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I have a persistent problem with scheduling, and I'm guessing it's pretty common. We are usually booked out a minimum of 6-8 weeks. It is possible to give people rough estimates of when we will get to their jobs, but as soon as I say a rough start date folks plan their whole lives around that date. Even though I tell them it's a rough date. It seems like the more important the start date is to everyone involved the harder it is to keep the promise. Sick workers, rain, back ordered materials, breakdowns, hurricanes, locusts, and so on. I try to keep everyone abreast of the current schedule, but I still feel unprofessional pushing back start dates, especially when I have to do it to the same person a couple of times. What does the rest of the world do?
06-17-2001, 10:02 PM
What type of work are you scheduling and job size, $$-wise? If you are running this far behind, it might be time to stand back and look for a big picture solution.
We are doing a variety of jobs ranging in size from $5000 to $100,000. You are right it is time to stand back and look for the larger solution. This is where I need help. I've tried a bunch of things, but nothing has been very successful.
06-19-2001, 07:58 PM
Well, if you're doing $100K projects, you're working on a larger scale than we are, so this info may not apply to the same degree.
3-4 years ago, I saw a big surge in biz and wanted to make everyone happy, so I scheduled things really tight, because everyone seemed to want things done asap. Then we got 2 solid weeks of rain. Rain I didn't plan for. I literally spent the majority of the rest of the season apologizing to customers for not starting their projects on time.
So here's what I do now -
I schedule 1 rain day EVERY week. So when I'm mapping out work, I only count on 4 work days per week. And for projects that will take 2.5 days, I plan on them taking 3, etc.
So what ends up happening is, in the worst case scenario (like now, where we've have 13 days with rain in the last 18), when everyone else is 2-3 weeks behind, we're right on schedule. We look like heroes. And if it doesn't rain, we'll be 2-3 weeks ahead come mid-season. We're heroes again.
The only balancing act you have to do is to make sure you don't lose business because this scheduling method makes you appear booked further into the season than the competition, and the anxious customer may not want to wait. I lose a couple every year because of this. But it's usually because they wanted it done in 2 weeks.
But the bonus is, if it's dry, you can even squeeze a customer like that in (and give them an upcharge for 'squeezing'), and not end up behind in your schedule.
One more thing - I give them a week range for a start date. And I'm finding that giving them the last day of that week works best (for example, if you say 'start date will be during the week beginning July 1st', all they remember is July 1st. They don't recall the 'week of' part).
Stonehenge- thanks for the reply. I'm planning to use a version of your plan in my future scheduling. I'm also going to watch and see what else I can do to keep on track. What I'm finding this year is that demand for our services far exceeds our ability to produce. So as of today the prices are going up, plus I'm practicing the phrase "No thanks".
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