Contractor Operations Manual

The Contractor Operations Manual covers the operational and strategic areas involved with running a successful contracting business. These resources are geared towards improving business management skills, preparing your business for the future, providing new tools for proven practices, and other important industry specific subjects.  

Contractor Operations Manual

Strategic Growth Amid COVID-19

COVID-19 has led to an unprecedented need to help mitigate the spread of the disease, creating huge areas of business growth opportunity for contractors. Properly designed and operating HVAC systems can help reduce the risks associated with virus transmission, and controlling airborne exposure to the virus is one way to mitigate the spread.

Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can help reduce airborne exposures. Several areas have been identified as opportunistic by leading contractors including Indoor Air Quality, Outside Air Ventilation, Upgrades to air filtration, Fire and Life Safety, TAB work, preventative maintenance and service contracts, and Equipment replacement.  

This publication explores the areas that industry-leading contractors see as significant strategic business opportunities as a result of COVID-19. Updated July 2021

This document is free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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Successfully Managing A Remote Workforce: How to Maintain Productivity and Engagement

In response to the pandemic, many contractors have decided to have their employees work remotely. While there are obvious aspects of construction that require in-person presence on a jobsite, there are many that can be done remotely. Unlike industries where remote work has been being adopted for years, construction has been considered an in-person job. That’s begun to change. Studies have produced research-based practices that managers can implement with minimal effort to improve engagement and productivity. Updated July 2021.

This document is free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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Contractor Operations Manual

Monetary and Nonmonetary Compensation Plans

The primary purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the monetary and nonmonetary practices used by industry-leading companies. The study has the following specific objectives:

  • Illustrate the power of well-defined monetary compensation plans. 
  • Identify the types of incentives most useful for kinds of employee groups.
  • Connect the incentive programs to performance management.
  • Describe the various most popular nonmonetary compensation programs that can impact employee loyalty, retention, and satisfaction.

This document is free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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Contractor Operations Manual

Presentation Skills for Contractors

This update provides guidelines and tools that enable contractors and their employees to become better presenters. In years past, effective presentation skills were considered important only to executives or those in the business development arena. This is no longer the case. The need for strong presentation skills applies to anyone who must present information to another individual or group. Effective presentation skills are now considered a core competency.

This document is free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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Contractor Operations Manual

Navigating Cost-Plus Contracts: Understanding Profit Pockets and Negotiation Strategies

A cost-plus and a fixed-price contract are two types of construction contracts. Both are used frequently when entering into an agreement to build a structure or system. Each has its own special advantages and disadvantages for both the contractor and the buyer. For the sheet metal or HVAC contractor, the choice depends upon the situation, the needs of the client and the risk inherent in the construction.

This document is free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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Contractor Operations Manual

Proven Practices for Conducting Successful Virtual Meetings

This publication covers the importance of foremen meetings to the success of a project. Meetings not only encourage collaboration by bringing stakeholders together, they help hold all parties accountable for on-time project completion. COVID-19 concerns and related safety protocols have mandated the need for increased virtual meetings, bringing the use of new technologies and communications and tracking tools to the forefront of project management. 

With regular meetings critical in construction, firms will continue to look for ways to limit on-site meetings while ensuring access to information, engaging participants and tracking accountability through virtual meetings and other technologies.

This document is free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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Contractor Operations Manual

Integrated Project Delivery Guide

This Guide provides an overview of the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) method from the perspective of sheet metal, HVAC, and mechanical contractors and can serve as a guide for those interested in expanding their market share into healthcare and other IPD market sectors.

IPD is found at the intersection of quality, cost and scheduling on a construction project where project teams, systems, business structures, and practices are all working collaboratively and tapping into the talents and insights of all team members in an effort to optimize efficiencies and reduce redundancies or waste throughout the construction life cycle (e.g., design, fabrication, installation, etc.).

This document is free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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Contractor Operations Manual

Recruit to Retire Best Practices

Employees are one of a company’s biggest expenses — and also one of its most important assets. Unlike major capital costs (like buildings, machinery, technology, etc.), human capital is volatile. Employees need to understand that a company invests in them with a hiring decision, and that the company wants them to stay until they retire.

In this publication, we explore the influence and impact of the pandemic; generational expectations; the advantages of remote work ; how to lead, communicate and incentivize behavior; the impact of this shift on organizational strategy and culture.

This document is free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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Contractor Operations Manual

Scheduling and Planning Best Practices

Summarizes proven scheduling and planning processes and introduces practices, concepts and principles that are field-tested and proven to deliver superior results. Free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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Contractor Operations Manual

Improving Shop Workflow and Efficiency

Contractors need to analyze ways to improve their current shop layout before investing in any major expansion. With careful examination, you will often discover there is often more unused space available than you first thought.

This updated manual introduces new fabrication approaches and applications to SMACNA shop fabricators to help them become more competitive. The manual assumes members already have a sheet metal shop in operation, and these guidelines are intended to help increase the effectiveness and efficiency of current shop set ups.

The guidelines may also be applied when designing a shop from scratch, as long as the designer knows the basic sequence of the fabrication process. These guidelines are also useful when expanding an existing shop.

