Why We Need Numbers to Help Construction Contractors Achieve Excellence, Part 4

How Else are We Going to Know How High the Bar Actually is?

Over the past several weeks we’ve discussed how low the bar is regarding the construction industry and the need to raise it. We talked about how most people working in construction aren’t even aware that there’s a problem. Then we looked into how an evaluation system could improve those standards. Last week, we broke down what construction contractor excellence should consist of.

This week we’re going to look at the hard part of the process…putting numbers to performance.

The number of goals made or correct answers given provide a numerical value of a person’s accomplishments. Evaluating performance is harder, it’s about expectation and perception.

The variation of perception is one of the main reasons this process gets left undone.

What’s acceptable to me, may not be acceptable to you and vice versa. This is why a system for giving a fair evaluation is important.

The rating part of the process –  

  • This is an objective form of reasoning used to analyze and evaluate companies, contractors, and individuals in each of the five (5) different rating categories.
  • Evaluations must be based on the company’s or individuals actual performance, not the comments or opinions of others.
  • The evaluation must reflect the combination and culmination of events during the entire project. Single events of outstanding or faulty performance should be considered in context of the overall project.

The following tendencies need to be recognized and avoided in order to keep the ratings as objective as possible.

  • “Halo Effect” – rating the company or individual the same in every category based on a general opinion of their performance. Each category must be evaluated separately and objectively.
  • Bias – rating a company or individual based on whether or not the person doing the evaluation likes or dislikes the company or individual being evaluated.
  • Undue credit for length of service – rating a company or individual based on their length of service instead of the quality of their performance. In other words, thinking that they must be exceeding industries standard because they have been doing this work for 15 years.
  • Loose ratings – giving higher ratings out of a desire to please and remain in a positive light with the company or individual.
  • Tight ratings – rating companies and individuals below standards due to the person doing the evaluation being a “perfectionist”. If all the companies and individuals are rated too low, it reflects on supervision!

We need a consistent and simple way to score each of the five (5) areas of accountability that we discussed last week; time management, attention to detail, communication, quality of work and respect for the budget.

Each area was divided into various sub-sections that scored independently and averaged together make up the score for each area being evaluated. These five (5) scores then averaged together give us the overall score of the evaluation.

The following notes offer a further explanation of ratings and describe standards of performance. They should be taken as general illustrations of the standard expected rather than as comprehensive definitions. Evaluators should use their judgment in determining other factors which should be taken into account in particular situations.

Here is the numbering system for rating each area


This is the highest level of performance. Few companies or individuals will score at this level. It is only attained by top performers, if ever. This performance rating is characterized by an exceptionally high quality of superior craftsmanship done in a timely manner. They constantly seek out and assume responsibilities above and beyond expectations and contribute new ideas or ways of improving operational and/or procedural matters.

  • EXCEEDS STANDARDS 4.0 – 4.7 –

Evaluations in this range are very desirable. Companies and individuals who score in this range demonstrate above average performance in their position. Performance approached that of excellent in craftsmanship and production. Require a degree of supervision that is less than typical of most companies and individuals. They make significant contributions to production and periodically seek out and assume responsibilities beyond expectations.

  • MEETS STANDARDS 3.0 – 3.9 –

Performs in a responsible and comprehensive manner, however, improvement should be expected on future evaluations. Requires a higher degree of supervision than should be needed. Performs work in a professional manner and makes acceptable contributions to production.


Companies and individuals scoring in this range are considered marginal. Performance of is barely adequate. Requires extensive direction and review to keep projects moving forward. Companies and individuals scoring in this group should be informed that if there isn’t improvement they will NOT be used on future projects.


Companies and individuals should never score this low. Performance in this range is nowhere near acceptable standards. The performance is low and chances for improvement are unlikely. Every project that this company or individual is on is sending a message to customers that job performance and quality are not important!

Once each of the areas has been rated based on the performance on the project and the overall average has been determined, that number is multiplied by 20 to give us the overall score.

These scores then will be as follows:

            94 – 100     FAR EXCEEDS STANDARDS

            80 – 93       EXCEEDS STANDARDS

            60 – 79       MEETS STANDARDS


            < 40          FAILS TO MEET STANDARDS

Today’s post along with the three previous ones will provide a construction contractor evaluation system that will begin raising the bar to a level of excellence.

Like most things, this can seem a little overwhelming, but so did your first construction project when you started it.

Just start building the wall one brick at a time and before you know it…it’s done.

