After laughing at the cartoon above I want to consider why we laugh. Do we laugh because this is far from reality? Do we laugh because this is how our competitor operates? Or do we laugh because this is capturing a truth that speaks to the difficulty of every project? I have to go with the latter. Every human relationship involved two or more parties. The difficulties presented in this cartoon are going to be present to one degree or another in every project because they involve more than one person.
What is missing? Communication of course. The answer is simple but the solution isn’t always easy.
As an offsite design company, Gould Design, Inc. is even more removed, not just from our client, but from their client! So how do we ensure that the service we offer meets and exceeds everyone’s expectations? We start by defining those expectations.
How do we solve this dilemma? At Gould Design, Inc. we have a thorough client startup process with the goal of determining exactly how this particular client designs and builds their manufactured products.
We have developed an outline for asking questions so that we don’t miss anything. We dig past the surface to capture design practices and standards that are more nuanced. For instance, say a client uses the “California Hip” method for their hipsets. Is that all we need to know? No.
Many more questions need to be addressed:
- How do they do corners?
- Do they stack the rafters?
- Do they use a single rafter with an end jack or two supporting the rafter? (Click here for an article on this)
- Do they use corner girders?
- Do they include loose material for partial hips?
You see; if we stopped at “California Hipset” we would be shooting in the dark when it came to the design.
So, we establish a benchmark:
- Settings used by in-house designers
- Inventory; lumber, plates, hangers, LVL’s, EWP lumber, etc.
- Hip style used; California, Stepdown, Atlantic, etc.,
- Typical setbacks (preferred)
- Typical loading and deflection rules.
- Layout presentation
- Web optimization and configurations
- Bracing rules
- Et cetera (I could go on, but want to be under 1000 words!)
After capturing this (and more) information, we compile it into that client’s design practices and standards. (Click here for an article on this)
Honing the Defined Expectations
Once we have our draft we immediately start designing, right? No, that would still give us results like the cartoon above. Instead, we send the draft to our client for review. What are we doing here? We are taking what they say they want, putting it down on paper and adding some pictures which gets us to 90-95% complete, then we hold it up and say, “Is this what you want”?
The client can then look it over and start redlining, “It’s close, but we don’t do our webbing like this, we run the webs this way” or “I think you misunderstood me here, what I want is…” or “This detail reminds me about something else we do that I forgot to tell you”. You see now we are moving away from the cartoon being a reality and the client actually getting what they wanted.
It is much simpler to refine a criteria when most of it is complete which allows you to hone in on those more pesky details that would otherwise remain unnoticed (until we started designing jobs, then they pop up and hit you between the eyes). Once we make those changes, we send the criteria one more time and if all is well it becomes the official design criteria for that client.
What Does This Mean For You?
Seems like a lot of work, doesn’t it? There is no denying that communication takes real and qualitative effort, but it is well worth the time and cost. It prepares the business relationship for fruitful collaboration on many projects going forward, it helps reduce calls to you as the client on design practices and standards because we already had the conversation. When the proper groundwork is laid, we become an effective extension of your design staff allowing you to generate more bids and produce more trusses.
With nearly 200 clients GDI has worked with over the years, how many do you think have been able to give us this information? 75%? 50%? 25%? Wrong, wrong and wrong. Try 2. No, not 2%, a total of 2 (two). Somehow, they want you to produce as they expect without telling you what that is. In other words, every person in the office is doing it different from the next and that’s ok. Yet management wonders why their margins remain inconsistent. Mind boggling!
If you are not one of those 2 that had all their information on paper, we can help. Contact us today so we can help you company become more consistent and profitable. If you don’t want to use GDI as a design service, that’s ok. At least let us help you put your design requirements on paper for your internal staff to use. For a flat fee, GDI will do this for you and give you the means to continually update it on your own.
With nearly 300 years combined experience, our team of professionals can also be of service to you by coming to your location for an Efficiency Consultation. GDI can also provide Professional Development training of your staff (in-house or remotely). With over a decade as an independent design firm and with experience in nearly every region in North America, you can reap maximum benefits by utilizing an unbiased, impartial source that has its focus on what’s most important in your business…Communication!
Are you ready to start the communication with Gould Design, Inc.?
Read Part 1 in this series here.