Are You Prepared to Travel?
If you’ve positioned your CI company in the high-end, chances are you’ve done a job outside your market. But was it profitable?
Perhaps it was a client’s second home in the mountains. Or a referral living in the next city over. A good client sees no problem having you work on all of their homes, regardless of where those homes are. And if it’s a strong referral out of town, you can be sure the client understands you’ll be traveling—and charging appropriately for the costs incurred with distance.
This high-end business may take you anywhere, so it’s best to be prepared for that eventuality. Consider all of the issues associated with “distance business” and build your capabilities accordingly.
It’s not just the mileage, either. Large projects require scads of supervision. If you’re not on site, things will go astray. So how can you stay on top of the workflow from afar?
Break bread. Start by developing a rock-solid relationship with the general contractor (GC) and his site supervisor. This will take some up-front time, including a bit of socializing.
Look at it this way: Plan a nice dinner at Ruth’s Chris to begin the relationship. Bring your lead installer. Lay out your work process and show how you need their help (and vice versa) for the project to be successful.
Do not undervalue the importance of this relationship. You will be considered an outsider; most GCs are not accustomed to working with contractors who fly in from a different city. You will be ridiculed for being the “fancy A/V guy,” and most subs on the job will try to undermine your work. Everybody on the job site assumes you earn more than they do—and they’ll make you prove it.
Stay in touch, stay on top. Once you have a working relationship with the GC, assign someone in your organization to review the weekly site meetings. You can join their meetings through a conference call. You can request copies of weekly meetings. You can review changes in documentation. Staying in touch proves to the GC that you take the job seriously; it also helps you plan your travel more effectively. Don’t wait for the GC to tell you drywall is going up in two weeks; stay involved enough with the project to know exactly when drywall is going up so you can send your crew at the right time.