Ask The Coach

E386: Ask Coach – Speed Up Project Closeout

Project closeout can drag your project down if not handled properly.


Q: Can you give me some ideas on how to speed up the closeout of a project?

A: Allow for it in your original schedule and make it a priority.


  1. Project closeout
    1. The finish of the work
    2. The completion of the punchlist and inspections
    3. Submission of final paperwork
  2. Make closeout a priority
    1. Put closeout in your baseline schedule
      1. Then create a separate schedule when you start closing out
    2. Give closeout as much effort as you do with the planning in the beginning
      1. Start at 50% planning your cloeout
    3. Get a focused team effort
  3. Some things that will help
    1. Create a special schedule for the final bit of work and the closeout
    2. Perform pre-punch mock-ups
      1. Have the client review a finished product and give their feedback
    3. Start collecting the paperwork early


E381: Ask Coach – Safety Training Programs

A safe work environment starts with proper training.


Q: We are developing a safety training program. Can you provide some ideas on how to set it up?

A: Develop a curriculum based on a worker’s classification.


  1.  The importance of safety training
    1. Workers can’t be safe if they don’t know how
    2. Let’s people know you care
    3. Builds internal relationships
  2. Set a curriculum
    1. The classes will vary based on the type of work you perform
    2. Each classification of worker faces different hazards
    3. Start with the basics for all and build upon that
      1. Everyone should have OSHA 10-Hour / Supervisors OSHA 40-Hour
  3. How to set up the training
    1. Start with your insurance company – you already pay for it – most insurance carriers have people dedicated to help their clients with safety
    2. There are many online courses that you can sign up for
    3. Talk to your vendors – many offer free training
    4. Keep track of everyone’s efforts – make it fun and share the results

E376: Ask Coach – Finding Good People

When hiring new employees, look at how they fit in your organization more than their skills.


Q: We are getting ready to hire some key employees. Can you give us some advice on how to find and hire good people?

A: Search everywhere then hire for fit first, skills second.


  1. What is a good employee?
    1. Someone that knows everything they need to know? Will they accept your ways?
    2. Someone that will do whatever you ask? Are they going to wait for instruction for every move?
    3. Someone that argues with others?
    4. A good employee is someone that fits in with your organization and will do things congruently with your mission/vision.
  2. Finding potential hires
    1. Start with your employees – they have networks and will know who might fit well
    2. Your network – ask around, tell people in your network that you are looking for some new people
    3. Advertise – post it everywhere you can – there are thousands of people looking for new opportunities – make sure you give people the opportunity to know you are hiring.
  3. Wich one fits best
    1. Remember to hire slow and fire fast
      1. Spend some time preparing for and reviewing potential hires
    2. Ask questions that give you insight to their values and your core values – do they match?
      1. Example: You received a final invoice and sign off from a subcontractor (who has been a rela pain in the a**) and realize they missed a $5K change order. Do you let them know or process as is and hope they don’t catch it? Why?
      2. A client gave us a change order several months ago and we have completed the work and submitted the invoice already. While going through some paperwork, you realize you transposed some numbers and the change order was actually $8K more than it should be. What do you do? Why?
    3. Let other employees spend some time with you potential hires and get their feedback
    4. Consider micro-tasks for short-listed candidates
      1. Take the top 3 and hire each one to prepare a Project Execution plan for an upcoming project. Pay them by the hour for their work. Let them work closely with one of your current PMs for asking questions and getting information. The resulting work effort can help point you in the right direction.

E371: Ask Coach – Dominating A Had Bid Market

How can I dominate a market driven by the lowest price wins?


Q: We primarily compete on low-bid public projects. Can I still dominate a market that is driven by the lowest price without just cutting my profits?

A: Yes, you can still dominate a hard-bid market. Some of the key factors my shift but you still can.


  1. Dominating your market (what does it mean?)
    1. You are the preferred solution
    2. You know more than most
    3. You are the most efficient
  2. The factors shift but are still the same – can’t we accomplish all  the above even in a low bid scenario?
    1. Margins may be tighter so we have to be more creative
      1. Yes marketing costs, etc can be lower in this market
    2. Efficiency becomes the primary focus in hard-bid markets
    3. Managing cash flow is very important
    4. Relationships still matter
  3. Focus on what matters and the prices will follow
    1. The key is to drive your costs down so your margins can go up
    2. Start with your efficiency and productivity
      1. Focus on that to get the most out of everything you do – no wasted steps
    3. Cash management
      1. Stay on top of your cash / AR / AP like a hawk
    4. Relationships
      1. Build those great relationships – they will help when you need it most

E366: Setting Effective Goals

Set effective goals to guide your actions.


  1. Importance of goals
    1. They give meaning to your actions – the why
    2. Guides your effectiveness
      1. You can ask is this moving me closer to my goal?
    3. Provides the measurement for tracking
  2. Types of goals
    1. Generic – I want to grow my company
    2. Smart – I want to increase revenue by 10% in 2016
    3. Reach – I want to double my revenue and profits in 2016
  3. Setting and writing effective goals
    1. They must be inspirational – to everyone
    2. You must be clear about the outcome
    3. Write them in statement form that includes the outcome and the actions to get there
      1. We (insert outcome statement) because we (actions statement).



We maintain a steady revenue of $5 million annually with steady growth as a result of our effective marketing and exceptional customer retention.

We win 65% of all project proposals because we are the leader in our niche and focus on projects that want us.

– Managing Our Time and Focus

Fine-tune your focus and effectiveness and forget about time management.

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E346: Ask Coach – Taking A Break-even Project

It can often be tempting to take a project with low margins in hopes of future gains.

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E341: Ask Coach – Taking On Too Much Work

Taking on too much work can strain our resources and hurt all of our projects.

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E326: Ask Coach – Choosing Company Values

Clear company values support your product and vision while helping to guide your teams.

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E321: Ask Coach – One Page Agreements

Working with others is a great way to boost your business, just protect yourself.

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