Fast Food Chains Can Teach the Construction Industry A Thing or Two
At least some industry experts claim construction is the only commercial sector in the US that has not managed to improve productivity over the years. Not since 1964, actually. How can that be?
Construction equipment manufacturers have made monumental strides redesigning machines to be significantly more efficient. They burn less fuel. They produce fewer toxic emissions. They are filled with the latest electronic technology that helps operators and machines work more, well, efficiently. Systems constantly monitor equipment, checking for service needs or performance anomalies. Even maintenance is more efficient. So how can productivity have stagnated over the past 50 years?
Work processes themselves have been left behind.
Every construction jobsite is a complex choreography of activities. Equipment and people. Things need to happen in a certain order for the job to progress. But it’s anything but efficient. Often guys are left standing around while one person or piece of equipment digs a hole or clears a space. That’s a tremendous waste of resources and money. Or one crew can’t get to work because the required prior work isn’t ready.
For some reason, the construction industry has failed to follow the lead we see in other industries, where continuous improvement of processes is now a matter of course. Consider these scenarios:
- You’re hungry and in a hurry. You hit the drive-through at your favorite fast food restaurant, but the line is long. That’s frustrating, but not for long. Here comes a young woman with a tablet in hand, taking orders down the line. Thanks to wi-fi, your order is received instantly and your burger and fries are ready to go when you reach the window.
- Now think back to the past holidays. You bravely entered a store, determined to get that must-have gift. You found what you wanted and gritted your teeth for the long wait to pay. But you were out in minutes, smiling even, because once again a roving sales associate armed with a mobile device was able to process your credit card right on the spot.
What do fast food and retail have to do with construction?
The need to streamline productivity is universal across industries. It’s the process of improving processes, if you will. In a restaurant, it’s all about prep – ingredients are chopped and sliced. Dishes are stacked. Everything is organized right at hand, and it’s all done before the place opens for business. All the chefs have to do is cook as orders come into the kitchen. Studies show restaurants spend two hours on prep for every hour spent cooking and serving customers, because it makes them more efficient.
The construction industry could do a better job when it comes to prep. That’s the key to boosting productivity, which saves both time and money. Those savings enable your dealership’s customers to develop more competitive bids and win more jobs, so they can earn more revenue. How can they prep more effectively? They should divide each job into individual tasks, then arrange the tasks so they make the most efficient use of equipment, materials and labor.
Labor, in particular, is an area where contractors can make major improvements, since it’s typically their single-highest expense. Imagine how much each of your customers could save by shaving hours off each job, each week.
You can help, by providing your own productivity-boosters.
Like the fast food and store associates with their tablets, it takes tools and apps to make contractors more proficient and more efficient. Here at ADI, we get that. We know the construction industry well, so we know what it takes to market and operate your dealership. We’ve also been in the insurance business for years, so we know what it takes to ensure your customers are fully protected. We’ve pulled all this together with a suite of services and exclusive products your dealership can use to grow your business and help customer grow their business, too:
- Extended equipment warranties
- Loss damage waivers
- Easy-to-use software to store and manage warranty-related documents and claims
- A loyalty rewards program that actually rewards their bottom line
- Marketing expertise that generates more leads for your dealership and helps convert them to customers
If your current customers expect to out-bid the competition and make a profit, they need to focus on continuously improving their job planning and processes. And they need the right tools and apps. Without that, they’ll be stuck in the 60s forever.