How Written Operational Systems Can Improve Construction Businesses

Successful companies have written operational systems in place to allow managers to coach rather than micro-manage people

Construction business owners who an replace themselves with written operational systems will have time to find better customers, hire and train better people, and seek better opportunities.
Construction business owners who an replace themselves with written operational systems will have time to find better customers, hire and train better people, and seek better opportunities.

Every company must do important things perfectly in order to be successful. If these tasks aren’t adhered to in a systematic standardized way, customers gets confused and stop doing business with your company. Would you go to McDonalds if the hamburgers were different every time? Your company can’t move forward if you do things in a disorganized chaotic manner. With pressures of building a profitable construction company, it’s often tempting to micro-manage or do things by the seat of your pants.

Is your company doing just OK, but it’s missing a few parts, broken down and taped together with duct tape? For example, do you personally order and schedule all materials because you don’t have a system in place to allow your foreman or superintendents to do it for you? Do you end up going from jobsite to jobsite making sure your crews are doing things the way you want them done? Do you have to make every major or minor decision for your people? Are you too busy working to fully understand your actual job costs, company financials or profit targets?

Manage systems, not people

Successful companies have written operational systems in place to allow managers to coach rather than micro-manage people and make every decision for them. When I finally realized I couldn’t be at every jobsite and watch everything for everybody, I had a choice. I could shrink my company back to a controllable size so I could continue to be the ‘do it all’ owner of a company that doesn’t make very much money. Or I could install and replace myself with written systems that allow employees to know how I want things done without my constant full-time supervision and direction. This will free you to focus on important things that allow your company to grow and prosper.

What happens or doesn’t happen when you do it all yourself? Nothing happens without your involvement if you don’t have good systems in place to allow people to do a good job without reminding or telling them what to do. The more you do for employees, the less they do for you. When you make all the decisions and constantly tell them how you want things done, they won’t grow as valuable employees. This micro-managing behavior controls people and keeps them down not wanting to contribute more or become the best they can be. When you finally discover the problem with your people is you and not them, you’ll realize the correct decision is to install written systems. This will change your role from control freak to manager of the systems. 

Good people or good systems?

Without written systems in place, good people won’t help your problem. Six different good people will still do things six different ways. This is not a long-term solution to company growth challenges.

Start by listing the top 10 tasks you absolutely must do perfectly for your company to become successful. For example, if you are a concrete contractor, you better have a system in place to ensure concrete slabs are installed per plans and do not crack except at expansion joints.

When estimating new projects, you better have systems in place to provide accurate job costs to estimate new jobs. If you want to make a profit, you must have financial systems in place to track and collect money owed, forecast your cash needs, and track your overhead and profit goals.

Manage the systems

If you were going to buy another company, what would you want to know about it? You want to know if the business works without the owner doing all the work. A business that works is in control, systemized and organized. The systems run the business (not the owner). The owner or managers manage the systems (not do the work).

The organized and systemized company produces the same consistent results every time. This guarantees repeat loyal customers, a safe working environment, quality workmanship, on-time projects, empowered and accountable employees, and an above average profit margin.

With systems in place, your job changes from micro-managing and controlling every move for every employee to making sure the company systems are followed.

Install one system every week

Business always changes and continually needs improvement as you grow and hire people to do the work. If you continue to do business the same way, you won’t improve or get better. Look at professional sports. Teams are always installing new plays, trying new things and constantly working on new ways to beat their competition.

As a business, you must also be improving and working on new ways to improve. Make it your goal to install one or two new systems every month. As you create and write your “MUST DO” playbook, start with the most important things that must be done to ensure success. This becomes your operational system “DO” manual and training tool how you do business.

Remember, if it’s not written, everything is still in your head, and you’ll be the only one calling the plays.

By replacing yourself with written operational systems, you’ll have time to find better customers, hire and train better people, and seek better opportunities. When you work too hard and make all the decisions, you’ll never have time to get better, and you’ll peak at the level of what you control. 

As a professional construction BIZCOACH and popular industry speaker, George Hedley helps contractors increase profits, grow and get their companies to work!  He is the best-selling author ofGet Your Construction Business To Always Make A Profit!” available at his online bookstore at www.HardhatPresentations.com.  E-mail GH@HardhatPresentations.com to sign-up for his free e-newsletter, join a peer mastermind BIZGROUP, attend a BIZ-BUILDER Boot Camp, implement the BIZ-BUILDER BLUEPRINT, or get a discount for online courses at www.HardhatBizSchool.com.

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