Here at Remodelers Advantage we set aside the month of June to focus on an issue that plagues most service-based businesses, but can be a critical metric in looking at the success of a remodeling firm. This is our third annual “Slippage Awareness Month” and this year you’ll see content submissions from our consulting, sales, and production experts here at R/A. Enjoy!
Slippage, on each and every job, is the difference between the profit margin expected at the outset of the project and the actual profit margin achieved.
The difference can be found in the wastes inherent in almost any process, and they can be easy to find in the course of any remodeling project. LEAN is an excellent tool for combating slippage by finding those wastes and developing strategies for getting rid of them.
There are really three components to successfully implementing LEAN. They are: workflow, workplace, and culture. To be successful, you need to work on all three — and they need to reinforce each other.
To optimize your workflow, you have to look at a process from end to end, mapping it out, finding the waste, and eliminating the waste — creating a better way to get through the process.
Culture is about fostering open communication, creative thinking, and having a willingness to allow ideas to come from your team — the people who actually do the work.
You can tackle slippage by looking at your workplace. Analyze the physical layout of your office, your vehicles, the job site, and even your network drive. Minimize wasted steps, group people who need to communicate together, and create a more harmonious flow. There are areas which can either make it easier for work to flow or more difficult.
As I’m sure you can imagine, be better layout can do wonders to make work flow more smoothly, to waste less time trying to find things and lessen the burden of work on those doing the heavy lifting.
Using LEAN principles, workplace organization is done through the 5-S process.
- Sort: Remove items you don’t need from the workplace
- Straighten: Put things in their place and have a place for everything
- Shine: Keep the work area clean and uncluttered
- Standardize: Make it company policy to set things up that way
- Sustain: Keep it looking that way over time.
Often, a LEAN effort can begin by having a group or groups work on a 5-S project. Clean out the warehouse, organize it, label the shelves, and develop a reorder process. Or maybe you could do the same with company vans or trailers. If you spend too much time looking for files, take the same approach with your network hard drive or cloud-based data storage like Dropbox or Google Drive.
When you can clearly see what you have, when and where you need more, what’s missing, and know where things go, we start to realize time savings. By eliminating work time spent searching for a file, the run back to the warehouse for a tool, or cleaning up things that really should be removed, you can run more efficiently, reduce slippage, and run LEAN.