Larger jobs are great. Fewer sales are needed to meet the company’s volume goal. Larger jobs take longer, so the production staff is busy without having to run all over the place.
Larger jobs also come with challenges. Here are some of those challenges and how to deal with them.
A Longer Baking Time
Larger projects take longer to move through the sales, design, and estimating phase. More decisions are required of the client. More research is needed by design. Estimating and pricing often have to be revised to meet shifting goals.
Sometimes during all this baking, projects fall apart and go away. The appraisal comes in lower than expected. Life situations change, making the project inappropriate, not needed or not affordable.
With larger projects, it is good to be pursuing more than the company can handle because the company will not get all of them. This juggling of desire on the part of potential clients and the needed follow-through to get to the ground-breaking is challenging.
Doing a typical kitchen-plus remodel is pretty straight forward. Your company may have done a lot of them, and along the way you’ve created a process for taking the project from initial call to job completion.
Larger projects often complicate that process. Maybe there are unanticipated structural issues that have to be addressed while the project is under way. It could be that the scope of work is so broad that, if the project is going to get done on time, it needs to be broken into several smaller projects, each handled by a different project manager. Possibly the client brings change after change, some of which involve increasing the scope on the fly.
The company’s management capabilities need to mature—quickly—so the project doesn’t get out of hand. More time is needed for meetings and followup. Build the cost and time for that into the estimate and the schedule.
A Bigger Hole
There is a lot to like about a whale, a jumbo project larger than any the company has ever done. It enables you to take a huge leap toward meeting the company’s annual sales goal. You also are assured of keeping production busy for a long time, and having a healthy backlog.
However, the down side is that when a large project goes away, it leaves a big hole. The absence of that project creates significant stress for the entire company. Will there be layoffs? How do we meet payroll? How quickly can other work be signed up? What do we tell the trade contractors and vendors who have worked with us to get this project ready to be built?
When making choices about which jobs to pursue, keep all this in mind.
Increasing the company’s average job size incrementally and deliberately is the best way to make more money doing basically the same amount of work.
Going after significantly larger projects will come with some, to put it delicately, “learning opportunities.” The lessons learned will help the company when it does similar projects. Just make sure that the learning opportunities are not repeated so the consequent tuition (lost profits) are not needed over and over.
Remember to pay attention to your best past clients. You will need them when the market cools. Let them know you haven’t forgotten them so they will remember you when that big job goes away or gets finished.