All employees at Columbus, Ohio-based Fry Contracting Co. know the filing system backward and forward. They have to. To maintain the detailed organization and communication that keep the company on track, every employee handles each individual "job folder."
"The job folder, to our company, is the connection between the estimate and the production of a job," says Bob Fry, owner and president of Fry Contracting. "The job folder is the working document for each of our projects. It includes all we need to know about subcontractors, bids, suppliers, product selection -- basically anything in addition to the blueprints."
Job folders are physical paper files, although several elements are kept on the office computers. The sales manager creates the folders as soon as a job is sold. They are then transferred to the production manager, and at company meetings, the project manager goes over the information in the file with everyone in the company. This way, all employees are kept current on every active project at Fry Contracting.
The folders include all the basics. Signed contracts, product specifications, construction plans, permit approvals, permitted plans, product choices and deadlines, special-order items, estimates of work by category, allowances for change orders, client's agreed tasks, potential problem areas and a copy of the local Homeowner's Manual are stored and maintained in one central location.
Recent additions to the job folder include construction schedules given to the homeowners as well as insurance information. "I like to keep things simple, and our clients like things clean and simple, too," says Fry. "With the job folders, clients are fully aware of our schedule as well as the list of products and the deadlines they have to choose them. By giving them the schedule, it ties their importance into the project -- it's surprising how quickly we get selections now. [Since implementing the schedule,] we've never missed a deadline due to a client. It's a nice thing that helps keep the job running smoothly."
Because all elements are clearly outlined, Fry has been able to implement a penalty clause to his contracts. Now, if selections are not made and confirmed by the clients on the agreed-upon dates, they'll pay a certain amount of money per week of delay. "I've never had a homeowner argue with the clause," Fry says. "They understand that they're buying my time, my quality, my ability and my commitment. We tell them, ''We need you to be committed as well.' "