This week’s spotlight also explores the special role that Small Project Specialists play on the LaForce team
LaForce and St. Mary’s Hospital in Green Bay have a long-time business relationship. Last spring, St. Mary’s general contractor, IEI General Contractors Inc., sent LaForce plans for a remodel of their 5th floor west wing and asked for pricing within the week! Without missing a beat, LaForce was able to complete the pricing, win the bid, and put together a submittal for the customer. Brian Delveaux, the Sales Representative handling the project, and Rich DuQuaine, the Small Projects Specialist assigned to the job, also visited the job site to confirm colors and measurements. Once the contractor approved our submittal package, LaForce scheduled materials and coordinated shipping dates.
LaForce has always handled smaller projects on the scale of this remodel (just 22 openings), but only since 2011 have we had team members that are exclusively dedicated to “small projects.” Small Projects, as defined by LaForce, are jobs with ten or fewer openings; or with a quick turnaround time, like the St. Mary’s remodel. These Small Projects Specialists (SPSs), as they are aptly named, are highly trained and will guide the customer’s project from start to finish.
Prior to 2011, individuals who helped with smaller, quicker projects like Rich were considered “inside sales” and LaForce only employed a handful. It became apparent that LaForce needed to make improvements to give customers a faster, easier experience when working with small projects. To meet these needs, LaForce began to hire and develop a team of Small Project Specialists. The SPS team is an extension of the Sales team, and most offices pair an SPS with a Sales Representative. In addition, some Sales Representatives are cross-trained to complete their own SPS work. Today, the SPS program is flourishing!
What do SPSs do? There are two types of Small Project Specialists: those who work with our Contract Sales staff and those who work with our Aftermarket Sales staff. The main difference is that the Contract Sales team works with general contractors, while the latter work directly with the building owner or facility manager. Contract SPSs tend to cover projects that involve plans and specifications, while Aftermarket SPS projects usually do not. Both SPS teams can handle remodel jobs, like the St. Mary’s Project, and brand-new buildings. In addition, the Aftermarket Sales team, which mainly works with updating existing buildings, has had the ability to work on these small scale projects for many years.
SPSs like Rich work with a project “from cradle to grave.” Rich completed all the estimating work for the St. Mary’s project. He then sent the finalized bid out to the owner or customer, scheduled all materials, and handled customer service aspects like truck runs and ship dates. Rich also goes on site visits when appropriate.
LaForce employs over 50 individuals like Rich, and will add to this team throughout the coming year. Every LaForce office location has individuals specially trained in this area. SPSs are very detail-oriented and flexible, possess a high level of product knowledge and good communication skills, and are trained in both Division 8 and Division 10 products.
Why does it benefit customers to work with an SPS? Projects that call for one-on-one handling and a quick turnaround are ideal for the SPS team. Customers will enjoy speed, efficiency, and a close relationship with a knowledgeable individual.
What else can we look for from the SPS team this year? This team’s efforts made up 31% of LaForce’s business in 2015, and the company is therefore making investments in improving its efficiency and competency in 2016. For example, besides adding staff, LaForce will expand a special mentorship program for Small Project Specialists. This program pairs a newer staff member with one who is more experienced. The seasoned SPS will check the other’s work for accuracy and guide them in taking ownership over their projects.
Rich and Brian teamed up to make the St. Mary’s remodeling project a great success. Check out these pictures of the completed project!