Slippage! Wow, when you look at it from a production viewpoint it comes from everywhere! It’s a battle that all remodelers face on a daily basis; win the battle and see higher profits… lose the battle a few times and it can affect team morale, customer satisfaction and ultimately, the bottom line.
Sometimes it is just a mistake we make along the way, but in many instances it boils down to the way we think.
One of the thought processes that leads to much of our slippage is what I call the “either/or” mentality.
A good example occurred just two weeks ago while I was working with a company and we were discussing lumberyard runs. One of the Lead Carpenters raised his hand and said something like “Do you want me to order the materials and then have to make the lumberyard run to return what I can’t use OR just go get what I need the first time?”
So, we had a discussion of all the alternatives including a different yard, order more than you need and pick out the bad and send it back, and working out a deal with the yard for better lumber.
Other places where this exists is in change orders and start of day. In many cases changes really do have to be dealt with quickly. The tendency is to believe that a change order is a slow methodical process therefore we do not have time to complete one and just move on. And we lose the income for that work.
With regards to start of day, some companies are still having the entire production team come in the office and get their assignment for the day. In discussing this everyone knows that it is a huge waste of time but they revert to the fear of chaos or lack of control thus continuing the problem.
1. Face the Facts
Be willing to admit that there is a problem and the problem is part of your slippage. In some cases, and this helps me a great deal, do the math. Be realistic but also look at every cost you are taking on. For example, if we look at the scenario where everyone comes into the office for a meeting.
They start getting paid when they arrive, mostly by the hour so labor burden and benefits are adding up. You then pay for the drive time to the job. Once there, then they set up, losing vital production time and adding to the cost of the project.
2. Point Out the “Either/Or”
Go ahead and address that we are essentially only looking at two extremes. By doing this it helps us see the issue. Perhaps even do it graphically by writing one at the top of a white board or flip chart and the other at the bottom.
3. Brainstorm Other Solutions
Probably one of the biggest mistakes project and production managers make is to simply tell people what to do. This always leaves the option for excuses if it doesn’t work and then the ability to dismiss it since “you have never dealt with this”. Get the team together to brainstorm. By getting everyone involved several things happen. You eventually get to the best solutions.
You also get a variety of solutions. By doing this, person A may use idea D but person B likes and will actually use idea B. The people that do not believe “either/or”, will help convince those that do. There is nothing more powerful than peer influence. And finally, you can stay out of the bad guy role.
4. Always follow up
Just because we discussed it, agreed to change, and all go away happy, doesn’t mean that things will change. Because habits are hard to break, help each person figure out how they will do the change. If Person A is going to use idea D then what do they need to do to actually start using it.
Perhaps it is as simple as always having a pad of paper on site for notes. Or it may be more complex like setting aside planning on a daily basis. In general, if someone does not follow up most everyone will fall back into their old habits.
So, in dealing with slippage it is about not making mistakes either in sales or in production but it is also about seeing the problems and finding and implementing viable solutions.
What are some ways that you have minimized Slippage in your production environment or process? We would love to hear constructive advice and tips using the comments section below… or maybe a question that we can answer for you.
And Don’t miss The Tim Faller Show! A Podcast To Help You Improve The Bottom Line Through Production Training, with new episodes every Monday.