The process of constructing a building or orchestrating a fit-up is complicated. Requiring multiple people and even more hours, there are opportunities for projects to lose momentum or focus. At Dow Smith Company, it is our mission to ensure our customers are treated fairly and receive the quality building they deserve, on schedule and on budget. No matter the size or complexity of a project, our team has standards by which we manage our clients’ projects. These rules guide us so that we can better serve our clients. At the end of the day, we’re proud of a job well-done and a project well-managed.
1. Assume nothing.
How does that old saying go? When you assume, you make...you know how it goes. The same is true in the construction industry. Assuming anything during a construction project will only lead to problems. Constant communication with the client and our team are required to complete a project without incident. Assumptions can cause catastrophic delays, so we rely upon regular meetings and phone calls to ensure each project stays on schedule.
2. Worry hard early.
This may sound counterintuitive, but we prefer to worry about a project early. We are able to head-off problems that may arise and be better equipped to handle construction changes midstream. Though we know every project inside and out, we still approach each job with the dedication and attention it deserves. We worry in the early stages of a project to discover the needs and desires of our clients, providing us with clear goals and making each following step that much more successful.
3. If you don’t see the job, you can’t manage the job.
Our team works hard to manage projects, meaning we spend a lot of time communicating with the client, subcontractors and our team at the job site. However, we don’t spend all our time behind a desk. We believe we can best lead our team and understand the progress of each project by spending time on the job site. Communication is best done face-to-face, problems can be avoided and improvements can be made when on-site. Yes, it makes for some crazy travel days, but we wouldn’t want to manage our projects any other way.
4. Pick up the phone when necessary – don’t hide behind email.
It’s so easy these days to send off an email with a project update or an inquiry. Though convenient, too often those important messages end up getting lost in our inboxes. When it comes to important project details on the job site or taking responsibility for a mistake, we prefer to speak on the phone or in-person. Communication is vital for a successful project and we always seek to avoid mishaps made from a poor connection.
5. Communicate the plan weekly (and even daily).
Communication is key when working on any project, but it’s especially important in construction. With so many moving parts, our team communicates on a weekly and – during some parts of a project – daily basis regarding the schedule. At any given time, our team is managing subcontractors, interior designers, permits and licenses, our team members, as well as the needs of our clients. Without planned and consistent communication, projects could be derailed very quickly.
6. The critical path really is critical.
We employ the critical path method when scheduling and managing commercial construction projects. We generate a list of activities required to complete a project, the amount of time each activity will take, the dependencies between each of those activities, and we determine milestones or deliverables throughout the schedule. This allows us to track each and every beam and window that goes into a project from start to finish. Having this level of control is, well, critical for a construction project. Our team thrives when we can visualize a job’s entire schedule and how and when each phase will be completed.
7. If you relax in the middle, the end will be much worse.
We rarely let our guard down during a project as job details can fall through the cracks and problems can arise unnoticed. We feel we can only relax when a quality project has been delivered to our client. Staying focused on all aspects of a construction job ensure that we can avoid issues before they affect the project and maintain both the client’s budget and schedule.
8. Superintendents are not mind readers.
Our project managers’ main job is to be the source of communication between our client, superintendent and subcontractors. As they know the project best, they are often the first call from the job site. Our project managers understand that superintendents are required to oversee subcontractor schedules, material deliveries, daily job site tasks, and maintain a safe working environment. With their long list of activities, failing to communicate with superintendents about change orders or project updates could lead to a tear-out job.
9. It’s really the client’s project, so talk to them.
The Dow Smith team aims to bring our clients’ goals to fruition, no matter the size or scope of a project. We spend hours working with our clients to determine how we can best address their needs and desires. We also understand that those needs may change during the course of construction. We communicate with our clients on a regular basis and ultimately desire to provide them with a quality deliverable – one that fits their needs now and into the future.
10. Lend a helping hand and have a servant’s heart.
At Dow Smith Company, family is first. We are only as strong as our community and hope to be agents of change for those around us. Whether is accommodating our employees’ family events or encouraging them to further their education, we believe in lending a helping hand. We also aim to generate similar relationships with our clients. Anyone can construct a building – we do it with a servant’s heart.