Planning: Don’t Make Me Laugh

By: Dave Wright, Craftsman Republic®

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It is easier to give up on your plans when the ducks are flying than it is to fix them. Often, you go so fast that you forget some of the important details of the daily, weekly, or even monthly plans. Seldom do we forget to collect taxes, permits, or our basic fees for our work. But how often do we forget a material order, leave tools off the truck, or not get the oil changed, when you need to do it? If we remember to do all the little tasks, we forget to account for the time it takes to do them.

So, you have a wife, administrative assistant, partner, or some other person keeping track, but do you tell them every little thing? Like I forgot -------- . If your answer is, “Yes, I tell them,” you are better than 90 percent of the contracting world.

Reviewing plans from six months to a year ago, has often led me to laughing hysterically because I was so far off or I made so many simple mistakes. So, what was wrong with me? And more importantly, how much did it cost me not to track everything? I realized I needed to quit leaving the money on the table and start pick it up.

I would now argue that collecting taxes was less important than tracking the wasted time. Once I started writing everything down every day, I discovered I could lower my expenses, lower materials costs, make more money, and even charge a lower price. Errands, if not combined, waste money. Here is how I saved:

I wrote everything down in a spiral notebook, cheap (25 cents during back to school). I then reviewed what I needed to do at the end of each day. If I was at the supplier, I no longer forgot to pick up materials for every job. I no longer forgot to order materials ahead of time and had to pay a higher price at the last minute. I no longer forgot tools needed for the job.

More than those little aggravations, I had more time. I was surprised at the end of the month with how much more profitable the month end was and how little time it took to create it. Soon, looking at plans was no longer funny. If I needed to laugh, I could go watch a standup comic. I had lower stress levels.

No matter how you do it, date everything and put the job name on it. If it is in the phone, messages to someone, or emails, get in the habit of reporting everything. I kept the notebook in the car, out where I could see it, and took it with me like it was a receipt.

However you organize, wasting time is your greatest enemy, whether it is you or those who work for you. In the long run, you will see better benefits as a result of training, planning, sharing, delegating, and rewarding. You will also save yourself time. Planning without information is crazy.

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