When the massive container ship Ever Given got wedged sideways in the Suez Canal, it illustrated a simple but powerful concept: the bottleneck. With worldwide effects on commerce, the incident in the Suez Canal was a catastrophic occurrence but a brilliant metaphor. Every industry, every company, and every workflow has a constriction point where just one unfortunate event is all it takes to grind everything to a halt. So what’s your bottleneck? What’s your Suez Canal?
I spend my days talking to contractors about their needs and challenges, and it occurred to me as I watched the drama unfold in the Suez Canal that many of our contractor customers have bottlenecks that may be smaller in scope but no less impactful to their business. I want to share with you a few of the big ones that are common throughout the restoration industry, and—of course—ways that Next Gear works to clear the logjam with DASH, the industry’s leading job management platform.
Subcontractor insurance and licensing
Bottleneck: Each subcontractor your company employs has to be licensed and insured—if they make a costly mistake and don’t have insurance, or if a follow-up inspection shows that they weren’t licensed to do the work, it’s ultimately your company that’s on the hook. Such mistakes can be costly, both from a purely financial viewpoint and from a reputational one as well. Can your company afford to take that hit? Finding out there’s a problem with your subcontractor in the middle of a job can stop work on everything, so a prudent restoration company makes certain that their subcontractors are up to speed before work begins.
Clearing the logjam: DASH‘s customer relationship management module helps your company keep track of whether every subcontractor you use is up to date with their insurance and licensing documentation when assigning work orders.
Jobs not being invoiced on time
Bottleneck: Not too many restoration companies can afford to take a pay-us-whenever approach to their invoicing procedures. Timely invoicing is a bedrock principle of running a successful restoration company, but it can be a real burden and time-suck, especially for smaller companies. Of course, slow and inconsistent invoicing translates pretty directly into slow and erratic payments—and with payroll, rent, and more on the line, good invoicing can be the difference between a company that continues to succeed and one that falls apart.
Clearing the logjam: DASH‘s job dashboard section provides a birds-eye view of jobs in any number of statuses: invoice pending, accounts receivable, and more. You’ll know at a glance which jobs have been invoiced, which are still pending, and which are overdue.
Managing multiple subcontractor schedules
Bottleneck: A challenging mitigation and restoration job might have multiple subcontractors working on their respective areas of expertise over a period of days and even weeks. Suppose you’re not actively managing the workflow and order of operations. In that case, you’ll have subs tripping over each other, showing up before they’re needed, missing in action when it’s their turn, and generally wasting their time and your money. And suppose the property owner is wise to these inefficiencies; you’ll look like a clumsy amateur—remember that regardless of how many subs you use on a job, Joe Homeowner contracted with you. It’s your name on the line.
Clearing the logjam: The calendar function in DASH lets you filter multiple subs, crews, employees, and other participants associated with a job and allows for sophisticated GANTT scheduling using uploaded estimate data. You’ll always have the right crews onsite at the right time.
Key information missing on job records
Bottleneck: Did you ever realize mid-job that crucial information was missing? Maybe it was captured but never recorded; maybe a technician forgot to capture the data in the first place. Have you ever found discrepancies in your figures—numbers that should be the same but somehow differ? You know that mistakes like these usually are an immediate flag on the field; everything stops while a tech is sent back to the property to get the missing data or figure out which measurement is in error. It slows you down and prolongs the time it takes to complete the job.
Clearing the logjam: DASH provides simple dashboards with a self-auditing tool that identifies where key information is missing and there are discrepancies in the numbers.
Disconnected and fragmented information systems
Bottleneck: Information regarding every job (both open and closed) in our industry is often strung out among a complex array of digital tools; perhaps it’s an accounting system, a scheduling platform, estimating software, a cloud drive, and maybe even a spreadsheet or two. It’s inefficient for a restoration professional to access all this disjointed, fragmented data, and it presents several risks and challenges. Communicating with customers, adjusters, and other relevant stakeholders is challenging, and communication breakdowns become the norm.
Clearing the logjam: By integrating your primary business systems (such as your email, estimating, and accounting platforms) with DASH, any important detail needed by you and your team now becomes accessible over a mobile device. By solving the challenge of information fragmentation, DASH’s data integration has proven invaluable to thousands of restoration contractors across North America. With DASH, instant access becomes a vital factor in winning, strengthening, and maintaining customer and partner relationships.
Double entries of documents, photos, readings, notes, and more
Bottleneck: By now, most restoration companies have adopted some aspect of a digital workflow, but in many cases, a halfhearted effort can be worse than none at all. Say your company is split between paper processes for one portion of a project and digital processes for another. The chances are that embracing a digital strategy in part isn’t doing much to save you time since quite a bit of information will have to be input again when the workflow switches from paper to digital, or vice versa.
Clearing the logjam: DASH integrates accounting, estimating, email, project notes, photos, damage documentation, and other systems into a single easy-to-use interface. The result is a central terminal for all project information that provides easy access and visibility to your employees, eliminates double entries, and improves your efficiency.
About the Author
Thomas Williams joined Next Gear Solutions in 2015 and works with the Sales team to assess the needs and goals of restoration contractors to better equip them with the tools they need to save time and improve efficiency. Thomas spends much of his time teaching NGS customers how to effectively utilize the MICA platform on their water mitigation projects, taking their crews from paper-based teams to fully paperless operations within weeks.
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