It’s no secret that the construction industry as a whole often has a difficult time attracting and retaining star players. This is even more the case in preconstruction. When people hear “preconstruction,” they usually envision long hours sitting in front of a computer screen, crunching endless amounts of numbers. Preconstruction also tends to have a reputation for being slow to change, reluctant to adopt new technology or workflows even if it means sticking with outdated and inefficient tools.

So how can preconstruction departments make it easier to draw fresh faces onto their teams and enjoy their time there? Here are just a few suggestions.

Don’t be afraid of new technology – embrace it. Whether someone has just graduated college and is looking for their first job or has been in the industry for a while but wants to switch positions, people are attracted to companies that position themselves as innovators and pioneers. A huge indicator of a company’s commitment to being forward-thinking can be seen in their preconstruction workflow. Are they using up-to-date tools? Are they willing to try new ideas or softwares? Do they encourage their employees to collaborate within the greater preconstruction community to find creative solutions to difficult challenges? Showcasing the use of cutting-edge technology, as well as a willingness to build relationships with other preconstruction departments outside of the company, can be a key differentiator for someone looking to build an estimating career.

Create standardization within your company. Standard practices and methods are essential to the success of a preconstruction department. The learning curve can be difficult enough as an employee new to the world of preconstruction – throw in people doing estimates in different ways, people using a variety of different tools, and it’s even more difficult to learn the ropes. Additionally, having inconsistent estimating practices across company offices means that it’s harder to collaborate, and thus, harder to innovate.

Encourage mentoring and asking questions. Some senior estimators have commented that, if they could go back in time and give themselves advice at the beginning of their career, they would have wanted to raise their hands more often when they ran into confusing issues. It’s important for preconstruction departments to foster an environment where questions are encouraged from anyone regardless of seniority, because without questioning practices and challenging “the way it’s always been done,” it’s much more difficult to become a pioneer within the industry.

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