General contractors (GCs) have a lot on their plates. They can’t be everywhere at all times, so as a practical matter, they may not know about small issues that can potentially impact a construction schedule. Certainly, competent GCs are well aware of big-picture timing and issues; after all, they know electrical contractors can’t install receptacles in a wall that hasn’t yet been built. But communication is often the key to keeping a construction project on schedule and on budget—and trusted subcontractors play a vital role in that.
At RJ Martin Electric, open and proactive communication is part of our DNA. We know that fallout from construction project delays – including overtime, lost days, liquidated damages and more – can impact the bottom line of not only GCs, but end users as well. That’s why we communicate regularly with GCs and their representatives throughout the course of an electrical construction project, as well as with other trades when appropriate.
Communication in electrical construction projects can be formal or informal. Generally, for us it occurs in four primary ways:
- Written documentation. Written documentation not only protects us at RJ Martin Electric from damages either related or unrelated to our work, but it gives GCs valuable insight throughout a project that helps them identify potential trouble spots they may otherwise have not known about. In turn, they can address those issues with the relevant trades in order to get their work scopes back on track and help keep the overall project on schedule.
- Scheduled meetings. Many projects have weekly coordination meetings where superintendents for each respective trade get together and discuss “two-week look-aheads.” These look-aheads give trades and the GC insight on which trade will be doing specific work at what point in time, and how that may impact other trades’ work and schedules. To use the previous example, if we at RJ Martin Electric are charged with installing receptacles in various walls, we need those walls to be built. Before that occurs, though, a concrete floor must be poured, so everyone’s schedules need to be properly coordinated to account for that. One variance in one trade’s schedule likely will impact another trade’s schedule, so meetings like these enable all parties – subcontractors and GCs alike – to be aware of what’s happening with the project, stay ahead of the schedule and work proactively, rather than reactively.
- Informal communication. As issues arise, subcontractors – be they electrical contractors or other trades – should always be proactive in communicating with GCs. It’s important to coordinate approaches and responses together with GCs as soon as they are identified. No matter how small or insignificant they may seem, they could lead to big problems down the road if they’re not addressed.
- Internal communication. Open and meaningful communication is crucial between an electrical contracting firm and the GCs and subcontractors with whom it works on a given project. Yet, the electrical contracting firm you select must have the processes, systems and culture in place that facilitate effective internal communication. For example, field personnel and project managers in the office must be in constant communication to ensure that manpower, equipment and materials coordinate properly with project schedules. You don’t want your electrical contractor causing delays by not ordering parts on time, not having access to the proper equipment or scheduling electricians on other projects during tight work windows.
While look-ahead meetings occur between trades in the field, we at RJ Martin Electric also hold similar meetings internally on a regular basis to help ensure we meet our obligations to GCs and end users. And of course, these occur in addition to ongoing conversations between RJ Martin Electric personnel. As a family-owned and oriented company, we work hard to maintain an environment that encourages open communication in all facets of our operation, from project work to human resources and more. You should expect nothing less from the electrical contracting firm you hire for your next project.
Contact RJ Martin Electric to learn more.
We hope this blog helps you understand the importance of communication in electrical contracting projects, and the four primary ways this should occur. If you’re looking for an exceptional electrical contracting firm for your next project, or if you want information about RJ Martin Electric’s experience in industrial, health care, commercial, education and retail markets, please call Robert J. Martin at 216-662-7100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.