One of the most important aspects of any business is organization. In your construction business, one of the key elements you need to keep in mind is that the in-house operations are kept orderly. In the hustle and bustle that is a construction business, it easy for things to become disorganized, and even if some sort of system is established, without proper maintenance, things can fall apart after even just a few days of disregard. Papers get misplaced, tools are lost, employees have miscommunication issues: you get it. Not a pretty picture.
Here are a few ideas that will help you manage your construction business simply but efficiently. Once established, these organizational functions can be easily maintained so that mistakes and miscommunication are far less likely to occur. Throughout the process of re-organizing the inner and outer workings of your construction business, you will hopefully notice a change in your business’ self-presentation and standard of professionalism.
One of the first rules of keeping your construction business’ tools organized is by sorting your tools by usage. Keep everything together that functions similarly. For example, keep wrenches together but separate from the screwdrivers, and keep screwdrivers together but separate from saw blades. This isn’t too hard to figure out, but often what can happen is the random assortment of small tools together and big tools together. When this method of big vs. small is used, things are more often misplaced as well as misused. Within the separation of tools by usage, there should also be a separation of tools by type. When you keep all of your screwdrivers and flatheads in the same place, it would be ideal to separate the flatheads from the screwdrivers. This way, the amount of each tool is consistently kept track of, and you will never have to dig through one type of tool in the search for another.
One thing you can use for such organization would include boxes or bins: they are GREAT for keeping things separated and in their proper place. Although there is sometimes a huge temptation to keep things in the box they come in, such as nails or screws, if they aren’t sorted into a larger bin with like-items and are kept loosely, it is far more likely for these individual packages to get lost or misplaced.
After all of your tools are sorted into bins of like-items, a good idea would be to establish a numbering system of all the tools in your company’s possession. First, you need to go through and take inventory of every tool you have, just so that you know the quantity of your tools, and how many individual types you have. After you have kept track of just how many of each tool you have, a numbering system can be put into place by numbering your tools from 1 to whatever the final amount is. For example, say you have 15 flatheads and 20 screwdrivers. By numbering each tool with a small sticker, you would put the numbers one through fifteen on each of your flatheads, and one through twenty on each of your screwdrivers.
You would then transfer that information onto an inventory sheet. You might use one page to keep track of screwdrivers and flatheads, especially if they are in the same bin, and then create a table to keep track of what numbered tool was taken out onto a construction site. The contractor using the tool would enter in on the track sheet exactly what date and time they used the tool, and the date and time the tool was returned to it’s proper bin. This would work to prevent any displacement of tools, as well as establish how often certain tools are used.
If you notice there is a tool that goes many months or even a year or two without usage, then you might want to investigate that tool further: is it damaged or broken? Do you have an updated version of that tool that makes the old tool redundant and take up space? Do you need this tool, or can it be used elsewhere?
Another benefit of the tool numbering system is that if a tool is misplaced, you will know exactly what you are looking for. By keeping close track of your tools both by type and quantity, as well as keeping a written record of tool usage, the time it takes to establish what has been lost or misplaced and tracing your steps back to that item will take significantly less time, and will possibly even cost you less if you are able to replace that item instead of having to purchase a replacement.
Paperwork is the other main aspect of a construction business office that needs to be thoughtfully organized and maintained. With so many papers going through and living in an office, it wouldn’t take more than a day for a whole entire construction project to be thrown out of order if important paperwork is misplaced or lost.
Different types of papers should be kept and maintained in separate ways. Multiple filing cabinets with clearly labeled drawers and folders should be used for separate types of papers. Paper work should be separated first by type, then grouped together by what they are needed for.
Employee information regarding hire as well as their licenses and qualifications should be kept together in the same place, each employee with their own separate folder within the same drawer. These are best kept alphabetically.
Information regarding any and all of your subcontractors should be kept in a separate drawer, including information of your collaborative history with them, as well as a copy of the proof of payment from jobs that they have done with you before.
Billing and payment information regarding all of your employees and subcontractors should be kept in another drawer, also alphabetically organized by the name of your employees. Your subcontractors’ info should also be in the same drawer, but alphabetized separately from your employees. Timesheets and scheduling information should also be kept in this drawer so that you can keep track of the hours each employee worked, as well as whether or not they have gotten paid for those hours. Within each separate employee’s folder, paperwork should be organized by date, so that their latest working information is in the front, and their oldest information is in the back.
Invoices for different jobs should also be kept in the same drawer. This could be organized multiple ways, the top two being by the date of the project or by the name of the project or client. Date might be easiest, so that you can keep all of your current or most recent projects right up front, so they can be easily accessed without having to look back through folders of multiple names and older projects.
When it comes to storing your Blueprints, it might not be best to go with the typical roll-up and placement into some bin. This can cause damage to Blueprints, even if they are kept in a Blueprint tube.
The best and most organized method would be to store your blueprints in a Blueprint storage rack. A Blueprint storage rack will keep your papers neat and less-prone to damage, as well as keep them organized so that they are easy to find. When you roll up Blueprints and place them randomly on shelves in an office place, they are susceptible to multiple types of damages. It also hard to keep Blueprints orderly this way, and it wouldn’t be hard to lose track of one or to misplace it. Using a Blueprint storage rack keeps them all in one place in a presentable fashion that allows you to see the Blueprint you are working on without having to take it out of its placement.
Once you have a Blueprint storage rack, you can keep them organized by date or alphabetically. Again, organizing by date may be slightly more convenient as it will keep your most recent or current Blueprints up front and easily accessible.
When the innerworkings of a company are organized and functioning well, the whole business tends to follow in those same patterns. Keeping the different functions of your construction business organized to a basic yet detailed degree will allow more time for getting the job done without any extra hassle beyond the work itself. When you are working on a difficult project, or even multiple projects, you don’t have time to be disorganized. Any delays or miscommunications that result from disorganization are unprofessional, and businesses may find themselves in serious trouble if they are not trustworthy and reliable to do their job on time and in the right way.
Organizing your construction office in this way is basic but efficient, and the maintenance is even easier. Once the way things are kept and sorted is established, putting things where they belong and keeping track of what paper goes where becomes a regular habit, and a good one at that. Your company will prove to be even more professional and trustworthy as you develop a reputation of being able to work efficiently and on time in the most organized way possible.