Well, we landed in New York late yesterday afternoon, and man, I can't beleive the hotel room we are staying in. After saving those Marriott points all these years, I finally decide to redeem some of them. We are on the 24th floor of the absolutely fabulous Marriott Marquis, right in the middle of Times Square with a wonderful view of the city. Right now I'm looking at the spot the New Year's Eve ball drops at the corner of Broadway and Fifth Ave.! Yep, All pretty cool - hard work, but somebody's got to do it;~) We are headed over to Javits Center in just minutes so let me get right to our Business Day Thursday segment - I think it's especially important today.
All right, today’s post is not about how to save a failing business, but it is about bringing a sense of urgency to your business operations. Think about it – when are you the most effective, the most productive, the most efficient in your business? Usually it occurs right before you head out on vacation. You’ve got to get the work completed and somehow it gets done before you hop on that plane to vacation paradise.
Folks, what would happen if we brought a bit of that same sense of urgency to our everyday business operations? I suspect we would be much better off than just moving from day to day with a somewhat complacent attitude that things will get done when thing get done. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying we are all dragging our feet in our businesses, but I think most would agree, me included, that it is easy to fall into the trap that everything is alright and we become simply reactive to the day-to-day operations at least until a crisis hits.
This is my point. Suppose everyday we build a small crisis into our business operations, we feel a sense of urgency to fully complete a project and we started acting and planning like we need to get it done, and get it done now! Wow! There is a concept – getting it done now.
Let me give you an example. We have most of the client's order completed, ready to be delivered. It just needs a few extra prints for family and friends to reach final completion, but we decide not to print the extras now because the bridal album has to go to the bookbinder and we have plenty of time to get those extra prints together.
The reality is that last little part of the operation looses its importance for the moment and gets set aside. Folks, setting aside this last small task is only creating a potential time bomb that may explode down the road. Why didn’t we consider it URGENT to complete the order now, today? This happens way to often in way to many businesses. It even happens in my business now and then and I believe my staff and I run a pretty tight ship.
In our situation, we did exactly what I described above. Our decision resulted in the albums returning from the bookbinders, the client was called, and the appointment was made to deliver their albums. About an hour before the client was due to show up to pick up the order, we started pulling it all together – bridal album, parents’ albums, and then noticed that the reorders were never completed to finish the order – the time bomb went off. We delivered what we could, promised that we would ship out the reorders the next day and stood there shaking the client’s hand albeit with a little egg on our faces.
I believe we can avoid this kind of production hic-cup if we bring a little sense of urgency to our daily production routine. The order is almost ready, what else does it need, can we get it wrapped by end of day so that we are 100% complete, then send the books out for final binding. This makes much more sense to me. Add a little urgency to your own operation and see if the finished product isn’t delivered more consistently on time with fewer errors, and more efficiently than ever before.
Here is my quick 7-step plan to make Urgency part of your daily routine:
1. Determine solid benchmarks on how long it takes to get tasks completed. Successful manufacturers have been doing that since the days of Frederick Taylor. We too are manufacturers in a small way so setting benchmarks in our own business is an important first step. With good benchmarks established, determine how long the new job/project/wedding order is going to take to complete. Work efficiently to meet these goals.
2. Assign a production allowance on how many payroll hours you want to expense to allow the tasks to be completed. This will depend on the size of the album, number of prints ordered, and ancillary products ordered.
3. PUT A FUSE ON THE PROJECT!!! This is the most important step. We know how long the job is going to take to complete, so name a reasonable date of completion that you and your staff can live with. And most importantly – STICK WITH IT!!!
4. Monitor on a weekly basis the actual production hours spent against percent of project completion on your projects. Are they on track production wise? How short is the fuse getting? Are we going to meet our production goals? Add some urgency when needed!
5. Keep a running tally of all jobs. Note which jobs beat the mark, meet the mark, or miss the mark. Your job in this process is to be working urgently to reduce the number of jobs that miss the mark. Make your modifications and/or corrections to your production model constantly striving to always meet or beat the mark. Maybe this includes updating procedures, maybe it means additional training for personnal that consistently miss the mark unfortunately maybe it means re-evaluating employees within the job specifications to reassign or replace.
6. Set a day each month or each week till you get things running efficiently - that you and your staff review the three aspects of the team’s production model – benchmarks, production allowances, and “fuse” length.
7. Award the team, even if the team is only you, for performance improvements. And, reward the team for sustained performance improvement. This can been done very simply by buying lunch on performance review day or if you are the only team member, by treating yourself to something special because of your efforts. Reveling in success is a nice place to be.
-Just a little food for thought.
Hey gang, that’s it for me today. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for another Gear Bag Friday: Wide Angle Wonderfulness. See you then. -David