Find the root of any problems and fix them
I invent large, obnoxious and not so cute machines. At cocktail parties, it is often great fodder to pass the time. Beyond that, the title of inventor means very little, so why might you care? Read on. I suspect it may at least get you thinking.
In 2000, I sold a rather successful party rental store I started four years earlier to chase a new dream. Initially, the party rental business was hard and required a lot of my energy. At the start, I was able to meet all my customers’ needs. Then the business grew and troubles followed. Our service started to slip, our products were not as clean as they needed to be, safety suffered and our outdoor event installations were less than our customers expected.
When the wind blew in the middle of the night, I wondered if my crews put enough tent stakes in the ground and if they installed them correctly. I hoped that my customer would not call to tell us about a tent that blew away.
Often the phone rang at 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon and it was an unhappy customer. Maybe my crew was too tired that week to correctly wash the tent tops or we were too busy to get to the cleaning for that weekend’s affairs. Regardless of the reason, the customer was promised a clean tent and we failed to provide it to them. Some weeks the list of areas we were failing seemed to outnumber the things we did right.
Finally, I decided to do some real soul searching to find the root of our problems. Here is what I found:
- My employees were hard working and they wanted to do great work for my customers.
- They did not always know my definition of a good job and they did not always know how to consistently do a good job.
- I noticed that some of their tasks were extremely hard, very repetitive and none of my employees wanted to do them.
- Sometimes they didn’t have a good tool that made it easy for them to do a good job consistently.
Here is what we did:
- We developed specific procedures and methods so that everybody was on the same page and could deliver the same high quality product and service each time.
- We trained them on these methods and procedures.
- I invented machines to do the manually intensive, repetitive work. For example, machines that made it easy for my employees to drive tent stakes in correctly, machines that took the mind-numbing work out of scrubbing tops, and machines that could do the same high quality work over and over and guarantee my customers the service and quality they wanted.
Implementing this took time and effort, but with each improvement our customers became happier. We could deliver the safe, high quality and consistent service they demanded. Best of all, we could do it every time. My customers were happy again and the business began to flourish. Now I spend my days studying the workflows and challenges of our industry to discover new procedures and new machines that will assist you in giving your customers the safer, cleaner and better serviced outdoor events they want.
My guess is that you have experienced some of the same challenges that I described above and I believe you can turn them around as well. I would invite you to walk through the departments of your company. Do you see procedures in place that will guarantee you consistent, repeatable and high quality service every time? Do you see employees with the correct tools to guarantee your customers consistently clean and safe experiences with your company? Are your employees satisfied?
Do they know what they are supposed to be doing and how to do it well?
Ask yourself these questions and find the answers as the solutions may well surprise you.