Garland Introduces a Quality Assurance and Communication Program

Garland introduced a quality assurance and communication program for its manufacturing operations at its Cleveland headquarters. GMAX, which stands for Garland Manufacturing Attention to Excellence, is a proactive program designed to provide more education to the manufacturing staff and open the lines of communication between key players in the product manufacturing process.

At its core, the concept is to keep all involved—from team members working on the production line to the management team—well informed with up-to-date information. The program also outlines a strategy for improving on safety, quality, inventory and efficiency. Each piece of the GMAX program was designed with one goal in mind: engage employees in a positive way that fosters personal ownership and a healthy team dynamic to maintain Garland’s high standards.

The GMAX program brings together many of the departments—manufacturing, product management, research, quality and safety—that help make the products a success in the factory, as well as out in the field. One aspect of the program is the GMAX Command Center—a new room built in the manufacturing plant with product mock-ups, educational information about the products, and real-time information from the Product Management and Quality teams.

Already, the new program has brought positive changes to the Cleveland operations. “Now that all of the team members know the goal and everyone is educated on the what and why of what we’re trying to accomplish, the quality assurance team went from just one department to the entire manufacturing team,” says Colin Downey, plant manager.

The GMAX program will continue to grow and evolve to meet the needs of a constantly changing business landscape while striving to always put customers first.

Software Improves Safety and Makes the Roofing Process Transparent for Clients

Safety is always a major concern and, at Castro Roofing, Dallas, it’s one of our core values. In fact, we have a full-time safety manager and a third-party safety consultant who evaluate every one of our jobs from a safety perspective. On top of that, we also have monthly safety meetings with the whole crew where we discuss best practices and train on new equipment. Safety should be a top priority for everyone in our line of work. I’m sure most contractors are pretty familiar with this routine.

So is there anything new to say about safety? Well, we’ve found a secret weapon! This past year we implemented an Online Project Management (OPM) software system. It has been a game changer for us.

How the OPM Works

The OPM streamlines communication with our clients and workers by archiving photos and information for every single project we have—every day. It notifies the client, via email, five days before the start of his or her job to ensure the client is prepared. We can personalize this email if we choose.

Once the job begins, each client receives daily reports, which include 12 to 16 photos from the job site covering the entire workday. Of course, someone on your team has to take the photos, but the software is linked to your smartphone and an app makes the process pretty simple. Through the OPM, everyone involved is made aware of the entire construction process.

The truth is, our clients really only have three questions for us:

    1. When are you starting my project?
    2. What have you done so far?
    3. When will you be finished with the work?

Ok, maybe there’s one more:

    4. How much is this going to cost me?

None of these questions take into consideration the personnel involved. Maybe this is a no-brainer, but if we are losing workers because of safety issues, our customers’ jobs are not going to be completed on time. Implementing this OPM addresses all those client questions and so much more.

OPM and Safety

The OPM allows quick response times by allowing us to fix anything we see that might become a hazardous issue before the next workday. Increased communication is literally available at the click of a button. Plus, the OPM makes it possible to go back and review any day of a project for different factors, like weather, safety and material delivery—not just work progress.

For example, while looking through the photos of a job’s progress as it was getting started, we noticed that if we unloaded and set up the scaffolding in a slightly different way, the unloading would be much smoother. We are constantly adjusting our approach to each job.

A New Outlook

While the OPM has made our work available in a much more transparent way—allowing our clients an all-access pass—it has also given us a new way to evaluate the ways we are utilizing our resources and our human capital.

When we know that others are able to keep such close tabs on the work we do, it changes the way we run our business. Our communication with clients should be as open and honest as possible. And the work that we do should be safe for everyone involved.

It’s pretty easy to pay lip service to safety in a monthly meeting and check it off the agenda. It’s altogether different when we are able to evaluate our daily routines from a different perspective. Our clients love it because our process no longer feels like a mystery to them. We love it because we can take our attention to detail to a whole new level—a bird’s eye view, if you will.

Before the OPM, it was nearly impossible to include our clients in our workflow. It was even harder to quickly evaluate and make changes that make work safer and more efficient for our employees. Now, we really can’t remember how we got along without it. Isn’t technology amazing? The OPM has genuinely helped us work smarter, not harder.

Online Project Management Software

Castro Roofing, Dallas, uses LookOut Software.

Improve Your Relationship with Condo Associations

Is your roofing company struggling to make ends meet, or are you searching for new ways to make your company thrive? I think at some time in every business owner’s career they come to a point where they realize that just being “good” isn’t good enough in today’s competitive marketplace unless your service or product is truly niche.

