Most fans of football will recognize the term “prevent defense.” Basically, this describes what a team will do to protect themselves from being scored upon or giving up an easy touchdown. Often, the team playing a prevent defense will only have two or three large defensive lineman rushing the QB and adding two or three players who start twenty, maybe even thirty yards away from the line of scrimmage, “preventing” a long pass for a score.
The same mindset applies to contractors interested in not “giving up an easy” mistake. Such mistakes result in rework or callbacks, both enemies of profitability. Therefore, the best way to achieve quality workmanship for contractors is to prevent mistakes from happening in the first place. This one technique, creating your prevent defense, or “PD,” can reduce your costs associated with poor work results and enlarge your work potential and profitable results.
Creating your best chance for quality results begins at the beginning with creating the best prevent defense through planning. Let me briefly line out a few “PD” areas that you should be planning before beginning work to achieve better quality.
PD #1 – Preview Scheduled Work with Crew
It is far too common to simply hand a job file to the Crew Foreman on the morning of the new job start. Then, as the crew is getting loaded or driving to the site, the Crew Foreman, if they’re not driving also, is reviewing the job information. While getting jobs scheduled can often be just the day before, even just hours before the work is scheduled, it still pays huge results if the Crew Foreman, and any knowledgeable member of the crew take a few extra minutes, at the shop before leaving, developing a picture in their head as to where the job is, what will be needed, who might be best performing what role, where the crew will begin to work, etc. Having the estimator who bid the work should be available to discuss any out of the ordinary item about the job such as,
“Is the client picky?”
“Is the job-site in a highly visible traffic area?”
“ What condition does the base appear to be?”
“Where are the higher usage areas?”
“Is there a threat from underground water?”
PD #2 – Insure Every Correct Piece of Equipment & Tool is Secured
This is still a huge challenge for contractors trying to reduce their costs of production. Not only should the crews never leave your shop without the right equipment and tools, someone needs to insure that the same items are in working order.
PD #3 – Survey Job Site and Make Needed Adjustments
Even the best football team will make defensive adjustments if they see a different formation or group of players from the opposing offensive team than was planned. The same rings true for any pavement maintenance contractor. Arriving to the job site should begin with comparing what is observed “live” to what pictures or specifications were included as part of the job file. Then, based on the wisdom of the Crew Foreman leading the job, adjustments should be made to better address needs of the job. Making such adjustments are made to put the crew in the best possible position to be successful.
PD #4 – Prepare Each Crew Member with Instructions at AM Huddle
I introduced “AM & PM” Huddles years ago and their use is still critical for daily quality production. This AM Huddle should engage the Crew Foreman lining out, even with experienced workers, what the strategy is for the day. Starting points, who is going to do what, reminders of unique specifications or customer needs, and clear instructions on important safety efforts should be part of the AM Huddle agenda. It is during this AM Huddle also that the Crew Foreman should point out what completion points should be achieved by mid-morning or noon and for the day, this to set a goal in the minds of the workers.
PD #5 – Crew Foreman to Coach, Correct, and Modify Efforts Early to Begin Project
The Crew Foreman needs to be extra observant during the first 60-90 minutes of each new project, especially one that begins in the morning. Even the best operator or shovel or squeegee man can be slightly off some days and this slight “off his game” performance can shoot any chance at great quality results right in the foot. Getting their crew off to a quality start will result in a quality performance.
Remember, just like a professional football team preventing a final score to lose, the Prevent Defense can become a great aggressive strategy to win the game. In like manner, your Prevent Defense strategies can reduce mistakes, increase productivity and add important dollars to your bottom line.
The PD’s shared here are only a small piece of additional techniques that will be presented in my presentation at the 2015 NPE, held in Nashville Tennessee on January 29. Plan on joining me and find out more practical techniques to build into your company to learn “How to Make ‘Quality’ Your Employee’s #1 Obsession.”
*This article was originally published in 2014 and republished in 2020.