Category: Management Methods Bulletins

New Management Methods Bulletin Compares UA Labor Agreements

The Management Methods Committee’s newest WebBook summarizes and compares the various United Association national labor agreements. With our new WebBook platform, MCAA members can access some of our more recent bulletins on current topics. You will be able to read new Management Methods Bulletins, take notes, print sections, and share with colleagues. And most importantly, when we have updated content, unlike a downloaded pdf, our WebBooks will be updated behind the scenes while your notes are preserved securely on your computer.

Have questions or need support? Contact us at ManagementMethods@mcaa.org.

Management Methods Podcast, WebBook Offer Scheduling Best Practices

The Management Methods Committee has released a two-part podcast in conjunction with the its latest WebBook on the subject of Scheduling Best Practices. In an in-depth discussion, Host Bob Lindbloom and co-host Paul Alexander discuss scheduling best practices with Michael McLin and Brian Lightner of Maxim Consulting Group.

You can play the podcast directly from the WebBook or get them via the iTunes or Google Play stores.

Have questions or need support? Contact us at ManagementMethods@mcaa.org.

Management Methods Podcast, WebBook Offer Tips for Improving Labor-Management Relations

The Management Methods Committee has released a two-part podcast in conjunction with the its latest WebBook on the subject of Developing Improved Labor-Management Relations.

In an in-depth discussion, host Bob Lindbloom and co-host Brodie Arndt discuss various collective bargaining approaches with C. Richard Barnes, an internationally recognized mediator and the author of the bulletin.

You can play the podcast and bonus content directly from the WebBook or get them via the iTunes or Google Play stores.

Have questions or need support? Contact us at ManagementMethods@mcaa.org.

Introducing the Management Methods Podcast

If you’ve ever wished there was a way to listen to Management Methods bulletins during your workout or commute, you’re in luck! The Management Methods Committee has just released its first podcast in conjunction with a new bulletin covering Business Transition Options for the Mechanical Contractor. The podcast is the latest innovation from the committee, which recently introduced WebBooks of its new bulletins.

This Management Methods Podcast is the first of a planned series that will include discussions with bulletin authors and bonus content that takes a deeper dive into the subject matter. Play the podcast and bonus content directly from the WebBook or get them via the iTunes or Google Play stores.

Have questions or need support? Contact us at ManagementMethods@mcaa.org.

There’s Valuable and Timely Information in MCAA’s New WebBook Library

MCAA members can now access some of our most valuable publications from their desktop computers on our new WebBook platform. You will be able to read Management Methods Bulletins and other resources, take notes, print sections, and share with colleagues. And most importantly, when we have updated content, unlike a downloaded pdf, our WebBooks can be instantly updated behind the scenes while your notes are preserved securely on your computer.

Maintain Your Vehicles to Keep Your Business Running Smoothly

Keeping your company’s vehicles in top operating condition is critical to the productivity and profitability of your business. Unreliable vehicles can prove costly in terms of unscheduled downtime, expensive repairs and loss of a company’s reputation. MCAA’s latest Management Methods Bulletin—Vehicle Preventative Maintenance Program—provides information on how to establish a program that will ensure your company’s vehicles are available when you need them.

Whether you decide to establish an in-house vehicle maintenance program or work with a dealer, the bulletin provides all the details you’ll need to get started. The bulletin also provides information about web-based fleet management solutions such as a GPS units that provide fleet managers with information about vehicles’ fuel usage, speed and mileage, location and more to help reduce operating costs and increase revenue.

The bulletin also explains the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing versus leasing a vehicle, when to repair or replace a vehicle and the importance of keeping good records on each vehicle and following the schedule for service and maintenance.

MCAA’s Management Methods Committee wishes to thank Team 5 of the Advanced Leadership Institute’s Class 7 for developing the content for this bulletin.

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Consider Using Value Engineering in Your Next Project

Value Engineering (VE) is an approach to project management that focuses on increasing the performance or value of each project function at the lowest lifecycle cost. A new Management Method Bulletin—Value Engineering—explains how VE works through collaboration of project team members, the evaluation of function alternatives and the assessment of each project function on the overall project design.

