I use just three simple tools to keep our projects running smoothly: email, Houzz, and Evernote.They aren’t as comprehensive as many of the other products available for remodelers today, but those three are actually all we need. We complete about 32 projects per year and have seen the same issues repeatedly come up: communication, reconciling our vision with the client’s, and time management.
These three tools address each of those issues for us.
Let’s talk about email first. I know it’s a no-brainer, but that doesn’t negate its effectiveness. One important concept for us is a daily recap email. It goes out to everyone involved in the remodel, giving them progress updates, a sense of what to expect in the days to come, and an opportunity for the homeowners to ask questions. It also gets people in the habit of checking their email.
When we first started using Houzz, it was strictly as a portfolio to show off our work. But as I explored other contractors’ projects and discovered how varied the available selections were, I realized that the website’s true value is as a reference guide.
For example, take, subway tile—a term that can mean a thousand different things to a thousand people. When a client tells me they want a subway-tile backsplash, I don’t know exactly what that means to them, and so that’s when we use Houzz. Going through the searchable photos with a client lets me know specifically what they’re looking for when they say this or that. And it gives me something tangible to relay to project managers.
Our projects typically last about six weeks, which makes scheduling pretty simple. So when I say time management is a problem, what I’m talking about is the issue of making sure neither my time nor the time of my project manager, his crew, or the client, is wasted on things like trying to access the documents relevant to a project.
Here’s an example: In my office, I keep a three-ring binder for each project that contains everything related to the job. I used to make sure that all of the project managers had a copy, however, it took a lot of time to update everyone’s binder, and those materials would always be delayed because we spend so much of the day apart. I was wasting my time, and the PMs were sometimes forced to operate with outdated information.
Evernote helped us consolidate that information into a single platform that can be updated in real time. It immediately created a more collaborative environment between managers, designers, and clients.