Every one of your crew members is important and makes key contributions to the larger team. This holds true whether they're 'just' removing roof shingles, doing detail work, or making final inspections. No matter what a crew member's role is during a given job, they're the key to the quality of your work, as well as the building blocks of your reputation.
Yes, everyone on your crew has something important to contribute. But this doesn't mean they're equally skilled or have the same levels of experience. Most crews are mixed in this regard. That's why it's crucial to manage your crews properly. Otherwise, you're likely to achieve less than optimal results.
Read on to discover four of the most effective ways to manage crews with mixed levels of experience.
1. Start By Doing Business As Usual
No matter how much experience your crew has, every roofing project should begin with a well-designed plan. That’s why you should begin each project with a ‘business as usual’ approach You might very well have to make adjustments later, but start things off by going with what’s worked for you in the past.
Once you’ve established an initial plan, use progressive focus to make allowances for the crew’s mixed levels of experience. Typically, this means making allowances for potential problems and addressing them before they become difficult and costly to solve. You should also take the time to organize larger jobs into various smaller tasks. It's sometimes difficult to know the best ways to modify your plans in advance, but dividing the project into more sub-tasks than usual is a great place to start.
The Benefits of Sub-tasks
There are a few key reasons why sub-tasks are necessary when you're working with a crew that has mixed levels of experience. First, dividing jobs into sub-tasks just makes everything easier to manage. The relatively small scope of these sub-tasks also facilitates effective division of labor, making your crew that much more efficient.
Dividing a project into smaller tasks also simplifies the process of assembling your team. Generally speaking, a crew with mixed levels of experience requires you to have a balanced mix of experienced and inexperienced workers. This can lead to unnecessary mistakes and lengthy delays, especially if your more experienced people spend too much watching over the rookies.
But if you sub-task jobs properly, you can assign simpler tasks like removing roof shingles and daily cleanup to less experienced teams. Similarly, you can assign more complex tasks to teams that are comprised of your best workers. They'll finish these complex tasks much faster if they don't have to coach up your newer employees. Additionally, this increased efficiency will allow your experienced workers to solve any problems your newer people might encounter.
Delegate Everything From Removing Roof Shingles to Detail Work and Daily Inspections
Another part of fine-tuning your standard plan is delegating responsibilities. Depending on the size of your crew, you're probably already doing this to some extent. But what works with a crew that's experienced doesn't always work with one that includes an excess of new employees.
Communicate everyone's responsibilities very clearly at the start of the job. This will establish a chain of command and keep everyone focused on their specific tasks.
2. Make an Accurate Estimate
Meeting client expectations is always a determining factor of a roofer’s success, so calculating an accurate estimate is of utmost importance. This is especially true if you’re working with a crew that has mixed levels of experience.
In these cases, it’s probably wise to be conservative when calculating an estimate. We’re referring here to time estimates, not the overall cost of the job. You shouldn’t expect clients to shoulder the extra costs you’re likely to incur with inexperienced roofers, but it’s still a good idea to add a little extra time to your initial estimate.
Whenever you have new roofers working a given job, it’s best to assume they’ll experience a few problems along the way. Hopefully, the more experienced crew members can prevent any extended delays, but you should never take this as a given. A conservative time estimate is probably the best way to hedge your bets.
3. Supervise the Project Closely
It goes without saying that you want to play an active role in every project your company works on, but that role should expand whenever you're working with crews who have varying levels of experience. One of the chief benefits of close supervision is avoiding many unnecessary conflicts and resolving them quickly when they do inevitably arise. It will also allow for frequent inspections and provide more opportunities to communicate directly with your clients.
This need for closer supervision is yet another reason that dividing projects into smaller sub-tasks is so beneficial. Think about it for a moment and you'll see why this is the case. If you're trying to build too many sections of a roof at the same time, it can be difficult to spot potential problems. Although 'working in stages' is sometimes the best method to practice, it can lead to costly delays if it involves too many inexperienced workers.
4. Plan to Dole Out Some Overtime Pay
Paying overtime is pretty much the last resort, but it's sometimes necessary when you're dealing with an inexperienced crew. In fact, it might be a good idea to account for some overtime pay when calculating your original estimate. That way, there are minimal surprises.
Establish a core group of experienced crew members in advance and ask them to be prepared to work extra if necessary. If you've been supervising the job closely, you should have a pretty good idea when overtime will be required, so everyone will already have a good idea about what to expect.
The extra time put in by experienced employees will go a long way toward offsetting both mistakes and lost time, so don't be shy about doling out a little extra money. It's understandable that overtime pay is something most roofers want to avoid at all costs, but you'll quickly discover that it's usually worth it in the long run.