What if there were changes you could make to your business that would simultaneously improve customer service, enhance employee morale and increase profitability? Would that be something of interest to you as a remodeling business owner? LEAN is a method of process improvement designed to do all three of those with little or no investment in capital.
What is LEAN?
LEAN is a system of principles and practices aimed at continuous process improvement. It was born out of the Toyota Production System and was a common tool used in manufacturing for many years. Over the past 20 years, it has been recognized as a tool for improving any process and has found its way into government, healthcare and service industries, including the world of home remodeling.
Shigeo Shingo, one of the founding fathers of LEAN has said, “There are four purposes for improvement: easier, better, faster, cheaper. These four goals appear in order of priority.” The methods of LEAN include looking at systems from end to end, mapping them and then working to eliminate waste in those processes. In fact, LEAN has been described as the relentless pursuit to eliminate waste.
So What is Waste?
Essentially it is any step in a process that does not add value to the customer. It is all of the many things we do in order to get our work done that the customer does not see, care about and would not pay extra to get. There are eight wastes that are pursued in the LEAN process. Some of them include transportation (movement of product), motion (movement of people), defects and waiting.
Look at Your Process
In the remodeling world we have many processes. We have a sales process, a design process, production processes, accounting processes and many others. Inherent in our processes are waste that add no value to the customer, but they add frustrations to our staff and cost to our jobs, thus lowering profit.
Is it value added to the customer if we make four extra trips to the lumber yard? Is it value added to the customer if we install something incorrectly and then have to go back and fix it? Is it value added to the customer if we are stuck on a job waiting for a permit? Of course, that answer is NO! These extra steps and delays take time, incur cost, extend the length of jobs, frustrate staff, lower profits and lower customer satisfaction.
This is the target of a lean effort. Map out a process, identify the waste, figure out how to eliminate the waste. Pursue easier, better, faster cheaper and get happier employees, more satisfied customers and increased profits.