James Hardie, Futureflip: How to meet your deadlines every time
From communication to working your connections, James Hardie and Futureflip give their advice on meeting deadlines
From unexpected client changes to inclement weather, there are many issues that can derail construction timelines. Meeting deadlines is crucial to creating happy customers and positive word-of-mouth, which is why James Hardie has partnered with NSW design and construct company Futureflip, to provide advice on keeping builds on track.
“It would be great if builders had a crystal ball to show them every issue before it happened, but sadly, none of us get that opportunity. This makes controlling what we can, even more important. That way you can easily adapt when faced with unexpected situations,” James Hardie director and Futureflip founding director Neil Hipwell explains.
Neil shares some of the learnings that have kept him on the right side of project deadlines for the last 12 years. Additionally, he’s added more insights on this topic in an accompanying video on James Hardie’s Design Ideas site. This hub of resources is also home to the latest information on the looks that consumers are looking to their builders for help with.
Learn from the big builds
Commercial construction requires a vast amount of time and project management, so we’ve applied their principles to the way we work and have created an easily implemented system that plays to the team’s strengths.
A big part of this is having strong oversight. The majority of our team are managers who ensure that each part of the business is well supervised. Each site is then designated a site supervisor and then loaded up with trades.
This approach has worked really well as we keep teams streamlined and agile, so we can adapt to changing circumstances. Every Futureflip employee is aware that sometimes they need to be flexible or do things in a way that they’re not typically accustomed to, so that we can get the job done. I make a point of hiring people who are adaptable and have a range of skills that we can draw on when required.
Communication is key
It’s easy to take our own knowledge for granted, so things that seem obvious to us may not be that apparent to our clients. A great example of this is development applications (DA), which for the uninitiated, may seem straightforward, but we know they can be anything but. Communicating what’s involved and sharing knowledge will help keep expectations of timings aligned.
We aim to update clients at least once a month as soon as we have submitted a DA. It can be difficult to estimate the length of time a set of plans will take to be approved, so by keeping in regular contact with our clients, we can make sure they’re kept in the loop.
Communication is key not only to helping clients feel valued, but also ensuring that any misconceptions or concerns are addressed quickly, before they build up into outright frustration.
Managing stress together
Running a business is one of the most rewarding things you can do, but it certainly comes with its own stresses. Knowing who to rely on, will help you approach shifting deadlines in a calm and effective manner as a team. I have eight colleagues in the office to manage the huge number of contracts we have with suppliers, subcontractors and clients. They ensure everyone is where they should be, with what they need, at the right time. Getting this support in place keeps you from drowning in the detail, so you can keep the business moving forward.
It’s also important to recognise that you’re not the only person working under the stresses of the business. Each of my employees has been trained to have their own ways of mitigating risk and coping when that contractor falls through, or a delivery runs late. By supporting your people, you help them support you and the business.
Build your network
A strong team of people internally and a business network will see you through rough times. Building strong relationships with a foundation of trust, respect and mutual value with contractors and suppliers will help ensure they turn up when you need them.
My plumber has been with me from day dot because we trust each other and create a win-win situation that sees both of our businesses move forward. This means that we both get the best out of each project and we can better guarantee excellent end results for our clients. When it comes to suppliers, using the same products consistently means we can better estimate timings and makes us a valued customer of the brand with the benefits of loyalty travelling in both directions.
To watch the full video, check out the Design Ideas section of www.jameshardie.com.au, which also offers inspiration and info on residential and commercial builds, compliance issues and trends from Hamptons to modern looks. Additionally, register at myhardies.jameshardie.com.au to get access to tools, tips, new leads and expert advice to help you build your business.