In the roofing industry, let’s be honest, there are quite a few of us out there. In my neck of the woods it’s not difficult to find two-dozen or more competitors. This is why my firm has to come up with ways to set ourselves apart from the pack. One of the best ways to do this is by improving our business relationship with condominium associations and board members, as well as property managers. These relationships have led to us not only being the first contractor called when there’s a problem at a building, but we also have received a number of referrals.

There are many ways to build relationships with condo associations and management companies, and I can almost guarantee that if you do it right your company will see gains like never before.

Network

To get your foot in the door, search the Internet for “condo management associations”. In my area of southwest Florida, the Falls Church, Va.-based Community Associations Institute is active. We joined the group and attend its chapters’ networking events. Groups like these are where condo managers decide on their “favorite” contractors. They talk to each other; “word of mouth” is a huge marketing tool. If you want to be on their minds, you need to be on their invitation list for these meetings. Once these relationships are built, managers won’t be looking for cheap bids anymore. You put yourself closer to the driver’s seat for potential negotiations.

If you personally don’t have a profile on LinkedIn, you’re missing a HUGE opportunity to network on America’s largest social-networking platform for professionals. Join LinkedIn for free and, if you own a company, be sure to build your company page, too. Then search for groups in your state or city that relate to property managers or condo associations. Most importantly, don’t just be a fly on the wall in these groups. Comment on other members’ posts and share your knowledge. This is how you add value and what makes your company unique. Being active online will increase activity toward your website; by the way, you should have a website worth sharing.

Don’t Sell; Educate

When joining these groups, don’t just sell yourself or your company because people are tired of being sold. Instead of touting how great your company is to every property manager you meet, try finding out their pain-points and objections and then educate them about how your services will make life easier for them. This is HUGE!

We recently asked approximately 50 building managers via email what frustrated them the most in dealing with contractors. We received informative answers that will help our business. Consider the following frustrations building managers cited:

  • Long response times: 25 percent
  • Taking too long to perform tasks: 25 percent
  • Not returning phone calls: 25 percent
  • Not following HOA rules/regulations: 15 percent
  • Dirty contractors and vehicles: 10 percent

Pages: 1 2

Connect to and Motivate Your Staff

A friend of mine recently lost his job because of budget cuts. He was employed at a satellite office and not a single manager who made the decision about his livelihood took the time to commute to the satellite location to share the news. Instead, he was called to a conference room where human resources personnel laid him off via speakerphone. My friend was not surprised he was let go, nor was he surprised by how it was done, considering how disconnected he believes the “worker bees” at his former corporation are from management. He had been disgruntled by the lack of communication and management’s questionable decision-making for some time.

I can attest that managing people is arguably one of the most difficult jobs in any line of work. Being a leader requires a thick skin, excellent communication skills and the ability to make tough decisions, among other talents. However, at a time when budgets are tightened and everyone is doing less with more, becoming too consumed in your own tasks and disconnecting from employees is a fatal mistake. Now is the time to embrace your team, make them feel appreciated, motivate them to take on new roles, and identify and reward their strengths. Employees who feel disconnected from what is occurring within a business will feel unappreciated and will not perform at their best. In addition, without employee buy-in, it will be difficult to enforce new programs and procedures within a company.

In this issue, we feature articles about two safety programs you should seriously consider implementing within your roofing business not only to protect your employees, but also to protect your business as a whole. For example, “Business Sense,” addresses distracted driving. I think you’ll be surprised by the broad interpretation of the law in some of the court cases mentioned within the article: Your roofing business could be liable if a worker has an accident while using a mobile device in his personal vehicle or sightseeing on a business trip. According to the author, state and federal mobile-device laws are not enough; developing and enforcing a reasonable mobile-device safety program is a major step toward minimizing your business’ liability.

In “Safety,” Michael Rich explains the Washington, D.C.-based Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s priority to require all businesses to have a written Injury and Illness Prevention Program probably within the next two years. California employers already have been operating under this requirement since 1991, providing a model you can duplicate within your business before the requirement is mandated across the country.

Establishing these programs within your business offers a wonderful opportunity to connect to and motivate your staff. You can create teams of volunteers to explore and create policies. When the teams meet, buy them lunch. When your staff goes six months without a distracted driving incident or an injury, celebrate with awards or a party. Take the time to show your employees you appreciate their efforts not only to make your business safer, but also to successfully execute their daily tasks.

In addition, consider setting aside some time on a regular basis specifically to reconnect with the “worker bees”. Join a roofing crew for a week, or answer phones in the front office. Your efforts will establish a new level of trust with your employees and, ultimately, create a better workplace. Perhaps most importantly, your staff will feel as though operational changes, like the safety programs mentioned in this issue, are happening “with” them rather than “to” them.