Our company culture isn’t about harping on mistakes—instead, it’s focused on improving our process for future jobs. One of the ways we do this is to conduct a tear-down meeting at the end of every job. It sets aside time and space for all team members involved in the project to reflect on and record the successes and failures of a particular job, creating a library of considerations to account for when approaching new projects.
A successful project tear-down meeting will include the salesperson, designer, project manager, production manager, and sometimes the site manager (or lead carpenter). Anyone in the company who played a major role in the process should be included, because you want input from every stage of the job, and you want all branches of the company coming together to discuss what went well, what went poorly, and what can be improved upon next time.
We began conducting tear-down meetings about 2-3 years ago, after hearing about them at a Remodelers Advantage meeting. We had been holding informal debriefs at the end of each project that we wanted to standardize.
A major key to the success of a tear-down meeting is keeping it on everyone’s radar throughout the project. We do this by including a separate tab in the project spreadsheet for the tear-down meeting, where we track the anticipated participants, meeting goals, specific questions or problems to be discussed, and post-meeting follow-up items.
Get everyone on the same page at the beginning of the meeting by laying out the p.a.l.o—
Thanks to a suggestion from our sales trainer, Chip Doyle, we begin each meeting by laying out the PALO: the meeting’s purpose, agenda, logistics, and desired outcome. It gets everyone on the same page about what we’re here to accomplish. We assign a team member the role of time-keeper, to ensure that we’re staying on task and hitting all the major points.
In every tear-down meeting, we break down the profit and loss statement into subcategories to examine, address any warranty or punch-list items and whether they could have been avoided, and break down estimated versus actual budget numbers for all aspects of the project. This gives us a clear picture of where we’re making or losing money—an extremely helpful reference when we’re pricing new projects.
Once you have a library of tear-down meetings consisting of our jobs for the past few years, it’s easy to see if the same issues (or successes!) are cropping up with vendors or homeowners, and to discuss if a company-wide solution needs to be implemented. But it’s also a great way to remind ourselves of our growth. Sometimes it is a hard conversation, and things didn’t go well, but being able to talk it through and discuss that we’re not looking to blame someone, but rather to make sure we grow and improve, has made all the difference in the world.