5. Coordinate Job Responsibilities Across Multiple Team Members
If you're a lone craftsman, you might be able to make sales, book appointments, and cut/install countertops all by yourself ... but most countertop fabrication businesses have different people performing different tasks.
It's extremely important to coordinate these tasks so that you meet your customer commitments. As your business grows, this coordination gets more and more difficult - especially since employees tend to specialize more as a result of that growth.
JobTracker plays a key role in coordinating all the tasks that go into completing a job. Start with the basics. Make sure you schedule all your templates and installs in JobTracker and make sure you store all your job information in JobTracker.
When you store everything about a job in JobTracker, it becomes the hub for the flurry of activity that goes into completing each job. Then you can starting using JobTracker to communicate the progress of each job without having to interrupt each other.
Let's walk through a typical example. Let's say you sell a typical kitchen job for Paul and Mary Jones. Your salesperson, Louise, creates the job and lets the customer know that Install will be 3-4 weeks away (because that's how long it usually takes) - and that they'll receive a call to schedule Template within a couple of days. At this point, the job looks something like this:
Jody, your scheduler, looks at a Job view that looks something like this each day:
That view shows all the jobs needing a Template scheduled - meaning a Template exists but doesn't yet have a date. She simply works down the list, calling each customer in turn to schedule their Template, typically for about a week out (looking at available openings for her templaters). At the same time, she schedules the Install for about a week later. For someone like a scheduler who spends all day in Moraware, it's very helpful to have two monitors - one showing a job view like the above and another showing a calendar view like this:
After Jody schedules the Template for the Jones job, it is filtered out of her job view:
Because the office uses auto-schedule, as soon as Jody schedules the Template date, the Fabrication and Install dates get filled in automatically as well (though each can still be edited as needed). This helps you as an owner keep up-to-date with the work flowing through your shop. With your current capacity, you strive to Fabricate a typical kitchen 2 working days before Install, so the job now looks like this:
Note that Jody keeps the status of the Template activity as Estimate. Then each day, she looks at another job view showing "upcoming unconfirmed templates." Based on advice from Aaron Crowley in StoneTalk, she tries to confirm templates 3 days in advance, so that she still has time to move things around as needed.
On that view, she includes the contact information and often doesn't even need to click into the job. She simply calls down the list, confirms the time with each customer, and sets the status to Confirmed
Each morning, Norm and Marco, your templaters, look at their calendars and print out the packet of information needed to complete their work. Because Jody confirmed all the Template activities, it's rare that a customer isn't ready. You also set up simplified mobile views that make it easy for Norm and Marco to find job addresses on their phones as they drive to each location:
At job sites, your templaters do their work. Before they even start their vehicles to drive away, each knows to complete the appropriate Template activity right on their phones before driving to the next home. If you do digital templates, then the resulting CAD files should be uploaded directly to the job already as well (in fact, more and more companies are equipping their templaters with cellular tablets or computers and getting rid of paper altogether).
There's no better way to communicate that the template is complete in real life than by marking it complete in JobTracker! Instead of emailing or texting or calling you when a template is complete, your templaters can simply mark the appropriate Template activity complete directly. Nobody needs to wonder if a Template is done - you can just look at the calendar or the job itself and see that it's done! This is super simple but extremely useful.
That's all you need for a typical template. But let's say Norm found something wrong with the kitchen he just templated. He saw from the quote that was included in his Activity Packet that there was supposed to be 37 square feet of counters, but he measured 47 - and the customer needs to be charged more for that. Many companies would have Norm work with the homeowner directly, but in our imaginary company, you want only salespeople to make quotes.
So norm creates a Job Issue stating that this job needs to be requoted. He trusts that the salesperson, Louise, will take the appropriate action with the homeowner - there's still no reason to interrupt her with a call.
Several times throughout the day, Louise looks at a view of Jobs with issues where she's the salesperson. This one jumps right out at her:
She calls the homeowner, describes the situation, cheerfully sends an updated quote, and gets their commitment for the new price.
The next thing that happens is Fabrication. Typically, you have a Shop Manager or Production Manager who directs this overall activity. Many companies still use a spreadsheet or whiteboard or pen and paper for this. Even if you don't use JobTracker to coordinate all the details of fabrication, it's very useful to have your shop manager mark the Fabrication activity Complete when it's complete in real life. Again, it's a form of communication - why interrupt your shop manager to ask if the Jones job is done when it's so much easier simply to look in JobTracker and see that it's done?
Once Fabrication is marked complete, the Job then shows up on an "Install Confirmation" view (very similar to the Template Confirmation view shown above), and Jody gives the Joneses another call to make sure the countertops can be installed when expected.
The Install teams work from schedules very similar to Norm and Marco's - most importantly, when they're done with an Install in real life, they mark it Complete in JobTracker.
Each person has their own set of responsibilities, but those activities require a surprising amount of coordination! The best way to coordinate is to keep all information in JobTracker and mark activities Complete when they're really complete. Make Job Issues for exceptions from your process and create views that show jobs needing any kind of attention. If you do these things, then you'll start experiencing JobTracker as the hub for all the jobs that flow through your business.
All the individual steps in this example are very simple, but taken together, they form a coordinated ballet of activities that will help you improve communication across your organization. Don't try to create new activity types (like Cut, CNC, and Polish) until you've mastered the coordination of the key customer activities of Template and Install first (with Fabrication in between so that your Production Manager can communicate Job status with the rest of your team).
Soon you'll start communicating more efficiently - with less "organizational friction" - and you'll likely be able to increase the number of jobs you can fabricate ... meaning there's a good chance you'll make more money, too!