It never cease to amaze Richard Nugent that people will put more time into planning a weekend vacation than a multi-million dollar roofing project. “Project planning to me is a passion, but it’s not rocket science,” he said. “I’ll never understand why people don’t do it.”
Nugent, the CEO of Nations Roof, headquartered in Lithia Springs, Ga., shared some of the “secret sauce” of his planning methods with Best of Success attendees in a session titled “Strategic Job Planning and How It’s Worked Best for My Company.”
Nugent has heard all of the excuses in the book, but in his eyes there’s no job too small for a plan. “Every single project you do should have a safety plan and a production plan,” he said. He urged attendees to develop a culture of planning at their companies. The contractors who execute a plan every time are living proof of the benefits. “They have the best lives, they have the most control, and they probably go home before everybody else,” he said.
Nugent developed his planning skills during baptism by fire, cutting his teeth as a contractor in a metropolitan area where labor was extremely expensive. “The daily cost per man for eight hours was $850. When you spend $850 per man, per day, you figure out how to use less man-days.”
He recommends pre-cutting and prefabricating as much material as possible, including penetrations and flashings. He also strives to eliminate unnecessary movement of material at the jobsite. “I don’t put material anyplace except where it will be taken from that place to the final point of installation,” he said.
A 10 percent savings in labor costs can pay huge dividends, noted Nugent. “If you can save six minutes per man-hour in construction, you’ll double your profit,” he said.
Great planning takes teamwork, noted Nugent. “You have to make foremen part of the planning process to succeed,” he said. “You have to make people understand what you want them to do, measure it, and hold them accountable.”
He recommends that the job plan and safety plan be reviewed daily, and he showed attendees examples of his planning diagrams. “The huddle is a key part of the process,” he said. “Everyone on the crew should know the plan. Lay out the day — and do it on paper. Your foremen will love you for that.”
Daily job planning can make a huge difference in any organization, maintains Nugent. “Turn mediocre foremen into great foremen,”he said. “Get the detail down in your daily operation.”