By John T. McGrath, Jr.
In the world of commercial flooring installation, time equals money. Contractors around the country have seen timelines and budgets shrink in recent years. While new installation technology and innovative products are helping installers adapt to this new reality, delays may still eat into profit margins.
Because flooring installation comes at the end of the building process, this problem can be exacerbated by delays from other trades. But there are many other factors that cause disastrous delays for contractors and their teams.
From meeting deadlines to untrained installers to not knowing your company’s limitations, these issues can strain relationships with general contractors and clients, and lead to lost business and a poor reputation.
While the problems might vary depending on the job, there are four things every flooring contractor needs to know to keep their jobs on time and on budget.
Pride Yourself on Timing
Successful floorcovering contractors and installers have many things in common. One of the most important shared attributes is their pride in delivering projects on time. “We sell this concept to all of our clients,” says Jim Janzer, president of James Floor Covering, Bristol, PA, an INSTALL contractor. “Our team works on everything from large condo installations to overnight mall store transformations. No matter the job, we are known for finishing on time regardless of the circumstances, and this has helped us make a name for ourselves over the years.”
Be Proactive, Not Reactive
Janzer and other business owners also stress the importance of being proactive rather than reactive in the installation process. Building a trusting relationship with the general contractor or project leader is key. “The GC [General Contractor] is in control,” says Janzer. “Follow their lead and trust in the process. Understand what the other trades are facing and adjust accordingly.”
No matter how well you plan, installations get behind schedule and life happens. When there are potential shortcomings in staff, team leaders and operations managers need to fill the holes and have a backup plan before the team leaves for their shift. In addition, it’s important when projects come down to the finish line. Pay them overtime, stay on the jobsite until the work is completed and live up to your promise to the client.
Invest in Trained Installers
One of the best ways to keep installations on time is to invest in your installers. Trained and certified installers have the skills and knowledge to deliver the highest quality work. From polishing concrete to advanced substrate and moisture mitigation training, they make sure the job gets done on time the first time.
Successful contractors take care of their employees and provide them with a positive work environment. This includes creating bonus programs that help them take ownership of their work. This not only makes installers feel valued, but it instills them with the right mentality for tackling challenging jobs that are crunched for time.
“Ultimately, you have to be as flexible as possible,” says Janzer. “Know your shortcomings in staffing and be prepared to shift team member from job to job.” It isn’t always ideal but it’s a necessary step in finishing on time and keeping clients happy.
An area where INSTALL can provide assistance to its members is with having a large local labor pool. Our contractors have access to trained and certified installers when they have scheduling conflicts. This adds flexibility and peace of mind during peak season and other ups and downs in the industry.
No matter how you look at it, time is money and a positive cash flow keeps contractors happy and installers employed. Nobody knows this better than the floorcovering industry. By being prideful in your timely installation, exercising a proactive mindset, investing in training and staying as flexible as possible, you will help build your reputation.
After all, a positive reputation leads to more work and repeat clients. That’s a successful outcome that’s hard to argue with.