We’ve recently wrapped up a couple of major projects, and are in the beginning stages of a couple more. We’re getting ready to ramp it up for the rest of the year, and are already looking to the year ahead. A big part of planning for growth is looking back and consciously reviewing how things went.
Taking time to reflect is a huge part of having a growth mindset, and here at Lou Projects we have a commitment to seek every opportunity to learn, and a belief that we can always learn something new. Looking back at our previous projects, we can see opportunities for things to be done better – whether that’s to improve the client experience, build efficiencies or the experience for our team. We’re committed to always assessing what we could have done better. We do this so we can consciously improve and continually innovate.
So what are some of the things we’re working on to improve?
1. Communicate better
Communication is one of the most important things for us. Communication between our team, our trades, our suppliers and of course our clients. We pride ourselves on communicating clearly and responding to enquiries and our clients swiftly. However, reflecting on the past year, the overwhelm of the amount of work we had made this a significant challenge. To help us improve on this, we now have a full time Operations Assistant who is assisting with all enquiries, and responses to our clients, trades and suppliers. Our goal is to keep the communication channels open and transparent, and keep everyone in the loop as much as possible.
2. Improve processes
Not having a clear process in place around RFIs, or ‘requests for information’, caused workflow delays for some of our projects, which ultimately had a big impact on labour allocation, stage claims and cash flow. Learning from this, we’ve now set up a clear RFI process, which is tracked through our software system, with clear and specific deadlines for our clients to respond and for us to follow up. This is a two-way street between us and our clients, and if done correctly, can significantly improve clarity on scope, the flow and progress of work, and general peace of mind.
3. Set higher standards
We’ve always held ourselves and our work to high standards, and this has continued to flow out to the trades and contractors we work with. Moving forward, we’re setting standards and expectations for all of our subbies. This has meant we’ve stopped working with some, but we’ve also improved our relationships with others. We were having issues with some subbies that weren’t communicating very well, weren’t showing up on time, and not delivering the high end quality product we desire. Ultimately, all of our subbies are an extension of the Lou Projects team, and we’re striving to make that the best team possible. We have a very clear set of values, and hold ourselves to a very high standard, and we’re striving to work with subbies who share this outlook. We strongly believe we’re only going to be the best by surrounding ourselves with the best.
4. Work with our ideal clients
We’re not interested in working with clients who just want things done cheaper and faster, who aren’t interested in sustainability and energy efficiency, and who have unrealistic time frames and budgets. We now have a detailed client guide that we send to all enquiries, that outlines our values, our processes, and the fees and time frames associated with those processes. This ultimately helps us both find the right fit – our clients find the right builder for them and we find the right clients for us.
5. Improve the tendering process
This one has two parts. First of all, we’ve made the tendering process to our subbies much simpler. In the past it’s been unclear and perhaps a bit rushed. We’ve learnt from this, so now we gather all the correct information for subbies that we need, before presenting the job to them, so it’s much easier and more efficient for them to send their quotes through.
We’ve also made the tendering process for our clients much more efficient and thorough. We’ve implemented a three stage tendering process that involves an initial quick estimate, a detailed estimate and a refined final quote. This relies heavily on working with architects through these phases so the scope is clear, the documentation is accurate, and everyone gets the information they need. This results in a clear quoting process for us and our subbies, we all know exactly what we’re quoting for, and when each quote is due.
6. Manage your time better
Being a business owner, you wear many different hats, and sometimes this can look like wearing 5 hats in an hour. Being in monkey mind can be so hard mentally, constantly going from one thing to another. I’ve personally improved my own working calendar, allocating blocks of time and daily themes to give much more structure and focus to my days. This has been an absolute game changer.