Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
With 2018 behind us, and with that another great year of articles, podcasts and many workshops across the nation (and even one in Canada), Let’s Fix Construction looks forward to 2019, as do many others. A new year starts with fresh energy, renewed spirit, a hopeful change of habits and a positive outlook.
With 2019 facing us and 2018 in the rearview mirror, Let’s Fix Construction is using this post for a Call to Arms. A challenge, if you will. Hopefully you can identify your role, or more than one, in this list. Don’t see a challenge that calls to you? Identify your own. Step out of your comfort zone and move yourself and the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry forward.
Educate yourself before you proceed with your project, especially if it is your first one! Take the time to learn the roles of the major players in a building project. Vet your architect, construction manager, general contractor and any other major contractor or consultant that you are going to be contractually obligated to. You don’t have to be best friends, but it will go a long way if you know who you will be working with and get along with them. What makes them tick? What sets them off? What are their expectations? What are their expectations of you? And in the end, if you really want to educate yourself about a project, get a copy of the Construction Specifications Institute’s ‘Project Delivery Practice Guide’. It could just be the best $129 you’ve ever spent. AND save you a thousand-fold in the long run.
Projects are getting increasingly complex and the demands on you, your supporting staff and ultimately, your entire office are growing as well. The world we live in changes rapidly and with that the demands that are put on all the major players in a project. You’re being asked to do much more in much less time for the same amount of money. Practice saying no. Don’t be afraid to lose a client that expects more from you without understanding your point of view. Make sure you and your staff are compensated appropriately for your time. Track all costs and analyze your data. If you are able to reference a completed project that is similar in size and scope of a new project you are working on, you will be able to substantiate to the Owner why you have the requests, both financial and otherwise, that you do.
Ultimately, the demands of a project fall on your shoulders. Whether you are a General, MEP, sitework, a sub or specialty trade – it all falls on you. You are taking the design, whether you believe it is feasible, right or otherwise, and bringing it to life. Take pride in this role. Demonstrate what it is you do to all that will look or listen. The lack of skilled trade labor is a huge detriment to our industry, especially in the younger generation. But, does the general public really know what you do? How you take a set of plans and specifications and bring a 2D drawing or a 3D model to life? Document it, talk about it, write about it, demonstrate it. We need to show the world what it is contractors do and how vast the roles are within AEC in 2019, and there is no time like the present.
Gone are the days of shopping from the Thomas Register, by reputation, or being the only show in town. Any unique building product is only going to be on the market for so long before someone else comes along to piggyback on a great idea. Competition from overseas countries have created a lower-cost and in some instances, a prettier widget. The internet, and namely Google, has revolutionized how everyone procures items and services. Spend time on developing a user-friendly website. This includes readable font, high-resolution pictures, a search bar, downloadable (and proper!) architectural specifications in word format and proper contact information. And by proper, that should be a telephone number with real live customer support at least 10 hours of the day, if not more. If you promote social media on your site, USE IT. Follow, like, comment and commit to it. Do not allow a message, an inquiry or a message pass you by without a timely response. Think of it as a voicemail. If someone reaches out to you by social, respond by social, and as soon as you can. And lastly, make sure your building products are being represented properly, whether that is by you or by contracted sales agents. Insure they have proper training about your products, know where it should and shouldn’t be utilized, understand lead time, customization, pricing and how the product interfaces with adjoining products. If you don’t have a proper training in place for new hires or new agents, implement one.
To Product Reps:
You are the boots on the ground. You are on jobsites, in offices, at firms, and on the road. Carry yourself proudly and set yourself apart from the trunk slammers and used car salesman of days past. Your reputation has not always been respected in the industry, but it’s time to show that you are truly an unpaid consultant on the job. No specifier or designer is going to understand the ins and outs of tens of thousands of products in a building project. It is your role to deliver the why and the how of your product. You need to be present and be found and be ready to pounce with proper knowledge. If you don’t have your Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) Construction Document Technologist (CDT) Certification, seek it out as soon as possible. The amount of education that you will learn about the building project is worth 100 times what you will pay for the exam.
To the Let’s Fix Construction Audience:
Thank you. It has been an incredible ride over the last two and a half years. Through posts and podcasts and workshops, it has truly been an honor to bring our message and mission to the people – to create an avenue to offer creative solutions, separate myths from facts and erase misconceptions about the AEC industry. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been fulfilling. To read the contributions and comments on each post, to hear the positive feedback in person and to see the interaction at one of our workshops makes one have faith that we aren’t the only ones that want to better our industry. So, our Call to Arms to you is for your help, your knowledge, your content, your voice, your staff, your audience. We’ve never been in this alone, nor do we want to go it alone. Send us your article, ask to be on our podcast, host us for a staff training or bring us in for a workshop. 2019 is looking positive and we look forward and onward to 2020 and to bring the construction industry into the bright future that it so richly deserves.
Let's Fix Construction is an avenue to offer creative solutions, separate myths from facts and erase misconceptions about the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.
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