Closing Out with Opening in Mind

As this year begins to wind down many pavement contractors are going through the end of the year sprint to get as many jobs in before the ground and air temps are impossible to overcome. Even for the “non-seasonal” contractor, there is always a bit of bringing things to a close as we scoot up closer to Christmas.

It is important to close out your year with a vision toward how you want to begin the new season. I call this “closing out with opening in mind.” In short, it means you need to put things up and away in such a way that your start-up efforts are smooth, less confusing, and prepped for a fast, if needed, start in the new fiscal and business year.

Consider a few “closing” efforts to provide a strong “opening” next season:

  • Develop thorough equipment maintenance schedule over an eight to twelve week schedule.
  • Literally work through every tool in your inventory and pitch or repair as needed…EVERY tool!
  • “Spring clean” your yard and tool/crib room by reorganizing to fit your crew’s needs and ease of in/out traffic.
  • Add or update signage for all storage areas that clearly mark out where things are kept.
  • Develop new or update Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) that clearly lay out work procedures to follow when operating equipment, restocking tool trucks, etc.
  • Develop “5-S Maps” that provide overview drawing of where everything is kept; this for trucks, your yard, and any tool/crib room you have.
  • Protect equipment kept outside with appropriate covers, tarps, wraps, etc. You might personalize such coverings with your company’s name and logo. (This continues advertising!)
  • Schedule employee training on revamped SOPs, 5-S Maps, and conduct employee “walkthroughs” prior to opening season.
  • Create an equipment, tool, preventive maintenance budget, and PM schedule for the next season.
  • Restore company colors and logos on equipment, tools, and jobsite signage so that fresh and clean are clearly visible for new start-up.

Bonus Tip – Conduct two or three “lunch and learns” during the off-season. I’ve written about this type of event in past articles but it is extremely critical to most pavement maintenance contractors to keep the fires burning with winning more business. The “off season” is also a good time for potential clients to attend a brief gathering of why they should give your firm business when there isn’t a time pressure decision ready that must be made.

Are any of the above tips different for the 12-month contractor? Not necessarily. Obviously when you do not have a forced shut down due to extended and expected weather issues, you may need to find those three-day weekends to implement some of the tips. However, even with year around contractors I have found that the really successful ones do force a “time-out” to address some of the tips listed above.

With the recent weather patterns demonstrating that we can work longer into the year or start earlier, it is tempting to keep the doors open longer or open them earlier. However, the bigger “take-away” I hope you get from the points made above suggest that you be prepared to address needed end of the year upgrades in all areas of your company.

Good luck as you close out with opening up in mind!

Brad Humphrey’s firm, Pinnacle Development Group, is involved with contractors worldwide. In addition to speaking at the upcoming National Pavement Expo, Jan, 23-26, 2013 in Nashville, he is a regular columnist for this magazine and is “The Contractor’s Best Friend” author that can be read every Wednesday. For more information about Brad’s Wednesday article, go to www.thecontractorsbestfriend.com.

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