One of the biggest causes of aggravation for contractors is employees and subs not performing to expectations. Make them accountable for their work and a lot of your stress will disappear.
Getting them to buy in requires Total Quality Management (TQM). Quality is measured from two perspectives: that of the internal customer (everyone involved in making money off the job) and that of the external customer (the homeowner). The process requires regular meetings to measure quality and trigger improvement initiatives. In attendance are accountants, managers, the sales/ estimating personnel who generate the project, and the employees and subs responsible for installing. At your meeting, review each project according to these criteria.
Answer each question on a 1-to-5 scale, with 5 being highest. If a score is low, discuss the reason. Don't issue blame. Instead, come up with ideas for improvement. If the boss wants the employees or subs to take responsibility, he should avoid pontificating. In fact, it's best if he's not even there.
TQM meetings aren't an overnight wonder. It takes patience, determination, and commitment to get this process into your business culture. Once you do, you'll be amazed by the results. —Richard Kaller once owned a network of five home improvement companies and is a former director of the National Roofing Contractors Association. He operates Certified Contractors Network (www.contractors.net), a training and educational organization.