From talking with office managers in construction, we know that they are responsible for a lot more than just paperwork. Office managers often wear many hats and are responsible for many important business functions such as Cash Management (often they’re responsible for both money coming in and going out the door), Accounting & Bookkeeping, Human Resources, Sales, Project Management, and Customer Relationship Management (and employee relationship management!) to name just a few.
Not only are office managers involved in these processes but can also be closely involved with the interactions between the main company office and all of the job sites, keeping track of project deadlines, project progress, and much more.
Frequently, when office managers come to Levelset looking for help or guidance, it’s to understand managing project payment issues through lien rights or how to improve relationships with other contractors on a project. After talking to many of our customers, we’ve understood the pains felt by office managers who are often wearing many hats and juggling all of the responsibilities that come with running a small-to-medium business. For many office managers in the construction industry, finding a solution to deal with non-payment is just a small portion of their overall job.
Some tips that might help improve a busy office manager do more with less include:
Focus on Essential Tasks and Delegate Whenever Possible
Okay, okay – we admit it: for a lot of office managers, this suggestion is all but impossible. If you’re all or mostly alone at a small office without any fellow co-workers, then it’s going to be hard to find anyone to delegate some of your work to! No one person can do everything (although a good office manager comes awfully close!), and so it’s important to think about the tasks an office manager should take on and which tasks might be better suited to be outsourced.
Asking yourself (or your boss) the following question might help you decide some of the tasks that you should be focusing your time on: What does the president, owner, or your boss at the company want you to be an expert in, and what does he/she think might be better suited for a specific, outside solution to handle?
Maintain Accurate, Organized Documentation
Since you may act as a go-between for the contractors on the jobsite and the back office, not only do you hold a wealth of knowledge, you’re also your company’s de facto gatekeeper. However, all of this knowledge should be kept accurately either through electronic or paper records should a dispute arise such as: job information sheets, accounting statements, joint check agreements, or copies of lien documents such as waivers, notices, and claims. In case a situation arises, a well-organized office manager will be able to determine next steps with ease.
Free Resource: The Complete Guide to Lien Rights for Office Managers in Construction
Are you an office manager for a construction business? Well, you’re in luck because Levelset is here to help! We have a comprehensive, free resource for you that will help you master lien rights management. Our goal is to make complex things simple.
Be Open to New Solutions and Innovation
Whether adopting a new technology to help save time or re-evaluating current processes, there’s always room to improve the current status quo. The industry is moving toward technology as a means of improving efficiency and helping small-to-medium construction businesses grow.
Therefore, there’s no harm in taking away small tasks of a job in order to maximize the output of a company. Whether it’s project management software, implementing a lien policy, or partnering with a notice and waiver provider, most office managers should embrace technology to improve their job. When we talk to office managers, we understand that the lien law can be difficult to understand given that it varies from state to state, project type, and project role. Contractors want to be paid fairly on current jobs and institute a better process for ensuring that they will be paid on future jobs.
Plan for Chaos, Celebrate Accomplishments, and Have Fun (Fun?)
Is the project ahead of schedule? Stay on top of the deadlines for lien deadlines should you run into a late payment or no payment issue before the project wraps up.
Is the project behind schedule? Preemptively prepare for what might occur in the case of non-payment.
More and more office managers in construction are choosing to send preliminary notices early as a best practice to inform everyone that they are working on the job.
Know when you finish work on the project and when you should be expecting payment. Maintaining open lines of communication through phone calls, emails, or notices sent certified mail with other parties can ensure that chaos is avoided and that you will have a successful project. More often than not, many disputes on a project are the result of miscommunication about who else is performing work and what was owed.
As far as the “fun” part goes, over the past ten years or so, we have talked to literally thousands of office managers in the construction industry. We’ve gotten to know many of them very well, and from our conversations over the years we know that, overall, construction industry office managers have an amazing sense of humor, and many take the opportunity to have fun – or at least have a laugh – whenever possible.
We hope this doesn’t sound silly or a bit naive, but as a comedian once said (can’t recall who – maybe George Carlin?), “if work was supposed to be fun, they’d have to call it something else.” But I think we all know that a good sense of humor is a great way to make the long hours spent at the office go a little bit more quickly.