Bradley Kimberlin, Columnists, V6I2

Managing On-Site Projects

Customer preparation, such as a level pad and accessibility, helps on-site shed builds go smoothly. (Photo courtesy of Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash)

We’ve been focused on ways to improve your shop in past issues, so this time I want to look at shed projects that get built on-site.

For some shops, this is the only way they build. Other shops only do shop-built and do not offer on-site. And then there are the shops that do both. 

If you don’t offer on-site builds, you can stop reading here. Although I would challenge you to consider whether you are missing out on an opportunity. The rest of you, read on.

On-site construction for sheds has its own unique set of challenges. I’d like to cover those here and give some tips for success.


It can be difficult to schedule too far in advance since you are working outside and need to consider the weather. Then you have the added challenge of the customer’s availability. 

Ideally, you want to be scheduling about seven-10 days ahead of time. I’ve found that this generally gives the customer enough time to adjust their schedule if need be and the weather forecast is typically safe to go by. 

When you call to schedule a customer, it’s best to present two options for install, rather than asking, “When do you want it done?” Leaving it too open-ended for the customer can be frustrating for some customers and others will try to start controlling your schedule. 

When you call, say something like, “Hello Mrs. Smith, I’m calling from The World’s Best Shed Company to schedule the build for your 10 by 16 shed. Would Tuesday or Friday of next week work best for you?” 

At this point, you are presenting them with two options and asking which one works best. If neither works, they will let you know, and you can adjust. However, keeping the process as simple as possible for them and you will decrease the amount of time it takes to schedule a job.


Once you have a job scheduled, you need to track it in some way. If you are using software like ShedSuite or The Shed App, these features are built in. If not, you can use a Google Calendar to keep track. 

I rely heavily on software for tracking and not paper copies. I’m a huge proponent of tracking jobs by serial numbers versus customer name (too many names are similar), but you can list the information on the calendar the way you see fit. 

If you need to prepare the kit a few days in advance, set a reminder to email you. This way you can set it and forget it, until the reminder comes in. Free up your brain space for things that matter!


It may seem tempting to not communicate with a customer until you are ready to schedule the job. Depending on your lead times, this could be acceptable. But if it is going to be over two weeks before you are calling to schedule, I would communicate with them at least one time in between. 

What we do here at Colorado Shed Company is communicate every Friday with the customers for the sales that have come in since last Friday. It’s important to remember that you are not scheduling at this point. 

Set the tone of the conversation from the get-go. “Hello Mrs. Smith, I’m calling from the World’s Best Shed Company and your order for a 10 by 16 gable just came across my desk. I wanted to let you know we are about three weeks out on our schedule right now. I’ll be touching base with you in about 10 days to schedule your install.” 

This lets them know what to expect and answers the question of “what happens next?” They may try to start telling you about dates they are available and not available, and you can take some notes, but leave it open that you are just letting them know you have the order. 

This call is also a good time to communicate anything that you want them to know (e.g., level pad, area accessible and clear, grass mowed, etc.). This gives them plenty of time to prepare and provides them something to be working on instead of just sitting and worrying about not getting a phone call.


There are a lot of opinions surrounding who prepares an on-site kit and how much is prepared in the shop. I’ve seen a lot of kits go out the door and my preferred method is to have someone in the shop cut all the material to size and bundle it for the on-site installers. 

You create the bundle in reverse, meaning the roof material is on the bottom and the floor material is on top. This way, as it is unloaded from the trailer, materials come off as you need them.

Another method I have seen, especially for smaller units, is to pre-build walls and even floors. I personally do not think this saves much time in the field and it sometimes creates the need for an additional person to go along who may not really be adding a lot to the efficiency of the project. However, if that is the method that you have found that works, then more power to you!

Regardless of how you prepare the kit, make sure you do it a day or two in advance so you can have everything ready to go and don’t have last-minute emergencies late at night or early in the morning when the crew is loading.


Once you are on site, you want to be as efficient as possible. Introduce yourself and the crew to the homeowner, verify where the shed is going to be installed, which way the doors face, etc., and then get to work. 

One challenge of on-site construction is the homeowner can watch you build and may have questions or concerns along the way. Be respectful of their questions. Let them know you will do a walk around at the end of the project, once it is complete. (You do this, right?) However, the quicker the project goes, the less time the homeowner has to worry about things.

Train the crew to be respectful of the homeowner’s landscaping. Sure, you need to walk across the yard, but don’t cut through flower beds or bushes. 

If you are going to paint or stain, lay scrap siding or plastic down around the edges to keep overspray off the grass. Also, before you spray, be sure that no vehicles are close by that could get overspray on them. If you need to trim some bushes or trees to accommodate where they want the shed placed, verify that this is okay with the homeowner before you start cutting.

After the build is complete, clean up after yourselves. Pick up any lumber scraps, nails, screws, shingles, etc., that may have fallen during the build process. (A huge plus for having material precut is it minimizes the amount of scrap you need to clean up.)

Finally, do a walkaround with the homeowner. I like to use a “happy sheet” that has a few key things:

  • Built Correctly
  • Right Location
  • Doors Work
  • Windows have Screens
  • Collect Final Balance

Assuming everything is correct, have the homeowner sign off on the project and collect the final balance. 


Post installation, within a day or two, send the customer an email asking for a review about their experience. You can use Google Reviews, a company like Trustpilot or, or if you work with E-Impact Marketing, they can set this up for you as well. 

Reviews should never be edited by you. They should provide an honest, unfiltered view of the customer’s experience. Here at Colorado Shed Company, our goal is to “Exceed our Customer’s Expectations,” so if we miss the mark, we make it right. If a negative review comes in, we respond publicly, and we also contact the customer to make it right. 

Everyone makes mistakes. What matters is what you do after the mistake is made. 

Since you were communicating with the customer before and during the process, built an excellent product, respected their property, and provided courteous service, your five-star reviews should flood in. Time to start the next project.

Until next time, Be Excellent!

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