One of the biggest complaints homeowners voice is that their insurance contractor takes forever to get their job done. Despite industry expectations to the contrary getting the repairs completed seems to be a monumental task for many contractors. One of the nation’s largest managed repair network scores its contractors on several important performance metrics. One is how long it takes from estimate upload to the start of the repair work. The industry’s top performance requirement is to the start the job within 14 days of estimate upload. Imagine, a contractor has 14 days from the time the repair estimate is written and submitted to the carrier to get somebody on site to begin work – if consistently successful, they are considered a top industry performer. If that standard isn’t shocking the average time taken by 5,000 of the nation’s top repair contractors is – 29 days! That’s right, 29 days – that’s an entire month!
The national average across the board for America’s best in all parts of the country during all seasons of the year – is 29 days from estimate upload to the start of the job. For 29 days the customer is waiting while their lives are disrupted and their homes are in shambles waiting, and waiting, and waiting for their preferred program contractor to start the job. Disappointing! Not only are customers deeply disillusioned by this performance failure, but many walk away during this interlude and the contractor loses the job. If contractors could shorten the interim they would keep more jobs and they would make more money. Furthermore, if 29 days is the national average for America’s largest managed repair program who uses only top performing contractors imagine what the average must be for everyone else. This degree of under performance is truly unimaginable! Enough ranting and let’s talk solutions. So how do we cut that time in half and get back to no more than 14 days from estimate upload to the start of the repair job?
- As soon as the estimate is uploaded the job should pass from estimating to production. The construction manager should be alerted and the job added to production for scheduling. Don’t wait for an approved estimate to trigger the transfer, do it immediately following estimate upload. If a delay in estimate approval does occur, you are not sitting on your thumbs wasting time waiting for approval.
- Have your estimator take flooring selections (carpet, tile, hardwood, etc.) to the job site when the material take-off is conducted. If your company does the mitigation work you know if there is flooring to be replaced and what kind. If you are doing only the rebuild a simple question to the homeowner asking if flooring has been removed will identify the samples to bring. If for some reason samples can’t be provided on that day have someone drop them by the next day. If you don’t have or use flooring selection boards taking the showroom to your customer, see my blog - http://growmyrestorationbusiness.com/improve-profits-purchasing-flooring/
- Get color selections during the interim. Use either a paint deck for selections or get color codes from leftover touch up paint cans at the job site. You can also do this during the material take-off. If drywall and texture take a couple of days to complete your painter can be ready to immediately follow on. If you wait for color selections until the job starts you are already late.
- The construction manager should break out the master scope into its natural subscopes and immediately identify potential subcontractors to assign the work. If you have drywall, texture and paint and you have three subs for this work then prepare the scope, determine the labor number, prepare your material list and submit the offer to one or more subs with a potential start date. Finalize the scheduling as soon as the estimate is approved.
Often drywall is the first work to be done. If one sub is unavailable, then chose another. A drywall installer could be scheduled within a week of estimate upload and while that work is being completed time can be used for additional material orders and labor scheduling. The key is get the drywall installer on the job site as soon as possible.
- Special order items should also be identified now. While you shouldn’t spend any money until you have an approved estimate, approval should be considered imminent following upload. Therefore, identify special order items such as flooring, cabinets, and other materials; complete order forms; and begin sourcing while you wait. Approval triggers submitting the flooring order, sending the customer to your cabinet company, and giving guidance on appliance specifications, etc.
Many contractors say their #1 problem getting a new job started is not having enough subcontractors to do the work so scheduling is the holdup. If that is your challenge you should begin today to increase the size of your labor pool. In my company, we developed a system for identifying, vetting, and supervising new subcontractors. I had at least 5 subcontractor ads running ALL the time for drywall installers, painters, trim carpenters, flooring installers, mitigation technicians and sometimes for roofers, deck builders, and other seasonal trades. We sought out individual contractors who were sole proprietors as well as larger companies with sizable crews.
We refused to allow the size of our labor pool to be a deterrent to starting work in a timely manner. Once a subcontractor met ALL requirements they were added to a list of “Approved Subcontractors” at which time our production managers could schedule them for work at will. You should have no fewer than 3 subcontractors on that list for every major trade required to complete your typical repairs. If this perpetual effort is maintained, you will always have an available pool of qualified workers. If you don’t take steps to increase your pool of workers, or if this is not an ongoing effort you will get caught unprepared and the days of lost productivity will mount. I believe there is a solution for every problem contractors face. Every company owner and management team needs to find solutions to improving a 29-day lag time from estimate upload to start of repairs. We must do better - we can do better!
Reference: 9-Month Coaching Plan - The Business Transformer: Double, Even Triple Your Business in 18 - 24 Months