While You're Here ... Leverage

"I'll bet you a hundred bucks I can lift the back end of your pickup with one hand!" Don't dislocate your shoulder reaching for your wallet because if you say "yes" you have made a bad bet. It can be done by one of the simplest and oldest physical principles called "leverage." Normally, leverage is used to express mechanical advantage like how I took your money lifting your truck. All I need is the right lever, the right pivot and your money goes from your pocket to mine. Now while you're sputtering like a Fat Boy Harley on bad gas, think about the principle of leverage. By using leverage, I am able to use my ability to get something done that would be beyond me acting purely alone. Leverage can be defined as clout, pull, ability, power or advantage.

Leverage can be effectively used in remodeling management. No, I'm not talking about using a long pole to lift people, but by devising a way to extend my abilities to accomplish more than I can alone.

Look at one way that can be a huge help to someone running production, for example; you have two or three jobs going, you're short of time and rough-in inspections are due. You can do the nit-picky check on the framing and electrical yourself or your can tell the supervisor for each trade that you need them to do the same thing and report to you that the job is ready. Then you go and check the job - one of two things happen: one, the job checks out or two, they missed something they should have caught. In either case you have saved time.

In the latter case, sure you may have to call and do some chewing but you still caught the slip-up AND you created opportunity to make the supervisor understand the importance of what you asked. As a manager you should ask (not accuse) how the missed item got through their inspection. The trade contractor and supervisor are responsible for the product anyway. You have just leveraged some of your time by having them check it first, and you have made the supervisor more aware of his/her responsibility to you.

An example of leveraging knowledge is through the use of systems. If you have a system for checking contract documents, make sure the folio contains 1. lead disclosure, 2. survey, 3. work scope, 4. financing approval, etc. You leverage your ability by giving a clerical employee the checklist, some examples of what the various documents look like and, unless something is missing or doesn't fit the description, someone with much less experience than yourself is doing important work for you. There's a plus with this as well - you are training your workforce both to the importance and the understanding of the issue.

You can leverage your company's reputation by getting interviewed for a "how to select a good remodeler" or by working on a charitable project. Leverage can't be bought (legally), it has to be built. A warning, don't confuse leveraging with giving orders or bullying. If you perform out of a sense of pride and accomplishment and because it is important to the success of the job, then you will have successfully leveraged yourself when the supervisor has the same feeling and attitude.

Look inward and try to take advantage of ways you can leverage your time, experience and knowledge - we all can use more of each.

The smaller you are as a company, the more important the concept of leverage is for you. So start developing leverage in your company and if by chance you talk someone into the pickup bet, my cut is 10 percent . . .

M M "Mike" Weiss has been a full-service remodeler for over 25 years. As an instructor for the CGR and CAPs programs, he spends many weeks each year on the road teaching other remodelers. He is also a past chairman of the Remodelors Council of the NAHB.

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