Chris Loeffler is a project manager at Darex LLC, makers of Drill Doctor Drill Bit Sharpeners, Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpeners, and Work Sharp Woodworking Tool Sharpeners. Darex is a fourth-generation, family-owned business that designs and assembles its products in Southern Oregon. With over 45 years of sharpening experience and 140 full-time employees, Darex is an American company.
The greatest contractors believe in preparing for success—because putting in some extra time on the front end will pay for itself many times over on the jobsite, through both reduced downtime and fewer moments of frustration.
To keep jobsites and processes running as smoothly as possible, the following four tips and tricks will always reward construction crews, no matter the job.
1. Have a plan of attack
Knowing any idiosyncrasies ahead of time about the project and the jobsite allows the construction manager to have a strategy for how to approach them before the crew even arrives on-site.
Projects have a way of throwing curveballs. But whether those curveballs take a team out of their flow or not depends greatly on how prepared the construction manager is at the beginning of the project. Ask yourself questions such as the following:
- What tools are needed to address the job?
- What additional parts, materials and adaptors might be needed?
The first day of work is not the time to discover all the quirks and deficiencies of a jobsite. Knowing the lay of the land is key to ensuring efficiency.
2. Keep tools organized
An unfortunate trend in construction is the disturbingly large number of jobsites across which tools and materials are scattered with no organization or structure.
It isn’t just about the minutes lost trying to find where the drill was last placed that causes undue stress. It’s also about constantly breaking the rhythm of the job, which can sap focus and efficiency. Arguments from less-organized team members like, “It’s a solo job, so as long as I know where it is …” or, “No one should be using my tools anyway,” don’t hold water in a world of professionals.
Organization creates consistency, which frees up your creative mind to focus on the tasks immediately in front of you.
3. Have tools ready to go
Two hours into a job is not the time for a crew to discover bits or scrapers are dull. Construction professionals make their living (or at least make it better) with their tools and their skills; creating suboptimal conditions due to worn or missing tools will only lead to frustration.
Before the job, inspect the tools you will be using. Are drill bits dull? Is the circular saw’s electrical cord frayed? Are extra extension cords packed and loaded? These are the small things that can make the difference between a Zen-like execution of the job at hand, and regular breaks to fix what could have been ready before the job began.
As owners of tools, professionals have to respect them and keep them in shape. Tools are investments that help get the job done, and regular maintenance will help the crew derive the most value from them and show up like a professional.
4. Prepare for the unexpected
Laying plans creates focus and the greatest chance for success, but life still has a way of producing challenges. Fortunately, a big part of preparation is anticipating what a less-mindful person would call unexpected.
A contractor can’t anticipate shredding a bit on the bent stud sandwiched between boards, but the contractor should anticipate tools being damaged on the job. This foresight ensures readiness for when unforeseen circumstances do happen.
A prepared professional always brings backups of power tools and sharpeners to maintain performance of drill bits, knives and tools throughout the duration of the job. In many cases, the time saved from a single extra trip from the hardware store will pay for the sharpeners, ensuring the last hole drilled is as clean as the first.
A project’s success depends on meticulous measurements and precise assembly. Attention to details and doing it right the first time are the hallmarks of a professional. With little room for error, adopting the preparation rules covered in this article will give contractors an edge over the unexpected, which, in turn, contributes to higher quality work and performance.
Whether a contractor has a natural inclination for planning and organization or not, the downtime and frustration these practices negate make them necessities for construction managers. Jobsite frustration can be largely mitigated by an ethos of preparing for success, and the most successful teams will live by that code to ensure they always show up prepared at the start of any project.