It’s an attitude - the most important job we can do for our clients is to watch their money on a project as if it were our own. All of our people are constantly reminded how important it is to watch all their costs, check their subcontract and supplier quotes and make sure that any items purchased are reasonable in price. The last thing our organization wants is for a client to think we wasted their money, or over-charged them in any way.
The Oil Patch in the 1980’s
In the early 1980’s, we worked in Southeastern New Mexico and West Texas, commonly known as the “Oil Patch”. Things were pretty good – banks would loan money on anything, often 2-3 times more than was requested, so people were building a lot. We did a lot of traditional low bid, architect driven projects with no real customer relationships. This all changed overnight.
The “Oil Patch” abruptly crashed in 1984 and all bets were off. Every business in the area either went out of business, or practically went out of business, overnight. Fortunately, we managed to stay open and we had no choice but to fundamentally change the way we had been doing business. The first task was to streamline and tighten the company. We became very frugal and conscious of all the requirements for a project to work financially. Even today, this cost consciousness still remains with us.
It then quickly became apparent that to get jobs required top notch Customer Service and the willingness to do the things our competitors wouldn’t do. Value Added services, instead of just bidding and building projects, was the way we really wanted to do business. Since we were already frugal, and most of our competitors’ attitude is “the more cost the better”, it stood to reason that controlling our client’s costs was a real “plus” we could provide.
Every Cost in a Construction Project is Defined During the Design.
In an ideal situation, we want to be involved from the very start to offer input into both the constructability and cost of any proposed project. Many times, we’ve offered alternate construction systems, use of standard sized materials, and so forth, that all contribute to cost and time savings.
Once construction starts, our people constantly look for ways to speed up the job and save our client money.
We recently installed some fire separation walls in an historical building and, by working with the architect and code officials, were able to save several thousand dollars for our client. We added to some of the existing framing and finishes to achieve the required ratings rather than tearing out the walls as originally planned, saving time and money.
Credit to the Owner
Customer service means that we’ll do anything for a client and we’ll charge a fair price to do it. By the same token, we’ll also give a credit for any work that is deleted or isn’t required.
When we’re able to identify money saving changes, we give a credit. A few years ago, we developed some proprietary database software that tracks all changes (or potential changes) in scope on a project, whether they add to or deduct from the final billing. Some of the changes are adds, some are credits, and many are either not applicable or no charge. Upon final completion of the project, our project manager reviews all of the actual costs and all of the charges and credits several times to make sure the amounts are correct and reasonable. Often times, on projects that have generated numerous changes, we have even re-priced the completed job as if it was a fee-based project and charged the owner the lesser of the two amounts.
Taking care of your money is part of our culture and what we do at Richardson & Richardson. We’d like to do it for you on your next project.