduce delays by prompting everyone to identify long lead items and order them early on.
  8. Review payment procedures. Include procedures for invoices, releases, joint checks, authorization, and timing.
  9. Review project insurance requirements.
  10. Review the change order system.Explain the approval process from pricing to review and payment. Include estimated timeframes, allowable markups and who is authorized to sign.
  11. Conclude with an open discussion. Allow everyone to share their concerns, issues and comments. Addressing them early, with all parties present, saves time, money and headaches later!

This simple meeting will make a dramatic positive difference in your construction business. The quality of work will improve, you will finish your jobs faster, and field problems will virtually be eliminated. Customers, architects, subcontractors and suppliers will also be happier. The client gets what they want and everyone makes more money.

Start every project right with a pre-job start-up meeting. An investment of one or two hours before starting your projects will lead to incredible results!

George Hedley is a professional business coach, popular speaker and best-selling author of "Get Your Business to Work!" and "The Business Success Blueprint For Contractors" available at his online bookstore. He works with business owners to build profitable growing companies. E-mail: to request your free copy of "Winning Ways To Win More Work!" or sign up for his free monthly e-newsletter. To hire George to speak, be part of his ongoing BIZCOACH program, or join one of his ongoing Roundtable Peer Groups, call 800-851-8553 or visit