View Full Version : techniques, tools or ideas

04-18-2002, 10:28 PM
Money/ Time saving techniques, tools or ideas. I noticed a thread in the commercial maintenance section and thought it would be a good idea for the construction side of it.

Few new ones for us this season are ...
-all labors will drive directly to the job site thus saving travel pay (we pay time and a half)so overtime will be cut
- new regular gas fuel tank at the shop ...existing diesel tanks ..no more crews at the gas station
- porta pottie on larger job sites thus eliminating costly trips to the "coffee shop" to use the washroom.
-dedicated hardscape crews- goal is for better production and skill
as well as not as much equipment needed when "sharing"between all crews
-dedicated softscape crews
- yard and shop are much more organized ...everything has a place.

Didn't add much in the "new tool" category this winter.

04-18-2002, 10:40 PM
This may be a real specility item, we added a laser grading box this year. We are really just learning it but on the first sports field we did finish grading was cut by 1/3. Plus there are no lazy spots so should be no call backs:)

04-18-2002, 10:47 PM
In Ontario we are classified as agricultural, so we don't have to pay overtime.
We have switched to guillitines to cut tumbled brick and wall and use a small hand grinder with diamond blade (4") to quickly cut rounded cuts in brick and wall.
Training for employees seems to cut down mistakes and increase productivity. Still hard to attract good employees, they are worth their weight in gold, ( just don't let them know that).
Subcontract excavation and heavy equipment works for us as the rates around here ar lower than what I figure I could do it for and there are many operators so waiting is minimal.
We don't take jobs which we feel won't have a high profit margin/low labour component so we don't touch sodding etc. Try to steer clients towards natural stone which we can charge more for.
We used to have a hard time getting our desired profit from interlock but as more people saw failed jobs it became easier to charge A LOT.
I wish we had a paver cart, and another Huscky cut off saw(14")

dan deutekom
04-18-2002, 11:04 PM
"Still hard to attract good employees, they are worth their weight in gold, ( just don't let them know that). "

Might work better for you if you do let your employees they are worth their weight in gold. A little honest appreciation goes a long way and only costs a coffee or cold drink. Also makes your crew more effiecient if they feel you care about them.

04-18-2002, 11:12 PM
Don't want this to get off topic already but the agricultural (we could get away with that) issue as well as others would allow us not to pay overtime .... You want to see a differance in the quality of workers as well as the availibility of them try paying time and a half ... we are the only ones around (that I know of) that pay it ..word gets around fast ... you'll have qualified guys banging your door down after a while ...this isn't so much off topic.. It will save you money in the long run.

Paul ...if you don't mind ...what's a "toy" like that worth?

dan deutekom
04-18-2002, 11:18 PM
Sorry Kris
Didn't mean to meander but I couldn't resist If you take care of your guys they will take care of you.

04-18-2002, 11:20 PM
No need to be sorry Dan ...it's a good point and money saving to boot.

04-18-2002, 11:55 PM

I am a big fan of the dedicated crews. There's no doubt that a crew who does nothing but hardscapes day in and day out will be much more productive than one that doesn't.

The problem is see with this sometimes however is keeping the 'dedicated' crew busy for the entire year. Its funny, but I have seen it happen.

For instance, you start the year off strong and have lots of installs. Then, at the end of the year, you slow down, and in order to keep the crew busy, have them doing other things.........suddenly, guys are complaining that they are 'brick' guys and that the smell of 2 cylce from the weedwacker is making them sick.

Think the crew idea is great, but the key is to be at the point in your business where you can keep each crew busy throughout the year.

Personally, I'd like to take each of the guys and slap them upside the head and tell them to be thankful that they even have a job. But its surprising how 'girlie' men become when they lose the comfort of the 'big' machine they sit there asses on all day and have to pick up a shovel.


04-19-2002, 12:19 AM
Another plus to a dedicated crew could be that they are slightly less apt to think that they are doing it all....and that they are ready to be your competition. It should also be easier to find individuals that are skilled in one area rather than a whole lot of multi-taskers. Multi-taskers are also more likely to quickly move on to being your competition.

04-19-2002, 04:37 AM
Kris, That toy ran just around $11K plus we added a dual plane laser for it and it was just under $5K.

04-20-2002, 04:36 PM
Here's a computer program I think a few people here would like, it's from Deloach Corp, http://www.deloachcorp.com/deloach.htm
It works with Excel and has a few parts that some don't need but if you use labor and equipment time for installs it's nice. It has a fully functional data base linking with Excel spread sheet and you can create assemblies ie( tree+ labor for excavation+back fill+mulch.....)

04-20-2002, 06:46 PM
I came accross a good free quote program on a cad demo CD I got from http://www.gardengraphics.com. I used it all week for several proposals...and it was a big time saver. You simply make a materials list with a price attached to it and plug in the number of pieces and it lists it, calculates it, and totals it up. I cut and pasted from an excel spread sheet from our nursery supplier, so I hardly typed. The best part is that once you input an item once it is in the program. On the next estimate you can just type the first few letters, hit enter, and items that begin with those letters appear. You click the one you want and go to the next.
...for free.
The cad program is worth a look at as well. I would consider it if I had not recently gotten Landcadd.