Make Time for In-Office Training

Remodeling companies are missing a great opportunity for job training by limiting it to the work site. Yes, there does have to be on-site training to learn a skill, but it might take longer because everything is being taught on the job. 

Here are some ideas to make the most of training your field staff in your office.

Have a Set of Plans

Develop a set of plans that introduce the trainee to terminology and ideas you use in your business. These should be simple plans that introduce the basics. Label everything — headers, jacks, rafter cuts, rebar, footers, etc. Let your employees study and review them, and then have them fill in the blanks on another drawing with the labels left out. They’ll get familiar with terminology and locations, and they’ll need a lot less time from the trainer or a supervisor on the job site — giving everyone more time to get the work done.

Hit the Books

Build a list of books relevant to the remodeling business — and require your new employees to read them. Ask the employee to invest in buying these books — either in print or a Kindle edition for their own education. Let them have some skin in the game of growth. As with the plans, there must be some follow up in the form of testing, or at the least conversations to see that they’re learning while they read.

Don’t forget magazines, either in print or online. Buy the Journal of Light Construction. Get the free ones that are out there. Read them yourself and then make it a game to see if your team members can answer basic questions that you found that apply to your business. You could have them come to a company meeting and share what they’ve learned.

Make it a priority to do some part of your new employee training in the office — build it into the job schedule, and into their job reviews and as the basic competencies they have to master. That can include training on the devices and apps you want them to use in the field. New members of your field team will learn faster and better with a mix of in-office and job-site training.

Working More Effectively with Subcontractors

One of the highlights of every Masterclass: Project Manager Intensive course that I facilitate is “focus time.” Each company present gets 20 minutes to receive feedback from everyone else in the room on one or two topics of their choice.

As the facilitator, I get to listen and learn. This year, I picked up a couple of great ideas relating to working effectively with trade contractors, and they can help you too.

Setting Long-Term Schedules

While discussing scheduling trade contractors, and actually getting them to the site, this idea came up. Ask them for their long-term schedule. This may be as far out as three to six months. This can accomplish significant things:

  1. They’ll have to create a long term schedule!
  2. You can find holes are and perhaps schedule around them for your work.
  3. You’ll know whether they’ll be capable of handling all the work you have coming in.

Comparing their schedules to your company’s master schedule will enable you to plan better.

Tiered System for Subs

Give your trusted trade partners preferential services because they help you overcome your challenges. One company said they have the Quick Pay option. In general, the trades get paid in 30 days. But those that choose the Quick Pay have to meet some conditions, like using the company’s cloud-based software, showing up on time and so on.

I know many remodelers already pay in five to 10 days, so that may not be your thing. But the idea is to see what you want your trades to help you with, and then set up an incentive. If that incentive can be something you do anyway, like paying them, it doesn’t cost you anything extra. However, we know our trades can make or break us — so even if there’s a little extra cost it may be worth it.

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