Management style should revolve around companies’ priorities

by Tracy Hegg

Some companies determine whether to use a lead carpenter system or a project manager system based on revenue, efficiency, company size and many other criteria. Dan Weidmann, CR, CAPS, president of Weidmann & Associates in Roswell, Ga., bases his decision for the “best” system for his company on client satisfaction. “Our system is driven by what is in the best interest of the client because ultimately if client satisfaction goes down, what follows is our profitability as well,” he says. “So we are a project manager system with them carrying a workload that maintains the level of client service and satisfaction that we expect here at our company.”

However, Weidmann is the first to say that his company’s is not the typical project manager system, but instead is more of a hybrid role between that of a lead carpenter and project manager. Historically the company has used a similar format since the beginning, but the hybrid system also helped retain jobs during the recession.

“The company started with our project managers being subcontractor based. The jobs were smaller, and they were hired to manage several projects and as needed put their tool belts on. We continue to follow that model: The project managers have tools and in an ideal world they are never putting them on, but in reality they do but it isn’t every day. They are not working carpenters from that standpoint; they are just doing whatever is most efficient, and if that means putting on a tool belt then they will,” Weidmann explains. “If it slows down like it did during the recession — while we did have to let some people go — others simply became lead carpenters or working project managers. From a staffing standpoint, this provides more flexibility so I can continue to keep people on even though my work flow may ebb and flow from year to year.”

Within Weidmann & Associates, project managers become involved with projects as soon as paperwork is signed, and from that point forward they are the client’s primary point of contact which is the exact reason Weidmann does not believe a full-time lead carpenter system would work for his company. “In a lead carpenter system and even when we’ve had our project managers spend more time using their tool belts, the problem is that it’s hard to be productive and efficient on a job when the expectation, at least in my company, is to be at the beck and call of our client. Any questions, comments, concerns, discussions a client wants to have regarding their project the employee managing it has to be available, which means they have to put down their tools and allocate time to the client,” he says. The project managers participate in weekly meetings at the office to share forecasts for the next two weeks regarding project plans and needed labor resources, helping ensure availability for clients as needed.

Once a project is completed, customer satisfaction is measured via internal and external surveys. Weidmann explains that, while GuildQuality — their external survey source — allows them to learn more about the entire experience, he or his brother visit the client for the internal sign-off on the project. And one of their primary questions is for the homeowner to rate their satisfaction with the project manager. He is quick to note the bar is set extremely high for project managers, considering the company’s emphasis on customer satisfaction. 

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