Contractor Talk - Professional Construction and Remodeling Forum banner
1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Structural Engineer
Joined
·
513 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This always seems to bite us in the butt once or twice a year. We have a schedule planned out, and then during the home stretch the client says "you know I'd like this and that." Totally screws with the next job's schedule. Especially now with a smaller crew.

I just tried typing out what we're up against this week, and it depressed me too much so I stopped.

I know it's slow in a lot of areas, and I hope this isn't a sore thing to read, but I appreciate this site and respect the army of contractors that use it. So here's my question:

What are some of things you do or say to avoid the situation, mitigate the situation, smooth ruffled feathers etc.
 

·
Project Manager
Joined
·
2,642 Posts
Several ways to deal with this:

Underpromise and overdeliver.

Don't give hard deadlines with job start dates - "we are looking at the week of the 10th, unless weather or anything out of control holds us up".

You could also explain to the current customer that all the things they want done are not in the scope of work, and that you have other people locked into firm deadlines, and then suggest drawing up a new contract/proposal for the new work and scheduling it after everything else.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
55 Posts
I would hope that all the extras that are requested by the client are signed off in a change order before you start the work.

In my experience if it's not in writing then it becomes lets make a deal with the final payment.

If you do use a change order for additional work just add a line that adds time to the job for the work that they are requesting that is outside the contract.
 

·
Contractor of the Month
Joined
·
26,075 Posts
Happens to me, most of the time I end up jumping between 3 different jobs and get nothing done and waste alot of time showing the flag.

It sucks, if you figure out a perfect way to deal with the situation I would love to know; but I don't think there is one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,158 Posts
Aggie,
First off, Glad to hear you are busy.
I made a conscious decision a while back to try to not worry about being too busy.
In our industry, for good reason, we worry when the work is slow. It just isn't fare to yourself to worry when things are good as well.
It is really an atitude adjustment and takes some work..
Not trying to be pedantic, but this approach has really helped me deal in the past.
Good luck,
Mike
 

·
Structural Engineer
Joined
·
513 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
We prefer doing change orders on written lump sum proposals. So if I'm asked to install a new piece of equipment, they get a number up front. We try to be rigid and not lift a finger without a written NTP. (We'll bend that for long time clients.)

My problem this month is every single site we're on asked for changes. We have all of the paperwork up to snuff. It's the impact on the schedule that's killing us.

I think our problem this month was lining up too much work back in October/November. Suddenly it's go time, and the change order work is delaying us from starting other projects that we're contracted to perform. But it's not like I can say no to the changes. We're there on site, and their processes and equipment are opened up like a patient in the middle of a lung transplant.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
14,078 Posts
Happens to me, most of the time I end up jumping between 3 different jobs and get nothing done and waste alot of time showing the flag.

It sucks, if you figure out a perfect way to deal with the situation I would love to know; but I don't think there is one.
I don't think you have to look any further then right here:


Several ways to deal with this:

Underpromise and overdeliver.

Don't give hard deadlines with job start dates - "we are looking at the week of the 10th, unless weather or anything out of control holds us up".

You could also explain to the current customer that all the things they want done are not in the scope of work, and that you have other people locked into firm deadlines, and then suggest drawing up a new contract/proposal for the new work and scheduling it after everything else.
 

·
Structural Engineer
Joined
·
513 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I understand under promise, over deliver. But where the rubber meets the road - the interface between finishing Job A and mobilizing Job B - it gets complicated when Job A throws a last second change at you. You can't just leave Job A hanging, and you've been telling Job B for a week that you'll be there the week of the 21st. In our case, we have to stay at Job A, and piss Job B off.

Under promise, over deliver is the baseline problem avoidance strategy. When that goes in the crapper because of change orders, I'm left with mitigating the fallout effects on Job B, and smoothing ruffled feathers.

I think I'm avoiding the obvious answer - telling Job B up front that as long as Job A clears out on time, we'll be there, but if it doesn't we're going to be starting later than we thought. And we'll probably lose jobs if we say that, but at least they won't be pissed at us. Let them make the decision, with that schedule risk in mind, that way when it does go bad, they know it was a potential outcome.
 

·
Structural Engineer
Joined
·
513 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It all came to a head about 2 hours ago at "Job A". The site that was generating the changes flung another big one on us. So when I left that site I had to call the client next on the schedule. We were supposed to be there last week, then I had to tell him this week, and an hour ago I had to tell him January. I was expecting to catch hell and lose the project altogether. But wouldn't you know it, he was ok with it. "I actually want to add about 30% more to the scope of work, but don't worry, we'll work with you on the schedule, January is fine." :eek:

I have to remember - every problem is an opportunity. The problem at Job A was too much work. Which really isn't all that bad of a position to be in. And Job B was gracious enough to say "sure, come in January." So now I can flood resources over to Job A to make a big show and get all the punch list items and extra work done.

My one foreman is ready to FREAK from the stress, though. He saw me nodding my head "yes I'll get that done in time" at Job A, and just freaked when the client left the room. I had to tell him "take a deep breath, and you worry about the welds in these two areas, and I'll worry about getting a crew in to do everything else."
 

·
Project Manager
Joined
·
2,642 Posts
It all came to a head about 2 hours ago at "Job A". The site that was generating the changes flung another big one on us. So when I left that site I had to call the client next on the schedule. We were supposed to be there last week, then I had to tell him this week, and an hour ago I had to tell him January. I was expecting to catch hell and lose the project altogether. But wouldn't you know it, he was ok with it. "I actually want to add about 30% more to the scope of work, but don't worry, we'll work with you on the schedule, January is fine." :eek:

I have to remember - every problem is an opportunity. The problem at Job A was too much work. Which really isn't all that bad of a position to be in. And Job B was gracious enough to say "sure, come in January." So now I can flood resources over to Job A to make a big show and get all the punch list items and extra work done.

My one foreman is ready to FREAK from the stress, though. He saw me nodding my head "yes I'll get that done in time" at Job A, and just freaked when the client left the room. I had to tell him "take a deep breath, and you worry about the welds in these two areas, and I'll worry about getting a crew in to do everything else."


Now, you just have to head off any problems after this job (since they are adding 30% more work), and delay the next job start.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top