Evaluating VE for a project involves six phases:

  1. Information or ensusring all project team members understand the background of the project design
  2. Function Analysis or what areas should be considered for VE
  3. Creative when project team members brainstorm possible ideas for increasing the project’s value based on the previous analyses
  4. Evaluation or narrowing the list of possible VE ideas
  5. Development or expansion of the chosen ideas
  6. Presentation or the preparation of a report on the VE alternatives

The bulletin also explains how VE works with Design-Bid-Build and Design-Build-Assist projects. The mechanical contractor’s role in the VE collaboration in each approach is discussed along with insights and comparisons regarding VE’s effectiveness in optimizing a project’s value.

As with any project management approach, VE has its advantages and disadvantages, and these are covered in this bulletin as well. Client relationship, market competitiveness, project design and design team impacts, cost reduction cautions and contract provisions should be considered before adopting VE for a project.

MCAA’s Management Methods Committee wishes to thank Team 3 of the Advanced Leadership Institute’s Class 17 for providing the content for this bulletin.

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Need Ideas to Keep Your Professional Staff On Board? Find Them in Our Newest Management Methods Bulletin!

Finding well-qualified professional employees to manage your company’s projects and operations is tough enough these days, but keeping them on board can be even more challenging.  MCAA’s newest Management Methods Bulletin – Retention of Professional Staff – can help you create a work environment that will make your employees want to stay.

A company experiencing high turnover of its professional staff may consider assessing several aspects of its business life. Benefits and compensation are important factors in employee retention, but other factors may have just as meaningful an impact on employees’ sense of well-being. Company culture, employer engagement (i.e., recognizing employees’ achievements), employee engagement (i.e., participation in outside activities), providing training and development to enhance staff knowledge and skills, and health and wellness benefits (i.e., free or reduced gym membership fees) all contribute to a more well-rounded work environment that will increase productivity.

Case studies highlighting companies’ success at adopting retention strategies are included in the bulletin along with metrics for measuring the effectiveness of implemented strategies.

MCAA’s Management Methods Committee thanks Team 4 of the Advanced Leadership Institute’s Class 17 for providing the content for this bulletin. The Committee gave Team 4 the highest rating for its development of this bulletin.

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Contacting Congress for the First Time? Help is Here!

Congress is back in session! This is your chance to get in touch with your House representative or Senators about the industry and business issues that concern you. If this is your first time advocating for a cause, a newly revised Management Methods Bulletin is available to show you the ropes.

Business and Politics has been updated to provide you with advice, tools and information about the federal legislative process to help you be effective in presenting and discussing industry issues with your House and Senate representatives. From sending electronic messages to arranging personal meetings, the bulletin suggests how, when and where to communicate your concerns about legislation and/or regulations to your elected Members. Useful tools on MCAA’s website under the Advocacy menu, the MCAA PAC and the National Issues Conference direct your path to the legislators you need to reach. And, helpful information included in the bulletin will guide you through the bill making process.

The advocacy menu on our website also has a direct link to Congress.gov, where you can research current legislation and follow its progress through Congress.

Download your copy and start contacting your Congressional representatives today.

Use Credit Cards to Pay for Projects, Equipment and Supplies…Why Not?

The use of credit cards to settle financial obligations between contractors and their clients and contractors and their vendors is becoming an increasingly popular payment option. The Management Methods Committee’s latest bulletin – Credit Card Payments – explains how to establish this payment option and its advantages and disadvantages.

Credit card transactions used to cover the cost of goods and services involved in construction projects offer substantial advantages over more traditional payment methods. Improvements in cash flow due to faster payments (within 30 to 45 days) and electronically deposited funds and in customer relations and simplified administration results in greater cost savings. Vendors realize additional benefits in increased sales due to B2B payments, online transactions and the opportunities to gain “preferred supplier” status.

As with any financial transaction involving credit, banks impose fees to cover the processing of payments, which range from 1% to 3% of the transaction amount.  The party that accepts the payment must also absorb the fee, which may affect the negotiated price for the goods or services.  And, if a contractor accepts a credit card payment for a project, the fee will affect his/her profit margin.

Before adopting credit card payments as a transaction option, be sure you understand the bank account requirements and conditions to avoid additional fees.

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Looking for Another Management Methods Bulletin?

You can find them on our Management Methods Bulletins page. There, you’ll find the bulletins listed by category with links to help you get what you need quickly.

