Next time you have a customer trying to beat you up over your bids because he says he’s losing money, ask him about employee theft and inefficiency. Odds are these problems are stealing dollars from his bottom line—dollars you can help that contractor recover. Here are three ways to do that:

1) Create a report showing the contractor which of his or her employees bought tools and materials. The reports could turn up cases of workers buying stuff that wasn’t needed for the job at hand.

2) Break down the building company’s returns report by project and by project manager. On which jobs were lots of materials sent back? That could suggest bad planning. On the other hand, which project manager hardly ever sends back stuff? Low returns could be a sign materials are being pilfered.

3) List how many times particular employees came into the store. It’s a waste of money for a $30-an-hour carpenter to take 60 minutes of his time and $5 worth of gas to buy an emergency bag of screws, especially when good planning could have avoided the shortfall.

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