Be My Guests: Preparing for Invasion
My week began with a call from “the big sales guy” of a large company out of state; a potential ongoing customer for our commercial printing company, that could make all the difference in our bottom line for the next few years at least—IF we are who we say we are!
I had been planning another “Kaizen” event at our facility, and Mr. Big Sales' plan to visit was a good reason for us to dig in! For those of you who need a refresher on what Kaizen is, in Japanese that simply means "good change." In lean, the event is normally applied to a system of continuous improvement in quality, technology, processes, company culture, productivity, safety, system of cleanliness, and so on.
In other words, for us, it would be an all-hands-on-deck, deep dive (albeit long overdue) spring cleaning.
I first heard the term “Kaizen” when I was speaking in Kentucky a few years ago, and had occasion to tour a large Toyota manufacturing plant. Having spent thousands of hours designing and developing business systems for my own company years ago—and the past 15 years helping other companies improve their systems—and being able to see such a massive, TOTALLY SYSTEMIZED (Wow!) manufacturing business, caused no little salivation for me!
The old gears began to grind even in my sleep, as I made mental lists of projects, needed supplies, etc., in order to execute the much-needed tweaking of our "100% System of Cleanliness"—meaning, everything HAS a place that is labeled and everything is IN its place. I mean EVERYTHING—tools, supplies, manuals etc.; and the place is clean. I went into great detail about this system in my book "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business."
Fortunately, our operations manual and the elaborate network of systems we implemented years ago have allowed us to keep it between the lines to a great degree, and to be proactive with our production processes and customer service.
But, even the best “housekeepers” on the planet have to put on the gloves a little extra, now and then, to keep all the nooks and crannies cleaned, well-oiled and running smoothly!
The economy, over the past six years, had prompted me to invite a few “tuck-in” companies to join forces with us for a time and (although these are generally well-organized businesses in their own right), for the most part, it has worked to all our benefits. However, as each company still operates under its own name and with its own style, sharing the same building and using the same equipment can prove challenging at times.
So, Monday morning I hit the floor running, with my lists and assignments, to bring all systems back up again, to what I call “100%”. It was gratifying to see every member of the team—ours and theirs—ready to do whatever it took to have it ready for the end-of-the-week visit from so important a potential client for our company.
Good to his word, Mr. Big Sales Guy arrived on time Friday, and I was proud to show him around our place—to introduce him to some of the most professional and skilled people (our staff) that I’ve ever worked with; to share with our guest about the systems that allow us to operate as a highly-effective and scalable team every day; even allowing us to be ready for this special visit with just some tweaking.
It all has to do with having good operational systems to begin with, and a company can be ready for the invasion of all kinds of last minute visitors—from potential customers, to an inspection by OSHA or others; to the most exciting prospect for any company—a load of work that your company is fully prepared to handle.
Did I mention—Great Systems Work!