At the recent BuildNZ Expo, our very own Belinda Gelston (Rave Build Co-founder and sales) shared her thoughts on how builders who schedule well, do well – and the link of this concept with the customer experience. We have summarised Belinda’s insightful key points – for all Rave blog readers and those unable to attend the expo!
Belinda will take it from here.
Why me? To start off with, it’s important to know I am seriously passionate about driving positive change in the construction industry through the use of technology to assist builders with the running of their businesses. I am also passionate about the customer experience, with a view to sales.
Where’d I start? To start with, I obtained my Diploma in Architecture – back in the days of slide rules, right angles, and tracing paper! I then worked for Stevensons for several years as their Market Development Representative, primarily promoting the Masonry Villa to the design fraternity. I enjoyed sales and marketing so much I went and completed the Waikato University’s Diploma in Management, Sales, and Marketing.
Next, I moved into Surgical sales and went on to become the top Salesperson in Australasia. This involved a lot of travel so when family entered the picture for me, I decided to return to the building industry and got into project managing builds. It was during this time that I developed detailed systems and processes to help me bring projects in on time.
But I was frustrated by the disparate systems available and to make a very long story short; along with an Angel Investor and a software development company, we began Rave Build Management. So over the last 11 years, I have worked with both our New Zealand based developers and our clients to create an easy to use, end to end business solution for home builders.
Now, here’s how builders that schedule well, can do well.
First, create a schedule
The first key task is finding a system and creating a schedule that suits you. There are some brilliant cloud-based software systems (including our very own Rave Build Management) available to help you effectively schedule a project.
Start with a comprehensive template – you can source these from Master Builders, Certified Builders, Google, and the better software programs (like Rave Build) have templates pre-loaded.
Once you’ve got this sorted, carefully review and understand the plans and specifications – Knowing the project documents like the back of your hand will allow you to craft a better project schedule.
While reviewing the site plans also consider the layout of the job site for optimal performance by determining placement for deliveries, equipment storage, smoko areas, access points, etc.
Further refine your schedule, use historical data from past projects to make sure you are allocating adequate times and resources for each task. Talk to the sub-contractors about what time to allow if you are not quite sure on any of it. Sequence out tasks and trades during each phase of the project. Keep in mind which tasks must happen sequentially and which tasks can be performed concurrently with other tasks. This will allow you to maximise your timeline.
All of the above is easy to do using Rave Build Management.
Implement Gantt Charts
A Gantt chart is the easiest way to create a construction schedule. It lets you visualize your project timeline by transforming task names, dates, durations, and end dates sequentially visualised into cascading horizontal bar charts.
Re-Step through the project carefully
Have you set realistic time frames for each task? Allowing for weather delays etc. Consider the critical path. What tasks need to be completed before another task can start, and what tasks can overlap? Make sure you identify the critical tasks that, if delayed, will delay your entire project.
Project managers should use milestones or key stages of the build in their scheduling process. Checking the milestones frequently and monitoring slippage is important.
Incorporate checklists into your schedule
For example – Order stage one checklist, pre-pour inspection checklist, roof ready check list, pre-line inspection checklist, hand over check list, etc. This ensures the project is up to your standard, and things don’t get missed that could create delays.
Include your customer
They will want to be a part of their project, Rave Build’s client portal is an excellent feature allowing you to do this easily. Schedule client on-site meetings, tasks they need to sign off on kitchen plans, colours… and so on. This will help you to keep to the schedules dates. Remember to pre-empt their site visits with a thorough site clean. This works wonders.
That’s it for now. There’s heaps more to share, so be sure to keep your eyes out for Part 2 of Belinda’s insights! Coming soon.