Is The Construction Industry Broken?

January 24, 2018

Why PostMark PROJECT?


I was at construction and real estate networking event a few years back and started talking with a restaurant business owner about design and construction. This business owner was extremely passionate about his business and knew everything there is to know about operating a successful restaurant. It was inspiring to listen to his startup story and his dreams to expand.


The conversation took a bit of a turn as we began talking about leasing, design, and construction. This process infuriated him as he didn’t understand why it was a battle at every turn. He couldn’t comprehend that a building owner was trying to squeeze him for every penny or sneak in terms in the lease that would cost him money during the design and construction phase.


From there he was blown away by the design and construction phase. This is where he really started to press me for answers like, why are the guys building the project never involved in the initial design process or why a contractor wasn’t available to help ensure the leased space was up to code or why there is not a team feel to the process. This rant went on for some time and I really could list hundreds of thing wrong with the construction process. He described it as a battle in silos for money and information, which I definitely agreed with!


The Human Factor


This entrepreneur then described to me his business and compared it to the construction world, and when I thought about it he was exactly right. His restaurant involved a team, the manager, food delivery service, chef, prep cooks, dishwashers, servers, bartenders and most importantly, customers. I thought to myself, ok I understand but what are you getting at, everyone knows this. Then it clicked when he said the words ‘customer experience’. This restaurant owner worked out his process in reverse! He started with the customer experience he knew he wanted to provide and built his team around creating a positive experience for the customer. I was shocked at how simple this was, design the experience around the people paying for the service, brilliant. He asked me why the construction world was so stuck in old methods that only supported profits before people. I didn’t have an answer for him.


From that moment I started to look at the construction world differently. I took a position with a real estate developer not too long after this and found the old school theory of profits before people were very much the way of life. Most recently I was lucky enough to spend a significant amount of time in the restaurant development department with McDonald’s Restaurants. It was during this time that I saw a shift in thinking, McDonald’s really tried to put the people first and encouraged that model throughout the corporation. From the bottom up, people first.


This is where I was able to test a new way of thinking in construction, and although I wasn’t able to extend the full test I did see positive results in what I was able to change. So what is that change? It is exactly what that business owner described to me, people before profits and creating a positive experience. How did I do that? I started by creating and building relationships with the key players within a project, from designers, contractors, sub-trades to franchise owners and city officials. I was open and honest with every aspect of the project and I asked for the same in return.


The construction world is very private, hold your cards close type of industry.


Contractors aren’t willing to share or open up their sub trade pricing in fears of their prices will be shopped and compared. And some designers don’t like working with contractors early in the process because of fears of massive change to their style and design. I am sure some of you have been on a project where you look at a design and say ‘this can’t be built on this budget’.


How did we change that?


First, we tossed the old and broken design, bid, build model. Next we tried to accomplish a design-build model, unfortunately too much change too fast doesn't sit well with old school management, so we modified it! The hybrid model worked and continues to work very well. In fact, the pool of contractors and designers meet with the McDonald’s team yearly to discuss ways of becoming even more efficient. You have experts in design, construction and all things McDonald’s discussing ways to be better.


We had the franchise owners interview from this pool of contractors that we already had long-standing relationships and who were onboard with our modified process. We would facilitate these meetings and allow the franchisee to get a feel for who would be in his restaurant for the next 2-10 weeks. From these meetings, the winning contractor would be awarded the project(a people meeting people process). We had an experienced designer that would then work with the contractor on the initial design, collecting site measurements, checking for load walls, assessing HVAC systems and any other project risk items we identified in the planning process. The contractors kept their books open, showing full sub trade pricing along with their overhead and profit. The franchise owners were able to see the true cost of the project and evaluate areas that could be scaled back or scaled up. It was refreshing to see 2 business owners collaborating to allow for growth and profit.


Collaboration is key


We created an environment that encouraged collaboration and the result was a project completed quicker and cheaper than the old model of working separately to maximizes profits. We averaged 1 change order per job down from over 20 with the old model. We also completely eliminated the need for RFI’s during construction as the contractor was involved in the design and able to ask questions and provide feedback along the way. The schedule was also compressed allowing a full interior and exterior job to be completed in 6 weeks down from 10. This meant less down time and lower impact on profits for the franchise owner. This model also allowed for the contractor to bring on more work as he was able to get in and out of a job more efficiently.


It truly was a win-win situation and created a positive experience for everyone involved.


So what does this mean for PostMark PROJECT?


Well, we are continuing this model and using a true design-build process with the designers and contractors we have built relationships with over the course of our experience. This model will fall under our PostMark+ service. Your business can take advantage of our team of designers and contractors expertise to provide you with the best experience possible, saving your precious time and money! Very similar to a restaurant owner providing you that dinner and experience that just can’t be made at home.


PostMark PROJECT wants to pass along this expertise and provide customers with an amazing experience that will leave a lasting smile and positive comments.


We are passionate about creating stunning spaces for our customers. From concept to creation, we are here for you.


This is your story, let PostMark help you tell it.


Some links for your browsing pleasure;


Kor Alta Construction


CK Design


Edmonton Construction Association


Fillmore Construction


Reprise Design




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