This document is free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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Contractor Operations Manual

Material and Inventory Management Guide

This guide provides member contractors with a resource on purchasing and inventory management systems. Whether simple or complex, these systems are a set of rules for deciding when to purchase materials and services and how much to purchase.

This document is free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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Contractor Operations Manual

Strategies and Tools for Effective Procurement

Explore the importance that procurement has on the success of a construction project. 

Procurement on a construction project can account anywhere from 15% to 70% of a projects direct costs, yet this area is not often given the same weight as managing the risk of construction labor on a project. An effective procurement plan for any contractor should be focused on delivering the right material, at the right time, to the right location for the right price

This document covers the elements of an effective procurement plan, different methods for contracting materials, and tools to  manage that procurement. 

This document is free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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Contractor Operations Manual

Contractors Role in Preconstruction Planning

In the construction industry, project success depends on planning in schedule, cost, design, and other deliverables. That planning includes the organization of the resources (people, equipment, and tooling) and costs (materials and labor) to perform at the right time (scheduling).

The goal of preconstruction planning is to standardize the planning process, leading to predictability in resources, costs, and scheduling for each project.  This manual focuses  on the general processes a contractor must perform to implement preconstruction planning and how to manage a designer and the design aspects of the process. Also covered is the use of technology in preconstruction.

This document is free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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Contractor Operations Manual

Guideline to Information Technology

More than 40 percent of construction companies do not have a dedicated information technology (IT) department, according to J.B. Knowledge's recently published Construction Technology Report. For small and medium sized specialty contractors, like most SMACNA members, that percentage is significantly higher. SMACNA's new "Guideline to Information Technology" addresses this gap by providing members with guidance on the proper combination of standardized hardware, software, and connectivity. This easy-to-read, 39-page document also includes two critical appendices: A Sample Disaster Recovery Plan and a Sample Information Technology Policy and Procedures Manual. So, if you're looking for a quick resource guide to navigating IT decision making and management, check out SMACNA's "Guideline to Information Technology".

This document is free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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Contractor Operations Manual

Personnel, Policies, and Procedures

Contractors can use this publication to create a personalized policy manual for their firm by modifying or editing the general guidelines and policies included.

This publication clarifies company procedures and expectations that foster healthy management-employee relationships and eliminates confusion and inconsistency. It addresses most of the topics necessary to provide employees a solid understanding of their obligations and opportunities.

This document is free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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Contractor Operations Manual

Management Succession

This publication guides a firm in creating a formal process for leadership development. It illustrates the ways members can turn this potential crisis into an opportunity while gaining a competitive advantage. This report highlights the benefits of internal management succession, best practices, and outlines a process for effective management succession.

This document is free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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Contractor Operations Manual

Transforming Your Organization for the Future

Transforming Your Organization for the Future takes a hard look at why lean transformation using a “kitting strategy” is a true, long-term, strategic solution to manpower shortages, pricing pressure, and schedule compression.

This addition to the Contractors Operations Manual contains detailed case studies about contractors who have adopted this technique and experienced long-term, meaningful competitive advantages.

Companies that have adopted this strategy have experienced cost savings, labor productivity, increased manufacturing, reduced install times, less field manpower, material savings, improved safety, improved quality, schedule reduction, customer satisfaction, business growth, and opportunity.

This document is free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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Contractor Operations Manual

Principles of Job Costing

An effective job costing system helps construction managers and business owners be more successful and profitable. It is also a critical tool for identifying and controlling risk. SMACNA’s updated book “Principles of Job Costing” will provide insight into improving your company’s job costing system.

Properly set up and managed, a job-cost management system will help make a company more profitable with less risk and the ability to grow and manage larger projects.

The updated book includes chapters on system set-up considerations, the estimating system, converting the estimate into an operating budget, progress reporting, change control, work in progress, and cash-flow forecasting. Appendixes include useful samples of general ledger structure, cost code structure, an estimating turnover checklist, and a sample accounts receivables escalation process.

This document is free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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Contractor Operations Manual

Construction Contracts: Alternative Delivery Methods

This paper provides a brief overview of alternative delivery methods for construction contracts and can serve as a primer for contractors interested in providing services to their clients outside of the traditional design-bid-build model.

At the beginning of most projects, clients have a strong bargaining position and can dictate the terms of the contracts. Understanding how these different contract models operate right from the outset will allow contractors to decide whether it makes sense to pursue a project, develop the “best” price in a competitive manner, and manage the risk associated with these alternative methods.

This document is free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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Contractor Operations Manual

Establishing Overhead and Burden in a Sheet Metal Business

Sheet metal/HVAC contractors are unique in the construction industry in that they engineer, manufacture and install products made from raw materials. The scope of services provided by sheet metal contracts creates confusion and sometimes conflict with owners and general contractors who may not be familiar with the cost structure of a sheet metal/ HVAC contractor.

The purpose of this document is to detail the various types of expenses incurred by a sheet metal/HVAC contractor in support of a proper determination of overhead and burden rates.

This document is free to members in the SMACNA Store.


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