By Brian Hall
As much of the country is thawing out and ready to get back to work, both contractors and customers are eager to get asphalt on the ground. I live and work in an area that is fortunate enough to pave year-round, but most of the country is calling their staff back from a long winter’s nap. I cannot imagine the stress of making sure you have a full crew when the first job of the year rolls around. Not to mention making sure your machines are in top shape. I’m sure many of you have thought long and hard about the successes and shortcomings of the previous paving season. Maybe you are right where you want to be. If so, carry on. But, like most of us, we are looking for ways to be even more successful in 2022.
This month let’s cover a few of the rituals you should employ early to make sure that this year’s resolutions are met.
Spring Training. It’s not just baseball season, it’s paving season. Chances are you have some new team members that have never had the opportunity to smell the wonderful aroma of fresh asphalt in the morning. Maybe you have a new team member that is joining you from another crew. In either case, they need to be oriented to your work style. Don’t let the opportunity arise for old bad habits to be transferred to your jobsite. Get together a week or so before the first job for a spring training of sorts. Spend some time in the classroom getting acquainted so that your team is familiar not only with what is expected on the jobsite, but to get to know each other as well. That way, everyone is familiar with each other well before that first tailgate drops. Spend some time paving with sand so that everyone is trained or re-trained the way they should. This low-pressure environment will surely be met with enthusiasm if delivered properly.
Machine Training. Even if you did not buy any brand-new pieces in the winter, now is a great time to get the machine dealer and manufacturer on site for some hands-on training. Just like they did when the machine was new, you should have the dealer and factory rep on site to do an extensive walk-around and machine demonstration so that all the features and benefits of the machine are understood. Many things get lost over the layoff period and this gives a great refresher to the veterans as well as an initial training to the new hires. Also, make sure that the product support department from the dealership is on site to work with your shop staff to fully understand preventative maintenance as well as troubleshooting techniques. This is a service that is typically offered at no charge to you. All that it requires is a phone call.
New Daily Rituals. All successful organizations (not just paving companies) have one thing in common. They “plan the work and work the plan.” They do positive things every day without fail. One of the best practices of jobsite management is the pre-job meeting. This gives any organization the time to discuss the successes and shortcomings of yesterday as well as the expectations of today. Every crew member should be involved, as it gives them some ownership of the job. It’s a time to assign tasks so that everyone knows what their job is, and more importantly, what their job is not. Secondly, all machines should be given a pre and post job inspection. Not just a once-over, but a calculated and recorded inspection. Anything that looks abnormal should be recorded and repaired before it becomes an issue. A small hydraulic leak in the morning may not seem like a big deal until it is a broken fitting with 5 trucks lined up. The same type list should be done at the end of the day as well, right after the clean-up process. Nobody wants to start a machine in the morning that has been ridden hard and put up wet.
2022 is going to be a busy time. There is more work than we have seen in a while and lots of funding to get it done. All we have to do is be smart and calculated and the profits will follow.
Brian Hall, LeeBoy Territory Manager. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org