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Managing the Human Side of Your Business Can be Tricky…MCAA’s Management Methods Bulletins Can Help

Finding and retaining well-educated, skilled, trained and credentialed personnel to manage your field, shop and office operations is likely one of the toughest challenges of your business. MCAA’s Management Methods Bulletins and our Guide to Human Resources Policies can help you meet and overcome this challenge.

If you’re planning to hire a student intern, be sure to read How to Find, Hire and Manage Student Interns. A well-qualified, well-educated and energetic college student with a strong interest in our industry is a valuable asset who could prove to be a future full-time hire. This bulletin will help you find interns (visiting MCAAGreatFutures.org is a great start). It also explains the best time to recruit top candidates and how to effectively manage interns.

The performance review is possibly every employee’s least favorite meeting. The stress is not one-sided; all parties involved in these discussions feel the pressure to be fair and reasonable so the employee learns about his or her strengths and areas that need improvement. Employee Reviews can help you and/or your Human Resources staff prepare for employee performance evaluations and meetings and bring them to a satisfying closure.

Employees’ use of company cars and/or trucks can present some issues, not the least of which is liability from an accident. Injuries to the employee and damage to the vehicle are serious matters on their own, but determining who and or what caused the accident and who pays can lead to protracted legal challenges.  Avoiding Potential Liability from Employees’ Use of Company Vehicles discusses the potential liabilities that could result when an accident involving a company-owned vehicle occurs and how to minimize them.

If you could use a comprehensive guide to help you organize a human resources program and policies, the MCAA Guide to Human Resources covers the issues all the issues from the welcoming a new employee, benefits management, vacation and other leave policies, internet usage, travel reimbursements, smoking, substance abuse and more.

Looking for Another Management Methods Bulletin?

You can find them on our Management Methods Bulletins page. There, you’ll find the bulletins listed by category with links to help you get what you need quickly.

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Or, find them in the Resource Center, where you can use the blue Refine Your Search bar to pinpoint exactly what you’re looking for.

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Your Business is the Best…Tell the World!

Your business provides the highest quality mechanical, service and plumbing services to all commercial establishments in your market area…but are you getting the word out? With help from MCAA’s Management Methods Bulletins, your company could be the first one called when a project or service is needed.

Public Relations: An Important Marketing Tool for the Mechanical Contractor offers a wide variety of ideas to help you reach out to existing and potential customers about the range of services your company provides. Direct advertising ideas range from television and radio ads to fliers, circulars and newspaper inserts. Your involvement in the community through civic groups, sponsorships of special events and contributions to local charities increases your company’s name recognition and broadens your prospects for new business.

Social media has added to the possible avenues for business marketing.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and others have become popular venues for advertising because they reach a huge audience. Guidelines to Using Social Media in Your Business helps you sort out the best options for your company and issues you should consider when choosing them.

Another tried and true way to connect with your customers is with a newsletter.  A well-written and designed company newsletter keeps your customers—old and new—up to date on project developments, changes to your services, staff, equipment and much more. Creating a Readable Corporate Newsletter provides valuable tips on how to produce an attractive, informative publication that your customers will want to read.

Less tangible but equally important marketing tips suggest ways for you and your staff to promote your company’s name as a service- and people-oriented business. Listening to Our Customers and Why Mechanical Contractors Should Furnish Equipment will help you build your company’s positive reputation and spread the word about its “customer first” culture.

These and many more valuable Management Methods Bulletins, designed to help your company address and overcome a myriad of business challenges, are available for download at no charge as an MCAA member benefit.

And, for complete information about branding, advertising and how to design your own promotions, take a look at Guide Marketing Your Business. It’s also available as a free download to MCAA members.

Looking for Another Management Methods Bulletin?

You can find them on our Management Methods Bulletins page. There, you’ll find the bulletins listed by category with links to help you get what you need quickly.

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Or, find them in the Resource Center, where you can use the blue Refine Your Search bar to pinpoint exactly what you’re looking for.

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Planning a Joint Venture? Read All About it First!

Entering into a joint venture with another company on a project can bring many benefits—sharing of costs, spreading the risk, pooling equipment, increasing labor, among other advantages. Like most other business arrangements, however, there are issues that may complicate a joint venture. Two Management Methods Bulletins bring these to light.

