Track time for better bidding
By Sigrid Tornquist
Just as the first step in money management is to understand your spending habits, the first step in shop efficiency is to know how your workers are spending their time. The formula to figure out how much chargeable time versus non-chargeable time your shop spends is simple: multiply the number of staff by how many hours they work and subtract breaks, cleanup and any other downtime, such as travel time or time spent looking for tools and materials.
While there are several strategies for recording workers’ time—including the old-school method of putting pen to paper—time-tracking apps are likely the most common and simple to implement. Jess Flegel (production manager) and Cat Sieh (shop manager) from Oyster Creek Canvas Co., Bellingham, Wash., started using a time-tracking app two years ago after attending a session about it at an MFA (Marine Fabricators Association) conference. “It has changed things dramatically for us,” Sieh says. “We were amazed at what took longer than we expected.”
It does take some dedication to fully commit to the process, however. “It’s all about self-discipline,” Flegel says. “It took us a bit to get employees on board with clocking their time but once you do that initial work, it becomes second nature.”