Managing the "Little Things" at NPE

I can't tell you how often I talk with contractors who have never attended National Pavement Expo because, they say, "there's nothing they can learn from it." I have heard similar kinds of things from contractors who attended a seminar, but their comment is more like "I knew most of it but I did learn a couple of little things." What many people don't realize is "a couple of little things" is enough. It's not that I think contractors expect too much from a 90-minute seminar -- on the contrary they should expect a lot. But I think that sometimes contractors don't necessarily recognize the value of what they might have learned, "little things" or not. For example, assume that in a productivity seminar you learned one thing that can save you 10 minutes on an average-size job. Pretty small stuff...but if your crew does three average size jobs a day (30 minutes saved), and you work six days a week (180 minutes) that $65 you spent on the class probably paid for itself the first week, if not the first day. Then apply what it costs you hourly to send your crew out of the yard, consider the additional productivity or extra job you can start or squeeze in, factor in the labor cost you might save, and you can see how even a "little thing" can help your bottom line. And what if you run multiple crews? This year's NPE has a number of management-related sessions that can generate just these types of savings for virtually any contractor. Giselle Chapman's "Time-saving Solutions for Managing Your Electronic Office" will help you get more done more quickly and more efficiently, leaving time to advance other projects. Her "Taking Your Presentation Skills to the Next Level" is just the thing for those owners and sales people faced with developing presentations for customers and customer organizations. Add in Harry Ponder's "How to Write an Employee Handbook and Set Company Policy" and any seminar by the consultants Guy Gruenberg, Brad Humphrey and Jeff Stokes and there's an awful lot of "little things" you can learn to make a positive impact on your business.