In today’s high-pressure construction climate, where there is a premium on completing projects on time and on budget, value-adding flooring installation contractors are in high demand. These contractors create additional value by taking the services they provide to their customers to a higher level than their peers.
A hallmark of these installation contractors is good decision making, the result of years of experience learning from the right and wrong choices they have made. There are, however, other traits beyond experience that separate the value-adding contractors from the rest of the pack. Here is a look at some of those difference-making characteristics.
Manage Flooring Projects from Conception to Completion
Construction projects are often viewed by the uninformed as orderly processes, which can be organized, planned and managed in a linear way. In reality, they are complex, non-linear, dynamic and made up of many interconnecting parts.
This complexity puts tremendous pressure on the project’s general contractor, who has to deal with a wide range of suppliers, subcontractors, materials manufacturers and others, as well as issues ranging from cost overruns to worker health and safety. Flooring installation contractors who bring the greatest value alleviate that pressure by properly managing the scheduling, preparation and completion of a quality flooring installation from start to finish. They know that relieving pressure on the general contractor will result in a high degree of customer satisfaction, a steady flow of new business and a significant competitive advantage.
The pace of change in the flooring installation industry continues unabated. These changes are not only reflected in the escalating number of product options for every aspect of the flooring installation, but in the regulatory environment as well. Those installation contractors and their project managers who keep abreast of these changes have a competitive advantage thanks to the breadth of their knowledge, which can save general contractors time, money and headaches.
Value-adding installation contractors understand that becoming more knowledgeable about the industry is a continuous process and they are regular fixtures at training sessions. This includes, but is not limited to, training and information offered by product manufacturers, distributors and unions. Distributors are uniquely qualified sources of information, because their wide range of product knowledge enables them to identify those products that are best suited for any specific flooring installation.
The best flooring installation contractors are also distinguished by their knowledge of the changing regulatory environment. Why is this important? Compliance with existing and new regulations, such as the OSHA regulations on concrete silica dust at construction sites, which went into effect in most states in late September 2017, is one less distraction for the general contractor and signals the professionalism of the installation contractor.
Be an Expert Estimator
Properly estimating a flooring installation project in a cost-conscious environment is critical. It also challenges the estimator, who is expected to produce an estimate for projects with countless variables that is both comprehensive and realistic.
The flooring installation contractors who add the most value rely on their education, years of experience and understanding of new products and technologies to make each estimate as detailed and accurate as possible. Their process often begins with an on-site evaluation of the flooring project. Based on that evaluation, estimators compile and analyze data on all of the factors that influence cost, including labor, materials, subfloor testing, risk reduction and life-cycle costing. Their estimates, which are based on generally acceptable standards and practices, are well organized, understandable, can be easily checked and are in a format that can be repeated from project to project.
Unfortunately, estimating is becoming a lost art; skilled estimators can be hard to find. This, however, presents an opportunity for installers who are willing to invest in learning the finer points of estimating flooring projects.
Plan Ahead to Ensure On-Time and On-Budget Job Completion
The mantra of value-adding installation contractors is proper planning and preparation prevent poor performance. There are four basic elements that typically appear in their flooring installation plans.
- First, the plans detail the scope of the project in terms of both time and cost, with considerations made for unexpected contingencies.
- Second, the objectives of the building owner are specified. This is important because objectives can differ significantly among hospitals, schools, malls or offices.
- Third, a work schedule clearly delineates how each of the elements of the plan will be carried out and in what sequence.
- Fourth, there is a protocol for determining how progress on the project will be tracked.
Successfully executing a plan for these projects often rests on the timely delivery of materials in the proper sequence from a variety of sources, some of which may be overseas. On-time materials delivery helps ensure on-schedule completion of the project and avoids the necessity of using substitute materials, which can be costly, compromise quality and drive the project off schedule.
Among the most important elements in an installer’s planning tool kit is a strong relationship with representatives of distribution firms like Fishman Flooring Solutions. Distributor reps at the best firms can help manage deliveries to get flooring-related materials to the job site in time to acclimate them to indoor temperatures prior to installation. This is an invaluable service, particularly when large, complex projects are involved.
Control Quality and Reduce Risk
The best flooring installation contractors add value by controlling risk in three ways. First, they identify, evaluate and correctly address issues that could lead to a failed flooring installation before the failure occurs. As a case in point, they know that to accurately test moisture in a slab, the ambient temperature in the building must accurately reflect normal operating conditions. To reduce risk and control quality, they require that the space where the flooring installation will take place has an operational HVAC system when moisture tests are conducted.
Second, they select the most efficient and effective products for a successful installation and use them correctly. They take advantage of newer adhesives that have longer open times of four to six hours than older products, enabling the installation of flooring over larger spaces. They also understand that following manufacturers’ instructions is the key to high quality performance with reduced risks. For example, adding too much water to a powdered underlayment system may break down its strength, making it unstable and reducing its ability to bond properly to the substrate below.
Third, value-adding installation contractors recognize the link between reducing risk and ensuring a safe work environment for everyone involved in a construction project. For them, safety is a priority and compliance with safety rules and procedures is a condition of employment in their businesses. Their focus is on both a safe work environment for their crews and the use of proper safety equipment, such as vacuum dust collection systems and respirators, to protect workers from ingesting harmful dust.