By Brian Hall
I teach quite a few “Best Practices” classes each year and the number one question that gets asked (albeit under everyone’s breath) is “What can this salesman teach me? I mean, I’m out there every day and this guy is riding around in his air conditioned car all day!” And they are right. My hat’s off to the guys sweating it out in San Antonio and the guys freezing up in Fargo trying to get that one last job done. But, I do have one advantage. In any given week, I am out with 6-8 different contractors doing different jobs the same way and the same job different ways. I learn a lot about the right ways and wrong ways to pave, but one rule stays constant – if you ask 100 contractors how to pave the same job, you’ll get 99 different answers and most of them are right.
There are certain constants, however. I end my classes with the “7 Rules For Success”. Full disclosure time. This was inspired by John Ball of Top Quality Paving, a great industry expert. Spend a little time with him if you get a chance and you won’t be disappointed. Here is a quick snapshot.
1. Crew Meeting.
We’ve discussed this before. This is a time prior to beginning the job where you discuss topics like safety, traffic control, successes and shortcomings of the previous job and other constraints. This is a time where all questions can be answered so that there is nothing left to chance.
2. Designate Your Operators.
Nothing is more frustrating than having 3 guys think they are supposed to be the roller operator and nobody thinks they are tamping the edge. Or even worse, having your paver operator out painting lines when the asphalt arrives. If every crew member is clear on their duties, then there is no room for error. Also remember not to forget the new guy. Assign a veteran crew member to mentor him so he doesn’t get frustrated. Keep in mind every Foreman was the new guy at one time.
3. Layout The Job.
The project is more than Length x Width x Thickness. Today’s jobs have more Islands and breakups than ever before. Make sure all parties involved (especially the truck drivers) know the start point, end point, truck entrances, exits and cleanout areas. This way, nobody is wandering around wondering what’s next.
4. Communicate With The Plant.
Too many times I’m on jobsites where the first time the plant hears about your asphalt requirements are the day of the job when the truck shows up at the silo only to find out the plant is down or they are only producing “XYZ” mix and you need “ABC”. Talk to the plant in advance about your job and order a percentage of what you need. This way you are prepared for unforeseen issues like weather or equipment trouble. Nothing worse than having 10 trucks full of asphalt when the 10% chance of rain the weatherman predicted turns into a monsoon.
5. Check Your Equipment.
Every piece of equipment should have a checklist, from your paver to your rake and everything in between. This checklist should be filled out every morning and any abnormalities need to be corrected immediately. Check all your fluids and gauges. Reset your screed and inspect your towpoints. Be ready to go when the asphalt arrives and you’ll find you get done sooner and the end result is a higher quality product.
6. Remember The Basics.
Don’t forget what makes a quality job such as monitoring the temperature of your asphalt coming from the plant and discuss any cold mix with your Foreman so you can determine the cause. Also constantly monitor your yield so that you can make sure you aren’t over or under running on your asphalt and, if so, find out why. Use a wooden straightedge (Instead of metal) to monitor your slope and water runoff as well as coordinating your trucks, taking weather into consideration. Easy stuff, right? You’d be surprised.
7. Final Job Inspection.
Job’s all done. Pack it up, boys, let’s get out of town. Not so fast, my friend. My recommendation is that you walk the job and ride the joints to insure the job is as good as you think it is. Lastly, make your punch list and present it to the customer before he gives you his. This way, he’s less likely to be looking for small problems.
Is this an all-inclusive list? No way. What it is, is a road map for success. Your list may include more or less, but the end result should be the same; a happy, paying customer and more referrals.
Brian Hall is the territory manager of Mid South Region at VT LeeBoy, Inc. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Article sponsored by LeeBoy and Rosco.