Organization on the Job
Many professional contractors are very proactive about the type of organization they are. They have determined whether they want to be large or small. They have chosen whether they want to be a corporation, a limited partnership or a sole proprietorship. They have decided if they are a general contractor (performing many if not all services) or only provide a specialized service. They have a target market and know they only work on residential, commercial or industrial projects. Some companies only work in certain areas or on certain types of structures. Some only perform certain types of projects (additions, second stories, kitchens, restorations, or insurance work). Some companies seem to have a labyrinth of organization and others seem to operate by the “seat of their pants” on a day-to-day basis, reacting to every situation as it comes along. Which type of company are you most comfortable with? Their level of organization will play an important role in the day-to-day interaction they have with you as a customer. Do they complete most of their work with their own employees? Do they subcontract a lot or all of the work? Do they have standards that they share with you outlining their expectations for their employees, their trade partners and their suppliers? Ask to see a job in progress to get a feel for how a contractor does business. Try to imagine the work site in your home. Would this drive you crazy?
Many times, a professional contractor will pass on a certain kind of lead, a type of job or a certain type of customer. The longer most contractors have been in business, the better they know what kinds of jobs and customers are right for them. Often it is hard to explain to a consumer why a contractor is passing on a lead, but usually it has to do with incompatibility issues that center around the type of organization the contractor has put together. Sometimes they know their organization isn’t set up to do that kind of job efficiently. Sometimes they feel uncomfortable asking their workers to do that kind of work. Sometimes they have a past experience with a similar situation that makes them reluctant. Sometimes they are unfamiliar with the work. Some contractors will pass because your house is too old, too new, too messy or too clean. Some contractors will pass because your job is too complicated, too simple, too big or too small. Realize the best situation is a good match. Both the contractor and the homeowner have to ask enough questions to determine if it is a good match.
Unacceptable: The contractor has no real organizational structure. His lack of organization and scheduling delays jobs. His poorly-maintained tools lead to poor quality work. Good suppliers and trade partners have severed working relations with him.
Good: The contractor maintains no formal organization, but gets the job done.
Seldom, if ever, is there an issue with the workmanship.
Better: The contractor has systems and processes in place for all parts of the projects. These systems and processes allow the owner to complete more projects, satisfy more clients and grow a successful organization.
Best: The contractor can document and follow all areas of the project at any time. The contractor is able to take on any size job under many pre-existing conditions and has the wherewithal to complete even the most challenging projects. This is not meant to convey that bigger is better.