The key to building anything is having a good plan and following it. This construction contractor evaluation system is a part of such a plan.

Here at Timber Creek Construction, we’ve been looking for a process to hold ourselves and our production team accountable. Implementing this plan is how we’re going to do just that.

The Next Step in Raising the Bar of Construction Contractor Accountability, Part 3

How Do We Get the Bar Raised to the Level of Excellence?

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve talked about the need to raise the bar of what is expected of construction contractors and how at Timber Creek Construction we’re working on a process to accomplish that.

I used to believe the ultimate goal was achieving perfection. Then I was informed by my wife that striving for perfection was a bad thing because perfection is impossible. The fact that perfection is unattainable leads to disappointment. I struggled with this for a while before determining that…

EXCELLENCE is the goal, not perfection.

Growing up I was taught that there is a level of excellence to be achieved in everything we do. There was no need for a “system”, excellence was just the standard…not so much anymore.

As a general contractor it is my responsibility to provide customers with excellence.

In order to raise the industry standard of excellence, there needs to be an effective way to communicate these expectations with customers, sub-contractors, and individuals working on construction projects. There needs to be a system to evaluate how well these expectations are being met.

Last week I ended the discussion stating the need to rate each construction company and/or individual doing construction, based on their performance and actions for each project.

Here is what we will be included in the process. This is what will be expected from us and our production team in an effort to achieve excellence.

  • The purpose of this evaluation system is to share what the standards are for our construction company and what is expected of contractors and individuals. This evaluation system is designed to hold ourselves and others accountable for our decisions and actions as they relate to construction projects and the industry as a whole.
  • The use of an evaluation system is sometimes misunderstood by the person or company being evaluated. This procedure is designed to assist you and/or your company in making the best possible choices and decisions regarding construction projects.
  • This system is intended to be positive and constructive for each contractor, individual and company. Sometimes evaluations are perceived as negative; however, the intent is not to find fault, but rather to develop better contractors, individuals and companies.
  • Most contractors and individuals want to do good work, which is what our company and customers want. This does not mean only working harder, but also working smarter. The objective of this evaluation is to reinforce the appreciation of performing above and beyond industry standards. It is to assist in improving performance and quality.

Here are the areas of accountability that will be evaluated and what will be included in each area.

Time management – spend time wisely

  • Show up and start projects on or before the time and/or date determined and scheduled.
  • Be productive with the use of time while at the job site and/or working on the project. Make the amount of time spent working worth the travel time. Don’t spend more time traveling than working.
  • Work consistently on the project once it is started, unless there are extenuating circumstances such as waiting on materials, other contractors or weather.
  • Have the project completed on or before the deadline for completion.

Attention to detail

  • Do the work as described and explained in the Scope of Work.
  • Keep the job site organized and clean throughout the duration of the project
  • Follow the “Construction Contractor’s Golden Rules
  • If you open it, close it.
  • If you turn it on, turn it off.
  • If you unlock it, lock it up.
  • If you break it, admit it.
  • If you can’t fix it, call in someone who can.
  • If you borrow it, return it.
  • If you value it, take care of it.
  • If you make a mess clean it up.
  • If you move it, put it back.
  • If it belongs to someone else and you want to use it, get permission.
  • If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone.
  • If it’s none of your business, stay out of it.
  • If it will brighten someone’s day, do it.
  • If it will tarnish someone’s reputation, DON’T do it.


  • Let everyone you are directly involved with or is connected to your portion of the project know what to expect.
  • Make or return calls in a timely manner.
  • Send and sign proposals, contracts, change orders, scopes of work, budgets, etc. in a timely manner.

Quality of work

  • All work is expected to be done above current industry standards, striving for a level of excellence.
  • If work is unacceptable and needs to be redone, make this a priority as needed to help keep the project on schedule.

Respect for the budget

  • Be aware of and stay within the budget, both labor and material. If situations arise where changes need to be made that are going to deviate from the budget, let all affected parties know before proceeding.
  • Manage materials to minimize waste. Return unused materials to supplier or general contractor to be used on future projects.
  • Honor payment agreements and don’t ask for draws ahead of schedule.

I know this seems like a lot of information to digest, but it’s really pretty simple. And although it’s basic, it might not be easy. Because if it was easy…everybody would already be doing it.

This is what it’s going to take to raise the bar to the level of excellence, which is our goal, after all.

Next week we’ll discuss the evaluation part of the process and how it will be shared with those being evaluated.

I know, you’re on the edge of your seat looking forward to next week’s post.

