When you arrive at a hotel what do you think when you see paint flaking from the building and weeds growing in the sidewalk? Are you tempted to cancel your booking and walk away? You enter the lobby and the décor is old and faded – hey the beds could be comfy and the food good but you surely doubt the wisdom of checking in to this hotel and you might not stay long enough to sample either the beds or the food? And the more you see faults the more you start looking for faults. That check-in clerk better be quick and efficient or you’ll be adding that to your list of complaints. So too with our construction projects, customers and potential customers can be turned away by projects that look disorganized and appear unprofessional. When your client walks onto your project site what have they seen, what has offended them and are they already looking for other faults?
Have a look at your project from the outside in
When last did you take a good look at your construction project? Are you so rushed every day that you walk past things without noticing when they don’t look right? How do your customers, and potential customers, view your project? Yes, it’s important to finish the project on time and provide good service – but, this is only part of what’s required.
So let’s take a half hour this morning and view our project from the outside to the inside. Switch the phone off and really take the time to look. You may be surprised at what you’ve walked past every day without noticing!
Starting outside the project site:
- Is there a sign board advertising your company? Companies pay big money to advertise on a billboard so we shouldn’t waste this opportunity of almost free advertising! What does the sign board say about your company? Maybe it’s a sign you take from project to project so it’s showing its age, got a bit dented, started to rust or maybe the paint has started to peel? Is it straight or put in crooked or maybe bent over by the wind – if so customers may wonder about the standard of your construction work?
- How is your project impacting the neighbors? Are your construction vehicles blocking the road or parked on neighboring sidewalks? Can pedestrians safely walk past your project? Is debris from your project spilling onto the road causing a traffic hazard? Remember a neighbor could be a future customer – but not if your workers annoy them.
While you’re looking outside the project site look for litter – often workers eat their lunch in their vehicles and discard their fast-food wrappers next to where they’re eating. Some tradespeople like a beer after work and then throw the empty bottles over the neighbor fence or leave them in neighboring gardens – certainly not good for neighborly relations. Irate neighbor may write letters to the local press which isn’t good for the company image. They may even contact your customer directly – which will certainly annoy your customer. Customers don’t like bad press and they certainly don’t like dealing with members of the public that their contractors have offended.
- What’s the appearance of the company trucks? Are they a good advertisement for the company, or are they dirty, leaking oil, bashed and looking old? Customers like employing construction companies that have new and reliable equipment – equipment that won’t break down and slow their project down.
Well we’ve had a good look at the project from the outside so let’s go in.
- What do the site offices look like? Are they set level and in straight lines? Are they in good repair, with no broken doors or windows? How do you access the offices – are there proper stairs or only some bricks or pieces of timber piled on top of each other which are a safety hazard. Is their graffiti on the outside or are they neatly painted? Again shoddy offices give a bad impression of the company and customers may think that it’s a reflection on the quality of the work your company produces.
- What is your crew wearing – do they look a rag-tag mob in mismatching torn outfits? Do they have proper personal protective gear? Our project managers don’t need to be dressed in jackets and ties, but they should at least look neat, clean, tidy and professional. Customers would like to think they are dealing with a professional person and a professional company.
- What does your store and storage areas look like? When last did you look inside the project stores? Are dangerous and flammable products kept in a separate store? Is everything neat and tidy and readily accessible – or does the crew have to waste time scratching to find what they need?
Don’t let your workers have to deal with disorganized stores and storage areas as it costs time and money. Consider what your customer will think if it appears that your company doesn’t cares for your equipment, and things are disorganized.
Finally let’s have a look at the work-site!
- Does the work-site look neat and tidy? Is everything orderly or are materials mixed-up in an untidy heap where they’re getting damaged, it’s difficult to find and where it could be a safety hazard. It’s just as easy to stack material tidily as it is to discard it in a heap – all it takes is a little discipline. Are the work areas well planned and organised with clear access routes or are workers falling over material and equipment? I’ve walked past construction projects that look chaotic and thought I wouldn’t want that contractor on my project!
- Is the project safe? Are all the workers working safely, are hazards clearly demarcated and safety signage visible. Customers don’t want the fuss and hassle of an accident – it creates bad publicity for their project, it causes work for them and it could delay the project. We certainly don’t want an accident so let’s ensure the project is safe. Poor safety will impact business.
- Are we producing quality we are proud of? That poor quality concrete may eventually be covered up by ground or hidden by finishes, but until it is hidden what does your customer think, and what will the public think as they walk past the project? It’s just as easy to do good concrete work as produce poor quality work. Insist that your workers produce the best quality – quality you’ll be proud of – everyday. As we walk through the project look at it with a critical eye and see it as others may see it. Commend those who’ve produced good quality work and correct those whose work is shoddy. Customers want good quality. They are after all paying for a quality product. Don’t let poor quality drive customers away.
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