Avoiding the Pitfalls of Scheduling

After proper job costing, having an organized schedule is one of the most important traits you can learn as a business owner to ensure success and prosperity.

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"It is decidedly so" that one of the biggest challenges in the pavement maintenance industry is scheduling and logistics. "As I see it" one of the easiest ways to make or break a job is through scheduling. Magic 8 Ball puns aside, it's critical for your success to succeed at scheduling. No matter what size you are, being organized needs to be the top priority. 

Like most pavement contractors, we work seasonally, so making our money while we can is ever so important. We have about 100 working days a year, so the only way to make the most of those days – to make the money we need while satisfying what the clients need -- is with proper planning and scheduling. By proper scheduling you will maximize every opportunity to make money and, just as important, you will also maximize your crews and prevent burnout. If you don't plan properly, you’ll face crew burnout, followed in short order by a flat-out loss of potential revenue because your burnt-out crews won’t produce enough work (and probably not enough quality work) to enable you to get the most work you can. 

A good friend of mine relies on what I call the Magic 8 ball approach.When they sub for us, it is essential we know their schedule so that we can plan our time. However, when I ask when to expect them on our job, I usually get one of the half-dozen Magic 8 ball answers: "Ask again later" or maybe, "Cannot predict now." This has created a challenge for us and obviously less work for them from us. What I also have observed is their employee burnout.Their crews are extraordinarily talented and hard-working – that’s why we like to sub to them -- but they work more hours than most. But out of a 65-hour week, they probably produce 35 to 40 hours of actual work. We can see they get visibly tired with such long shifts -- and we all know quality is affected when guys get tired. As the 8 Ball says, “Outlook not so good.”

Another friend and sub is so organized they will get a job from us and get a schedule set immediately. Simple. Each day is maximized, and the crews don't get burnout. They use a calendar program that allows for a month's view of the work. Each day can be filled with jobs for each crew and easily adjusted as needed. With a few clicks they can glance at the month ahead and know they can accept more work, which means both of our companies make more money.

We have taken that approach ourselves, but by using Google Calendar. It's free and loaded with features that work for a pavement business. We, too, have a month's view; we then color coordinate crews on the calendar. We try to maintain two weeks ahead at a minimum, and at a glance, I can see what's open or not. Any holes can always be filled with high-dollar emergency jobs, so running out of work is rarely an issue. We can share the calendar with our people and can even share just portions of it – so our work calendar becomes the crew schedule. Rain days, delays or issues can easily be managed with a simple click and drag on the schedule. Each week is planned, organized, and the profit potential is maximized the best we can. 

After proper job costing, having an organized schedule is one of the most important traits you can learn as a business owner to ensure success and prosperity.  The more organized you are, the more smoothly you will run, the better your crews will work, and the more work you can do.  That’s a win-win-win in my book, and that's something "Without a doubt" you can count on.