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Scheduling

  • Defining Your Niche Can Help in Downtimes

    I specialize in custom decks. I switched to this niche last winter, when my backlog of general remodeling work dried up and I had no jobs on the horizon. The suburbs of New York City — where my business is located — were hit hard by the economic downturn; many GCs I knew were going out of business.

     
  • Employee Drinking on the Job

    Suppose your lead carpenter calls and says there has been an accident: One of your employees cut his finger off — and by the way, he had alcohol on his breath when it happened. What do you do? If you’re like most contractors, you fire the employee and then say to yourself, “Whew! I’m glad that’s...

     
  • Sandler Sales Training: Is It Worth the Cost?

    For small contractors in today’s competitive market, sales skills can make the difference between struggling and prospering. Yet many contractors turn up their noses at formal sales training, viewing it as a waste of time and money. Are they right? Or is enrolling in a training program an effective...

     
  • Using Checklists to Eliminate the Punch List

    In 2001 my Atlanta remodeling company, SawHorse, launched a “zero punch” program, which sought to eliminate the final punch list on all jobs. Since we had five or six project managers on the payroll at any given time, as well as working relationships with a couple of dozen subcontractors, the...

     
  • Working the High-Rise Niche

    Our company has provided remodeling and handyman services to Chicago homeowners for the past 10 years. We started out working in single-family homes, but early on an architect hired us for a large job in a high-rise apartment building. Today, high-rise work accounts for half our volume. We work in...

     
  • Building With Logs

    Q: A design we're bidding on has several peeled cedar logs that function as both architectural and structural elements. Are there any rules of thumb for determining their strength so that they can be safely used without redundant grade-stamp framing - and so they meet the approval of a building...

     
  • Lessons From the Corporate World

    Imagine two builders. Builder No. 1 is an experienced project manager who decides to start his own business. His technical skills are finely honed, he knows how to manage a crew and schedule, and he builds homes that customers love. But a few years after hanging out his shingle he is still...

     
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    Getting Paid for Your Time

    If you and your project manager spend 13 hours preparing an estimate for a remodeling job, how much money have you invested in the project? Would you have been better off spending those 13 hours getting things done on one of your current projects?

     
  • Quality, Schedule, Price: Pick Two

    All clients come to the table with a set of unspoken expectations, some of which they may not even be aware of. Because these assumptions will inform every decision they make, it's important to bring them into the open and prioritize them early on. This will help you decide whether you and the...

     
  • Letters

    Air-sealing diagnostics; proposal to document illegal immigrants; preventing accidents; more

     
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    Putting a Purchase-Order System in Place

    As a financial consultant to small construction companies, I've seen lots of cases where a builder finished a job and the bookkeeper closed the books on it — only to have a late subcontractor bill for that job show up months later.

     
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    The True Cost of Labor

    The true cost of labor

     
  • Surviving Tough Times

    Take these common-sense steps to help your business weather a slowdown.

     
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    Profiting From Allowances

    I don't much like allowances, which let homeowners postpone decisions that really should be made before the project even breaks ground.

     
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    Letters

    Questions about AFCI rules; Mac estimators; roof-ventilation correction; fastening underlayment

     
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    Straight Talk About Fraud

    In 2006, occupational fraud cost U.S. businesses about $600 billion, or roughly $4,500 per employee, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Building contractors rank second in the list of targets, after retail stores.

     
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    Connecting All Contractors

    A retrospective on 25 years of builder technology: How did we get here, and where are we going next?

     
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    In the News

    How we got here: JLC at 25; catching up with the lifers

     
  • Are You Spending Your Time Profitably?

    Are you spending your time profitably?; four-day workweek pays off

     
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    Communicating With Customers Through the Web

    Most conflicts between a service business and its customers can be avoided with good communication.