Basic information that you should know when you consider a joint venture arrangement is laid out in Joint Ventures. Along with the many pluses that come with a joint venture are some suggestions about how to approach the arrangement, when and how to organize and finalize the agreement and the protections that are necessary to ensure a productive and profitable relationship.

Becoming involved in a business arrangement with another company that’s not in the state where your company is incorporated can be complicated. State laws consider out-of-state companies to be “foreign corporations” and therefore must meet certain qualifications to legally transact business. Failure to do so will bring severe penalties to your company as well as the other company in your joint venture. Failure of One Corporate Member of a Joint Venture to Qualify as a Foreign Corporation May Penalize All Venturers alerts you to the issues that you may face when you embark on an out-of-state joint venture.

Joint ventures can be very beneficial business arrangements for all parties involved, but make sure you are fully aware of all the issues involved in such agreements before making a commitment.

Looking for Another Management Methods Bulletin?

You can find them on our Management Methods Bulletins page. There, you’ll find the bulletins listed by category with links to help you get what you need quickly.

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Or, find them in the Resource Center, where you can use the blue Refine Your Search bar to pinpoint exactly what you’re looking for.

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Is a Project Giving You Headaches? Management Methods Bulletins Can Help!

When a project goes off-track or your plans for a new project hit a snag, where or who do you turn to for help? One resource is MCAA’s Management Methods Bulletins. A series of bulletins are available to help you solve troublesome project management issues.

The Job Management bulletins cover a wide range of issues from organizing and managing a project team to scheduling to controlling project costs to pre-project planning, just to name a few. For example, several bulletins are designed to help you organize and plan your project more efficiently and effectively at the outset.

Pre-Job Conferences lists the people and items that you should pull together to discuss project design, scheduling issues, equipment needs and crew coordination. Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), Design-Assist Project Delivery and Why Contractors Should Do LEAN describe project management strategies that have resulted in more trouble-free, efficient and productive projects.

The information contained in these bulletins may just have the answers you’ve been looking for to solve your project management challenges.

Want The Rest of the Job Management Bulletins?

You can find them under the Job Management category on our Management Methods Bulletins page. While you’re there, browse the other bulletins, all listed by category with links to help you get what you need quickly.

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Or, find them in the Resource Center, where you can use the blue Refine Your Search bar to pinpoint exactly what you’re looking for.

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Cut the Legal Red Tape with Management Methods Bulletins

Legal challenges are bound to arise in a mechanical, service or plumbing business…and they often do. That’s why MCAA’s Management Methods Committee has compiled a series of bulletins that cover a wide range of legal issues from protection of lien rights to contractual provisions to pension issues to tax questions.

Bulletins are now available to provide basic information about an issue that’s confronting your business. Their content is not intended to equip you to resolve the issue on your own, but rather to provide you with enough information to consult with an attorney about strategies for moving forward. For example, Multi-Employer Defined Contribution Plans—Are You Liable for Another Contractor’s Delinquency? concerns situations where members of a bargaining unit may be held financially responsible for a contractor’s non-payment of pension contributions. Contract Clauses, Liability of a Prime Contractor for Interference with a Subcontractor and Employers’ Liability When Contributing to Union Testimonial Dinners will brief you on issues to consider when situations arise.

Knowing the basics of federal laws affecting your business is critical to its success. For example, you should review Purchases and Sales of Goods Under the Uniform Commercial Code, Tax Requirements Applicable to Travel Reimbursements, Advances and Bargaining Units Subsistence Allowance and Federal Prompt Payment Act to ensure your transactions and tax preparations are consistent with current law. And, be sure to review Records Retention, which offers guidelines on which business records to keep and when and how to properly dispose of those records.

These are just a few examples of bulletins that can help you get a handle on a legal issue. While all of these bulletins offer valuable and helpful information on a variety of legal matters, always consult with your attorney before entering into a legal proceeding.

Want More Management Methods Bulletins?

You can find them on our Management Methods Bulletins page, where they’re listed by category with links.

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Need Help Managing Your Business Finances? Check Out These Bulletins!

Staying on top of your company’s finances can be challenging, especially during periods of economic volatility. With that in mind, MCAA’s Management Methods Committee produced bulletins that address the most critical accounting and financial issues facing your business.

