As a construction contractor, you’ve got to wear plenty of hats. You are quality control, business manager, human resources, and keeper of the budget, just to name a few. Part of the job is knowing how to combine all these roles to ensure smooth construction project management and satisfied customers.
After all, poor management means dissatisfied customers, frustrated employees, and possibly even claims against your contractor license bond. To avoid all these hassles, just check out these top five rules for smooth construction project management.
Rule 1: Be a team player
Sure, it’s a bit of a cliche, but working well within a team is at the core of being a good manager. It’s just not something you can compromise on. But doing this starts with good communication between you, the architect or designer, the client, and your team. This should be an easy feat to accomplish, as there are many project management applications and technologies ready to help you out.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is attitude. All the software or technology in the world can’t create a teamwork-friendly attitude. Updating everyone working with you on the project’s status at a regular interval (say, bi-weekly) also helps create a predictable flow to teamwork and avoids any potential frustration resulting from lack of knowledge.
So whatever it takes to get you there — the right team or the right coffee — just dive in and make sure you get to work.
Rule 2: Budget smartly
Perhaps the greatest complaint clients always seem to have about construction contractors is that they go over budget. If you’ve explained a thousand times that this is a normal part of the process, why not join the growing ranks of construction companies and contractors who budget for these costs from the start?
Try starting with a realistic budget and adding at least 10 percent to it for unexpected costs. Explain to your customers that the budget includes this contingency and hopefully, instead of having the “we need more money” conversation, you can have the “we finished under budget” conversation at the end of the job. Wouldn’t that be a nice change?
Rule 3: Take design seriously from Day 1
Okay, so you’re a manager and a contractor, not a designer, engineer, or architect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep good design in mind on your projects.
At the very least, advising clients to consult a design professional before beginning major work can leave you with a happier client and a more predictable, and on budget, project.
Convincing clients to work with related professionals also has the added benefit of helping you to build trust. A client will feel more comfortable knowing you’re not afraid to bring in another person or firm and work with them if needed. Without that comfort, client worries can translate into slow decision making, cost overruns, and major headaches.
Rule 4: Make and refer to a comprehensive list of goals
Most contractors and managers make lists, but making a comprehensive list, which incorporates information on the priorities of the client, makes a big difference. Even Johnny Cash knew how important lists are.
Having important project information at your fingertips avoids having to turn to a client with questions about whether they would prefer one feature over another. You can even make this list visible to the client through one of the project management software platforms mentioned above.
This can drastically cut down on the number of phone calls requesting updates or asking questions, and allows you to focus more on what you’re doing, leading to better and more efficient work.
Rule 5: Look at the big picture before starting a project
Before you start any work, make sure you’ve taken a step back to think about the wider construction implications. These can be anything from how an addition will affect the structural integrity of a building, how drainage will affect a site, or how green technologies might save money on the project.
These considerations can save incredible amounts of time and money in the long run. Because ultimately having a clear idea of the bigger picture helps immensely with remembering details.
Plus, catching a potential disaster before it occurs is another solid way to build a good relationship with a client. Show them you’ve got their back and they’ll reward you down the road.