Please take a moment to read this entire company memo that contains important information and updates.
As always, I want to start with saying thank you for your hard work and being a part of the Paramount team. I cannot say this enough and hope that my appreciation is always evident.
2020 was a great year. In spite of Covid obstacles and a slow start to the season due to shutdowns, we finished the year just about the same as we did in 2019 which I would call a win. May other places took large losses or even went out of business.
It was our first year in the new building which was a world better than the previous lot we were in!
We also were listed as an Inc.5000 company which means we are among the fastest growing companies in the country! Below is a picture of our national, local and industry rankings:
I am always open to your feedback on how we can grow our processes to make things as efficient as possible so we can all do our best and be more profitable.
Goals for 2021
I would like to sit with each of you to discuss your goal(s) for 2021 so I can help in achieving them.
My goals for 2021 are:
- to continue improving processes and operations at the shop so we can operate smoother, minimize material issues, and be more organized.
- to grow in production by 10% over 2020.
- To staff the office in a way that allows me to work on other ventures (starting with the card shop) and opportunities for Paramount’s growth into distribution and eventually manufacturing.
After reading this memo, please reach out so we can schedule. 5-10 minute talk to discuss your goal(s) and what you would like to see come from 2021.
If you haven’t already noticed, I am in the process of turning the spare office space (by the tool crib) into a sports card/comic shop.
This is an online business that I have been doing with a partner/buddy of mine for a while and have decided to utilize the space to open up a card shop.
This doesn’t have an impact on Paramount, except that we will no longer use that space for Paramount and that we will need to keep all activity and language on the property “family friendly” in case there is a lady with her kid buying Pokémon cards or something like that.
For the most part, it will not be open until after the teams are gone for the day and won’t have any impact on Paramount activities.
Overall, we have improved on daily logs and there are always areas to improve. Some of you do wonderful daily logs and some of you, not so much, so I wanted to clarify the purpose and expectations with daily logs.
We do daily logs for a few reasons:
- To keep customers informed
- To keep office staff informed
- To reflect back on when needed
It just as important and just as much a part of everyone’s job to do proper daily logs as it is to build a fence or deliver material, order material, etc.
Daily logs are a core function of Paramount Fence communication and I need everyone to understand that and do them properly. It’s not a difficult task. Below is an overview of daily logs for each position:
For warehouse, you must do daily logs to communicate when we are making deliveries (1 day ahead of time), doing misc tasks, etc. daily logs should always be done first thing in the morning to notify all customers for the day, and then again after each task/job is completed to keep customers/office informed and on the same page and include a picture of the progress/result.
For installers, you must do daily logs first thing every morning to notify all customers for the day of the days plans, and then again before leaving the job site informing of progress that has been made and the plan moving forward (these daily logs should include pictures of the progress). If you are behind schedule or not going to be able to do what was detailed in a previous daily log or as shown in the schedule, a new daily log must be completed to inform the customer and office staff. These daily logs need to be completed even if you talk with the customer in person.
For office, daily logs must be completed anytime there is a progress change or schedule change with a project, or notes that should be permanently attached to a project.
For installers, when looking at your install schedule every morning, please keep in mind that if a project has #1 next to it, the customer was told that you will be arriving “around 10am”. If a project has #2 next to it, the customer was told that you will be arriving “early afternoon”.
If you are unable to maintain that schedule, it is your responsibility to do proper daily logs to keep the customer and office informed so they have proper expectations and so Nate can reschedule future projects if needed.
Inspect Materials on Day 1 of Installs
Manufacturers and our own material operations were inconsistent or wrong at times during 2020 leading to last minute setbacks and having to scramble to get parts to finish a project as scheduled.
I will work with the warehouse team to perform as good of inspection as possible to help minimize these mistakes/setbacks and to ensure that the proper material quantities are being pulled.
For installers, there is a simple way to address this as well and that is to inspect the fence materials when you first arrive on site and start laying the project out. Doing so will identify if something is missing (ie: gate hardware, caps, fittings, etc) and allow it to be addressed ahead of time rather than needing to scramble or waste time addressing it later. A quick 5 minute inspection of the materials will save hours of scramble. Please do so accordingly.
Material Deliveries / Tear out Pickup
We recently had a situation where the forklift got stuck in someone’s grass while picking up materials and had to be pulled out by a tow truck. This cost the company $250 in tow service and another $700 to fix the customers yard (total loss of $950)
Moving forward, materials will only be delivered in a way that prevents the forklift from having to drive on grass. This means that we may not be able to get it all the way to the back yard/area of construction.
Similarly, if there is a tear-out that is to be picked up on site, it must be stacked in a place that it can be picked up without the forklift needing to drive on grass (ie: at the curb, on side of the driveway, etc.)
Walk-Throughs & Change Orders
There have been situations where a customer may have spoke with you about something during a walkthrough, you do it that way, and then they complain because they don’t like the result and ask us to change it. This may or may not be a communication error on the installers part but it has led to the company taking many losses throughout 2020 on additional labor paid out to send the team back to make the changes.
I will be working with the sales/estimating team to be more detailed and cover any items that could be potential issues. When we meet for 5-10 minutes, I would be happy to hear your feedback of what items need to be addressed with the sales/estimating team.
Moving forward, please use change orders for any changes or special requirements that a customer requests during the walkthrough. Entering a change order is as simple as doing a daily log and doing so will:
- Protect you (installers) from taking a loss in the event that a customer says “this is wrong come fox it” but you say “that is what the customer asked for” because we will have their signature on a change order showing that they requested it that way and we can then charge them accordingly for the return trip.
- Protect Nate from frequent upset customer conversations.
The fact is, customers lie, often. Perhaps you did speak to them about something and installed it just as they said, but when a customer tells us “we never asked them to do that” (this happens regularly) then Nate is in the tough spot of calling a customer a liar, or calling you a liar.
Previously, in those situations we have told the customer we will return to make the changes that they are requesting because it is their fence and ultimately we want them satisfied. However, often times, this has led to the company taking a loss due to paying additional labor to the installer.
To combat this, make sure you are entering a change order for any of the following situations (and any other situation you can think of it being needed):
- Customer layout changes in any way different from what is shown on the layout
- Customer requests special need
- Gate swing direction changes from what is shown on the layout
- Customer requests to have the finished side of the fence facing inward (or outward if the layout details it to be inward)
- Customer’s yard is not level and they request the fence to be level (causing a gap under the fence)
- Any other issue that you see potentially requiring you to return.
These losses add up significantly throughout the year and now that we know change orders are the solution in those situations, additional labor will no longer be paid out when return trips are needed for such situations (if a change order is not entered). This is not to avoid paying earned labor, but instead to protect the company against loss and hold installers accountable to being professionals.
Long story short, if it’s something that your response would be “well we talked about that during the walkthrough, I don’t know why they are complaining about it”, it should be entered as a change order and signed by the customer.
If needed, I will show you how to do change orders when we meet for 5-10 minutes to go over your plans/goals for 2021.
Increased Labor Rates
I am working on reviewing our pricing and will be changing some labor rates/pay outs for installers. I expect to have these numbers crunched and implemented the first week of March. This is to help allow you to pay your laborers a higher wage to help with turnover and retention and to increase your earnings a bit.
I have said it many times before, and cannot say it enough, I sincerely appreciate you all tremendously!
Our entire team is what makes up this company and its success. We have done very well over the years, and will continue to do so moving forward.
I am beyond thankful to have every single one of you on our team. I try to do all that I can to help you succeed and earn a good living. I will continue to do so and look forward to continuing to grow with you all.
Thank you. Genuinely.