The Role of a Construction Project Manager

Author: Michael Russo
November 4, 2019
 

Making Informed Decisions on Hiring Key Personnel

Can you grow your roofing business without a project manager? Sure you can. But if you're struggling to manage the demands of a growing commercial roofing company, the role of a construction project manager may be more important than you think. Here's what you need to know to make an informed decision about hiring this key staff member.  

Project manager kneeling, with a binder and cell phone, at a jobsite.
The role of a construction project manager is a key one for a commercial roofing business.

What Is the Role of a Construction Project Manager?

The primary thing that makes a project manager stand out is the scope of their responsibilities. Many of their general duties may be comparable to a construction manager's, but commercial roofing requires a different skill set than a project manager working for a large general contractor might have.

Project managers are the link between different trades involved with a project. In the past, roofers only needed to know when the HVAC crew planned to show up. Now, they juggle schedules with electricians for solar projects, waterproofers and landscapers for vegetative roofs and glaziers for skylights and domes.

Besides meeting with other contractors, the responsibilities of a roofing project manager might include:

  • Talking to clients.
  • Monitoring the progress of project staff and updating senior management.
  • Establishing deadlines and budgets.
  • Reviewing the scope of work, submittals and contracts, and documenting changes or work orders.
  • Meeting or exceeding revenue and profit margin goals.
  • Striving to eliminate punch list items before the crew leaves a jobsite.
  • Reviewing all specs and change orders before the final close-out of a project.

 

What Your Business Needs to Establish First

Hiring a project manager assumes that your business admin is already in control of the chaos and multitasking required by their job. A good office admin excels at cooperation, problem solving and learning new technology. An experienced one can partner with a project manager to share knowledge and maintain your complex book of jobs and sales.

You also need to take a long, hard look at your own business habits. Some owners have a streak of the control freak in them. But as their companies expand, they can no longer keep their fingers in everything. Hiring a project manager allows you to delegate and still get the job done. Make sure any project manager candidates you consider have small business experience and can give good hands-on advice.

Cost of a Project Manager

The question foremost on most contractors' minds is "what is this new hire going to cost me?"

On the high end, a project manager can earn up to $85,000 annually. Depending on the size of the business, commercial roofing project managers are usually paid $50,000-$60,000 annually, which is similar to the salary of a good commercial estimator. However, after adding payroll taxes and insurance, contractors may be looking at an annual investment of $70,000. Dividing that salary by 2,000 hours (40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year) means a cost of $35 per hour, or $280 per day.

Qualities of a Good Project Manager

Effective leadership skills are essential to strike an immediate rapport with the admin, the estimator, the purchasing department, the safety manager and the head of your crew. The project manager's ace in the hole is a top-notch roofing distributor that can handle timing, delivery and product questions.

It's true that some organizations have their salespeople managing all this work (meaning they sell, manage, visit the jobsite and effectively wear two hats). But having a project manager run the job and handle communication and service issues opens up a lot more canvassing time for a talented salesperson.

If you have more supervisory work than you can handle, it's probably time to consider a project manager. Having someone to set up jobs, minimize drive time and check off your punch lists will allow you to accomplish more than you thought you could.

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