Ready for 2023? Evaluate the Tough Job

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing” -Henry Ford.

“When you make a mistake, there are only three things you should ever do about it: Admit it, Learn from it, and Don’t Repeat it.” -Bear Bryant.

It’d be great if every project a contractor works on goes off without a hitch, without any claims or losses, and is incredibly profitable. Frankly, it’s great when we get one of those! Nearly every project brings a challenge – that’s part of what makes our jobs fun. But every so often, we find ourselves in a project with many challenges, some that feel insurmountable, overwhelming, or never-ending. And these are the jobs we can learn the most from.

There are A LOT of things any given contractor can and should do as the 2022 construction season winds down in order to prepare for 2023. No blog article can tackle that challenge. But one task every contractor can do -which does not take much time or preparation, and costs very little money- is holding a post-mortem project meeting.

I hate to be the one to break this to you, but most of the difficulties and challenges your company faced in that tough job was your team’s fault… No doubt, there are issues outside of your team’s control and you’re put at the mercy of the owner or the designers or the customer or a vendor. But even then, there’s almost always something that your team could have done to be more prepared or geared for the challenge.

Select a difficult, costly, or particularly stressful project, and gather your team to discuss the job start-to-finish. How was the job estimated, what was missed? Was the project team assembled correctly and put in a position to succeed out of the gate? Was the contract reviewed – what terms should have been better negotiated? What approach could be better next time? Were the communications with the customers and vendors sufficient, timely, clear? What got lost, and how? What about changes? Where could the team’s recordkeeping improve, and what are ways to do that going forward? Were payments delayed or limited? Why? Was the job closed-out and punchlist completed efficiently? Better questions yield better results.

As construction begins to slow at the end of 2022, now is the time examine those difficult jobs, and compare them to the good ones. Now is the time leverage all the incredibly valuable information that’s already at your fingertips to make your construction business better. Don’t miss it.

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