Web Extra: How Yard Solutions improved communication, results

July 20, 2016 -  By

With the help of a consultant, Groveport, Ohio-based Yard Solutions revamped its operating system around a serious of results-oriented meetings. The idea is to improve communications upfront to save time down the line.

The team implemented the meetings last fall, and so far, they’re working.

“The meetings we have are our operating system,” President Eric Remeis says. “If we have those meetings, we’re successful. You’re covering all your bases and making the right decisions at the right time.”

Now, everything starts with a strategy meeting, or an annual budget meeting, in November. That’s followed up by quarterly meetings where division leaders give updates on what happened during the previous three months and where they’re headed for the next three months.

There’s also a weekly crew leader meeting Mondays at 4:30 p.m., which includes assistant crew leaders. Twice a week there are dynamic pricing meetings, which include Remeis, the operations manager and the salespeople, so they all can review estimates before they go to clients.

With every Thursday comes a job handoff meeting, which includes crew leaders and designers who have jobs coming up in the next couple weeks.

Before implementing this meeting, the first time the crew leaders saw job details was they day the job got started. Now, the crew leaders receive all the job’s information before, including photos, the job order and the budgeted hours—and they have an opportunity to ask questions or share concerns.

Remeis is aware all these meetings sound time consuming and could be a turnoff for some team members.

“We showed them they were actually saving time,” he says. “We had other meetings before, but they weren’t results-oriented and they were broad, so they could take two and a half hours each.”

The other way they save time is by eliminating disruptive fly-by questions or comments. All those answers are now coming out of those meetings, he says.

More information, better results

Now, crew leaders also receive a job timeline, created by the operations manager. It shows how many hours were bid for excavation, gravel work, laying bluestone, plant beds, etc., and which days those items should occur on, rather than having a lump sum of hours for the entire job.

“It’s really hard if you’re on a month-long job to know where you’re supposed to be,” Remeis says. “This outline really helps them visualize it.”

Finally, to ensure buy-in and accuracy, Yard Solutions asked crew leaders to come up with the labor hours for the items in the estimating system.

“We took everything we do—stripping sod, laying a ton of stone, spreading a yard of mulch—and updated it to what they said they could do,” Remeis says.

The company already had that information in its software program, but crew leaders always thought the hours were underestimate. Now it’s been updated with crew leader input.

“We’re now pricing the way the crew told us, so now they’re not performing to what a salesman said they should do, they’re performing to what they said they could do,” he says.

Along with improved estimating comes improved incentives for crew leaders. They are eligible for a set amount of money if they hit their estimated hours for the month. They get a larger incentive if they beat the hours. If they’re over the hours by 10 percent they get some incentive, but it’s reduced.

“It makes them happy, and it makes them believers,” Remeis says, noting the crews used to go over the estimated hours by an average of 10 percent. The first two months of this year, they came in under hours by 20 percent. “It’s a 30 percent turnaround.”

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