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Mark Ragel

President

Patio Pools & Spas

Tucson, Ariz.

Last year we implemented an entirely new scheduling system.

It’s based on a four-day work week, and it’s helped boost our efficiencies, as well as reduce overtime and travel costs for our fleet.

The concept was actually brought to my attention by our ad agency, which has been doing it for years.

We’ve become more proficient, and it’s clear that despite limiting our trucking to four days a week, we’re still producing the same amount of work as we would over five days.

So if a [crew] completes 10 jobs in a week, and it’s over a span of four days, essentially we’ve saved a loop — all the way out and back — with the equipment.

A builder who uses subcontractors isn’t looking at this. But because we have our own crews, most of our guys retrieve the equipment and materials from our yard. We’re saving the trouble of running a crew clear across town again.

Gas was another factor. Previously, fuel in most areas of the company accounted for 0.5- to 0.75 percent of sales. Today it’s pushing 3 percent in some divisions, and that’s a problem.

Then there’s overtime. In the past, we didn’t pay much attention to overtime; the biggest issue was getting the job done. But recently we capped the number of allowable overtime hours for our employees, unless more is authorized by a supervisor.

Some guys didn’t like the cap, but it’s a matter of economics. What they do like is a three-day weekend.

Our company has 170 trucks and probably 70 to 80 pieces of off-highway equipment. We’re responsible for all oil changes, fluid changes and safety inspections.

The shortened work schedule means our equipment receives preventive maintenance on Fridays instead of Saturdays, which cuts overtime in our fleet maintenance department.

Though a shifting economy may have prompted the change, we still feel it’s a much better approach to scheduling.