Your accounting and management software is an ideal tool for this task; drilling down to individual costs in each job is an invaluable function that lets you see where problems are arising. While staff costs may be difficult to control without decreasing the capacity of your business, there are other types of resource efficiencies that can be made during each job.
#1 Reducing equipment and tool theft
90% of contractors in Europe have reported tool theft, with the average value of stolen tools at almost £2000. Only 10% of stolen tools and equipment are ever recovered after a theft. The costs of theft stretch far beyond the cost of replacement – you’ll lose time, productivity and may even miss client deadlines.
Up to 85% of tool theft is carried out by employees, and it is this portion of thefts that are easiest to prevent. Instead of being distrustful of your site workers, reduce theft by taking a methodical approach. Ensure staff are aware of how you record where and when equipment and plant items are located at all times. Inform employees of the reasons you’re tightening security or changing your approach and consider introducing an anonymised system for reporting thefts. Perhaps even contemplate offering bonuses if no theft takes place during the course of a job.
#2 Don’t skimp on inspections and safety checks
Damaged plant items and tools don’t just cost you in terms of insurance – you’ll also face indirect costs. As we mentioned above, time is your most valuable resource, and one broken vehicle could delay your project by days or weeks. While not all incidents can be avoided, take steps to prevent what you can by regularly inspecting and/or calibrating equipment. Conform to maintenance guidance and encourage staff to report any issues before they become critical. Poorly maintained tools and equipment have a far shorter lifespan than those which have been checked regularly. The short term costs of this approach should soon be recouped provided you are thorough and methodical with maintenance.
#3 Minimise idle plant items
Whether you hire or own a plant item, it’s in your interest to make as much use of it as you can. For medium and large construction companies in particular, plant management is essential to efficient resource planning. At the very least use a spreadsheet to keep track of where items need to be over the coming months, and highlight idle periods. As your schedules shift, you may soon find a use for construction plant that would otherwise have been unused.
#4 Tackle waste
As cost pressures mount on construction companies, adjust your approach to ordering materials and tackling waste. Revisit your processes and ensure that only a single person is responsible for ordering items for each job. If possible, encourage the use of standardised sizes and quantities as far back as the design stage to reduce offcuts. Stagger deliveries to match each stage of work to decrease required storage space in addition to allowing you to clearly evaluate the surplus materials left after each stage. Improve the security of your storage areas and double-check that their weatherproofing is up to scratch. Remind staff not to remove protective packaging before necessary, and encourage the reuse of materials wherever possible. You may also wish to speak to your waste contractor about how you can best manage and sort your waste on site.
#5 Use a centralised, integrated system
Paper forms and human memory aren’t sufficient when it comes to resource management in the 21stcentury. Using a centralised database that can be accessed from any office or even on-site is almost essential to efficient resource management. Your staff must be able to check the location and the cost of plant items almost instantly, allowing allocation decisions to be made swiftly and accurately. Ensure that any document management modules are integrated with your wider accounting system to reduce processing time and increase user-friendliness.
Construction-specific management software is often the most attractive option for contractors, as its providers understand this unique industry and the software functions it requires.
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