The bulletins cover a wide range of topics from general guidelines—Tips to Help Contractors Manage Through an Economic Downturn, Guide to Financial Statements and Credit Policy Criteria—to more specific issues, such as Cash FlowService Mark-ups vs. Construction Mark-ups and Other Direct Job Costs (ODJC’s) and Indirect Job Costs. Each bulletin provides detailed, current information that will not only help you keep your finances in balance but may also streamline your company’s accounting processes and improve your business relationships with your customers, project associates and equipment suppliers.

Want to See All of the Management Methods Bulletins?

You can find them on our Management Methods Bulletins page, where they’re listed by category with links.

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Or in the Resource Center, where you can use the blue Refine Your Search bar to pinpoint exactly what you’re looking for.

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Is a Customer Filing for Bankruptcy? MCAA’s Latest Bulletin Can Help You Steer Clear of Trouble

MCAA’s Management Methods Committee has just released a new bulletin—Doing Business with a Customer in Bankruptcy—that can help you avoid legal and other pitfalls that may affect your business relationship with a customer that has or may file for bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy issues, both legal and financial, are complex, but this bulletin can help you sort out your options. It covers bankruptcy basics—both Chapter 7 and Chapter 11—how claims are managed under each type of bankruptcy, court actions, debtor obligations, special protections available on construction projects should a general contractor or owner file for bankruptcy during a project and issues that could arise when a debtor obtains post-petition financing from lenders.

Although this bulletin offers helpful information, be sure to consult with a bankruptcy attorney to ensure you understand your rights, responsibilities and protections before you enter into any business transactions with a bankrupt customer.

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New Bulletin Helps You Manage the Risk of Consequential Damages

When unforeseen disruptions occur on a project—equipment failure or delivery delay, storm damage, labor issues—who and what’s affected and what’s the cost? More important, who covers the cost when the owner makes a claim? And, how does the contractor protect himself from such losses?

MCAA’s Management Methods Committee has just released a new Bulletin—Understanding and Managing Risks Associated with Consequential Damages—that helps contractors avoid or manage the risks that arise when an unexpected disruption in a project results in a substantial financial impact that may include lost profits, lost rents, damage to reputation, down or idle time, and much more. Contractual waivers provide the first line of defense, and this bulletin offers negotiating strategies and examples of waivers that contractors may consider when working out the provisions of a project contract. Insurance coverage offers another option, although the availability and type of coverage for consequential damages is uncertain.

And, how are states addressing the enforceability of consequential damages claims? The actions of several states regarding this issue are covered and provide some guidance to contractors when entering into a contractual negotiation.

The Management Methods Committee wishes to acknowledge and thank William B. “Ben” Westcott of Andrews Myers, Attorneys at Law (Houston, TX) for preparing this informative and valuable bulletin.

Download your copy to start planning the consequential damages strategy for your next project contract.

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Retainage and PDF Editing are Featured in New Management Methods Bulletins

Helping MCAA members manage projects and their costs more effectively is the aim of two new Management Methods Bulletins just published by MCAA’s Management Methods Committee — PDF Editing Utilization for the Mechanical Contractor and Managing Retainage — A Critical Component of Effective Cash Flow.  

The Advanced Leadership Institute’s (ALI) Team 5 created the .pdf editing bulletin as their project for Course 16. Although several software products are available to edit project documents in .pdf format (a list of products is provided), this bulletin focuses on Bluebeam, which is widely used in the construction industry. Effective use of the software as a project collaboration tool can save considerable costs in shipping, printing and labor hours spent on the planning process. The bulletin’s content covers: Document Editing and Mark-ups, File Editing and Search Functions, Projects and Sessions. Each section explains its basic functions and benefits to project management and collaboration.

Another critical component of project management is retainage fees. Traditionally, retainage has been a means of ensuring a job is completed through the punch list before the full fee is paid. More recently, however, retainage is being held through the warranty period, which creates cash flow issues for the contractor. This bulletin offers some advice and strategies to help contractors manage retainage effectively and avoid cash flow disruptions.

Download your free Management Methods bulletins — PDF Editing Utilization for the Mechanical Contractor and Managing Retainage — A Critical Component of Effective Cash Flow — a benefit of MCAA membership.