One of my jobs is to help general contractors find woodworking shops throughout the country, depending on the type of work they do and the location of the project. I try to make a good fit between the two. Most of the time it works out to everyone’s benefit but sometimes the woodworking company overbooks and runs into a problem.

Why do we overbook in the first place? I know it happens, but after a few times of being back-charged for other trades since you were late, one would think you would have learned by now. But no, it keeps on happening.

I have a job right now in Chicago--the same thing is happening and the general contractor is furious. The wood shop has missed most of the promised delivery dates and does not call the GC to let him know what happened and how the problem is going to be rectified. The owner of the woodshop doesn’t even return the phone calls the GC left him, he just gives it to his PM on the job and says call him.

I asked the GC about the problem and his comment was, "I wouldn’t mind a delivery coming a day or two late once in a while, at least it’s being delivered and now I can get it installed. What really gets me mad is when they have missed several deliveries and there is no communication.” That is the GC’s biggest problem “NO communication.”

The GC has a schedule, every job does, and the woodwork fits into that schedule most of the time at the end. So if the GC has an issue that the woodworker lets him know about, then they both can help each other in making the project a team effort and figure it out. The GC can review what is happening and change direction with the other trades to work through the schedule problem in most cases. Everyone’s a winner and now you have made the GC look good.

Now if the GC doesn’t hear from the millworker and doesn’t show up at the job meetings that is when things start to get ugly. Take this project for example, the project has a grand opening in a week and the bathroom vanities won’t be completed where the party will be taking place. Simple: just buy some pedestal vanities and get those installed until the others are ready. That’s a clean, easy solution to a problem.

Just Say No to Overbooking: How to Bid Cabinetry & Millwork JobsNow when the main reception desk isn’t coming for two weeks after the reception, then that is a problem but not the end of the world. I can deal with that and rent something to put there for now.The issue is when you're late we now have the other trades: electrical and plumbing, that have to come back and finish up.

Now in this case the building is occupied and now all the work has to be done after midnight on overtime. Any cutting has to be done in a designated area which is on the 3rd floor so now they have to take their material down to the third floor and cut. It's a waste of time but it must happen. Now all the overtime for the different trades and the supervision (not counting their own forces installing what should have already been done) is now a back charge to the millworker.

So now, tell me why you don’t “JUST SAY NO” in the beginning when they know they already have a problem. These jobs never make money since you never figure overtime when you bid it and now it going to cost you big money to get it done.

When I ran our company we used ST-Mate for our estimating and it did our scheduling for us in man hours and by departments. We always knew where we stood and could see a problem way before anyone else did so we could fix it before it got out of hand. Remember that communication is key.

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