Smart Insights — Finishing the Last 2%
SMART HOME // Project Management
We’ve all been there, working long hours to get projects done, eager to mark them off the list. But, often one or more minor things still need attention to actually wrap up a project. Have you ever said, “It doesn’t really matter right now if the cables at the panel are organized and labeled,” or “instructions aren’t written or given to the owners, but that’s OK, we will come back when there’s more time?”
Then, the immediate demands of the next project call, pushing aside good intentions to finish the job completely and those last minor steps fall through the cracks. The hidden success factor is simple — project management. It starts with closing the sale, organizing and documenting the job, undertaking a quality installation and training the customer. In all of these areas, attention to detail is the little thing that makes a BIG difference.
During the sales process, have salespeople gather information upfront, including contact information, directions to the jobsite and client preferences for protection, control and device locations. When estimating hours for an install, have standard hours per product or task, and use this information to calculate proposal pricing. Once sold, make sure the sales person turns over everything needed by the operations department with a Project Sold Checklist.
Prep for installation with a Cable Schedule detailing the kind of cable, where each originates and ends, device type, placement and back-box type if needed. Assign every cable a unique number (i.e. 26) or identifier (i.e. foyer-motion). Use a Work Order to outline the field work to be completed and update it after the site visit with what was accomplished and if any tasks remain. Always use a Change Order for any requested modifications, and include equipment, materials and labor to accomplish the change. Most important, get approval by having every Change Order signed and dated.
For a variety of reasons, some installation jobs may drag on. New projects start and the old ones just never seem to wrap up completely. Unfortunately, this often leaves the last 2 percent of work needed to really complete the job unfinished, robbing you of a delighted customer. This outcome might work in busy times when new projects are always coming your way, but eventually it will catch up with you.
Address the last 2 percent effectively and completely with these tips:
- Create a Punch List. Meet with the owner, perform a walk-through identifying items not complete, document them and have the client sign off when each item is completed.
- Be prompt. Complete all tasks within one week and consider using a Job Completion Signoff to close out the project and support collection of final invoices.
- Deliver aesthetic projects. Make it “look good” and align all devices, wall plates and keypads, including mounting screws, clean fingerprints and smudges, label cables, wall plates and equipment. Remove packaging and vacuum the jobsite before leaving.
- Finalize documentation. Ensure it is accurate with “as-builts” for the systems installed, including schematics, block diagrams, an equipment list with serial numbers and programming backup.
- Train, train and train some more. It’s not work, it’s a sales call! The technician is often at the end of a long day, tired, trying to wrap up the installation and will probably speak “tech talk.” Consider having the sales person train. Allow plenty of time, perhaps bring a gift and follow up in a week, a month, six months and every year (which can be great opportunities to discover referrals).
Remember, your work remains long after the project is finished and is a lasting testament of your commitment to excellence. Go for 100 percent on every job, avoid the tyranny of the urgent and don’t settle for less. Strengthen customer relationships and commitments by following these simple and proven suggestions.