A Day in The Life of A “Best-In-Class” Contractor

Thomas C Schleifer, Ph.D.

The Best-In-Class Contractor

We call contractors who fit the management profile that the Construction Company Self-Analysis Program outlines, question by question – “best-in-class”. Let’s try to flesh out a small to mid-size best-in-class contractor a little by watching him or her during a typical day at work. 

  • 7:00 AM – Best-in-class contractors begin their day about once a week on job sites talking to the super, the foremen, and the tradesmen about the flow of work, the availability of materials, the working order and availability of equipment, and the cooperation and coordination of the various sub-contractors on the job. These informal interactions are conducted occasionally without the project manager or superintendent if they are busy elsewhere, because best-in-class contractors maintain open lines of communication with their entire workforce so they can respond to concerns in real-time and not allow problems to fester and grow into a major crisis.
  • 9:00 AM – The best-in-class contractor is back in the office meeting with the CFO regularly to review cash flow reports, periodic individual project P&Ls, accounts receivable, timely payments on work-in-progress, the resolution of extras, final payment on completed jobs, and the status of retainage or any disputes impacting cash flow. They review current material costs, borrowing requirements, bonding status on future jobs, and cash flow projections for the next month. On any given day the CFO needs to be prepared to report this up-to-the-minute financial data. There are people responsible for each of these areas, but the best-in-class contractor knows he or she is ultimately responsible for everything.
  • 10:30 AM – Whoever is in charge of human resources may be next. The proactive CEO stays abreast of employee turnover, new employee recruiting status, complaints from the field, labor relations, training programs, individual employee compensation, on-the-job safety programs, and key employee status. Our best-in class contractors are always up to date on the wants and needs of all their employees and listen carefully to every source of information.
  • 11:30 AM – Best-in-class contractors meet regularly with their project managers to receive information about any operational problems that may have surfaced or are in a continuing stage of resolution. Accidents on the job, materials shortages, sub-contractor performance issues, technical problems, disputes over extras, quality issues, safety issues, equipment failures, or any other operational snags that plague project managers on a daily basis. 
  • 2:00 PM – Best-in-class contractors meet regularly with marketing, estimating, and planning. They want to understand what jobs are available to us, what RFPs have we responded to? What is the status of bids submitted? What’s the anticipated profit margin on each bid? What does the competition look like? Do we have the financial and human resource capacity in-house to complete the project profitably? Is the project in our familiar territory? Can we use subs we have already worked with? How does each project bid coincide with our already agreed upon business plan? 
  • 4:00 PM – Best-in-class contractors meet periodically with in-house or outside legal counsel to review the progress of any legal matters that might impact the status of the corporation. Although a regular review might seem excessive, when a contracting firm reaches a certain size, there are compliance matters, tax matters, surety issues, labor laws, and past contract disputes that are in process. The best-in-class contractor makes sure they are kept apprised of the progress of all serious issues and resolutions.


The job of the best-in-class contractor requires exceptional personal skills of capacity, active listening, and making good choices. Once contracting firms reach a reasonable size, best-in-class contractors know they cannot have all the answers or even ask all the right questions. However, they must stay in regular contact with the specialists they employ to ask the right questions and posit rational solutions. They must bring these personal qualities into their decision making:

  1. Capacity requires a nimble mind, vast experience, a deep store of energy, and unwavering dedication to the success of the entire organization. 
  2. Active listening skills require intense focus, genuine concern, and willing response.
  3. Making good choices requires a good dose of common sense, a humble view of your own capacity, and sound judgment. 

A Day in The Life

If you’re a best-in-class contractor this is what your days may look like. Most contractors report that they do much more than this brief summary. Contracting is a highly complex activity and the final, but perhaps most important skill of all, is the best-in-class contractor’s ability to make good choices. If you ask yourself all the key questions found in the Construction Company Self-Analysis Program found at: https://simplarfoundation.org/blog/ – then click on “Dr Schleifer’s Construction Library”, you will find yourself making better choices about how to spend your time.

Next week we’ll explore the potential for recession and construction market downturn.

For a deeper look into the Construction Company Self-Analysis Program, read more here: SELF-ANALYSIS

For a broader view into growth, read more here: LEADERSHIP

To receive the free, weekly Construction Messages, ask questions, or make comments, contact me at research@simplarfoundation.org

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