Building an Organization – Part Two – By Ron Pestone
Next comes your administrative assistant. The individual who can do it all. Typing, data input, message taking, scheduling, public relations and occasional bouncer. As you grow the individual needs to have the ability to become the office manager. In addition to complete loyalty the individual must have an excellent telephone presence. This is no small thing; they are usually the first contact the outside world makes with your company. They represent you and your company and more times than not they will be how your company is judged. The right tone is everything. Pick real carefully here. I have worked with some of the best and they are a real asset. One friend of mine who is a top notch administrative assistant can take a call from a screaming tiger who has a large festering splinter in his paw and when she is finished hand him over to the boss as a purring pussy cat. Now that has value.
In order to grow you need work and to get work you need an estimator. Not a takeoff guy but a real seasoned estimator. Here talent is everything. It’s the difference between driving a VW beetle and a Rolls Royce. A real estimator knows what’s missing in the documents as he is taking the job off. He knows if he wants to write and RFI (Request For Information) or to let it go and pick it up as a change order if you get the job. He knows if it’s going to be an easy installation or a difficult one. He has the general and special conditions covered. He knows what the liquidated damages a day are and if you can get your installation in on time so that they do not present a problem. In short he knows the business. In addition to taking off every single piece of the installation he has the proven formulas to speed and simplify the estimate. Your first estimator will spend part of his time helping you buy out the job so you need to find somebody who knows material and equipment prices and knows how to buy out the job. You need to find somebody who is not so concerned about being seen as a good guy by everybody but instead more as a knowledgeable and tough buyer. Let him understand as the company grows it is going to need a purchasing agent and that he is going to help you make the choice on who is going to fill this position because one of the best way of protecting his estimate is to make sure the job is bought out at the very best possible price. Look for an individual who wants to grow with you and your company and has the ability to run an estimating department if you are successful.
No matter how talented and dedicated your estimator is you need to sit down with him and go over every estimate he has done. Check the drawings with him to see if they are colored in. Ask questions about the materials specified and what can be substituted. What is his opinion about the difficulty of the installation; find out if it’s a tight site. Ask about his thoughts about the quality of the documents and any concerns he has. Spend the time with him let him know you are interested in what he is doing and most of all let him understand you really know the business. After all is said and done check the general and special conditions, your competitor’s workloads and put your mark up on the estimate and bid the job.
If you are successful and land the job tickets to a ball game or dinner for two is a nice thank you to your estimator. And at the end of the year handing out a nice bonus for landing all the work he has estimated really cements the relationship.
At this point you have someone handling the books, someone manning the phone and handling the paperwork and someone estimating the work, you only need two more people to make the nucleus of a good small subcontracting firm.
Part Three Next Week