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The pre-job conference, also called the pre-job layout, is the start of a successful remodeling or renovation project. It should be held within a week or two of the signed contract while the job is still fresh in the mind of the salesperson.

The purpose of the pre-job conference is to get everyone on the same page. This is when all the details get ironed out that can easily be forgotten. The salesperson, production manager (or job superintendent or lead man), building owner, specialty contractors and anyone else who will be involved with the job should be present. If someone else estimated the project, they should also be present.

At this point in time, the salesperson is the one who knows the customer and the job best, so they should lead the meeting. This is when the job is handed from sales to production, and it’s the responsibility of the salesperson to make sure all details are communicated. After this meeting production is in charge of the project.

If you wear both the salesperson hat and the production hat in your company, you still need to hold a pre-job conference but while wearing your production hat. Look at the job from the production standpoint; do you know everything you need to know?

Before and during the pre-job layout, here are a few topics that need to be reviewed to help the job get started on the right foot.

  1. Is there any budget item that you think is really tight or already over-budget? This discussion should be between the salesperson and production before the layout. If anything needs to be addressed with the building owner, it can be discussed again during the pre-job layout.
  1. What are the personality types of the clients? Are there any concerns that production should look out for? Again, this discussion should be between the salesperson and the production manager or job superintendent before the layout.
  1. Who is the decision-maker? You want to identify that person up front as they will be the primary contact point for the job. It saves a large amount of time not to mention disagreements on the job.
  1. Who will make the payments for the job? Production shouldn’t have to make any assumptions on this. It could be embarrassing to the owner and could also mean a delay in getting a progress or final payment.
  1. What is the overall intention of the clients with this project? The more production knows about what the clients want, the better they can help them make decisions and realize their vision.
  1. What are the client’s primary fears or hot buttons? Every client has some fear going into the remodeling process or having specialty work done. If production knows what their fears are, they can avoid doing things that will put the client on edge. For example, if the client is concerned about having their home a mess during the project, production can be extra diligent in cleaning up through the day and at the end of each day.
  1. Are there any details that have intentionally been left for production to figure out? During the planning of the job there could be things that are difficult to think through until walls are removed and the building skeleton is exposed, new framing in place, etc. If they know about it now, they’ll be prepared and will be less likely to think you ignored or forgot it.
  1. What are some of the site difficulties? As production plans the job, this helps them know if extra time needs to be allotted for demolition, trash removal, moving lumber, etc.
  1. Are there any decisions that still need to be finalized before materials are ordered or installed, or things that might change? Loose ends should be cleaned up before signing the agreement but sometimes it can’t happen. Sometimes people also change their minds as the job develops and they see the new space. If you know that they might change their mind about some part of the job, you can confirm those items before they are installed.

If you’re a specialty contractor, you also need to be holding pre-job layouts if the person responsible for getting the project built isn’t the salesperson. It’s a much simpler process with specialty work. With these projects it’s best if the salesperson accompanies the technician to the job site the first day to detail the work to be done. This also gives them the chance to make introductions and answer any additional questions or concerns that may have come up.

A pre-job conference is a critical step to a smooth project and an effective working relationship between the building owner and production. Taking the time to hand over the job and talk through potential issues will make for a much better and more profitable job, and that ensures a happier client and good referrals.

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