How Would Your Balance Sheet Look if God Took an Accounting of Your Life Today?

This is a Question We Should Be Asking Ourselves Continually Every Day

A young man who was working at his first job had made some mistakes. He was called into the boss’s office and demanded an explanation for the poor work and mistakes. The young man began making excuses and blaming other people.

Then the boss pointed out the window and said, “There it goes.” The young man turned to look, the boss said, “It’s a buck flying by.”

Have you ever seen a buck flying by? This is known as passing the buck.

When we are called to account for our mistakes, it’s tempting to “pass the buck”.

President Harry Truman used a well-known phrase, “The Buck Stops Here”. This means that I won’t blame other people for my situation. I will take responsibility for my actions.

We all need to take responsibility for our actions.

In Luke 16:1-13, Jesus tells His disciples a story about a manager for a rich man. The employee had been wasting the rich man’s money. The employee began passing the buck.

Jesus is preparing His disciples for when He is no longer around to watch over them. They will be responsible for sharing the message with the world accurately. He’s warning them that it will be easy to become weak and give in to worldly temptations.

 He was telling them to not PASS THE BUCK.

Like the man in the Scripture who is called to account for his actions, we too will be called to account for our actions. If you were called to heaven today, how would your accounting look?

Have you been a wise manager of your life?

Ten years ago, when I fell and hit my head, I was unconscious in the hospital for three days. While recovering, I asked myself this question. This was a point in my life when I became more intentional about living my life the way God had designed it.

Too often people go through life without seeking or finding their purpose. They meander through life without even looking for their purpose. Or they come up with their own worldly vision for what they want and go for that.

God is the creator of our lives. He has given each of us a purpose. Our lives were designed by Him.

We are given the choice of how we live. God doesn’t force us to live the life He designed.

Imagine a highly skilled architect that designs amazing homes. Everyone wants this architect to design their home. People are willing to wait years to get this designer.

Then, when you finally get to that long-awaited meeting, you hand the architect your own amateur plan. The one you drew on a napkin. Then you ask this master architect to simply approve your design.

This is how most people approach life.

Without any regard to the blueprint God has given us…we ask God to approve our design.

We need to step back and ask ourselves, are we doing the designing or are we building the life that God has designed for us?

At some point we are going to have to answer this question to God.

It’s a whole lot better if we ask ourselves now rather than waiting. If we ask now, then we can start remodeling our lives if need be.

What Are the Benefits to Using a Coach or Consultant in Business?

Not Nearly as Much If It Doesn’t Include Accountability as Part of the Process

Let’s start by answering the question, what is a coach or consultant?

That’s a really good question. If you ask five different people, I will bet you will get five different answers. As I’ve been working to help construction companies do better proposals with my proposal system, I’ve been asking myself this question.

So, what is the difference between a coach and consultant?

According to Wikipedia, coaching is a form of development in which an experienced person, supports a learner or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing training and guidance. Coaches use a range of communication skills to help clients shift their perspectives and thereby discover different approaches to achieve their goals.

A consultant, on the other hand, is a professional who provides advice and further purposeful activities in an area of specialization. Someone who advises on “how to modify, proceed in, or streamline a given process within a specific field. A consultant should be able to correctly diagnose and effectively transform a problem and apply information, resources and processes to create a workable and usable solution.

I see coaching as more teaching, training and implementing. It can include consulting, or it could be the next step after. It is more reliant on understanding the subject being coached.

I see a consultant as someone who evaluates a company’s processes and systems, assesses them, and offers ways to improve or new to replace the existing. Consulting is a valuable procedure, but a little more distant and less connected than coaching.

The biggest issue with either is the lack of follow through on the part of the receiver.

Around thirty years ago when I was in a business partnership, we had the construction thing figured out. We knew how to build. What we were struggling with was the business side of things.

After some discussion, we hired a consulting company…and it wasn’t cheap. It cost us $20,000 and in the early 90s for a small company, that was a lot of money. I could have bought a new truck.

They reviewed our business extensively and gave us a lot of new processes and procedures. It was great. The problem was that after the new wore off…we quit using them.

I’ve seen this happen over and over, both with company’s and individuals. We pay for some new training or program, and then gradually slide back into the old routines that we were trying to get away from.

The problem is a lack of accountability.

This is a bigger problem than just with business systems and training. It permeates our society. We want to do better, but what happens if we don’t…nothing. Sure, we may be disappointed, but that only hurts for a little bit and eventually becomes the norm.

How can we be more accountable?