The Cost of No Spring Training

A preseason training agenda for contractors

Having visited a spring training baseball location for Major League Baseball (MLB), I was amazed how many fans show up to watch practice or a practice spring game. But after experiencing a game, I can see why spring training is such a draw for fans. You can get up closer to the players, even interact with them at times, and at a ticket price that is cheaper than watching them play during the season.

While any pavement maintenance contractor would find it challenging to sell tickets to the public  and have any takers  the strategy of spring training is actually a good one, something that we might learn from as contractors.

For even the 12-months-a-year contractor, conducting a  spring training for workers is wise and will always produce improvements. Bring the crews and leaders together and go back over your company’s processes and procedures, remind them what you expect from them and their work, and always emphasize your commitment to safety and quality. All of this should be brought back into focus before you launch your season for a new year.

If you need an agenda for your spring training event, consider the items listed below. 

  1. General Overview of Company, including Your Vision for the Company
  2. Share the Goals for 2020
  3. Review your Company’s Policies/Processes that Impact Employees, including:
    a. Compensation: Payroll, Time Cards, Insurance, Vacation Time, Retirement etc.
    b. Company Specific Expectations: Uniforms, Behavior, Conduct, etc.
  4. Review Vehicle, Equipment, Tool Handling and Maintenance
  5. Review Procedures to "How Our Company Completes"  Paving, Sealcoating etc.
  6. Expectations and Training on Team Building, Problem Solving etc.

Depending on how many new employees you may be starting off with, you may want to conduct some hands-on training to insure they know how to tack the edges before paving, use a squeegee to trim out the perimeter of a sealcoat site, or how to lay out stencils prior to striping. There's plenty to train on.

Let me briefly address one more item, in fact, it’s the primary reason for the article. If you do not conduct a spring training with your workers, it could cost you during the season. Why? Because at spring training you can:

  1. Set the bar high on what you expect from each leader and crew.
  2. Discuss how to prevent mistakes from happening...that is what the spring training is all about.
  3. Discuss Lean Construction’s “7 Wastes,” their impact on construction, and more importantly, you can have your crews problem-solve how to prevent mistakes in the first place. Also you can discuss if a mistake is made, how to resolve it quickly, safely, and with as low of costs as possible.

Integrating this sort of commitment will return to you better performance and profitability earlier than later. Take one to two full days, plan out the training and presentations, bring in some food for your crews, and totally focus on all the issues that can make them better this coming season.

Training, and more training, is going to become the norm for most contractors. Just the number of young Millennials, and now “Generation Z” workers, are making their way into our companies…and they have little-to-no knowledge about construction. So, you'd better brush up on your training and coaching skills, because we all will need them moving forward.

The cost to put on a spring training experience is nothing compared to not doing it and then watching your crews take weeks, maybe months, to get their groove and perform in a productive and profitable manner. The old adage, “You got to spend money to make money” is really right in our topic today. Spending a few days of wages, along with some donuts, pizza, and soft drinks, can bring some financial returns, earlier than normal, to your business this year.

Here’s to a holding a great spring training with your employees!