In my workshops I oftentimes mention the classic “Three R’s” — “Reading, Righting and Rithmetic.” And yes, I understand they are not spelled correctly, but I also recognize that these three skillsets are very important for success for workers, supervisors and business owners.

One must be able to Read the job specifications closely and understand them to avoid possible miscommunications and mispricing. This may include penciling/circling directives or standards that are either contradictory, don’t make sense or are prohibitively expensive for the outcomes desired. These concerns need to be addressed BEFORE the contract is signed, rather than afterwards. I have found too many boilerplate specs and contracts that were simply cut/pasted from some other document and did not fit the current facility.

“Righting” or writing is an important communication skillset in that the days of penciling in a price on the back of a napkin or legal pad are evaporating rather quickly. One must be able to clearly, accurately and succinctly present the proposal in such a way that the customer understands the entire concept as well as final price. Due to changes in technology, spell checkers (which can sometimes be wrong although well intended) can help but a dictionary and thesaurus on the desk still can be an asset when one is looking for just the right word.

“Rithmetic” or arithmetic is very important in that the only thing worse than not getting a contract is getting it for the wrong price. Collecting data, using a valid time standard, including all related costs and using an accurate estimator are essential to not only pricing the opportunity but also living with it once the contract has been signed. This means that one should not blindly type in numbers and data into an estimator and not have a sense of whether it is accurate or not.

Don’t forget the importance of the three basic R’s. In a future article we will look at three other R’s just as important. Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or