Cleaning out my New year’s closet

Jan. 18, 2008
It’s that time of year when I take a deep breath and pray upon the past year, throw darts at a dartboard to get my net profit goal for next year and roll a single die to determine what percent of salary

It’s that time of year when I take a deep breath and pray upon the past year,
throw darts at a dartboard to get my net profit goal for next year and roll a single die to determine what percent of salary I’ll get for my rear-end, pardon
me, year-end bonus. In the meantime, I’ll also be going through my postyear
routine of cleaning out my job-closet so that I’ll only make 99.674% as many stupid mistakes next year as I did this year — hopefully, that is.

The first thing I always do is carefully review all of my expense account reimbursement forms for the past year. I don’t know about you, my colleague, but let’s just say I’ve had some “past” employers who, if they disagreed with
a receipt or charge I put on my expense account, simply didn’t pay it. This is especially true regarding smaller receipts for office supplies needed right away such as an ink printer cartridge refill or a ream of paper for the office trailer’s all-inone.

Other examples include a receipt for a lunch I had with a current or potential client or a personal/business gas receipt from a far-flung gas station in the middle of nowhere that didn’t take the company gas For information circle XXX card. We ignore these little expenses during the year because we typically don’t want to make waves. However, you still need to find these receipts and ask for reimbursement again because it’s your money that you’re giving to the company, not the company’s money that they’re giving to you.

The next thing I do is sit down on a quiet Saturday or Sunday and review every, and do I mean “every,” single job f i l e word-forword. Impossible , you say, because that would mean t aking one of your valuable days off to slog through hundreds if not thousands of pages of usually very boring documents.
After all, you know what’s there and you were the one who put them there in
the first place and … C’mon, stop the excuses, you know how valuable this review can be and usually is, even if it is a royal pain.

By reviewing each job file page-by-page, you’ll notice things now that you didn’t notice then. You’ll also see a clearer pattern of where your efficiencies and weaknesses are both as a company and as a project manager. Did this subcontractor actually keep his word and warranty his work three months after
the CO was issued? Did that architect backstab you by letting something slide initially and then give you grief later in the job? What about that outof- town crew that you hired because you had to? … Wow, what a letter from the GC’s PM blasting them as incompetent, which you forgot about or at least tried to. When I sit down with the job files for macro review, I also bring out last year’s calendar and compare my real-time notes of even more fibs told on
my part out of sheer necessity sometimes. I also review quid pro quo promises swapped and other little bits of insignificant job information jotted down at the time.

Such information, when matched up with actual logged job correspondence,
can be very different from what you thought was happening at the time and what’s in the “official” job file. Because it’s your personal job diary and is
labeled as such (“Joe’s personal job journal”) to prevent it being subpoenaed in arbitration or in court, no one except you will ever know your truths.
However, it’s important to keep it forever and use it now to rebuild a clearer mental picture of what actually happened on your jobs.

Lastly, I take care of my “physical plant,” mainly my personal vehicle but also my cell phone, PDA, laptop, etc. Whether it’s my personal buggy or a companyissued one, I’ll personally check the tires, oil and antifreeze/ coolant levels. I’ll also make a note to have any minor things repaired, such as a
broken headlight or taillight or a gauge that is stuck on “fix me!” I’ll also take photos of any minor nicks, chips, bangs or dings that she’s suffered. It’s also a ritual for me to go through my cell phone and kill all contact numbers that
I know I’ll never use again. In addition, I completely back up all the job files on my laptop but always leave the originals on the hard disk. If you move
the job files to a location on the hard disk labeled “2007 job files and correspondence backups,” you won’t see them every time you boot up but
they will be available if and when you ever need them again.

The year’s harvest is done. It’s time to plow under the fallow forage left from harvest past and let the new ground become ready for the next year’s crop of profits, laughs, anger and tears and a little more growth both personally and professionally. Kent Craig is a second-generation mechanical contractor and
project manager with unlimited Master’s licenses in boilers, air conditioning, heating, and plumbing. He may be reached by calling 919-291-0878, or via
email at [email protected].
His Web site is http://hkentcraig.Com

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