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Installments: He who fails to prepare prepares to fail

July 8/15, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 2

By Amy Johnston

 

Recently at an industry dinner I was embarrassingly reminded that I need to stay current with manufacturer installation instructions.

I am not sure how the topic came about exactly, but I was mentioning that at our shop we charge considerably more money to install one manufacturer’s product over the same type of product made by others. When I was asked the reason why, I explained it was because of an extra installation step/instruction. This extra step was not a part of other manufacturers’ instructions and was called out by this manufacturer to maintain its warranty. Unbeknownst to me, that manufacturer recently removed that installation step from its instructions, as it was no longer required to keep the warranty in force.

Sitting like a deer caught in proverbial headlights, I wondered when did this happen? Why hadn’t my local distributor told us about the change? My colleagues were quick to point out the change had been communicated in an industry publication. Industry publication? Which one? After all, who has the time to read every article in all of them?

That night I discovered I need to make more time. If I can’t, then I am not being a responsible project manager. The biggest responsibility I have as a certified installation manager is to convey all of the details of a job to our installers. The work order delivered to our installers is “the bible” for that job. They all have the minimum of the following information:

•Job name and address
•Jobsite contact
•Job delivery instructions and locations
•Pre-task safety documents
•SDS
•A detailed copy of all of the materials and tools provided and delivered for the job
•Detailed scope of work
•Detailed plans with installation direction and method highlighted
•Housekeeping and disposal instructions

That night at the banquet table I realized I had failed my installers when it comes to the installation details. Do I feel that product changes, adhesive requirement changes, prep requirement changes, installation method/step changes should be communicated to a contractor via local distributor and manufacturer representatives? Yes. Are they? Not often enough. Local reps are quick to push new products, yet changes to the older products are rarely communicated.

These are products we may have been installing for decades. These are products I would rarely look up any information on as we have been installing them for years and know what we are doing, right?

That night I was humbly put in my place. I was embarrassed as I realized I have been doing a disservice to not only myself but my installers. I now realize I must look up and review the installation instructions for all products our shop installs. I also realized I need to read industry publications regularly.

Whether the information comes from a local industry representative, website, publication, conference or at a dinner table is not important. What is important is the information is out there, and responsible project managers should take the necessary steps to be informed and stay at the top of their game. I wasn’t, and I needed a reminder.

Amy Johnston is a project estimator and project manager for Flooring Services, Inc. A certified installation manager (CIM), she sits on the board of directors for the FCICA education and training and membership committees, and she also chairs the CIM steering committee for the FCICA.