What is a time clock?
Businesses use a time clock to track the amount of time an employee works. The hours tracked by time clocks are used to process payroll for hourly employees, calculate labor costs for a given service, and help businesses get a better understanding of their profit margins.
In residential construction, time clocks are often used to track labor on a particular construction project, like a kitchen remodel or custom home build. Building firms tracking employee time either track this manually with pen and paper, leverage a time clock app, or use an integrated time clock feature included in many construction management software suites.
Why is a time clock important for residential construction?
One of the biggest headaches for residential contractors is determining how much each client project will cost and sticking to that cost, both in terms of materials and labor. Material costs for building supplies typically have a paper trail (e.g. receipts, purchase orders, etc.), but employee or hourly subcontractor labor needs to be tracked to determine the true cost on a project.
Since project labor doesn’t automatically come with a paper trail, time clocks fill the documentation gap. By setting up a system or tool to track project labor, builders and remodelers can process payroll accurately, estimate labor more effectively before taking on a new project, and better manage the overall profitability of each project they build.
How do builders + remodelers track time?
1. Manual Tracking
Tracking employee time at its simplest records the total hours worked in a given day or week. Pen and paper accomplishes this by allowing an employee to write down their time, then deliver that to payroll administrators for processing. These manual methods are easy to adopt, accessible to anyone, and quick to train. For builders and remodelers, ease of adoption is crucial to keeping jobs moving forward. While easy in theory, tracking time this way requires a ready supply of pen and paper on construction jobsites, relies on employees to keep track of this paper to ensure it lands in the right hands for payroll processing, and risks data errors when re-entering time into payroll systems. Builders and remodelers also face the possibility of employees forgetting to enter time each day and therefore submitting inaccurate timesheets.
2. Time Clock Mobile Apps
Going digital solves many of the problems that come with manual methods. On construction jobsites, time clock apps make logging work hours easy with a few simple clicks either once a day or at each time entry instance (e.g. beginning of the day then at the end of the day). Most employees have a smartphone or other device right in their pocket these apps can be downloaded onto, mitigating the risk of having the proper materials on hand. Mobile time clock apps additionally erases data transfer errors since employees log time in the same application payroll administrators use to manage that time. Builders and remodelers looking to geolocate employees and obtain accurate time logs benefit from these digital options.
While many time clock apps out there integrate with payroll accounting systems, the trail ends there. Additional reporting needed to understand project profitability or actual vs estimated comparison must be performed manually outside these apps.
3. Integrated Construction Management Software Suites
Many aspects of a residential construction project tie together. From the list of tasks to perform, to the scope of work, to what materials and labor cost. Construction management software suites integrate project management, financial, administrative, and business management needs together into one comprehensive suite of tools. Time clock time tracking is one of the many tools represented in these software suites. Builders and remodelers gain all the advantages of mobile app functionality -- the digital, detailed, and accurate time tracking -- combined with project budgets, accounting, an archive of historical estimates and hours, and more.