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Create A Construction Playbook to Systematize Your Business

Having a systematized business takes much of the pressure off the owner. It gives you an opportunity to kick back every now and then, to engage in a time consuming hobby, to spend time with the children and grandchildren. Of course, the trick question is how.

A good place to start is by creating your playbook.

Every sports team has a playbook. Playbooks contain strategies, processes (plays) and personnel assignments. Playbooks have plays designed and documented for nearly every conceivable trick an opponent might throw at them.

Do you think for a second that the sports world is any more competitive than the construction industry? When a team is fighting both the opponent and the referees is it all that different than you having to fight against other trades, general contractors, the owner and the owner's lender? I'd contend your situation is far more competitive than a sporting team's.

Take a page from their approach and create your very own playbook. Here is a basic list of items to include.

  1. Marketing plan
  2. Budget
  3. Job descriptions
  4. Process maps
  5. Forms
  6. Decision trees
  7. Standard reports

Before we dive into each section you may be asking yourself "Isn't that just a business plan?" No it's not. A playbook places greater emphasis on process and systems. A well-crafted playbook is something you could hand to a new employee, lender or consultant and say "This is exactly how we run our business."

The marketing plan

You should document who your target client is, what they value, how you reach them, the value pitch, copies of advertising materials, typical proposals, standard contract, and the information to be collected on leads. This section should include tips on client qualification. It should also include an explanation of how sales territories are governed.

Budget

Create an annual budget for your profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow. The cash flow and income statement should be broken down into months. Document planned equipment purchases and disposals.

Job descriptions

The Playbook should contain a detailed job description for every position in the company no matter how small or whether part time or full time. The job descriptions must identify all significant tasks, priorities, goals and communication requirements. This section should contain help wanted advertisements for every position in the company. Last but not least, this section should open with an organization chart showing who reports to whom.

Process maps

Here is the heart and soul of a playbook. Every significant process and system should be mapped. The mapping list should include prospecting, proposal generation, estimating, budgeting, job set up, job costing, AR, AP, time cards, quality control, etc. A business isn't systematized until every process is documented and everyone understands how to carry out each process.

If you are not familiar with process mapping, Google the term for examples. I recommend buying a copy of Microsoft Visio for this task. It is a pretty easy tool to learn and is super easy to map processes with.

Forms

A copy of every form used in the business should be included. Each form should be filled out as an example of what the properly completed form should look like. This section can and should include essential check sheets.

Decision trees

Decision trees are related to process maps but with a twist. Decision trees are yes/no type choice paths that decision makers can follow to arrive at the proper decision for a given circumstance. One of the most difficult aspects of your business to pass along is your decision making logic. That's what decision trees are designed to communicate. Visio can help document decision trees.

Standard reports

A copy of every report that is used to run your business should be included in your playbook. Along with the report, an explanation of who produces the report, who is to use the report and the frequency of generation and distribution is to be described.

I've listed the minimum set of items that should be created and inserted into your playbook. Don't consider it the limit. Whatever you can think of that will help your employees run your business more predictably, effectively and efficiently should be included.

Playbooks are proven tools for systematizing a business. They are worth the time and effort as they add great value to the business while you're running it and when you are ready to sell it. They prove to prospective buyers that the business basically runs itself.

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