Quality is what the customer says it is. We must actively reach out to identify and understand the needs and desires of our customers if we are going to delight and impress them with great performance.
Thinking strategically begins with us, not our customers. Approximately two to three weeks before the start of the job, the project manager should contact the general contractor to request a Pre-Job Planning Meeting. The key people attending the meeting should be the GC’s PM and general superintendent, and the subcontractor’s PM, superintendent and foreman. Here are the items to cover at this meeting:
1. Scope of work. What specifically do you want us to do?
2. Budget—quantity of work, man-hours or man-days to complete the job and schedule.
3. Quality specifications—materials and workmanship requirements.
4. Paperwork requirements.
5. Safety rules. Review the GC’s safety requirements. Bring a copy of your safety manual to the meeting and show it to the GC.
6. Get a copy of the GC’s schedule and review it together.
7. Discuss a system for reviewing progress on the job. Discuss the importance of feedback and the method for resolving job site disputes.
8. Discuss process for handling extra work requests.
1. Find out what the GC’s standards are for customer service.
2. Discuss material handling requirements and locations for storing materials on the job site. Identify the material delivery requirements and use of hoist procedure.
3. Discuss the requirements for removing the material and equipment off the job when the job is finished.
4. Find out what’s really important to the GC. Does he have any pet peeves?
1. Discuss the procedure for communicating unsafe practices and conditions.
2. Identify any special safety requirements.
3. Identify housekeeping requirements.
4. Check the working conditions that your crew will be exposed to, such as heat, cold, tight spaces and poor lighting.
Additional Work Approval Procedures
1. What is the procedure for handling requests for changes or additional work? What about extras? Get clarification for billable extras.
2. Identify the person who is responsible for approving extra work requests and change orders.
3. Clarify the billing requirements.
1. Identify the meetings schedule.
2. Find out who they want to attend the meetings. What specifically do they want the subcontractor to report on at the meeting?
3. Find out when the meeting minutes will be submitted to the subs.
4. Identify meeting follow-up requirements.
1. Identify and clarify job security requirements.
2. Identify job access requirements. Are there certain times of the day that you can work in specific areas?
3. Clarify the trash policy and where trash bins will be located.
4. Clarify the procedure for removing materials from the building.
You may want to put these items on a checklist and check them off as they’re discussed in the meeting. Also, you could have spaces for signatures of the meeting attendees that would verify complete understanding of all items that were discussed and reviewed.
Using a pre-job planning procedure with the GC indicates that you want to proceed with the job in a professional manner, as well as satisfy the GC’s needs and expectations. This is an excellent communications and accountability tool that helps establish an effective partnership between the subcontractor and the GC. It’s the way to solidify a win/win relationship for both parties.
Norb Slowikowski is president of Slowikowski & Associates, Inc., Darien, Ill.
Slowikowski will be presenting "Are You a Project Manager or a Project Witness?” during AWCI’s Academy (Jan. 23–26, 2012, in Dallas) and again at AWCI’s Convention (April 15–19, 2012, in Charlotte, N.C.). In addition, he will also lead one of his Hard Hat Productivity Seminars, "Nine Critical Factors for Maximizing Profits,” during the convention. Visit http://www.awci.org/cd.shtml for more information.