MiTek Insights

The Case for Smaller Crews: Efficiency and Time Management

How many workers do you assign to a jobsite? According to Tim Faller, probably too many.


Tim Faller has spent 15 years teaching and speaking about the lead carpenter system. The premise of the lead carpenter system is simple: it’s a one-person crew. Through years of experience, he discovered that you don’t get more production per dollar through adding additional labor.  In fact, productivity often goes down when an additional worker is added.


Here’s why.


First, an additional worker may need coaching on certain aspects of the job or simply not know where to find materials. Regardless of how necessary conversation may be, it slows you down.


Unnecessary labor also creates the problem of how to fill time. “Making work” for someone is a distraction from the real work to be done.


Innovation also suffers. When you have an extra set of hands, why bother developing tools to hold the end of a board, for instance, or learn the technology that would make a given task easier?


How to Create Efficiency Without Using a One-Man Crew          

If you can’t use a one-man crew, there are ways to make a small crew act more efficiently. Here are Faller’s recommendations:

  1. When you assign tasks, two people should not be assigned to the same project.
  2. If a situation arises that does require additional help, it’s more productive to take breaks. Focusing on different aspects of the job allows more work to get done.
  3. End before the end of your schedule.

As you know, finding ways to reduce the labor on the jobsite is a key factor in keeping costs down. The lead-carpenter system is one way to make projects more profitable.


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